Cooking to Show You Care

In learning to cook, Suzanne Schlosberg acquired a new way to show she cares.

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- Posted on Jul 20, 2011

Suzane Schlosberg and her kids prepare to deliver a "good neighbor" meal

I carefully crack another egg, and the yolk and white plop into a mixing bowl. I only have to spoon out just a bit of shell. Not bad for me. I check the recipe for the next step and stir in one and a half cups of milk.

I’m doing it! Making spinach quiche to take to a woman from synagogue who’s recuperating from surgery. Me. Suzanne Schlosberg! Not that long ago the idea would have been laughable. I barely knew how to make toast.

Once, when a friend had a baby, I’d had a pizza delivered to her. Why not? My husband, Paul, and I lived on takeout.

Then I had babies—twin boys, Ian and Toby. That first week home from the hospital I didn’t think I’d survive. Sleep was impossible. We subsisted on cereal and peanut butter, when we remembered to eat at all.

One afternoon I opened the door to get the mail. There on the step were two huge plastic containers with notes stuck to their lids: “Taco Soup. Eat now.” and “Freeze for later.”

I screamed for joy and ran the canisters into the house. Paul and I ladled soup into two bowls, zapped it in the microwave and devoured it. In an hour, the “Eat now” container was empty.

The soup was more like chili, a thick brew of three kinds of beans, hamburger and tomatoes. Hearty and delicious. I looked longingly at the second tub and marveled at how one person had made me feel so loved and cared for. One day, I vowed, I’ll do this for someone else.

Eventually my life returned to something close to normalcy. I joined a book club and a group for mothers of twins and triplets. At every meeting there were homemade goodies. At synagogue there were always requests for food. I wanted to join in. There was just one problem. I still didn’t know how to cook.

Then I met Sara Quessenberry. For her, cooking was as natural as eating. She actually invented her own dishes. I told her how I dreamed of one day saying those magic words: “What can I bring?”

She wrote down some recipes for me. “Try these,” she said. “Cooking is like anything else. It gets a lot easier the more you do it. Just follow all of the directions.”

I made hummus with homemade pita chips for the next book-club meeting. New neighbors moved in. I took them a plate of fudgy brownies. Then a friend had a baby. I remembered that amazing taco soup.

I flipped through the recipes Sara had given me and found one for sweet potato and rice soup. It sounded a little tricky. Could I really pull it off?

Two hours later I knocked on my friend’s door and handed her a giant tub filled with soup. “Enjoy!” I said. She thanked me, but it was seeing her face go from bleary-eyed to blissful that meant the most to me. I’d been there. And not that long ago.

“It gets better,” I said. “One step at a time.” It felt wonderful to give her a bit of warmth and comfort. I’d learned how to cook. More than that I’d discovered how easy it is to show I care.

Now I take the quiche from the oven and cover the pan with foil. I can’t wait to deliver it. I know it will be appreciated. Maybe it will turn out to be food for the soul too, like the love that warmed me even more than that simple bowl of taco soup did.

Try Suzane's recipe for Crustless Spinach Quiche. And read her six tips on How Be a Good Covered-Dish Neighbor.

 

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