One of my favorite people turned 40 last week. His amazing wife (another of my favorite people) is throwing him a party tonight and guess who is catering?
Months ago, I offered my services to Lauren. I told her I would be happy to do something as simple as bake a cake and as complicated as cater the whole party. She kept telling me she didn’t know what to do for him. 10 years ago, when he turned 30, she flew him to Napa and had a few of us come down to meet them. She had reserved a convertible for them to drive from the airport and a limo for all of us to tour the wineries. She had made appointments at wineries and made dinner reservations for the group, all without him knowing about it.
These days, lives are a little more complicated. They have young children and busy careers. They just finished a kitchen remodel. And because John is one of the more mellow people I know, she dragged her feet a bit on the planning front. A month ago, she called to tell me to reserve this Saturday for a party at their house. Last week, she called to ask me to help with food.
Now, her request was very simple. Could I just make a couple of things and they would handle the rest? I could have said yes to just that. I could have made an appetizer or two and maybe even a cake. But these aren’t just any friends. These are the friends whose house I stayed at the night my ex-husband moved out of the house. And not only did I stay at their house, but they took me out for sushi and didn’t ask me any questions. These are the friends who later stood by me during a long and painful relationship that they knew was wrong for me. These are the friends who planned a wedding shower for me, helped me with a wedding and reception, and through two pregnancies and infancy of two children. These are lifelong friends.
I believe in the idea of paying kindness forward. Throughout John and Lauren’s incredible display of friendship to me in difficult times, I knew that there was no way I could repay them for what they showed me. They have one of the best marriages I know – there is no way I can directly support them they way they did me. But I have kept them in mind when I have done acts of kindness for others. When Randy and I went off on our honeymoon, I gave a key to our house to a friend who was fighting with her boyfriend. She felt trapped and I wanted her to have a safe place to go. I thought of John and Lauren as I handed over the key. I thought of them the other day when I gave my babysitter some extra money because she is going through a tough break-up. I wanted her to be able to do something nice for herself. I am trying to pay forward what they did for me.
Catering this party is a big thank you to them. Thank you for so many things that are long in the past and thank you for being such great friends. They both love good food and I am thrilled to be able to nourish them and their guests. The fact that I get to eat it too is an added bonus!
My blog has been quiet this week as I have been preparing for the party. I have been cooking each day but not much has been photo worthy. I would not qualify myself as an organized person but when I cook for a party, I do very un-Dana like things such as make lists and time manage. It’s a must with two small boys in the house. I will bring my camera tonight and will take lots of photos. I will post recipes of the dishes that people like best. For now, I give you these crackers. I first saw them last week on Hélène’s blog (she got the recipe here), and knew I had to make them right away. For all you Raincoast Crisp fans out there – here is a way to make them at home without spending the $8 per box.
One Year Ago: Getting Started
Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps
Adapted from Dinner with Julie
Makes 6-8 dozen crackers
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seed, ground
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended.
Pour the batter into two 8″x4″ loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. You can leave it until the next day or pop it in the freezer. Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake them for 15 minutes. Flip them over and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until crisp and deep golden brown. Remove from the sheets to a cooling rack. They will continue to crisp as they cool.