edible gifts

The Shared Care Package by Cynthia Raub

As a young woman in my teens and early twenties, I felt invincible - my precocious mind and impertinent tongue kept my fragile ego safe from others. Deflection was a badge of honor, and I was proud of my acerbic wit - it caught people off guard and made them laugh, all while teetering on the edge of being inappropriate. This was all fun and fine as it was just part of my "charm" (for better or worse). But as my life's issues and problems began to morph from juvenile judgements and thinking way too much about other people and how they lived their lives, I started being more concerned and proactive about the life I wanted to live and who I wanted to be. 

An important part if this new growth and self-awareness came from a friendship with my college BFF. She was an fascinating open book: self-aware, vulnerable, honest in both her confidence and her insecurities. We would talk and she would share her feelings unabashedly, I would listen and say "yeah." She would ask if I could commiserate: have I ever felt self conscious like this? Have I ever felt angry like that? "No, not really . . . " I'd confidently say, unable to scratch the surface of my vulnerability.

Soon enough, she stopped sharing and she began responding to my questions in the same way I had answered her. She became a little unavailable and short of depth, providing fewer opportunities for us to connect. It didn't take me too long to realize what had happened and how or why things had changed. I realized that because she shared so much with me, I felt close to her. But because I didn't reciprocate, she didn't feel quite the same for me. I desperately began to share more with her in an attempt to halt her retreat. Slowly but surely, I realized that my self depreciation and honesty was a beacon: it was safe and called to others to approach with less apprehension. My relationships became fortified, I began to shed my prickly exterior - allowing others to poke around. Believe it or not, I still have a tremendous amount of self-work I need to do, but this awareness would not be possible without the realizations I had with this friendship. 

This dear friend recently became the mother she was always meant to be. I'm so excited for her family and this next stage of life! I hope, deeply, to be a beacon of commiseration through this amazing and overwhelming time for her. When mommy and baby were discharged from the hospital, I brought her this food-filled care package to welcome the new family of three home - lots of yummy treats and snacks to nosh on while they navigate their first week home. 

Follow us to one of the recipes:

Chicken Salad

The Shared Labor of Love by Amy Cantu

Six and a half years ago, I called a huddle in the middle of my friend's kitchen with my bridesmaids. Our task: make 102 small jars of raspberry jam as favors for my upcoming wedding. The crazy voice in my head said, "This is noooooo problem. This is a completely reasonable task for your bridesmaids. Bridesmaids are just indentured servants right??? When else, (besides your wedding,) do you test the limits of your friendships?!" Yes, my inner-cuckoo was strong that day. Cartons upon cartons of raspberries were stacked up precariously around us, threatening to tumble down and bury us at any moment. I had never made jam before, let alone for 102 people, nor had I ever scaled a recipe to yield so many servings. What I did have were friends who clearly loved me enough to slave over a hot stove on a hot summer day to help me figure it all out. We churned out batch after batch of sweet, sticky, bright pink raspberry jam - each jar topped with a small square of floral fabric and painstakingly tied with a bit of ribbon. In that moment, I had never felt so loved by this group of friends who stood by me through all of my food-related (and non-food-related) drama, and again to bear witness to the love and happiness on my wedding day - the jam was truly a labor of love.

Once more, I found myself stirring together a big pot of jam, but this time with the help of much smaller hands. One of my besties had her seven year-old niece, Aaliyah, over for a visit, so together with my four year-old, Alex, we all gathered in the kitchen with a flat of peaches and a couple cartons of raspberries to make a yummy gift that Aaliyah could take home to her family. Raspberry Peach Jam and Buttermilk Biscuits! The kids couldn't wait to cover their hands in fruity goo! Their faces were wrought with deep concentration, as their little fingers nimbly peeled the skin from the peaches and scooped the flesh into a giant bowl. They giggled as the peach juices dribbled down their hands and arms and onto the counter. Again, my heart swelled with love, but this time because I was witnessing two small children learn the rewards of sharing and giving food with the generosity of their hearts.

Follow us to the recipes:

Raspberry Peach Jam

Easy Buttermilk Biscuits