A comforting casserole of mac and cheese; a fresh loaf of bread with a pot of hearty soup; Grandma’s traditional coffee cake sweetened with honey – these are some of the foods we take to our family, friends, and neighbours during the life challenges that we all experience, such as the journey of hospice palliative care and grief.
But maybe these gifts of sustenance aren’t just about the food; it could be that what we’re actually providing is “a dish of kindness.”
Through our gifts of food, we’re offering our support and encouragement, an ear to listen, a heart to understand, and a hand to hold as others struggle to stand in the pain of loss and grief; we’re bringing human kindness.
Maybe it’s the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that you and your sisters made for the young widow next door, or the roaster of chili that your neighbour cooked when one of your parents was dying in hospice; no matter the dish, what counted was that the gift of food provided nourishment of body and soul when we needed support.
To offer a dish of kindness, it’s handy to have a recipe that not only uses ingredients that most of us have in our kitchens, but is super easy to make. Such is the recipe for Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake by Sarah Waxman.
This cake is delicious, moist, and keeps well. It’s my favourite recipe to take to friends and neighbours who need some kindness – it smells and tastes like real “comfort food”, and it’s easy to transport. It’s one of those foods that works when we’re too stressed to eat, but need a little something to nibble.
Waxman’s recipe calls for walnuts, but I prefer pecans – I just like them better. Also, the recipe is in old-fashioned Imperial measurements – Waxman’s cookbook, Back Roads and Country Cooking, was published in 1985.
The entire recipe can be made in a food processor. However, because I only have a small Moulinex, I use the processor for the butter-sugar mixture, and then blend the batter in a regular bowl.
Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake (Sara Waxman)
½ cup walnuts (or pecans)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
½ cup cold butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream (I often replace the sour cream with low fat plain yogurt)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, place walnuts, ½ cup of the sugar, and the cinnamon. Process, turning on and off, until mixture is combined and nuts are coarsely chopped. Pour the cinnamon-walnut mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
In the food processor, still with the same blade, place the butter, remaining 1 cup of sugar, and the vanilla. Process until all the ingredients are combined, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and sour cream (or yogurt) and process for about 1 minute, or until thoroughly mixed.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix, and then add to butter-sugar mixture. Turn the food processor on and off a few times until the flour is absorbed.
Butter and flour a 9-cup tube pan or an 8- inch spring-form pan. Place half the batter in the pan; top with half the cinnamon-walnut mixture. Add the remaining batter (it is easier if you add it by the tablespoon, and then use the spoon to spread it evenly). Sprinkle the top evenly with remaining cinnamon-walnut mixture.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. When completely cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap for delivery.
Done! How easy is that?
How have you been touched by someone’s provision of a meal or snack? What’s your favourite recipe for a “dish of kindness” ?
By: Wendy Kurchak, CT, Communications and Fund Development Coordinator, AHPCA
Parts of this article were originally posted April 27, 2012 on www.adishofkindess.blogspot.ca