My patient wouldn’t eat. His frail body was shrinking more by the day, his trays of hospital food untouched. As his nurse, I had to break the news to his wife.
She walked in carrying a casserole dish: his grandmother’s recipe. He perked up at the familiar aroma of sauerkraut, taking his first bites in days. She beamed with pride.
Deeply moved, I had found the inspiration for my life’s work: collecting family heirloom recipes that have comforted a sick loved one in the hospital, a nursing home, a hospice facility, or even at home.
As a hospital nurse, I have repeatedly witnessed the unique power of these foods to bring nourishment and cheer to seriously ill patients. It may be the chili that evokes a long-ago family garden, the date pudding that always lit up Christmas, or the Hungarian doughnuts pulled from bubbling oil with a young granddaughter who, decades later, turns to the sweet morsels to perk up her ailing grandmother.
When these favorites arrive, I often watch relatives crowd tightly around the patient’s bed, forming a cocoon, feeding the patient a spoonful or two. For a few minutes, the hospital bed transforms into a place of food and family, recreating happier times.
What a gift for these families! A gift that creates a generational circle: children and grandchildren learn how to make the recipe, and then years later recreate the dish for the very loved ones who taught them so well.
Those powerful stories drew me in, but I’ve found something special about recipes that have endured so many years. They’re delicious in their own right! I prepare many of them for my family and now you can too!
I continue to seek recipes to be included in My Loving Spoonful. Please submit the recipe name and story for consideration.
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