A surprise gift of food is a treasure.
Yesterday when I came home from work after a long day, there were two jars of homemade rib-sauce on the chair next to the front door. They were still warm. My neighbor Mary texted me shortly before I left work letting me know she'd been slow cooking ribs in red sauce all day and had put the jars out front.
Mary lives in a little barn-red house just kitty corner to my house. She's been in the Peace Corps and travelled the world, has a degree in environmental science and worked at a well known winery in Oregon helping with Crush during wine seasons a few years back. She adores soccer and is a huge Chelsea fan, sometimes catching games at the local Soccer Bar 442 when she can squeeze in a few hours without the kids. She is one of the coolest people I know basically... totally dedicated to her family and staying home with the kids while they are small. I remember what that was like. I was a stay-at-home mom with my kids until they were 2, 4, and 8. I loved staying home and taking care of my family 24/7, and those were some of the best, hardest and most rewarding years of my life. I love my job now, but I wouldn't trade that time I was able to invest in my kids formable years for anything.
One thing that I used to do was to plan out weekly menus and grocery shop meticulously, adhering to a tight budget and trying to be creative about feeding my family delicious meals. I felt like cooking was a creative outlet, and a ritual that nourished my family. When you cook for people, it's a gesture of practical love. I always feel like I am taking care of people when I cook for them, and it's a huge treat when someone cooks for me. Mary stops by every once in a while and I set her up at the counter, usually with a glass of wine or a shot of whiskey in a pretty glass, and we talk while I cook. We share recipes and attend a supper club together when time allows, and a few times we've swapped bowls of food so our family can try something a little different for dinner.
Usually, on weeknights, we either have leftovers from meals prepared over the weekend, or we throw things together that we find in the pantry and freezer. This particular weeknight meal was a luxury. Mary's sauce was a rich, tomato based sauce with bits of smoky flavored tender rib meat mixed in. Hubs ran to the local grocery store for a loaf of olive specked Ciabatta bread, some spinach and couple of small steaks. I simply poured Mary's sauce over the steaks and we had the most decadent weeknight dinner.
What's that saying? "Love thy neighbor"? Nothing shows love like sharing good food.
I felt completely spoiled and lucky to have such a thoughtful woman/mom/friend as my neighbor.
I can't wait to reciprocate this weekend and share some dark chocolate bacon brownies I'm planning on baking.