After I gave birth things at home were hectic. At one point my parents-in-law, sister-in-law, her husband and their 18 month old were here and it was not the peace and quiet I had hoped for. My sister-in-law Montse cooked a lot but she also had to take care of her daughter so I couldn’t expect her to help 24/7. I was really overwhelmed and at a loss about what to do and how to care for a tiny baby. My mom couldn’t come to Saudi so she couldn’t help.
It was around this time that some of my friends (and their friends) organized a week of home-cooked, delivered-to-our-door dinners for us. We had a different set of people deliver delicious meals to us every day for a week. By that time Jose’s parents had gone back to Spain but his sister’s family was still here. These people we had never even met brought us shepherd’s pie, chicken stir fry, pasta, salads, cakes, brownies–it was different every evening. They also made sure to give us bigger portions since there were 4 adults eating. Never before had I experienced such kindness, especially at a time when we needed it most. I will always be grateful for their help.
I realized that these kind (mostly) ladies usually organize dinners for people who need help–brand new parents, sick people, people who’ve had some kind of emergency–and their friends volunteer by signing up on the days they can prepare the dinner. One lady who prepared a lovely dinner told she was a maid here. I felt really touched and teary-eyed because I know maids don’t make as much money as the other people here but she was so willing to share and spend time to cook for us. I told the organizer that I wanted to help out in the future and to please contact me when the occasion arose.
Well today I had the opportunity to prepare dinner for a couple whose daughter (one month older than Jasmine) has been in and out of the hospital because she was born with some heart defect. Their story is heartbreaking and I did not hesitate to sign up since I really wanted the opportunity to give back.
Let me just say that I am not used to cooking for other people besides my husband. Whenever we have guests over it’s mostly Jose who cooks or I cook something that I know like the back of my hand. But I wanted to be more adventurous today so on the menu: pomegranate lentil salad, chicken seafood paella and brownies.
I am completely in love with pomegranates and want to use this in as many recipes as I can. These Saudi pomegranates are big, juicy and sweet. Absolute heaven.
Hmm it looks a little blah but I swear it tastes great. I love texture and crunch in a salad.
We don’t have a paellera so I just used a regular pan. It didn’t create the delicious burnt rice on the sides but good enough. No lemon wedges because we forgot to buy some. Oh well.
I’m used to baking brownies so this was a piece of cake (or brownie, hehe).
It took me the whole afternoon to prepare everything! Good thing I’m not working right now and therefore have tons of free time. The baby was fussy and after several attempts to calm her down I finally put her in her swing and she fell asleep (thank god). I’m not complaining though. It was enjoyable for me and everything I cooked was halved (for our family and their family) so I didn’t have to cook another dinner after.
I hope they liked their meal as much as I enjoyed preparing it 😀