Tag Archives: community

Stir a Pot, Feed a Soul: Real Comfort Food

Chicken & Dumplings -- click on photo for recipe

When we hear someone say, “comfort food” thoughts drift to dinners from childhood imagining something warm, full of carbs, or sweetly satisfying. We dream of flavors and textures to feed our emotional funk or exhaustive schedule to quench and satisfy.  The focus is inward, self-gratifying.

What if our focus shifted outward instead?

This is not intended to make you feel guilty about surrounding yourself with good food or savoring a favorite meal, simply to think about comfort food differently.  Food not only soothes our moods and maladies, it brings comfort to those hurting, recovering, or overwhelmed. Of course, it fills a practical need, but so do restaurants and pizza delivery. Taking a meal to someone invests in community with a personal touch that goes far beyond the food itself.

When someone notices our need and offers to lift our burden for a moment we feel valued, encouraged, and less alone.

Our family has been the beneficiary of meals arriving at our door after a major car accident, sudden illness, and crisis.  The concern and kindness of friends, as well as others we didn’t even know, created emotional margin and physical relief when doctor appointments, decision-making, and grief consumed daily routine.  They were life-givers, every one, with encouraging words and reassurance they were there to do whatever they could … taking care of one of the basic needs like dinner or groceries was a vital part of the help we needed.

According to 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  When we serve others, it is a blessing no matter how big or small the gesture.  It doesn’t have to be a whole meal, if you bake amazing bread, make an extra loaf to give away.  I believe good food is one of the various forms of God’s grace we can use to meet someone’s need—real comfort food.

So what does that really look like?

You can start by responding to needs in your own sphere of influence at church, school, work, club, or neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be someone in crisis, it can be a single mom with a maxed schedule, a college student missing home, or a co-worker trying to finish a big project who would be grateful to know you care. Yes, it might feel weird to be the first one to do something like this, but caring for others is worth feeling a little awkward.

10 Tips for Stirring a Pot and Feeding a Soul:

1. Simple food is best. Make what you know and do well; this is not the time to try new recipes.  Check for allergies and strong dislikes. For food sensitivities and allergies, think outside the casserole. Casseroles are great comfort food for many, but are more apt to contain common food allergens like corn, wheat, milk, or soy.  Braised meats, steamed vegetables, soups, and salads easily accommodate those with food restrictions or strong dislikes of certain foods.

2. Use disposable containers.  Unless it is a neighbor or someone you see regularly, deliver meals in containers that do not need to be returned.  Keep it as simple as possible for those you are trying to bless.

3. Deliver the meal at dinnertime, if possible. If not, make it as close to ready with clear instructions. If delivering food to a family with a new baby, don’t ring the door bell.  Arrange a specific time and arrive with a gentle knock at the door in case the baby is sleeping.

4. Consider everyone in a family. Crisis, surgery, new babies, grief, affects everyone within a family. Try to include at least one thing everyone will like with the meal. If the family has small children, make sure you show up with ice cream or something specifically for them if you can.

5. Customize the meal for the event/purpose. Bereavement, nursing mothers, recovering from surgery or illness can each pose a different need.
New moms
, especially nursing moms, eat often so snacks and easy breakfast foods are great too.  Avoiding spicy, acidic food is helpful to prevent adverse reactions from the baby.
Surgery
is hard on the body, when someone undergoes general anesthesia the entire digestive system shuts down. Provide a gentle and nourishing meal like chicken soup made from homemade bone broth. Consider foods that are soft, nourishing, and easy to digest. If you know they like smoothies, provide a few pre-packaged frozen smoothies easily assembled at home.

6. Offer to coordinate the meals.  Major crisis, trauma, accidents can be overwhelming and having an infant with the phone constantly ringing is no picnic either.  Having one person collect primary information and receive questions regarding meals is truly helpful.  Organizing a handful of suppers for a friend is pretty straight forward, but when a larger group or longer-term need is part of the equation, there are services to help.

Care Calendar
Meal Baby
Food Tidings
Lotsa Helping Hands
Take Them A Meal

7. Providing a meal is not the time to impose your nutritional agenda on someone else or “teach” them how to eat.  Try to understand what would bring comfort to them, even well-meaning advice can be overwhelming when someone is stressed.

8. Include the recipe. This can be especially helpful for those with food sensitivities or allergies too—they can have a little more confidence when they can review the recipe.

9. Include a note of encouragement, which mentions what you brought. This is helpful when a number of meals are provided. It can be difficult to remember and sort out who brought what when writing thank you cards. (Yes, I know, you didn’t do it to be thanked.)

10. Even if you don’t cook or have time to prepare a meal, you can help. Offer to run errands, clean, babysit, carpool kids, or provide a gift card for take-out.

What is comfort food to you? 

Have you comforted others with food or received this kind of comfort food from someone?  If so, what was your experience?

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Gallery of Favorites Holiday Edition

Farmers Markets [Revisted]: The Bounty of Summer

Sometimes a previous post is worth resurrecting, revisiting something wonderful—Farmers Markets certainly qualify.  I hope it is a refreshing reminder of summer’s offering.

It is the height of the season for Farmers Markets in the Rocky Mountain region with various locations every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday in Colorado Springs.  My personal favorite is at 24th & West Colorado Ave, in Old Colorado City on Saturday mornings.  Matt and I browse vine-ripened produce, local honey, salsa, and fresh-baked bread by La Baguette, while we take in the aroma of roasted chilies or hot kettle corn wafting in the air.  Colorado lamb always gets our attention with summer grilling in the forefront of our minds. That is, of course, until I spot the blooms of Perennial Favorites—reminded that my flowerbeds could use some work.

July will be sweet with Rocky Ford cantaloupe, watermelon, and peaches & cream corn that will accompany picnics and holiday parties. Produce, flowers, bread, honey, meat, cheese, herbs, roasted chilies—it is worthy of the crowd on a Saturday morning, or any other day of the week that you can find food fresh, ripe, and flavorful. This is one of those times to ignore the advice to not shop when hungry, several of the vendors offer samples.

Just like reading labels in the grocery store, it is just as important to inquire about the origin of the produce when shopping at a Farmer’s Market.  Not all vendors raise what they sell, so if you’re not careful, you can end up with Florida sweet corn or California tomatoes.  For some customers, the convenience of a larger variety saves a trip elsewhere, so the mix is good.  Overall, the summer markets are rich with local, Colorado produce and meat, providing superior nutrition at your table.

One of the advantages of visiting the same Farmer’s Market is getting to know the people growing your food.  Early August will be the peak of the season for delicious tree-ripened peaches from Tate Orchards in Palisade.  I especially appreciate their efforts to provide peaches without the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides. This is truly a special time of year to see the growers face to face and reward their hard work with our patronage.

In addition to food products, some markets highlight art, handmade crafts, and music.  These prove to be more interesting for the kids when their patience with veggies runs out.  Organic and conventional farmers, artists, musicians, and family businesses sit under adjacent awnings lining streets and parking lots throughout the city.  Our community is blessed to have them if only for a short season. It is summertime goodness at its finest.

Feature Fridays: Blog Hop Heaven

Armed with a fresh cup of coffee and a bowl of yogurt, my Friday blog-browsing ensued.  A few short months ago, I had no idea what a Blog Hop was and less of a clue there was an entire community of them in the foodie blogosphere.  A plethora of new discoveries, RSS feeds, subscriptions, comments, and Firefox-grabbed recipes along the way, I truly appreciate the resources and variety of this on-line community.

It would be impossible to choose just one Hop to feature, so I recommend you grab something you like to drink—the list is so long you could be dehydrated by the time you looked at all of them.  (You may want to tell someone what you’re doing, in case you get lost and need to be rescued; though if you have small children, they always know where to find you!)  Many of these begin with a recipe or blog hop instructions, so be sure to scroll down to see all the links. Enjoy!

Cooking Thursdays [Dairy of a Stay at Home Mom]
Foodie Wednesday [Daily Organized Chaos]
Food Trip Friday
Friday Favorites [Simply Sweet Home]
Friday Potluck [EKat’s Kitchen]
Full Plate Thursday [Miz Helen’s Country Cottage]
Fun With Food Friday [Paisley Passions]
Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
Hodgepodge Friday
It’s A Keeper Thursdays
Made From Scratch Tuesday [From Mess Hall to Bistro]
Menu Plan Monday [Organizing Junkie]
Monday Mania [The Healthy Home Economist]
Mouthwatering Mondays [A Southern Fairytale]
Pennywise Platter Thursday [The Nourishing Gourmet]
Real Food Wednesday [Kelly The Kitchen Kop]
Real Sustenance Seasonal Sunday
Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays [Simply Sugar & Gluten Free]

Sweet and Savory
Tasty Tuesday [33 Shades of Green]
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday [At The Well]
Thursday Ultimate Recipe Swap [Life As Mom]
Totally Tasty Tuesday [Mandy’s Recipe Box]
Tuesday Night Supper Club [Fudge Ripple]
Tuesdays At the Table [All The Small Stuff]
Tuesdays Tasty Tidbits [Permanent Posies]
Welcome Wednesday [Take It From Me]
Works For Me Wednesday [We Are That Family]
Your Recipe.  My Kitchen [Frugal Antics of a Harried Housewife]

Not snubbing anyone…if you have a blog hop you’d like added to the list, just leave a comment and I’ll be by to visit.

Farmer’s Markets: The Bounty of Summer

It’s that time of year again to find Farmer’s Market fresh produce every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday in the Colorado Springs area.  My personal favorite is at 24th & West Colorado Ave, in Old Colorado City on Saturday mornings.  Matt and I browse vine-ripened produce, local honey and salsa, fresh-baked bread by La Baguette, while we take in the aroma of roasted chilies or hot kettle corn wafting in the air.  The Colorado lamb always gets our attention with summer grilling in the forefront of our minds. That is, of course, until I spot the blooms of Perennial Favorite’s newest offerings—reminded that the flowerbed could use some work.

July will be sweet with Rocky Ford cantaloupe, watermelon, and peaches & cream corn (white and yellow mix) that will accompany picnics and holiday parties.   Produce, flowers, bread, honey, meat, cheese, herbs, roasted chilies—it’s enough to draw a crowd on a Saturday morning, or any other day of the week that you can find food fresh, ripe, and flavorful.  Just like reading labels in the grocery store, it is just as important to inquire about the origin of the produce when shopping at a Farmer’s Market.  Not all vendors raise what they sell, so if you’re not careful, you can end up with Florida sweet corn or California tomatoes.  For some customers, the convenience of a larger variety saves a trip elsewhere, so the mix is good.  Overall, the summer markets are rich with local, Colorado produce and meats, providing superior nutrition at your table.

One of the advantages of visiting the same Farmer’s Market year in and year out, is getting to know the people growing your food.  Early August will be the peak of the season for delicious tree-ripened peaches from Tate Orchards in Palisade.  I especially appreciate their efforts to provide peaches without the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides. This is truly a special time of year to see the growers face to face and sample their hard work.

In addition to food products, some markets highlight art, handmade crafts, and music.  These prove to be more interesting for the kids when their patience with veggies runs out.  Organic and conventional farmers, artists, musicians, and family businesses sit under adjacent awnings lining streets and parking lots throughout the city.  Our community is blessed to have them if only for a short season. It is summertime goodness at its finest.