Just short of two years ago, I was making my way around the inside perimeter of our new house with my sage smudge stick...clearing the air of any lingering negative energies...readying it for our family to start a new chapter of our lives in. I had just finished when I heard a knock on our never-before-used front door. A smile and a plate of proffered cupcakes. A "welcome to the neighborhood" from the couple (and their dog) across the street. It was a simple gesture, but it meant the world. Open arms reaching out instead of what could have been furtive glances over turned shoulders.
There was also a time almost seven years back when we came home from the hospital with our new bundle of joy swaddled into that tiny...yet ridiculously heavy...car seat. One and a half year old in tow and a wide-eyed six year old bounding ahead. The last thing we wanted to do was think about what was for dinner. Fortunately, a weeks worth of dinners was set to start that night. They arrived with warm congratulations and coos for the sweet baby. Bags, boxes, pots and pans...and the best thing of all...they were ready to eat! I did make sure I was on the giving end of this supportive chain of meals for moms for quite a few years, as well. Because there's nothing like coming home from the hospital with your first or your fifth and having your meals already prepared!
This is the basic premise of The Good Neighbor Cookbook by Sara Quessenberry and Suzanne Schlosberg. "125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Surprise and Satisfy the New Moms, New Neighbors, Recuperating Friends, Community-Meeting Members, Book Club Cohorts, and Block Party Pals in Your Life!" I love this concept and the book is filled with fantastic ideas and tips in each chapter. The first chapter, Bringing Home Baby has not only recipes but talks about everything from nourishing the new mom (did you know that introducing a variety of flavors into the diet of a breastfeeding mom is thought to make less picky eaters later!?) to organizing a meal train for the family of the newborn.
I decided to make a batch of the Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins from this chapter, which the authors say are great to have around for "breakfast or an odd-hour pick-me-up." I agree! The subtle nuttiness lent by the brown butter flecks the batter with an extra layer of comfort. The fat blueberries add antioxidants. You may know that I'm not the biggest muffin fan in the world, but these are some that will stay in my arsenal. My favorite blueberry muffin by far. Now. I must go hunt down some pregnant ladies...
In the second chapter, Get Well Soon, recipes have been selected with particular ingredients that are rich in healing properties and immune-boosting nutrients...plus, since people are less active than usual when recovering, the recipes tend to be lighter. Plus they throw in some more great ideas for organizing, planning, and adding a little something for the caregiver.
Welcome to the Neighborhood (chapter three) ranges the gamut from ideas on quick bites, whole meals, and things for the weary, moving-box-hauling, tired new residents to little "extras" you may want to include in your delivery such as your favorite local spots.
Chapter four brings us to Block Parties and Barbecues. Included is everything from main dishes to side dishes to meatless options and desserts. Suggestions for divvying up dishes so that you're not faced with a table full of desserts and nothing to nourish your belly beforehand. Also included are lots of fun seasonal ideas for adding an unexpected twist with herbs. Moving into chapter five, Meet and Eat, you'll find ideas to add life to what could be a lackluster meeting or agenda with "freshly made finger foods, sweet treats, and satisfying breakfast entrées." It also includes ideas for fixing up store-bought food if you're in a hurry and don't have time to make something before the gathering.
Chapter six talks about Novel Ideas for Book Clubs. A book in one hand and the other free to grab goodies such as these utterly irresistible Rosemary and Chili Spiced Cashews. Feel free to wave your arm around in excitement while discussing your ideas on the latest book choice...if you can keep them out of these nuts! Seriously. They're addictive.
Or perhaps you'll be sidling over the side table that has a bowl of these super-easy to prepare Lemon and Garlic-Marinated Mushrooms. Admit it. Food that you have to pick up with toothpicks is fun. These mushrooms are fantastically bright from the lemon and laced with paper-thin shards of garlic. Yum.
Now, at the time I didn't really realize it, but apparently I was lingering in the Novel Ideas for Book Clubs chapter. That's just so like me. But if I hadn't been, I wouldn't have found a sweet treat bring along that is sure to satisfy both chocolate and spice lovers, these Chocolate Chip and Candied Ginger Blondies. They're sweet and addicting and a bit different form the norm. I will tell you, however, that if somebody does not like candies ginger...then don't try to slip one of these under the radar and into their hand. I love candied ginger...the hubs and oldest son think it tastes like soap. So do I even have to tell you that while I enjoyed a few blondies in moderation...they turned up their noses at one bite. Ah well. Can't please everyone all the time.
The final chapter is Condolences. Whether you're delivering a meal in the period immediately following the loss of a loved one or stopping by a month or so later when perhaps they've worked through a fridge full of immediate deliveries or even on the anniversary of their loved ones death, the recipes in this chapter are sure to bring comfort and ease the burden on a heavy heart. At least for a while when they're enveloped by a plate, dish, or bowl of homemade goodness...such as this Chicken Tortilla Soup. It's warm, rich, and complex and guaranteed to bring a little happiness to anybody.
So. That said. I definitely recommend you check out a copy of The Good Neighbor Cookbook if you're the type of person who loves the idea of sending some homemade comfort to loved ones and strangers alike. Or if you just want more delicious ideas and recipes for your arsenal...it's packed with thoughtful ideas and delicious recipes.
*I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher to review, should I choose. I received no compensation for my review and the reviews stated in this post are all mine. MINE! My opinions. Thank you.