When Deb, my neighbor, showed up on my doorstep with a steaming pan of lasagna, I practically wept with gratitude. I'd just come home from a week's stay in the hospital, and even scrambling a few eggs seemed like an Olympic event. Overwhelmed, exhausted and anticipating a dinner of cold cereal, I knew I'd received the best "get well" gift imaginable.
My family and I tore into that lasagna, which would have been delicious in the best of circumstances but was especially nourishing in the worst. That meal reminded us that our friends and neighbors would help us get through a tough time, and that warmth and comfort would return. Since then, I often bring food to friends and neighbors who might need a hand. Rather than just asking, "What can I do?" I drop off a meal, snack or little treat. Whether it's to celebrate the birth of the baby or to lend help to a grieving friend, offering the gift of a meal is a simple, intuitive way to say "I care."
Story and recipes by Amy Sgarro, a food writer in Montclair, N.J.