Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Family Food"

I remember making meatloaf as one of my son's favorite comfort foods. He teased me by calling it "meat apart," since my recipe didn't always hold together in an easy-to-slice loaf. He loved it anyway and to this day he calls it "family food" and asks for it whenever he comes for a visit.

Those crumbly meatloaves were years ago and now my son lives miles away, much too far to drop in for a simple dinner. Now our visits tend to center around holiday gatherings, with rich food traditions that do not include humble meat loaf. Easter is just around the corner and already I am looking forward to seeing my family and feasting on our ritual ham dinner.
One of the things I enjoy about buying the food for SHARE is putting together our holiday dinner packages. I found a special spice cake roll for the Easter Dinner that is just delicious! Because our distribution day comes two weeks before Easter we will take special care to select fresh produce items that will maintain their freshness, like potatoes, apples, etc. SHARE's Easter Dinner Package will make it easy and affordable to enjoy a truly festive meal with people you love. What could possibly be richer?
Order your Easter Dinner online by March 11th for pick up at a SHARE host site near you.

Here's my recipe for meatloaf, which actually does hold together quite well if I am patient enougnt to let it rest a bit before slicing. Enjoy!
Paulette's Meatloaf (AKA "Meat Apart")
Serves 4-6, with leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, diced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb each ground pork sausage and ground Italian sausage
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I make this in my coffee grinder from the heels of whole grain bread)
2 large eggs, beaten slightly
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 In a large heavy skillet cook the onion, celery garlic and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in salt and pepper Worcestershire sauce and 1/3 cup tomato sauce. Cover the skillet and let sit about 5 minutes.
3 In a large mixing bowl combine the meats, eggs, vegetables, bread crumbs and parsley. (I usually mix this with my hands--try not to over-mix) Form into a loaf and put into a rectangular baking dish.
4 Stir together the remaining tomato sauce and brown sugar. Spread over meatloaf.
5 Bake the meatloaf for one hour. Cover with foil and let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before slicing.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishing You All the Richness of the Season

It's the Friday before Christmas and we have successfully completed our SHARE the Season holiday campaign. In a couple of hours we will close the SHARE office for the holiday break. We have four Christmas dinners left out of 5100. A couple more people may stop by to purchase these and any that remain we will donate to St. Vincent de Paul.

I like having just a few dinners left. It means that no one was turned away and also we did not buy more than was needed. SHARE the Season is about making sure that no one is left outside our circle of community. SHARE volunteers worked like Santa's elves to make this happen--thousands of people joining hands and hearts to do more than any of us could ever do alone.

This volunteer activity illustrates the richness of the holiday season perfectly, bringing to life the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, "Somehow not only for Christmas but all the long year through, the joy that you give others is the joy that comes back to you."

Wishing you abundant joy and all the very best for 2012!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This Is The End Of The Food Stamp Challenge

Back in the day (about 60 years ago)...The day before payday; the people who lived in our building, all young Marines and their wives and kids, would really feel the pinch. I  suggested we gather in my kitchen on Friday and bring all the leftovers. The first time it was a mess, but we got through it and the guys got over being self-conscious. I made a hearty soup and we came up with 4 different kinds of bread for toast, biscuits and even corn bread. I had a large soup pot and it was filled to the brim with different meats and veggies. It turned out to be a favorite thing twice a month the day before payday. We became close friends. I wonder where those people are now?  Am I the only one left?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Richness of Time

Last week I wrote about saving money with SHARE, which is certainly one way to live more richly. Another way is to volunteer for something good that helps the community. As we approach Thanksgiving I want to say a special thank-you to our SHARE volunteers who make it all possible. We have orders so far for close to 9,000 Thanksgiving dinners!!

Imagine, almost all of our funds (nearly $4 million a year) first pass from the community through the hands of the volunteers. Then all the food passes back to the community through a massive volunteer effort. It is an awesome responsibility that they accomplish with a strong commitment to serve the common good.

What if everybody did this?

The gift of their time is more precious than gold. Time is a resource you can only use once. The hour spent tabulating orders or loading a truck will never come back again. I believe giving time to a volunteer activity is the ultimate expression of living richly.

I invite you to share your thoughts on how volunteerism has enriched your life.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Last Day of the Food Stamp Challenge: Out of Money and Out of Milk

Well, we made it through the week and it was a worthwhile experience. Even though I knew it was only for the week it was still an important challenge to put myself in the place of someone who truly must watch every single food dollar spent.

We had plenty of food because of SHARE, but it was a lot of work to plan and cook it all. No coming home late from work and grabbing a rotisserie chicken. Counting the mushrooms to divide them among two recipes, when I would ususally just use the whole packge. Skipping my glass of milk so there would be some for breakfast. A cup of herb tea rather than a glass of wine. None of these things were really big sacrifices, but together it made a week of always thinking about our food budget and stretching each item.

My husband's birthday dinner was ham and scalloped potatoes with a big salad. He is true to his Irish roots and loves potatoes in any form, so it was a hit with him. No cake was ok--I promised we'd celebrate again over the weekend when I have time (and money) to bake.

The Food Stamp Challenge re-enforced my idea that living richly is not a function of how much money you have or how much you spend. I think richness comes from using your resources well and giving at least as much as you get. I invite you to share your stories of living richly while maintaining your household budget. What enriches your life?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Food Stamp Challenge Continues

Dinner last night was simple to make and a treat for the eyes: stir fried chicken breast with red peppers, mushrooms and onions. I served it over the other half of the whole wheat spaghetti from Sunday. I would have liked to add some broccoli to this, but it was not in my budget. I did have some in my garden, but the rules of the Food Stamp Challenge ask you not to use food you already have.

Did you know that food stamps can be used to purchase vegetable seeds and seedlings? I wonder what the multiplier effect of having even one tomato plant in a pot would be compared to the cost of the seedling? Next year I will weigh the yield of one of my plants to find out!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Food Stamp Challenge Gets Real

Today I'm having a really tough time with the Food Stamp Challenge. Tomorrow is my husband's birthday and I realize I have not included anything in my menu plan to make him a birthday cake. I used my last egg for the corn bread last night, so I don't think I can make something that even remotely resembles a cake from the Baking Mix I got as a bonus item in the BIG Value Package. I do have apples and pears, so I can make a crisp, but our tradition is German Chocolate Cake.

How many people have to give up their family traditions when they lose their jobs? Thanks to SHARE we do have plenty of food and I am grateful for that. But I know how to plan, am a very competent cook and have a fully equipped kitchen. How would this be for someone who doesn't have years of experience? Or if you lived in a house without a working stove?

My other reality check was making both breakfast and lunch and bringing it with me to work today. I had to do a TV interview very early and didn't have time to eat before I left the house. If I wasn't adhering to this Challenge I would have skipped out the door and stopped for something to eat after the interview. Packing breakfast and lunch every day is a great way to save money, but it sure was inconvenient today.

The Food Stamp Challenge shows just how much work it is to be poor.