One good turn deserves another.
When St. Anthony's School officials welcomed a 7-year-old boy with autism and his trained aide to their classrooms, his grateful parents put their skills and talents to work on the school's behalf. Mark Davis, his father, works at the bingo games, voluntarily teaches an autism training course and presides over the Catholic School Advisory Counsel class.
On April 8, Davis will simmer his special Irish Spinach Soup for the scholarship dinner, an annual fundraiser dinner benefiting the school. He developed the soup for a devoted speech and language pathologist, who works with son Jonathan on Saturday mornings at the Davis family's home.
"Even the soup centers around autism," he said. "We cook for her, so she'll have something to take with her."
One Saturday morning, Davis concocted his spinach soup when he was looking for a way to use an abundance of the bagged spinach he and his wife, Tammy, enjoy. He sautéed freshly pressed garlic and thinly sliced red onion in olive oil, minced the spinach in his food processor and simmered the ingredients in chicken stock for about an hour.
He ladled the soup into bowls and sprinkled grated provolone cheese on top. The savory aroma brought the therapist into the kitchen after her work session.
"She smiled and said she thought she'd like to eat the soup right then instead of taking it with her," he said. "We must have had three bowls of soup each. No bread, just soup."
Since then, he's tweaked the soup a little, and occasionally adds garbanzo beans that have been simmered until tender, but the basic recipe hasn't changed much in the 25 to 30 times he estimates he's made the soup over the past three years.
In a few weeks, he'll be making 225 servings of the soup, to be served just before the main course at the St. Anthony's event. The menu also includes a salad of wild greens, red onion and blue cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette; baked ham with pineapple and rosemary glaze; roasted red potatoes; and a medley of steamed vegetables, all prepared under the direction of Pam West.
The event begins at 5:45 p.m. with school tours, followed by a social at 6:15 p.m. Dinner is served at 7 p.m.
Proceeds for the $50 dinner provide scholarship assistance for children attending the school. First lady Gayle Manchin, Ed Maier and Capuchin Franciscan Friars from the Province of St. Augustine will be honored with awards.
Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Emeritus Bernard Schmitt is the featured speaker.
For ticket information, call 389-5585. St. Anthony is located at 1027 Sixth St. W. in Charleston.