November is a great month for “giving back”. A time to be grateful for all the blessings we have in our lives and to recognize those less fortunate. I love that my boys get so excited about participating in giving and also experience enormous benefits from helping others. It is so important for their self-esteem because they feel their help is important and they feel more valuable as individuals. To me, it is a huge sense of pride and accomplishment knowing they are capable of helping others. Not only so they develop empathy for the people they help, they learn to respect people’s differences. There are numerous ways to give back. My favorite of course is the gift of food.
Providing meals for others can provide a sense of comfort with the other ups and downs of life. For those who have never experienced this tradition before, receiving a sympathy meal or gifted meal can have an incredible impact in the midst of grief or just that friendly gesture of a night off from feeding the family.
For tips on making meals extra special, we took some tips from Marge Perry, who offers these ideas:
• Don't make it a surprise—talk to your friend about what day works best for the delivery. Anticipation of the meal is part of the fun.
• Be sure to include a menu so recipients know exactly what they're getting.
• Provide disposable plates, utensils, and napkins so cleanup is easy.
• Bring food in a casserole dish that's part of the gift; don't make the recipient responsible for returning your dishes. Alternately, use disposable containers.
• Provide heating/freezing instructions.
• Include a small treat for other family members: dog bones or cat toy.
• Tuck in a time-consuming puzzle to keep a toddler busy while Mom tends to a newborn or wraps presents.
• Include a separate package with tea bags and candles for peaceful moments: nice for new moms.
Here is the recipe and video’s for one of my favorite drop-off meals.
Onion Jam Chicken
1 Jar Bellisari's Balsamic Shallot & Black Garlic Spread
1 (4- to 5-pound) Whole Chicken, neck and giblets removed from the cavity
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Medium Lemon, thinly sliced (optional)
Fresh herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, or thyme
Place the chicken on a work surface or cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut off and discard any extra fat hanging around the body cavity.
Drizzle the oil on the chicken and rub it all over the skin. Season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the lemon and herbs inside the cavity. Place the chicken breast-side up in a large frying pan or cast-iron skillet.
Spread Bellisari’s Balsamic Shallot Spread over chicken.
Roast the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375°F and a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 165°F, about 50 minutes to 1 hour more.
Remove the chicken from the oven and place on a cutting board. Let it rest about 15 to 20 minutes before carving.