Sabbath at the Spectrum Café: Hospitality in High Gear


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In addition to memorable Sabbath meals, Sabbath at the Spectrum Café features fresh perspectives on food, community and unique stories surrounding vegetarian cuisine.

Against the constant complaint that we lived harried lives, the Sabbath comes (so Abraham Joshua Heschel said) as a “sanctuary in time.”

And as a festival of food, or better, fellowship and food.

The eggplant-laced lasagna is one thing (and more about that in a minute). At the home of Daryll Ward and Adele Waller, near Dayton, Ohio, what matters at least as much, and perhaps more, is the table talk.

They and their aged (and much-loved) Labrador retriever, Max, occupy a brick house 10 minutes south of the Kettering Adventist Church. And if they are in town on Sabbath, their table is alive with people until late afternoon or early evening. All the while, the conversation zips along like a sports car, seeming often to exceed the speed limit—except when it slows for what you might call excavation. In this house, the table talk takes you under the surface as well as over it. Adele is a lawyer with a quick wit and a soul like a monk’s; Daryll, a teacher at Kettering College and himself no laggard in the things of the spirit, is a relentless theologian.

And a cook.

Daryll masterminds the menu, and he and Adele together assemble the guests. They are recovering from a death in the family, and lunch on a recent Sabbath began with a guest list of two, what they thought they could handle. But before their congregation had dispersed, the number was seven. For these two, hospitality is the highest, and seemingly the best-loved, of all the Christian virtues.

The household’s repertoire of entrees leans toward Mexican and Mediterranean, with due allowance for the heritage “roasts” that most (American) Adventists eat and many still make. The menu centerpiece on my last visit was a creation Daryll calls “vegetable lasagna,” and a less modest man might call “This-Lasagna-Is-Better-Than-Your-Lasagna Lasagna.” Perhaps it would not even be immodest for him to put it this way, as he is careful to credit his friend Jeanette Smith for sharing the (now slightly modified) recipe.

The dish won’t qualify, by the way, for Complete Health Improvement Program approval. Daryll and Adele eat tofu and lots of stuff that’s green, but they also allow cheese as a sometimes Sabbath indulgence. One thing is sure: When this dish gets to the table, it’s so good that you have to repeat—silently is best!—some mantra like “Character!” or “Hello, you idiot!” in order to fend off caloric fiasco. (I once inhaled two and a half servings, but I’ve learned to stop at one.)

“It’s a sin,” I say too often, “to diet on Sabbath.” But I am pleased that Daryll and Adele seem to agree. Their hospitality always ends with dessert, most often a thin slice of berry pie and a tiny scoop (sometimes two) of ice cream, with coffee for those who want it.

Except for this last bit (the coffee), the whole thing is quite like having your Sabbath dinner in the 1950s or ‘60s. Nowadays Adventists who are well-paid and up to date head off to restaurants after church, but for total impact nothing beats home cooking and the long table conversation that bends toward matters of the spirit. You get both the satisfied palette and the soul rebounding for the weekdays to come.

Charles Scriven chairs the board of Adventist Forum. He recently retired as president of Kettering College.

This week’s recipe for Vegetable Lasagna comes from Daryll Ward and Adele Waller, adapted from Jeanette Smith’s recipe. Ward notes that you can use your favorite jarred marinara sauce—or make your own—as long as the total volume remains the same.

Vegetable Lasagna Serves: 10 Prep time: 1½ hours Total time: 2 hours

Ingredients 1 large eggplant 4 large red sweet peppers Extra-virgin olive oil cooking spray or extra-virgin olive oil 9-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles 24-ounce jar of marinara sauce (Daryll uses Kroger’s Private Selection Marinara Sauce) 25-ounce jar of Trader Joe’s Organic Marinara Sauce 10-ounce jar basil pesto (Daryll uses Kroger’s Private Selection Basil Pesto) 2 large eggs 32 ounces ricotta cheese 2 cups or more mozzarella cheese, enough to cover three layers of lasagna 2 cups or more Asiago cheese, enough to cover three layers of lasagna

Directions

1. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 3/8-inch thick slabs, brush or spray both sides with oil, then grill until slightly charred over medium heat (you can also use a panini maker or grill fry pan). Set aside.

2. Cut the peppers into flat chunks, then grill until slightly charred over medium heat. Set aside.

3. In a saucepan, mix the two varieties of marinara sauce and heat.

4. Mix the eggs into the ricotta cheese.

5. Slice the grilled eggplant and peppers into sizes suitable for layering.

6. Coat the bottom of a 13” x 17” baking dish with sauce.

7. Add a layer of the no-boil lasagna noodles.

8. Add layers of sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Asiago cheese, then sprinkle with the basil pesto. The easiest way to layer the ricotta/egg mixture is to use a cake-decorating sleeve.

9. Add another layer of no-boil lasagna noodles, then repeat this order until the baking dish is full or until no ingredients remain.

10. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, and remove when the cheese and topping have sufficiently browned.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5460