Orecchiette with Bacon, Mushrooms + Kale [and learning to sit in the dark]

Orecchiette with Bacon, Mushrooms + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

I scroll through my social media feeds, read articles about the latest news, and listen while a friend shares her heartache. It all feels so heavy. It is so heavy, the corporate hurts and the individual heartaches, the mundane struggles and worldwide crises. Some griefs are deeper than others, and I have the luxury of walking away from the news or giving up social media for a while before the weight crushes me. But the world is a hard, dark place, and I’m trying to learn what it means to mourn with those who mourn, to sit in the darkness without the darkness swallowing me whole.

I believe God will one day make all things new. He will fully bring his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, he will put everything right, he will bring justice and restoration and glory and joy. But we’re not there yet. We’re in this strange “already but not yet” place, a place still speaking the language of lament. My brothers and sisters throughout the world speak it fluently, but I easily forget. It’s a language that’s not easy to listen to, one I want to silence and ignore.

Frederick Buechner writes, “But if (the preacher) does not make real to them the human experience of what it is to cry into the storm and receive no answer, to be sick at heart and find no healing, then he becomes the only one there who seems not to have had that experience because most surely under their bonnets and shawls and jackets, under their afros and ponytails, all the others there have had it whether they talk of it or not.”

I so often look for a solution. I look to speak a word that will fix what is wrong or at least attempt to silence such uncomfortable sorrow. But the Gospel we preach must be big enough for the nights when solution seems far off, sure enough to sustain us when our God seems absent. It must be clear enough to speak to tongue-tied souls that can barely mutter a prayer. Because even when we can’t bring ourselves to preach, the Gospel remains true in our silence.

We hold up our heroes in the faith, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and more. But we gloss over what Hebrews 11:13 says, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised.”

Is our Gospel strong enough to hold us if we die without receiving?

The same Gospel for which so many are killed is the same Gospel that sustains in the day-to-day. It’s not a gospel of easy solutions, quick fixes, or temporary comfort—that’s no Gospel at all. If that’s what I preach to myself and others, we’ll all too quickly find that gospel will crash with even the smallest storm. Superficial solutions make a feeble gospel.

Those heroes of the faith died before receiving. Jesus wept before raising Lazarus. He was crucified before he rose from the dead. But the Gospel—the true, sure, life-altering Gospel—says that his promises will come to pass. Our weeping will turn to rejoicing. The dead will be raised. The same Spirit who raised Jesus will give life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11). And so we live according to that Spirit with enduring faith, come what may. That is a Gospel to cling to—and it will hold us.

As we wait in this “not yet” place, we weep and mourn, wrestle and plead. We learn to speak the language of lament knowing that one day our God will turn those cries into rejoicing. We work for change, justice, growth, and renewal, standing not on the shaky ground of cursory solutions but on the sure foundation of the kingdom of God, a kingdom that can never be shaken (Hebrews 12:28).

Orecchiette with Bacon, Mushrooms + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser
Orecchiette with Bacon, Mushrooms + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser
Orecchiette with Bacon, Mushrooms + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser
Orecchiette with Bacon, Mushrooms + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

Whether in seasons of deep grief or ordinary heartache, we all need encouragement. But sometimes when we long to speak life-giving words and give comfort, our mouths get dry. We say something stupid. Suddenly we realize we have no idea what to do with our hands. (All these things happen to me all the time. Please tell me I’m not the only one!)

When you need to fill the silence or process sorrow by putting your hands to work, food is a great place to start. This recipe is a hearty, comforting dish that travels well so it’s perfect for sharing with friends or family who need a little encouragement.

Orecchiette with Bacon, Mushrooms + Kale
Yields 6-8 servings

1 pound orecchiette pasta (other types of pasta work, too!)
12-16 ounces bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces chopped kale
1 ½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 to 2 ½ cups of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook for about 4-6 minutes, until some of the fat renders out and it just starts to get crisp. Add the diced onion and cook for another minute until the onions begin to soften.

Add the sliced mushrooms and the garlic. Cook until the bacon is fully cooked, the onions translucent, and the mushrooms soft, stirring every few minutes. You want the onions and mushrooms to take on a darker color and get a little caramelized. This should take about 12-15 minutes.

Turn the heat to low. Add the cooked pasta, kale, and 1 cup of the pasta water. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring everything together, until the kale wilts and the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Stir in the shredded parm. Add additional pasta water, a quarter cup at a time, until the pasta has the consistency you like. (I end up using another cup, for a total of 2 cups of pasta water.)

Season with salt and pepper to taste. The Parmesan and bacon give this dish a decent amount of salty flavor, so you shouldn’t need a ton of salt, but I do like to add in plenty of black pepper. Top with red pepper flakes for a kick of heat.

Serve with garlic bread and a fresh salad if you like, or enjoy the dish on its own! Pair it with a crisp, dry white wine like Pinot Grigio. The wine balances out the richness of the pasta perfectly. Enjoy!

Mushroom + Leek Frittata [Whole30 compliant!]

Mushroom + Leek Frittata - Sarah J. Hauser

It took us nearly two months to create space amidst our own schedules and that of our combined 12 kids. But three friends and I eventually found (and then adamantly safeguarded) a few hours on a Saturday morning to get together for brunch. We see each other regularly and text almost daily, but a brunch date meant we could set aside our phones and our deadlines, our errands and parenting responsibilities, and focus on rest, nourishment, and connection.

Over cups of coffee and stacks of pancakes, we talked about motherhood, marriage, hard days, and celebrations. I brought tears to the table. They passed me napkins to wipe my mascara-stained face and nodded their heads in understanding.

Sometimes I forget I wasn’t created for independence. I forget that mothering well doesn’t mean mothering alone, and I’m grateful for the reminders that I’m a better woman, wife, friend, writer, and mama when I let others share the burden of those roles with me.

As our server refilled mugs of coffee and brought boxes for leftovers, I felt the weight lighten, not because circumstances changed or because I even had a clear plan to implement. The weight itself remained. But as I brought my story to that table, three other people listened. Three other people laughed, cried, and encouraged. Three other people silently agreed to carry that weight with me.

Mushroom + Leek Frittata - Sarah J. Hauser
Mushroom + Leek Frittata - Sarah J. Hauser

Maybe you’ve just received an unexpected diagnosis, or perhaps you’re celebrating a brand new baby. Maybe you're overwhelmed with joy right now, or maybe your eyes are red and your heart is worn from the weariness that comes with motherhood. No matter where you're at today, we invite you to the table.

At the table, we can find nourishment for our bodies and souls. We can celebrate and mourn. We can learn and teach and encourage and challenge.

We can hold each other up, because the weight is not meant for us to bear alone.

Mushroom + Leek Frittata - Sarah J. Hauser

In that spirit, Coffee + Crumbs is "hosting" a Mother's Day brunch on Saturday, May 12th. We love encouraging mamas in the online space, but what we really love is seeing mamas support each other in person. In just a couple weeks, women from all over the world will be gathering around their tables for rest, nourishment, and connection.

Will you consider being a host? We've got menu ideas, conversation cards, and all kinds of other goodies we're sending to hosts for free! Click here to learn more and sign up!

Mushroom + Leek Frittata
Yields about 6-8 servings

2 medium leeks
8-10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
8 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup full-fat coconut milk, at room temperature*
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Cut the roots off the leeks. Slice them lengthwise, then rinse under cool water to remove dirt and sand that can build up in between the layers. Chop the white and light green sections of the leeks, and discard the darkest green 2 inches or so (or reserve it for stock or other recipes. The darkest green parts can be bitter, so we’ll leave them out of this dish.)

In a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped leeks and ½ teaspoon of salt, and sauté for 5-6 minutes, until the leeks get soft and slightly browned. Add the mushrooms, along with another tablespoon or two of olive oil if needed. Cook for 5-7 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant. Turn off the heat. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. 

Pour the egg mixture over the leeks and mushrooms, and give everything a stir. Transfer to the oven and cook 8-10 minutes, just until the eggs are set. (I like to remove the frittata from the oven just shy of them being fully cooked, because they’ll continue to cook slightly even when they come out of the oven.)

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with chopped fresh parsley and additional black pepper to taste.

*I use coconut milk in this recipe to keep it dairy-free. Full-fat coconut milk helps keep the dish creamy as opposed to using other alternatives like almond or soy milk. My husband and other friends have not been able to taste the coconut milk in the final dish at all, but you can sub in regular milk or cream if you prefer.