Shared Meals Matter Blog

Jan 26th

Marja and Eric – giving their all to make people happy

Posted by with No Comments

My son, John, told me a few months ago about how a childhood friend, Marja, had moved to Wisconsin to open a restaurant with her husband. Both my son and I were really impressed how his friend and her husband followed their instincts about creating a happy life for themselves from California all the way to Wisconsin. They now have a life that is hard work, but also full of joy, inspiration, and shared meals.

Here is Marja’s and Eric’s story (plus a delicious pie recipe!):


When my husband and I arrived at what is now The Cabin Restaurant in scenic Door County, Wisconsin, we had a moment.

We had just signed our lives over for our dream– to own a restaurant in the beautiful area of the country where we had honeymooned just a short year before. We looked at each other, smiling as my husband put the key in the lock. He turned it.

It didn’t open.

It was the key for the back door.
We walked around.

The first few years were hard. Really hard. I remember being afraid to go check the mail because I knew there were so many bills we couldn’t pay. But every year it got better, and during winter (our off-season) I learned how to cook. First I learned chili, then split pea soup. I learned how to cook a ribeye on the grill, and how to broil fish. Then I tackled what is now my trademark– scratch made, decadent desserts. I definitely had pride for myself that I needed to get through the tough times.

Whenever I get down on myself, or start to feel sorry for myself for never getting a Saturday night off or a paycheck or whatever– I remind myself that I’m in the business of giving my all to make people happy. I’m not an E.R. doctor, I’m a baker. Seeing people enjoy a meal with their spouses, neighbors, or friends is such a joy. Often I can hear them raving about their favorite meals at other restaurants while they happily  eat their meal here. I feel lucky to spread joy in such a way.

So, I’m sharing with you a very unique recipe that I think you and your friends and family will greatly enjoy. A sweet and citrus-y pie, my Shaker Lemon Pie will brighten a summer evening or even a cold winter night. Please enjoy.


Marja’s Shaker Lemon Pie Recipe (and signature killer crust)

Day before: Wash 3 lemons and zest them. Peel a total of 6 lemons, and chop, making sure to remove seeds. Leaving them at room temperature for a few hours (or running hot water over them) helps.

Place in a small bowl and add 2 cups sugar. Cover and let sit in refrigerator overnight.

Killer crust:

In medium to large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 c flour, 1/4 c sugar, and 1/2 t salt.

Using your hands, mix in 1/2 cup shortening until fully incorporated. Add 1/2 cup unsalted butter, using fingertips to break butter apart leaving some bits rather large, pea sized or larger.

Measure 100ml cold water in a measuring cup. Add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.

Pouring at the edges of flour mixture, add water in 3 stages. Mix dough in between each addition. It should come together. Add additional water in very small amounts if dough is dry.

Divide mix until two balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Place in fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes while you prepare filling.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Filling: Place lemon-sugar mixture in food processor and pulse until it’s broken up.

In medium bowl, beat 3 eggs. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter and slowly whisk into eggs. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add lemon mix and 4 tablespoons flour (all purpose is fine. I have good luck with tapioca flour as well) and set aside while you roll out your crust.

When crusts are ready, fill pie and crimp edges. Brush crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Cut slits to vent.

I place foil strips around pie edges– my Shaker Lemon Pie seems to brown very quickly. You can skip this and cover edges (carefully!) later if your pie becomes too brown too early.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and turn down oven to 350 to cook for an additional 30 minutes, removing foil strips (if using) halfway through.

Serve pie with sweetened freshly whipped cream.

Cheers and happy eating!


NOTE: If you ever find yourself in Door County, Wisconsin, please pay Marja and Eric a visit and enjoy their delicious food and pies! Click on this link to visit The Cabin!


Read More
Jan 21st

The State of the Union…(around our dining tables!)

Posted by with No Comments

Hearing President Obama’s State of the Union address made me think about taking care of our values and priorities in our homes.

It also made me wonder about how we are doing with the ‘State of the Union’ around our dining tables.

The final part of the President’s speech focused on values – what we want American culture to represent.   We’ll have to leave the work of getting America’s priorities in order to Mr. Obama and the 535 members of Congress, but we can work on our own ‘State of the Union” – how we are joining with others to fulfill our personal values, priorities…and enjoy unity with each other.


What’s the current ‘State of the Union’ at your dining table?

A. I’m so focused on getting things done, I don’t have the luxury to think about having a meal with other people. Many times I feel disconnected from my own life.


B. There’s always something else to do, but I don’t let that get in my way. I plan a time once a day (any meal, it doesn’t matter) to be sure I’m connecting with people I care about.

If your answer is A., don’t worry.

You’re like many of us who have struggled to find time to share meals with others. But, when you don’t share meals together, you are missing out on one of the most joyful and life-balancing activities you could do! And research shows that shared-meals offer benefits in many areas including social, psychological, physical, academic, cultural-ethnic, spiritual, and creative. So don’t miss out! (Read more about these benefits in my book!)

The very good news is that once you start identifying what your values and priorities are in terms of meal sharing, you can improve your dining table ‘State of the Union’.  It’s all about aligning your values with your actions.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

1)  Determine how many times you are gathering for a shared meal. [See my website for a free 2-week Frequency Survey you can print and use.]

2) Gather your family members (or spouse, or friends) and outline the kind of shared-meal plan you would like to create with those in your shared-meal circle [See pages 103-107 in my book “The Shared-Meal Revolution” to help guide you in your discussion, and for a choice of 2 shared-meal planning templates.]

3) Support your new shared-meal plan by using available resources (such as the free ones on my website) to reinforce your daily ritual.

I’d love to hear about how your dining table ‘State of the Union’ is developing  Feel free to write to me at and tell me how it’s going! I’m happy to answer any questions or give you advice as well.  It’s my mission to help families and people everywhere connect one time a day over a shared meal. 

Read More