Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Spreading Joy with the Gift of Food

Sharing food spreads joy, in so many different ways.  Whether you are the giver or receiver I am sure you have felt that joy in at least one small way.  I feel it all the time and it warms my heart. I share food with my family, friends and neighbours. It is a gift that is well received by everyone, no matter their age. It is a simple gift but one you cannot put a price on.  Let me tell you some stories about the joy it brings me.

Homegrown navel oranges from our neighbour
My neighbour grows an enormous variety of edible food in his backyard.  He shares it with us often.  We are always having chats over the fence about growing produce.  We are learning so much from each other. We don't have a lot to share with him yet, but last week, he gave me some beautiful homegrown navel oranges.  I am going to make one into a Whole Orange Cake and we will share some of that cake with him.  He just loves our chickens and we share eggs with him too sometimes.  Joy!  How lovely it is to live near like-minded people who truly appreciate the value of such food. Already over the year we have been here, he has gifted us with bananas, mulberries, oranges, persimmons, dragonfruit, figs, panama berries and these exquisite berries.  Native raspberries. 

Our neighbour on the other side celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago.  She is in her eighties. We made her these delicious chocolate oat biscuits, packaged them up and we all went around to give them to her on the afternoon of her birthday.  She was so happy.  As we were leaving her daughter-in-law arrived.  The next morning she told my husband she and her daughter-in-law chatted and ate the biscuits with a quite a few cups of tea.  She said, "tell Belinda that those biscuits were delicious, that was my dinner last night!"  That story made me smile inside.  I could imagine them enjoying those biscuits and catching up.  I played a part in their joy!

My family are Italian and we are big on sharing food.  If I drop into my parents' house, you can almost bet I'm coming home with something food related.  Whether Mum has picked me up a big wedge of parmesan cheese from the European deli, or Dad has caught some fish that he has fried up and it's waiting in the fridge.  Dad is Vice President of his Italian Club and when they have events, he will often come home with a big bag of Italian Crostoli  (a fried pastry dusted with icing sugar).  These are so time consuming to make and need more than one pair of hands, so we don't get to cook them very much.  I really look forward to receiving them, they connect me to my heritage.  What a delicious gift. 

A big wedge of Parmesan cheese- yum!

Even my small nieces are understanding the joy of receiving the gift of food.  They are three and five and come over for dinner every Tuesday night. Often I will send some baked treats home with them.  They love my biscuits and my Mum told me, that when she was looking after them last week, they were excited to tell her they had brought  "Aunty Belinda's biscuits to have for afternoon tea".  At this young age, they are starting to understand this pleasure.  That makes me smile too.

My friend once started up a group called the "Ladies Preserving Society". Every season we would each make a preserve.  We would then meet, taste them, chat about them, vote on our favourites, share the recipes and each take home around eight jars of different preserves.  It was a lovely way to connect with like-minded people, of all different ages and backgrounds and we came home with pretty jars of homemade preserves.   Such an enriching experience.

My winning preserve- Strawberry Chilli Sauce
Often,  I share produce with my friends or family.  Sometimes I will take a bunch of kale and herbs to friends if we a catching up, instead of bringing flowers.  They are so grateful.  We chat about ways in which to use it or cook it.  They are always interesting conversations, sometimes they lead to chats about a special family recipe or hints we can learn from each other. Those delightful exchanges are sparked because we shared some food.

Our Russian Kale and Silverbeet

Lemons, gifted from a friend
I don't think we fully understand the ripple effect of this homemade joy, of how many people it touches.   We eat that food and we think of that person, we talk about that person, we tell others about that person and we smile.  We feel their love or their kindness with every bite.  The effects are far reaching and they are so worthwhile.  Spreading joy, we can always do with more of that in our world. 


  1. Great post Belinda. Mum and I always share and she never leaves our house without her arms full and vice versa. She left the other day and said 'are you sure there isn't anything else you want to give me.' Well actually I said 'how bout some of this slice I made'. She was only kidding of course.
    I gave half a dozen eggs to our neighbour yesterday and we also share fresh produce. The other neighbour has a lot of family gatherings and always pass on goodies to the kids.
    I can remember a friend dropping off a warm casserole when our son was unwell as a baby once - I still remember that.
    We know a guy on his own so I've made him easy meals for reheating. I remember the days when we would borrow cups of flour, milk or sugar from the neighbours and then Mum would always send us back with the replacement cup of whatever it was.
    See you've got me started now. I could go on and on.
    By the way I just showed our daughter your cookies and the little eyes lit up. I think she would love Auntie Belinda's cookies too.

    1. Ha ha Kylie, I had to stop too as their were so many other stories I could have written about. Sounds like you are spreading that joy too!

  2. So true Belinda, and what a heart warming post, Love it!

  3. Hi Belinda I have just read your blogs and have really enjoyed what you have written about so far. It is lovely to read able an persons life who is alike minded soul. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Welcome Samantha and thanks for your kind comment! Yes it is lovely to know there are others out there.

  4. What a great post! There IS something so special about sharing our abundance with others, about giving when we have plenty and about the connections made. I smiled when I read about your elderly neighbour. We used to live next to a very dear lady who had lost her husband in the war and who had never remarried. She lived on her own in the house next to us. The first time we decided to have afternoon tea together, she kindly gave me a few carefully handwritten recipes. (She was very forgiving of my first ever Jam Rolypoly!) I still have them and I smile and think of her whenever I find them in the pages of my recipe book. She passed away a long time ago now but I am glad that we shared a lovely connection to one another through food and caring. Meg:)

    1. I just love that story Meg, that is the exactly the type of interactions I was talking about. We never forget that kindness.