The day that I lost my first pregnancy, about 16 years ago, Jani called to ask if we’d made plans for dinner. It really was the last thing on my mind, and so we numbly accepted our friend’s offer of a meal. Jani, with four children of her own, took the time to make the phone call, prepare something extra, and with her youngest boy in tow she walked the meal over to our house. I still can picture it: broccoli beef stir fry, sitting on a bed of rice, with some shortbread still warm from the oven. It almost brings me to tears remembering her kindness, but then I’m a sucker for the gift of a meal.
I remember the container of frozen vegetable soup that an acquaintance—someone I had struck up a conversation with in the grocery store and later had run into at the park—dropped by my house during the week before I had my second baby. It was the middle of summer and I thought that it was so odd to give soup in June in Albuquerque. But after I was home with Molly, my appetite soaring, that soup was amazingly satisfying and delicious. I could taste the care that went into the chopping of each vegetable. Superb soup.
I remember Bev knocking on my door the day we moved into this house, ten years ago. Moving across country with three small children had left us just a little bit weary! “Would it be alright if I brought over some soup for your supper?” she asked. It was a vegetable beef soup, so perfect for a February night.
And Leo, my brother-in-law. What a mensch. Leo took a week off from his life to stay at my house and take care of my dad while our family traveled. When we walked in the door after a long day of driving, he had a meal of barbecued chicken, along with three or four side dishes, hot and on the table just as we walked in the door.
If I don’t check my blog, I can’t tell you what I made for dinner last week. I don’t remember the finest meal that I ever prepared, but I remember with rich detail the meals that were gifted my way. From my friends, I hope, I’ve learned to pass it on. When we hear that a friend is in crisis the phone call can feel awkward, but go ahead and make the call, ask if they would mind if you stopped by with a little soup.
This is Jani’s recipe:
Broccoli and Beef
Cut a piece of steak into bite sized pieces. Marinate it in soy sauce, a bit of rice wine, some sugar, oyster sauce (if you have some). Set aside.
Chop up some garlic (1 or 2 cloves), ginger (1 or 2 slices chopped into slivers) and green onions. Set aside.
Cut up broccoli and any other vegies you have on hand. Set aside.
Heat a tablespoon of peanut or vegetable oil in a large pan or wok. When hot throw in the ginger, green onions and garlic. Stir fry until fragrant. Add beef. Cook until barely done. Remove, and set aside.
Add a bit more oil to the pan (1/2 T.). Throw in the broccoli. Stir fry until they are all coated with the oil. Add a bit of water and cover. Steam until almost the way you want to eat them, then add the beef. Stir fry. When it is nearly done you can add soy sauce, a bit of sugar, some rice wine, more oyster sauce, some slices of green onion. Stir around and serve with rice.