A couple of days ago my husband and I traveled to Lake Charles, La., to help with the beginning stages of recovery after Hurricane Laura ravaged the area.
I found myself volunteering with an organization making hot meals for anyone that desired one. As I was dicing hundreds of pounds of onions in the unbearable August heat in the disaster zone, I started thinking about this week’s Joha’s Table column.
In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, I began looking at the crises all around me. An entire city with no electricity, no running water, no internet or telephone reception; homes broken to pieces, enormous trees uprooted by the tremendous strength of the wind as though a giant had pulled them from the ground and carelessly tossed them aside.
I was thinking about how last week I didn’t plan on being in a disaster zone preparing and serving foods for people, but also, I was thought about how different this story could have been if Hurricane Laura had remained on course, or moved just a few miles Eastward. I may have been the one needing to be served a meal.
I am thankful for God’s mercy and protection, and I absolutely don’t take our city’s safety for granted.
This week, I met a wonderful Christian organization called Mercy Chefs.
They are a group of chefs that have made it their mission to go to natural disaster areas, set up mobile kitchens, and prepare/serve hot delicious meals to everyone. The founder is Chef Gary LeBlanc, who started the non-profit in New Orleans after seeing the quality of the meals served to people after Hurricane Katrina.
One of the chefs told me that she, herself, has been the victim of a house fire, a hurricane and literally ran from a tornado.
The worker’s love and passion to feed not only the body, but the souls of those who came hungry and disheartened, was truly moving and inspiring. On Sunday, the dinner menu consisted of smoked chicken with veggies and mashed potatoes, with a biscuit and fresh fruit. A full plate made with love and served hot! We served more than 3,500 lunches and dinners all together.
Putting a hot meal in the hands of those who have lost everything is priceless.
Mercy Chefs is a 501(c)3 organization, and I invite you, your church, group of friends, and family to make a donation to them or other organizations helping rebuild. I also challenge you to volunteer in the following weeks to help our neighbors in Lake Charles get the relief they so desperately need during this time.
For more information find Mercy Chefs on social media @mercychefs or visit: www.MercyChefs.com
Inspired by Mercy Chefs, here is my quick baked juicy and delicious chicken recipe with veggies.
Enjoy and stay safe!
Baked chicken and brussels sprouts
5 large chicken leg quarters
1/4 cup of fresh oregano, chopped*
1/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped*
3/4 teaspoon of salt
black pepper, to taste
1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (1/2 inches)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
* If using dry ingredients reduce the amount by half.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. (If possible, season the night before, at least with salt and pepper, to assure the meat will be full of flavor.)
Set oven at 450°F.
Put marinated chicken in a tray and cover with aluminum foil. Leave space between chicken and aluminum foil to avoid sticking to the top.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. For those who have a kitchen thermometer, safe internal temperature of chicken is 165°F.
Once your chicken is cooked, take the aluminum cover off and turn your broil on, leave it broiling for about a minute or until it reaches a golden brown color on the top. DO NOT LEAVE IT UNATTENDED!
Set oven at 450°F
Set veggies in a tray, distribute evenly and season with a dash of kosher salt, black pepper, some oregano and basil (preferable dry) and drizzle olive oil.
Put in the oven for about 7 minutes or when it reaches a nice cooked color (without burning) Do not leave them unattended. Time may vary.