Certified Sabbath Mode

Perhaps nothing has signaled my descent into middle-aged bourgeois womanhood more than my recent interest in new appliances.  We need to get a new stove and I will admit to being fascinated by all the new bells and whistles that one can purchase in the name of good cooking.  The choices seem endless.  There are wall ovens, and warming drawers, convection or standard ovens, smooth or coil cooktop surfaces, and self-cleaning options (yes, please!) to name but a few.  However, I think that the most interesting feature on my new range is something called "Certified Sabbath Mode".

Certified Sabbath Mode is designed to allow cooks to keep prepared food warm on the Jewish Sabbath or Jewish holidays in accordance with Kosher Law.  This design helps to bypass many of the practical and halachic problems posed by the modern oven.  This has led me to think about my own Sabbath day cooking practices and to ponder the meaning  of Doctrine and Covenants section 59, verse 13, where we are counselled, "And on this day, thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart…". 

I really enjoy cooking and don’t have any set rules about Sabbath cuisine but a few traditions have evolved in my family.

(1)  Breakfast — Always easy.  Some variation of warm or cold cereal, toast, bagels, fruit. 

(2)  "Make-your-own-sub" lunch — This came out of reading President Hinckley’s biography many years ago.  Apparently when President Hinckley "left for assignments away from home, rather than moan about his absence, Marjorie might say to the children, ‘Oh, good, your father’s gone.  Let’s order pizza’ – something they rarely indulged in otherwise."  Originally conceived as a "fun thing to do" when Dad was away at meetings, this has become a fixture of our Sundays and I think if I tried to get rid of this tradition I would have a mutiny on my hands.

(3)  Grape juice with dinner — No, I don’t have any water/wine issues.  I rarely buy juice during the week and for some reason started buying it to have with dinner on Sunday.  Grape juice seems to be the beverage of choice.

(4)  Dessert — We usually have a dessert on Sunday. Once again, we never do this during the week.

As far as Sunday dinner goes we run the gamut.  Sometimes we just clean up left-overs.  Other times we might just have eggs.  But most of the time, I make a pretty nice, although not overly complex, meal and enjoy the quiet pace that late afternoon on Sunday often affords for food preparation as a family.

I’m not sure that any of this qualifies as singleness of heart though.  If Brigham Young came over for dinner, he might decry my baguettes and grape juice, decline my offer of a brownie and ask if I had any Johnnycake in the cupboard.  Standing back, it seems that Sunday eating offers quite a few "treats" at our house.  I am torn between making the Sabbath special with all the ways that we can celebrate with food or making it simple and denying ourselves of our more worldly ways, which also has its merits.

So as I prepare for the arrival of my new stove and think about trying out "Certified Sabbath Mode",  I thought I would like to know what Sunday food means to the Bloggernacle and would like to hear about how you feed your body after you feed your spirit on the Sabbath.


  1. My husband had callings that necessitated his being gone on Sundays for eight years. It was wonderful. He is hyper and cannot be still, even for one day.

    Now, he’s home on Sunday, and I just let him have at it in the kitchen. I go in and sit and read and write in my journal. He’s not that good a cook, but it’s worth it for the peace.

    He thinks we should have a big meal on Sunday, but I think we shouldn’t. We compromise. If we have it, he cooks it.

  2. Kris,
    I wanted to respond to your feelings about wanting to make the Sabbath special with food vs. making it simpler, which you equate with denying worldly ways. Let me respond with two points.

    First, modern Jews have all sorts of rules about running the oven, using “adjustments” to appliances, and interesting cleaning methods specifically so they can have tons of breads, wines, desserts, and all other types of rich, fattening, and worldly foods with their Sabbath meals. In addition, they do it to make a big deal out of all three of the meals. Why? There are many reasons, but my favorite is that if the Sabbath is a queen (a prominent metaphor for the Sabbath), would you feed her simple food or go all out? Observant Jews make it a point to have the most food, many guests, and stay up late talking (Torah or otherwise), and singing very late into the evening. Spending the next day in services, naps, and visiting with guests all revolve around more food, including new loaves of Challah (representing the manna) and more wine and more dessert. Jews use food to make the Sabbath special. People save their best recipes, their special, or hard to find treats, and their gourmet stuff for the Sabbath believing that it sanctifies it to use the best that their means allow.

    Secondly, there seems to be a conflation of worldly things and simplicity. How do we define worldly things? It was my feeling that you would find most Mormons (and observant Jews) feeling that worldly applies to things outside the home or church (or synagogue). You know the whole list of activities discussed every time there is a lesson on the Sabbath in Sunday school. That’s what most people think of as worldly. It is a trait of Euro/American Christianity left over from the influence of Calvinism to interpret “best” or “simple” as plain. However, didn’t the apostles freak out when the woman used the super-expensive oil to anoint Jesus’ feet? Moreover, he rebuked them, not her. It seems that he called people to a life following him, but he did not model a life where we do not do our best to honor him. If the Christian Sabbath is the Lord’s Day, maybe we should think about using the “expensive oil.”

    It seems to me that if your family bonds over desserts and grape juice, isn’t the bonding the most edifying thing you can be doing for the Sabbath?

  3. Sunday seems to be the designated day for potluck at my house. All of our single friends come over and my roommates and I cook and dish out assignments. Sometimes we get really fancy. We’ve had brazilian churrascaria (garlic covered spit roasted meat); we’ve had soup buffets; we’ve had italian nights; last sunday we did a fondue buffet. At times it gets kind of tiring, but surrounding ourselves by people we love and also using it as a chance to invite new faces into our social lives seems like an appropriate sunday activity. Plus, my friends are fabulous cooks, and I reap the benefits!

  4. Karen – try cooking Indian sometime. fabulous!! Though, I must admit, I am a bit biased in this respect.
    being single, I usually make a big spagetti dinner, and cook enough so that I have leftovers for the rest of the week.
    Then, since I have been at Church from approx 10am till 4pm, I chill out by shooting some pool!!!

  5. Bob Caswell says:

    Was “meatings” meant to be spelled that way? Big meals wouldn’t be practical if meat consumption was happening all day.

  6. During the summertime we like to do a little BBQ action on our roof (almost) every Sunday. We like to invite various people from the ward (though it usually ends up being our friends). I grew up drinking grape juice on Sundays as well. Mmmmmmmm…

    Now where can I get my hands on some Johnnycake…

  7. Until we moved to the SEattle area, it was pretty much frozen pizza or other easily and quickly prepared meal. Now, for the first time in our married life we live close to some family and consequently get together for a formal Sunday dinner, whichi is nice.

    Frequently, Sunday is so packed full of meatings and other church business that having a big meal just isn’t practical.

  8. That’s awesome. Does it have a certified Tithing mode too?

  9. a random John says:

    I think that they did a story on Sabbath mode appliances on 60 Minutes recently. I think the whole concept of an oven that has tricks to get around Sabbath restrictions raises some interesting questions about the point of those restrictions.

    I basically never ate out on Sundays. Then on my mission the president came in to the office one Sunday afternoon and said, “Elders, order pizza.”

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