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How My Creamy Baked Ziti Saved the Day


It’s easy when you live in Israel to forget.  Halloween came and went without a word.  It’s November 7th and a warm 81 degrees F, gone are the long New York winters.  And Sandy – while big news here last year, was not commemorated in any major way at the one-year anniversary mark.

But while in New York 2 weeks ago – it was impossible to forget.  News programs were flooded with “1 Year Later” stories, specials and features.  And everywhere you went someone told their tale.  Tamar and I were out to dinner with our dear friend – Brigitte Mizrahi, the fabulous French woman behind the Natural & Kosher, Les Petites Fermieres, and Sincerely Brigitte line of cheeses.  Her story was intense and inspiring and shocking even one year later.

As we were walking around Kosherfest we were stopped by a bunch of great gals from Jersey - one of them grabbed me and said “do I have a story for you.”  I wasn’t expecting a Sandy story from a perfect stranger on the floor of the largest industry trade show.  But like I said everywhere you went someone had something to share.

Sandy Anniversary

Here we are with the Great Gals from Jersey.

Susan told me that together with her neighborhood friends she made 30+ trays of my Creamy Baked Ziti for an uplifting Thanksgiving day lunch held for residents of Union Beach hit by Super Storm Sandy.  I couldn’t believe it – I was so unbelievably touched.  She kept saying “your ziti Jamie!  Your ziti!”.

When you write a recipe you think about lots of things.  Is it easy?  Is it fast? Is it good?  Is it good enough? Is it kid food? Adult food? Family food? Dinner food? Can it be made ahead?  Does it freeze well?  How long will it stay fresh?  Does it need special instructions for re-heating?  And on and on and on.  You never think “can this be made times 30 and served as a hot meal to lift the spirits of someone who has lost and somehow foster a sense of community spirit, strength and perseverance?”.

Make no mistake; I know my ziti didn’t do all that.  But to know that it was part of that effort – and helped Susan and her friends achieve those end goals made me feel this story was worth re-telling.  For no other reason than to share the message that the beautiful ripple effects of your actions and efforts both professionally and personally should never be underestimated.  We love to Spread the Joy here and you know what, Susan Spread the Joy right back when she told me this story.  Thank you Susan - in that moment I felt so happy and so special and so very thankful.

Please take a moment to share your uplifting Sandy stories or any Spread the Joy ideas.  I love to get the good vibes going.