AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Feeding the Spirt DATE: 9/03/2008 10:12:00 AM ----- BODY:
The best way to be supportive when friends have challenging times is to bring a meal. Challenges can be positive or negative, but they are always disruptive to peoples' daily lives. This month, one friend of mine was challenged with a new baby, and another was challenged by chemotherapy. Food provides both literal and spiritual nourishment.

For the friend who just had a baby, her days (and nights) are consumed with feedings and diapers changes. If she’s lucky, she’ll sneak in a nap or a shower. The last thing on her mind is cooking. And yet, a proper meal is probably in the top three things that will help her get through the challenging first weeks and months. Sleep and exercise are the other two, but I couldn't bring them over in a pyrex dish. Pasta salad with corn, chanterelles, chicken and bacon is an easy meal to heat and eat. She can hold the baby in one arm and eat with the other. And should she have a few moments of quiet, Portobello-Eggplant Napoleons with Fred Flintstone Tomato Sauce and Seared Chicken can add a little festivity to the day.

As for the friend going through chemo, she just needs a distraction. During the three weeks between treatments, she has a small window of time of feeling semi-normal with energy and an appetite. The dinner I brought was an occasion to invite friends over, celebrate life, and for a few hours, forget about her troubles or talk them through.

I had wanted to make Lemon-Ricotta Ravioli with Osso Buco for a long time, and was waiting for the occasion (and the time) to do it. When I saw veal shanks on sale at Whole Foods last week, I heard my calling. This rich dish also seemed like a great meal for Kath, as I’m sure she’s trying to keep weight through the chemo. In case this was too rich, I also made a platter of vegetables -- a veritable antipasto – which would be nutritious and easy to digest if she was still feeling nauseated.

Taking my cue from friend Dina, I gave special treatment to each item on the platter:

Grilled Bread, sliced mozzarella and fresh tomatoes from my garden filled the platter.

Kath had warned me that she probably wouldn’t eat much, so I was thrilled when she took seconds of the vegetables, and extra ravioli!

Here’s to healthy and joyous times with friends!
A few years ago, I contributed to a cookbook called “Great Chefs Cooking for Great Friends.” The book was published by Dana-Farber and all proceeds go to support cancer research. You can buy the book by clicking here.

Or… according to the Jimmy Fund website:
Great Chefs Cooking for Great Friends features 140 recipes from 70 of Boston's most celebrated chefs, including Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger, Jasper White of Summer Shack, Laura Brenna of Caffe Umbra, and Ken Oringer of Clio. The book costs $35, and is on sale at the Friends' Corner Gift Shop in the Dana-Farber lobby, or call (617) 632-3307.
----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:9/03/2008 09:13:00 PM How lucky both friends are to have you in their lives. Food nourishes friendship in so many ways. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Bishop22 DATE:9/04/2008 08:22:00 PM Yay beets! I did some in foil, but they're too gelatinous for me. Either way I think I need to roast them a long time until they partly dry out and roast. ----- --------