Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Giving with Garden Goods

We often have talks with the boys about how we can help others.  It comes up usually when we need to go through toys, clothes, or things in our house.  And then we share them with people who may not have those same things.  It also comes up when we talk about food, if people are sick, etc. "People all over need help in different ways and we can help them.  Wouldn't you want someone to give you food if you were hungry?  Or make you warm if you were cold?" are the things I typically say.   I recognize that they are still so young and that the conversations usually go something like instead like this,
Me:  Guys....we are going to going through some of your toys and give them to some kids who don't have many toys at all.
Them:  Why don't they have any?  Why do we have to give them away?  I don't want to.
Me:  Because sometimes people don't get presents like you do or have enough money to buy a toy.  Wouldn't you want to have someone give you a toy if you didn't have any?
Them:  yeah.....but....not this truck.  don't give this away....seconds later...    "Mom--  I'm hungry.  Can we have a snack?"

So...it's not perfect and we have some work to do.  (*note--H. is much better at the concept being 6 years old.  He's able to go around his room and usually pick toys to put in the box that is being delivered to charity).  But for twin 3 years old...I'll take it.  It's at least a foundation for an ongoing conversation in our house that can be fine-tuned and discussed more as we all grow together. 

I bring this up because recently I have been helping a very dear close friend of mine raise money for Madison's Gilda's Club because it has helped her greatly deal with the reality of her cancer.  I wanted to do something that could bring two worlds together that I hold dearly--good food and helping others.
So often my husband and I have cookouts, parties, or go out to eat with friends and family.  And it's a blast.  However, this time I wanted a new layer added to it.  I wanted to use that same venue to raise money for the organization that is there for my friend (and others affected by cancer) to find strength and give support for them.   That's how I came up with Garden Goods for Gilda's! 

The theme for the dinner was using the last of our and our community's (which is our lovely neighbors' veggies and fruit trees!) garden goods to make a beautiful vegetarian based dinner.  Why vegetarian?  Well, in addition to the obvious of it being a very healthy way to eat and celebrate what we just picked from the garden.....eating vegetarain encompasses many elements (phytochemicals,phytonutritients, and antioxidants, etc...) of an anti-cancer way of eating.  And I thought this was appropriate in light of who we wanted to raise money for.  All the money raised at the dinner was donated to the Madison's Gilda's Club.  And I'm happy to say that for a first time gig.....we did pretty darn well!

My husband and I told the boys that we were going to have a part,y and lots of people and kids were going to come over.  Ususally however, when we have a party at our house it's for a birthday or holiday.  So it wasn't surprising when each of the boys asked (repetitively mind you....), " But why are we having a party?  Why this? 
Why that..why...why..why....?"  I reminded them of the different ways we can do thing in our lives  to help people and this was just another way to do it.  I didn't get into too many details...they weren't quite grasping the intangible concept of how this dinner was going to help someone.  Later...later.....we'll get to that later in a few years :)

BUT,.....they did help get involved in the preparation of the meal. And for anyone reading this who was at our GGG dinner, please know that I made them wash their hands for a full two alphabet's-worth of singing! :)   H.  helped make his carrot raisin salad, and S. and G. helped make apple crisp.  And all of us--hubby, I and kids--raided the garden together one night before the frost to save all the veggies for dinner.  I know they didn't understand the "how" of why having friends over, eating dinner together and helping mommy make the food is really "helping people".   But again.....it's the exposure.  And over time they will understand.  And we had fun getting ready for it!  (And to those who helped me pull it together...whether it was cleaning, lending me kitchen tools, or helping with the kids...you know who you are....THANK YOU!!!)

The dinner was a success :)  Good food.  Good people.  Kids all over.  People meeting new people and having new conversations. Kids riding bikes outside (even in the dark) with laughter (some crying with the now and then owie), even in the light rain.  It was awesome and I loved every second of it.   

my little H. is getting so big. He helped peel the carrots to make his "famous" carrot raisin salad for the dinner. Look at that focus....

peppers and onions from the garden getting ready to be roasted in the oven for the pepper bruschetta. Isn't the color beautiful??
I just picked the kale from my generous neighbor's garden about 5 minutes before I took this picture the morning of the dinner. Such a beautiful healthy green color....look at that vibrancy....all going in our belly! Yum!
And the kale afterwards....Who knew it was so delicious? This salad is one of the dishes that I questioned if people would enjoy because it was, well... "kale".    But I have to say...it was a hit!
little H's famous carrot raisin salad. could it be any simpler? 
2 ingredients: shredded carrots and raisins. 
Boom. Done.

Apple Almond Butter sandwiches!  On the menu for the kids, but I think they were a huge hit with adults too!  This plate initally was STACKED with them!

Main Dish:  Butternut Sqush with Brown Rice and Quinoa with a Sage Brown Butter sauce topped with pecans. Hello delicious!
Squash and sage were from the garden:)

clockwise from bottom left: citrus kale salad, sage butternut squash with brown rice and quinoa, apples and cheese, apple almond butter sandwiches, roasted bell pepper bruschetta

M. going back for seconds:)

See!  Even the growing amount of testosterone in the room loved the meal :)  Kids loved H.'s carrot salad and the sandwiches.  Beautiful sight.....kids having fun the whole night.  There was a lot of goofy giggles!

H.'s Dad ready to eat...great smile!

S. enjoying some of the apple crisp made with apples from neighbor's apple tree topped with whole grain yumminess!

What a beautiful mama and her little boy! Sharing some apple crisp and cuddles :)

Java waiting for a even one little morsel to drop (or for a guest to see her sad face and just give in and give her a bite!)
Ahh....Family.  Beautiful.

Me and H.  Love you H. ! 

Adorable family! Now....if only they could get a little more sleep....I think their little tikes have been keeping them up at night!

Guests dishing up the garden goods.....  It was so fun to watch everyone try all the dishes.

Friends meeting new friends

I hope that someday my kids too will see the beauty in giving and living in the experience of it.   In the meantime we'll just keeping exposing them to it and talking about it.   And for myself ....this experience was awesome.  The part of me that just wants to be involved, helping, and hands on was sitting on cloud nine. 

Garden Goods for Gilda’s
Saturday October 13th, 2012


Parmesan Popcorn & Cinnamon Popcorn

Apple, Pear, & Cheese assortment




Additional Kids’ items:

Apple Almond Butter Sandwiches


  1. YUM! Wish I could have been there! You are an inspiration - your gardening, cooking and blogging skills are second only to your incredible heart. The world is a better place for your being in it.

  2. I wish you could have been there too! Miss you lots :) It was fun :)

  3. Jess, I would love to get your squash soup recipe. It was Delicious!