By: Rachel Shenk

Photo Credit: Flavor 574 photo/Rachel Shenk

As the days follow each other, February winds down.

This day starts more abruptly than most: a text announces a sick child and the possibility of being short staffed at the bakery. With a good night of sleep and a fortifying breakfast behind me, I head to work at my passion. Always hoping for the best, I get there to find out that the child is better and we are fully staffed for the day. Our friends from The Nut Shoppe bring us a bag of the best chocolate-covered almonds when they pick up their breakfast sandwiches. Is this what today is going to be like?

I start mixing the sourdough and the rye breads, take a break to drink a cup of coffee with my father-in-law, and start getting ready for lunch. We are missing two items: organic greens for our salad and one of the mystery ingredients for our chili: beer. I text Jesse, who runs the kitchen at the Goshen Brewing Company next door. “Hey! can we get a bottle’s worth of beer right now for our chili??” The answer comes swiftly. “Sure. What kind? I can bring it over.” The next thing we know, here he comes with it. “No charge”, he says. “But at least take one of these chocolate-covered almonds”, I say.

Maple City Market has organic greens, so Jess runs over to get what we need to supplement our holdings. She comes back with the goods and we are all set to go. Our first lunch customers come in. We converse with each other. We take orders and take our food out to the filled tables. My mother comes in the back door. “I just locked myself out of my car!” she says. I call Randy Stutzman at Stutzman Motor Sales, where my mother takes her car. Though he is in the midst of talking with a customer, he promises to send someone out promptly to unlock it. Within minutes, Joel is here, unlocks the car and graciously handles the situation. Before he leaves, I fill a bag with pastries for him to take back to thank them for their help.

Lunch continues and, throughout the busyness, we hear kind words from various customers: “Loved that beet and orange salad,” “This is my favorite place to come to for lunch” and “This place feels happy!” We listen, we work, we soak it all in. But, mostly, we find ourselves lucky to live and work in such a place where helping each other and passing on the love frames each day.

Every day, despite the failures, the downfalls, the pain, the sadness, the anger and the ordinary, if we open our eyes to see then we experience the successes, the peaks, the pleasure, the joy, the contentment and the extraordinary.

In the town of Goshen, today was just another one of those days in the neighborhood!

Here is a recipe for one of the tapas we made for our Valentine’s Day meal. Make them and share them and pass the love on.

Bacon-wrapped dates

Ingredients:

  • Pitted dried dates
  • Bacon strips, cut into third or fourths
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Soft goat cheese
  • Toothpicks, soaked for 10 minutes in water

Directions:

  1. Using a scissors, cut the dates open on one side. Fill with a nice amount of goat cheese.
  2. Wrap each date with a nice size piece of basil. Then wrap a piece of bacon over the basil and skewer with a toothpick.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees, until bacon is browned and sizzling, 15 to 25 minutes.
  4. Nibble and enjoy.

These go well with roasted vegetables and a nice cheese plate. You can also use strips of puff pastry instead of bacon for a vegetarian option.

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