Recently I had cause to help a friend out. A relatively new friend, but this family arrived in New Zealand late last year, bringing only their suitcases and the clothes on their bodies ready to begin the next chapter in their lives.
After a couple of months, a problem with a visa meant the precious job she had lined up had to be put on hold while the paperwork was sorted out, but this meant a good month, at least, with no earnings. Let’s face it, a new country, mounting expenses, the school year about to start and no income for the forseeable future. Who wouldn’t help?
I put out word on my personal Facebook page asking whether any of my friends had anything they could spare to assist this lovely family and the response from a few very special ladies humbled me to my core. Bags of groceries, petrol vouchers, treats for the kid’s lunch boxes – I feel emotional as I write with the realisation that I am so very blessed to count such generous, kind-hearted and caring people among my friends. When you ask for help, you do it with the knowledge that there may be no response at all. And certainly some of the people I thought would be first in line were very quiet, but I make no judgements, it’s merely a reminder that times are tough and charity starts at home. If we don’t take care of our own, who will? There certainly is no guarantee that anyone else will do it. The basic lessons for me were:
- Never be afraid to ask for help.
- Expect absolutely nothing and allow yourself to be amazed by good deeds.
- Never judge anyone as you have no idea of their personal circumstances.
- The smallest amount of help, whether it’s time, love or physical giving, can make a huge difference to someone else; and finally,
- The joy that you feel when you give from your heart reminds us of the important things in life.
This experience also gave me renewed energy and focus about preparing meals for a family on a tight budget. The internet is full of recipes by well known chefs and personalities that include lists of ingredients many of us have never heard of, let alone can afford or have on hand for normal week day meals. And although this dish has a fillet of fresh salmon in it, it can be substituted with flaked tinned salmon or a 100g sachet of smoked salmon. An even cheaper option could be a tin of tuna (I prefer the tuna in spring water than the brine or oil).
This light meal is filling, healthy, pleasing on the eye and goes a long way, meaning it can feed a family of four for under $10.00.
250 g pasta shapes
1 cup spinach or lettuce leaves, shredded (I used Ice berg as it was all I had on hand at the time)
150 g cherry tomatoes (if too pricey, dice normal tomatoes)
½ a cucumber, sliced
1 – 2 carrots, depending on size, peeled and julienned (cut into match sticks)
1 fillet fresh salmon (approx 350 g)
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
- Cook the pasta in boiling water according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Wash the lettuce/spinach, cherry tomatoes and carrots and peel, dice, slice, julienne as necessary.
- Cook the salmon, skin side down, in a non-stick pan over a medium heat – watching the colour change during the cooking process. At the last minute, turn it over to crisp the flesh. Remove from the pan, remove the skin, flake the meat and set aside to cool.
- Toast the sesame seeds or use them raw, they add a little crunchy nuttiness and are delicious either way.
- Add the honey and soy sauce to the pan and heat gently, stirring until combined. Allow to cool.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle the seeds over the top and drizzle with the soy sauce/honey dressing. Toss gently and serve immediately.
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