Over the 14 years we have lived in our house, our neighbor, Mrs. Kelly, who is in her late 80s, has been a fixture on her front porch and in her beautifully tended garden. She always has a warm greeting for our children, Solomon and Celia, as they walk home from school. This year Mrs. Kelly developed cancer. She is rarely in her garden anymore, but she still has a friendly wave for the kids whenever she sees them.
One day, Celia, who loves to bake, brought Mrs. Kelly some lemon pound cake. Although Mrs. Kelly doesn’t have much of an appetite right now, her daughter tells us how she raves nonstop about Celia’s cake. Every couple of months, Celia brings Mrs. Kelly’s some more of her favorite pound cake. As happy as it probably makes Mrs. Kelly feel to receive the sweet delivery, I think this act of caring probably has a bigger impact on Celia herself, who has discovered that through the simple act of baking, she has the ability to bring great joy to a person who needs it.
When friends and neighbors are in need of some extra care, whether because they are ill or due to more joyful reasons such as a new baby, one of the simplest and most appreciated gifts we can give them is that of a meal or treat, especially one we have made ourselves. Making food for someone in need is a wonderful way to teach our children about caring for others, and cooking is a hands-on way for children to express their natural kindness.
When my good friend Deb recently had surgery, her friends lined up to bring her family dinner while she was recovering. Of course her family could have bought prepared meals or ordered food from a restaurant, but the homemade dinner deliveries made Deb and her family feel nurtured and cared for, and gave her friends a simple way to do something tangible to help.
National Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others, falls on Saturday, October 23rd. What will your family do on October 23rd to make a difference for someone else? If you would like to make a meal for a family in need or a new neighbor, try my Spinach Pie recipe below (while you are at it, you can double the recipe so you’ll have dinner for your own family, too).
If your family is like mine, you don’t have loads of spare time. But even small acts on October 23rd can “make a difference” for others, for your kids and for you. By making a double recipe of soup or quiche and share half with someone who could use it, donating money to a hunger relief organization such as Second Harvest or teaching our children to help those in need even when they are right next door, we can demonstrate that food packs an enormous amount of power to help or heal.
This recipe for crustless spinach pie was suggested by my friend and event planner extraordinaire, Claudia Ades. Serve it with whole wheat or white dinner rolls and strawberry and banana smoothies.
More Recipes and ideas for National Make a Difference Day:
Clifford’s Kind Nibbles, guides your preschoolers through making a bird feeder to care for our hungry feathered friends.
Visit Baking Bites for the recipe for the mouth-watering Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake Recipe pictured above.
Recipe: Spinach Pie with Portobello Mushrooms
A simple, elegant and delicious recipe that tastes great the next day, too.
- 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup portobello, cremini, or conventional mushrooms, chopped
- 4 scallions, finely chopped (1/2 cup total)
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or 1 ½ tsp. fresh
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil or 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh
- 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with nonstick cooking spray. Defrost the spinach and drain it thoroughly, pressing it to squeeze out excess water.
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Pour the mixture into the pie dish. Bake it for 30-35 minutes until it is lightly browned and set.
- Let the pie cool slightly before cutting and serving it, or refrigerate it for up to 2 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months.