{the new year} Baking for the Neighborhood

2011 was the year of food, for me.

Food blogging, food swapping, exploring food preservation methods and diving into the world of acquiring local foods.

It was during 2011 that I stumbled upon the FSC food swaps and found a place among kindred spirits.

2011 was also a year of hardship: my mom was diagnosed with cancer then had surgery, and my husband lost two grandparents (and one more this past week).

Sickness and death can very quickly realign your priorities, helping you to slow down and appreciate loved ones while also encouraging you to care for those around you.

It was with these thoughts in mind that I decided on a plan for the coming year.

I am going to bake for my neighbors

While this idea is by no means profound, I hadn’t really considered it too seriously before now.

As these winter months progress, I am realizing more and more how LITTLE I actually see of my neighbors. We are all shut in our own houses, or if we are outside, we are running to our cars. We rarely bump into each other during these cold months.  I often have had the desire to visit with those living on our street, but have never really gone out of my way to do so.

As I step back and re-prioritize relationships and time, I am desiring more and more to connect with the people around me. While I could simply just go knock on their doors and strike up a conversation, I have decided to make this resolution a double win.

I will bake for them!

I LOVE to bake. This is no secret. And often I have the desire to bake, but have had to resist it in an effort to control the vast quantity of desserts in our house.  {One can, in fact, have too many cookies I have discovered!}.

So, this year I am planning on cooking up sweet treats and passing them around to my neighbors.  No holding back. No wimping out.  Who wouldn’t like a warm cookie in the dead of February?  Or a yummy loaf of banana bread? I am not planning on any crazy towers of chocolate, or mountains of sugary frosting, just regular, every day, comfort foods.

Cookies, breads, muffins.

The communal power of food doesn’t have to be lost just because its 10° outside.

This year I strive to combine the importance of people and relationships with the greatness of good food.

Seems like a double win, doesn’t it?


23 Comments Add yours

  1. Ooh, I love this! I have the best neighbors who are frequently dropping off little goodies – soups, jars of jam, fresh eggs or milk, breads – and I try to bring something to them once a month. In the summers, we’re all out in our gardens, so Mrs. B across the street might bring me some garlic in exchange for a bunch of basil, and Mrs. D up the road will come over with heads or broccoli as a thank-you for the jar of pickles I bestowed on her. It’s just such a great feeling to know your neighbors. I wish I was your neighbor – I know how well you can bake!!

    Sorry to hear about the loss and tragedy in your family this year. You are in my thoughts for 2012.

    1. Becky says:

      Deanna, your neighbors sounds lovely. I hope my neighborhood becomes half what yours is!!!!

  2. I think this is such a great idea.. I’ve shared a bit with friends and they are always so appreciative. I can imagine they would be delighted to have some of your lovely baking!

    1. Becky says:

      Thanks. I think I am bringing around small loaves of pumpkin bread for starters. A lot of my neighbors are older and have told me they dont want really sweet treats!!!! I personally want to make a batch of cookies for my own sweet tooth, but I will start slow and see how it goes!!!

  3. juliecache says:

    I lost three great-grandparents in one year — 1985. I love your resolution. I read about someone who always baked a gooseberry pie and left it on the neightbor’s doorstep upon moving in to a new house for exactly the same reason. Best to you.

    1. Becky says:

      It is hard to loose a generation all within one year. I am sorry you went through that. A gooseberry pie must have been a nice welcome to those families!!! What a rare treat!

  4. Betsy says:

    Sounds great – I can’t wait to hear how it goes! I used to bake for neighbors more, and realized the other day that I haven’t done that since I became a mom!

    1. Becky says:

      Thanks Betsy! Let me know how it goes with you as well, if you decide to start up again with your own neighbors!!!

  5. Heather F. says:

    I love this!

    1. Becky says:

      Thanks Heather!!!

  6. Shirley says:

    Awesome life lessons learned, and a great way to reach out to your neighbors.
    “You’ve learned well grasshopper” to quote a wise man.

    1. Becky says:

      Thanks. I just hope I actually stick with it.

  7. I think it is an inspired idea. I too wish you were my neighbor (for more reasons than just cookies). I hope you make some nice friends. Love…

    1. Becky says:

      Hahah! Those were the good old days when we lived near each other. But, I never did bring you cookies back then did I? Just brought over a baby for you to snuggle with 🙂

  8. June says:

    I used to do this when I was a stay at home mom. (Now I just cook occasionally for one widower). It really helps to get to know your neighbors.
    No longer a stay at home mom, I took some time this weekend to bake some cookies and share with someone at work. A small share on my part created much appreciation. Keep cooking, gals!

    1. Becky says:

      That is wonderful that you still look after a widower in your neighborhood. And how timely is this post??..you were just baking for your friend at work!!! What a great example for all of us at home and at work! Thanks for sharing June

  9. What a wonderful resolution! We have two traditions in our family along these lines. One is baking at least 5 or 6 varieties of cookies on Christmas Eve and then handing out a tin to each household on our street (we have about 9 houses). We will also often bake bread in batches of 4 or 5 loaves so that we have enough to last a little while. It is almost seen as bad luck in our family if we do not pass at least one of these loaves onto a neighbour. Our big challenge is that we have one neighbour who cannot eat gluten, dairy, sugar or eggs – we could pass along soup but it just isn’t the same as bake goods … would love some recipes.

    1. Becky says:

      I love the idea of making the 4-5 loaves of bread at once, and that you usually end up passing some along to neighbors each time. Lovely. Food allergies do make food swapping tricky, especially when there are multiple (as with your neighbor). There are some great recipes on this site, but I do recommend talking to your neighbor before making anything as everyone’s allergies are SO specific and you wouldn’t want to contaminate them somehow with an ingredient. Maybe you could bring flowers from garden, or some coffee/tea. Let me know what you come up with!!!

  10. Chet says:

    What a great resolution. Imagine the transformation you could start in a community by being the first to do this and having others catch on with the idea.

    1. Becky says:

      Chet, agreed. It sounds exciting to think of our neighborhood coming alive with activity. A lot of our neighbors have been living here for years, but as the newcomers we haven’t gotten to know many of them. We are looking forward to building friendships with those around us and helping to care for those that are older and could use assistance on occasion.

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