Kitchen Kindness

Your kitchen is a great place to retreat when trying to show someone you are concerned.

Patti Higgs is married to Pastor Jerry Higgs. They live in Tennessee.

Many of the events of the past few years have brought sorrow to our world. The deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa prove that death is no respecter of persons. Yet it was reassuring to see millions of people show their love for these two women in the form of flowers and written condolences. Those who are in bereavement or suffering illness need to know how much others care. Your kitchen is a great place to retreat when trying to show someone you are concerned.

My husband is a minister. Being a pastor allows him the privilege of visiting and comforting the sick, the dy­ing, and the families left behind. Because I work outside the home, I am not always able to accompany him on his visits; in fact, it is a rarity. This doesn’t mean I don’t care; I do. Going to my kitchen and creating something that will fill another's need enables me to be part of the comforting process.

In the South, the tradition of taking covered dishes to the bereaved family when there is a death has long been practiced. I hope that never changes. It frees members from the work of feeding a family. Life truly does go on, and whatever we can do to make life easier for the survivors is a worthy endeavor and must continue. Preparing food for a family who has a sick family member is also a great comfort. I know, I’ve been there. Several years ago I had two very serious surgeries within one week. My family would have suffered a great deal more had it not been for all the wonderful food people brought to them. After all, the cook was out!!

The one thing I like to give in times like these are muf­fins. Homemade muffins. Muffins that are hearty, moist, and warm. Muffins that are all snuggled in a tea towel and bedded down in a basket create a sense of caring. And muf­fins can be eaten any time of the day! Sometimes I include some herb tea (my favorite) to have with the muffins. I always try to send my food in something that doesn’t have to be returned. If I do want the container back, I take care to put my name and phone number on the bottom of the container.

When preparing food for a family, consider the mem­bers. Are there small children? Teenagers? Elderly people? Different age groups like different kinds of foods. Include any cooking instructions right on the dish—temperature, time, etc. If you know others who are contributing food, call and ask what they are sending—you can only eat so many chocolate cakes! Last but not least, ask the family if they need someone to help clean up. A dish-washing angel will always get to heaven first!

Remember, funerals are for the living. Do something that helps the bereaved family. Remember the good things about the person who has passed away. Share your thoughts. Reminisce with family members. Show them you care.

Don't deprive someone of something good from your kitchen or yourself of a real blessing from sharing. Bake muffins for a friend. There doesn’t have to be a reason. Give them for no reason except love. But before you send them out—have one yourself!

Harvest Apple Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup oat bran

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

3/4 cup vanilla yogurt

1 1/2 cups chopped unpeeled apples

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and blend well. Add the oil, eggs, yogurt, and apples. Mix with a mixer until well-blended. Stir in the dates, raisins, and walnuts. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 6-8 extra-large muffins; can also be baked in three or four mini-loaf pans. 

Banana Nut Muffins

2 cups flour

1/2 cup oat bran

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/3 cup oil

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and blend well. Add the eggs, oil, mashed bananas, yogurt, and vanilla. Mix with a mixer until well-blended. Stir in the nuts. Fill muffin cups 1/2 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes 12 extra-large muffins.

NOTE: You can add a topping of 2 tablespoons each of dry oatmeal, sugar, and finely chopped nuts to the muffins before baking. Blend the topping with your fingers and sprinkle a scant amount on each muffin.