Friday, August 21, 2009

Foodie Friday: Soup Kitchen Chicken

When my babies were first born, I assumed that they were Americans, two boys and one girl of mixed Irish, Scottish, English, German, and a little Lithuanian descent. The ensuing years have proven me wrong. I gave birth to three Italian grandmothers who want to feed the world. "Mangia!" they practically shout at their friends who come over to play as they push snack options at them. While they may not always share their toys, books, and patience, they always want to share food with others. When we go to a party or potluck, they urge me to make my best recipes. When their aunt was undergoing chemotherapy last summer and we were on a dinner cooking rotation for her and her husband, they threw themselves into the project with gusto, thinking about the recipes, writing up hand lettered menus, and helping deliver the food to her home. One time, my then five year old son insisted on wearing a sombrero as we delivered a meal of Mexican lasagna and tortilla chips. My sister-in-law wasn't home so we left the food in a cooler by her front door, but at least we gave the neighbors an eyeful. When my children's religious education classes were collecting canned goods for food baskets last Thanksgiving, my daughter was horrified that she was assigned to donate yams. Her heart broke for the poor children that would get her class basket. She's not a fan of yams you see. She convinced me to donate a few boxes of instant hot chocolate as well. Given their desire to feed others, it is not surprising that we spent a wonderful afternoon last week purchasing ingredients for and cooking a chicken casserole to be served at a local soup kitchen. Of all of our projects this summer, that was my favorite. At church one recent Sunday, we received an empty aluminum casserole pan, a recipe, and directions for delivering the frozen casserole to the church parking lot the next Saturday morning where the meals would then be delivered to a soup kitchen near us that serves a hot lunch to over 200 people 365 days a year. First we had to shop for the ingredients. The children located everything on the store shelves. It was a great lesson in comparison shopping, reading, and nutrition. If I thought it was hard for me to eat nothing from a box, check out the recipe below to see how impossible it is for the poor and homeless. We brought our purchases home and prepared the casserole together. Lessons were learned there in patience, food handling, and more math. I'm always going on about nonfiction reading, and this was an ideal nonfiction reading experience. All three of my little Italian grandmothers obsessed over the meal being cooked just right and made to look appetizing. They talked about how sad it would be to have to patronize a soup kitchen and things they hope the people who run it do to make the experience as nice as possible for the diners. All three asked if we can do it again next month. Talk about a win-win situation! Here's the recipe in case you are curious:

Eva's Kitchen Chicken Casserole

6 Large Boneless Chicken Breasts (cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 Boxes Rice-A-Roni (Chicken Flavor)
1 Package Frozen Peas
1 Can Cream of Celery Soup
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 Cups Water

Prepare rice according to directions on box. Mix rice, peas, chicken, soups, and water together. Spread into greased pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated through. Serves 10.

1 comment: said...

This is so great. Thanks for posting. The spirit behind this dish is so right on but I have to admit it had a more base impact: it made me hungry!

Reading this made me think of Vivienne – she sent us a story about meeting a woman while working at a food bank in Reno, Nevada. She had this moment where she realized “wow, that could be ME”. It really reinforced for her why she does the work she does.

Check it out at the link below and give her a vote if you like the video. Thanks and hope you like it. Have a great day.