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2 In heart stuff/ recipes/ tips/ women

Providing Meals for a Family in Crisis

I was recently invited to provide a meal for a local family following the daughter’s serious car accident. The mother would be spending significant time away from home, so, friends, neighbors, and even strangers volunteered to provide meals for the remaining family members. It’s a privilege to help in this way and it reminded me of the times my family has been the recipient of this incredible kindness.

Meals can be organized by the website: http://www.takethemameal.com.

Tips for Providing Meals for a Family in Crisis:

Designate one person (a close friend, aquaintance or available family member) as the key contact person. This person can answer questions that people providing meals may have. Families facing a medical crisis may not have the time, energy, or availability to speak with everyone.

What should this contact person do?

  • Set up a schedule for food donations on http://www.takethemamealcom. Base the schedule on the family’s needs. For example, the family may only want meals delivered on weekdays.
  • Advise volunteers of food preferences and/or allergies.
  • Indicate the best time for delivery.
  • Advise volunteers where food should be left if no one is home at the time of the delivery.
  • Indicate if the family has room for any freezer items.
  • Give directions to people who need them.
  • Provide the family with a contact list of who will be coming by.
  • Cancel food donations when the family no longer needs help.  Consider, as circumstanses permit, phasing out the schedule rather than going from 7 days a week delivery to no deliveries.

If using www.takethemameal.com, several of the above listed details are automatically handled by the website, which makes it a great time saver. Additionally, volunteers can see what foods are being provided. This allows for greater variety.

Tips for those volunteering to provide food:

  • Deliver food in disposable containers: plasticware, ziplock bags, covered aluminum trays or pans. While your dishes may be beautiful, it places an added burden on the family to return them and keep them from being broken.  Also, young children may be the ones cleaning up after the meal. This enables them to help but you may not want a small child washing your favorite casserole dish.
  • Leave minimal preparation for the family. Salad?  Send a pre-washed bag of lettuce. Remember all the fixings.  Include extras such as cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and a box of croutons.  Don’t forget bottled salad dressing(s).
  • Include written warming directions, if necessary.  Don’t plan on giving verbal directions at the door – the person who answers the door may have never stepped foot in a kitchen. Also, there may not be anyone home at the time of your arrival and you may need to leave your food at a pre-designated place.
  • Consider weather and the age/demographics of the family when planning your meal. For example – cold salads might be appreciated on hot summer days. A family with lots of kids? They might prefer chicken nuggets to your favorite Aunt Lucy’s brussel sprout souflé.
  • Delivery of ice cream or frozen foods should only be made if you know someone will be home to accept them and if the family has room in their freezer.
  • Do not overfill containers.  Place containers that could spill while being transported on a damp towel in a larger pan or tray. This will avoid any unwanted spills in your vehicle.
  • Include snack foods like cookies, fresh fruit. Consider items that could be eaten at breakfast, too.
  • Do not overstay your welcome when delivering. Send card(s) or use online methods to let the family know you are thinking of them.

Do not feel you have to be a gourmet cook to contribute – your contribution is a wonderful gift from the heart. The family facing a medical crisis will appreciate your generosity beyond measure.

0 In musings/ recipes

Happy Mother’s Day!

I watched the show The Middle last night. It was Mother’s Day and actress Patricia Heaton’s end of day conclusion: “I’ll never do that again.” That was my Mother’s Day 1997.

Mike and I, newly married, were a month away from leading our second teen mission trip and some well-meaning church members suggested “Why don’t you hold a Mother’s Day Brunch to help kids raise money?” Instead of analyzing this idea, I immediately, obediently set out to hold a brunch to end all brunches. Each of the 20 teens cooked my favorite egg casserole. I spent Saturday shopping, planning and cooking all the rest. Because mothers are special, I also decided to purchase 50 potted plants, wrap them in foil and a big, fat bow to create that perfect “must-have” gift. I envisioned the crowds that would fill the church, laughing, celebrating, gorging themselves on a spectacular culinary feast. . . throwing cold, hard cash into the donation bucket. 10’s, 20’s, no maybe $100’s. . . all for a cause.

At 6 AM Mother’s Day, Mike and the kids tossed in bed, alarms not even close to buzzing, as I unloaded a packed SUV at the church. My plan was to transform the gray, drab Mason’s Hall basement into a festive, culinary experience.

Church service went off without a hitch that morning. I snuck out early to take my place at the head of the mile-long buffet table culminating with twenty egg casseroles and an assortment of potted plants. Each one of the mission kids politely bowed out as soon as they delivered their casserole, reporting, “we have plans.” Only my daughter and the Pastor’s kid helped with serving. Mike wisely joined in when he accurately read my body language that suggested this was going to be a very long day. Well, it turned out the whole church had plans: visiting family, restaurant reservations, lots of fun thing to do. So, there I stood. Smiling, nodding, acknowledging, yes, Mothers are special and “you, go. . . enjoy.”

In the end, $17 was netted, not by happy, satiated diners, but a sympathetic few who tossed a dollar or two into the donation bucket as they headed out the door. With clean-up, a dismantling of decorations and return of 48 unsold potted plants, I dragged my tired, ticked butt into our house around 4 PM.

Why, oh why, do we women do this to ourselves? I now have a policy: Mother’s Day is all about me. And my second policy: I don’t even feel guilty about it!

I still love my egg casserole recipe, but I serve it on Christmas morning. Enjoy.

Egg Casserole

9 eggs beaten until blended
3 cups milk
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp dry mustard
3 slices bread, broken into pieces
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Optional:
Cooked bacon broken into pieces
Crumbled, cooked sausage
Chopped ham
Chopped, sautéed veggies: mushrooms, peppers, onions, or whatever you
love.

Sautee your selection of optional items, drain and set aside. Mix eggs, milk, salt and mustard. Stir in bread cubes and cheese. Pour into a 9 X 13 casserole dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Cover with plastic and keep in fridge overnight. In the morning, uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.

Note: this can be done with egg whites only, just increase to 18 eggs.

Happy Mother’s Day!