Today I am thankful for community and the way that food brings people together. This morning started off with a cup of tea and some pumpkin bread, still finishing off some I made earlier this week, and a wonderful conversation. She made the tea, I brought the bread, and we both enjoyed. You see food, breaking bread together, is an act of community. Shared tables beget shared lives.
I’ll rewind a little to when I rushed the boys out of the house this morning. Two days a week it’s my job to get them to school… within a “flexible timeframe” aka the school start time. It’s never easy; but I give myself grace since I have to be ready myself, have four children fed and clothed, and also pack everything we need for a full day of being gone before I can start the car and head out. The boys had oatmeal and yogurt this morning and they did eat some, but it felt like a flop. I’ll report more on the oatmeal after a few more attempts.
Then while the big boys were in school I had my breakfast, just that cup of tea and pumpkin bread I referred to early. But, before I left the house I had pulled out the meat for dinner and noticed the kale I had planned to use in the soup tonight had gone bad. I was in luck since my cousin grows it and my sweet boy was delighted to pick some before we headed off to pick up his brothers from preschool.
Community gardens – I ask friends, family members, neighbors, and even strangers off our local Buy Nothing group to share extras from their gardens this time of year and I’m always so in awe of their generosity and I love the stories and experiences that come from this kind of sharing.
Corban had so much fun picking the kale for the soup!
Much to the boys delight – they just love those ‘mini restaurants’ at Costco with the red and white checked tablecloths – I decided that despite my earlier resolve to not go to Costco, we needed gas and I truly felt like this was our chance. SO off to Costco we went. I wore the baby today so it really made for a mostly pleasurable trip. We are quite the spectacle and serve as everyone’s entertainment around every single bend. Not easily frazzled you’ll find me, usually, with a smile on my face a few harsh and sometimes happy words emanating from my mouth, and typically fairly optimistic that we will make it out in one piece. Despite what it may appear to others.
We filled a cart to overflowing and I’m so excited to try some of your suggestions. I grabbed the organic pizza kits (thanks to the cart employee who went to grab them for me, I looked everywhere and after several circles back I decided to ask at check out.) I’m also trying the personal naan breads with smashed avocado for lunches, the tortellini and I even snagged some margherita pizza that was on sale and I’m going to use them for my own lunches. Plus quite a few on the go snacks for the kids (z bars, granola bars, applesauce pouches, pretzel chips and pirate booty that I’ll bag into snack sizes) I also grabbed a few of our fave late night snacks for Ben and I – artichokes, popcorn, and stocked the drink fridge. These are our secret pleasures and I just don’t deny us them, I mean really, in a life filled with little ones who eat your entire meal before you can even sit down to your plate you have to have little pleasures. The cart was overflowing, we were exhausted… strike that, I was exhausted, they never seem to tire; and I was so glad that I wore the baby or we wouldn’t have had enough room!
Again finding myself out past lunch, we grabbed lunch there. Bless the Costco employee, thank you Jerica, who without even asking me knew to cut our slices of pizza in half and offered us water cups – yes I shared my caffeine free drink with them! They were champs at the store. I am so grateful for kind and aware employees who are so attentive. The family two tables over also offered to watch my cart when the big boys conveniently had to use the restroom as soon as we sat down. Oh the joy! It truly does take a village.
The truth is, despite the craziness that is eating out with our crew, I am glad we do it. It’s a chance to observe others, talk about manners, and teach them to do it well. Sometimes it’s more of a success than others. Today was probably a 7 out of 10. And that leaves me grateful.
Then begins the real fun. I stopped to pick up the last of my groceries that I left at my moms a few days ago, and left again without them. Yes my brain is greatly affected by having four children five and under. But we did get a baby feeding in, and a wee car break for which I’m also grateful.
Then we headed home. The boys helped with their chores. This consisted of them unloading groceries to the kitchen and pulling in the garbage and recycle cans while I started dinner and began the long process of putting Costco groceries away. Right as I began dinner I became aware of the fact that we only had two tiny potatoes. I was making sausage and potato soup, we affectionately call Zuppa Toscana, and is crafted to resemble the Olive Garden favorite. You guys, potatoes are the main ingredient… besides the sausage. I was cooking for a crowd and I had no potatoes for my potato and sausage soup. I set to social media and thank God for “Nextdoor” and “Facebook.” You can see this all unfold live on my Instagram Stories (until mid evening tomorrow) so don’t miss that here, but the long and short of it is that we live a long ways from a store and I have four little kids that I wasn’t about to pack up again. I could use beans or cauliflower, but it just wasn’t the same.
So I messaged my neighbor and friend. She was at work and her husband wouldn’t be home until right about the time I needed to be leaving. I about gave up when she messaged again saying her father was at her house and she’d try to get ahold of him. No luck. The she responded with, my husband has an idea. You write this message… on a piece of paper and take it to my dad. He’ll give you potatoes. He may be hesitant to open the door. but be persistent. You see her dad is visiting from the Czech Republic and does not speak English!
I carefully wrote the message down, loaded the boys (she lives up the road) and headed to her house. When I got there I knocked (let me tell you this is way more comical if you’re watching the video. I was beside myself. I rang the bell, no luck. I knocked, no luck. I left the note in the door and drove around the neighborhood for a few minutes. Hoping he’d get the note and I could return to him at the door with the potatoes. No luck. SO…. I grabbed cutie Camper and put him on my hip. I figured who could resist a gal and her cute kid. I had Camp knock on the window of the door thinking maybe he’d be seen. Sure enough my friend’s dad opened the door. I handed him the note and since he still looked skeptical all I could think to say was his daughter’s name. This left him a little less on edge so he read the note. He smiled and you could tell he was thinking fond thoughts about the craziness of this and of his daughter’s and my antics. He rummaged through the kitchen, motioning for us to be quite saying “baby.” Don’t have to tell this Momma twice.
Out come two beautifully large and plump potatoes. A grin was all I could offer, but you can count on the fact that I’ll return the potatoes and some yummy treat this weekend or early next week. Saved the day!
And with the kale from my cousin and the potatoes from my neighbor it really was Community Soup. I felt like I was in a real live version of Stone Soup.
I hope you will try the recipe and just for kicks and giggles that you’ll watch the soup get made, and the anecdotes that went with it over on my Instagram stories! There just are not words to do the experience justice. Who knew when I set out to write about food and community that this is how the day would go – not me.
So a few minutes behind schedule, but with a delicious soup in hand, I headed to our local brewery and tasting room for our Community Dinner.
Soup was a hit and yet again I watched as food brought folks together. I really can’t tell you enough just how special food is. Feeding bodies and hearts, it’s my gig, but it can easily be yours too. Add food to your next gathering that usually has none, try making a new family recipe for a group of your people. Invite a few neighbors, yes literal next door neighbors, to join you for dinner; just make the dish you know you can execute, nothing too impressive. I’m telling you the act of caring for people’s bellies just does something to their hearts.
For me seeing people full, satisfied, and even going back for seconds and thirds, is magical. But really it’s the sharing stories. Seriously when you are around the table eating, stories just come out of people. There are no awkward moments and if they do happen to arise you just shovel some bread into your mouth or another spoonful of soup. An excuse and an opportunity. Get some people around the table, I dare you, and I just know you’ll see some community blossom.
Find a way. We’ve had to get creative as we’ve added more kids to our circles of friends. We are budget friendly, family friendly, and open minded in order to do these kinds of things. It increases our flexibility, grows our hearts, and connects us more.