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Food is one way we can care for those around us. Terry DeYoung’s mushroom risotto recipe is a delicious dish to share with someone who might need some intentional support in this season. Mental health is so important, and Terry explains that there’s a lot of power in simply checking in with loved ones.

It’s clear that this pandemic season has had an impact on our mental health. We notice it within ourselves and in those around us. The rise in stress and anxiety, caused by social isolation, losing a job, or the political climate, is very real and is having a significant effect.

That is why it is so important that we stay connected and check in with our family, friends, and neighbors to see how they are doing. Those conversations are difficult to start and can feel very intimidating, but don’t worry! There are advocates and experts who are available to share tips for doing this well. One such person is my colleague Terry DeYoung, coordinator for RCA Disabilities Concerns, who works to help individuals and churches eliminate the stigma of mental illness, especially within faith communities, by providing training, resources, and stories.

Terry and I will soon be providing a way to initiate the “checking in” conversation (spoiler: it has to do with food) and will discuss practical tips for how to check in with other people. The New York Times article “How to Ask if Everything Is OK When It’s Clearly Not” serves as our guide. This conversation will happen through Terry’s new podcast, “Faith and Mental Health,” which is centered around mental health and is created in collaboration with Hope Network, Be Nice, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, and Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. Check it out here. 

Before you go, try a creamy and savory dish that everyone will enjoy. Terry has shared this mushroom risotto recipe—connected to his favorite food memory—so that we might care for those around us who might need some intentional connection and support in this season.

Featured recipe

Mushroom Risotto

A delicious, umami-packed dish to savor and share with loved ones


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups flavorful mushrooms such as shiitake, chanterelle, or oyster mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into half-inch to inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup brandy, vermouth, or dry white wine
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of peeled and minced shallots
  • 1 3/4 cups arborio or other risotto rice (The high starch content of these rices yields a creamy texture when cooked)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chives


  • Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes
  • Then add the rice and brandy to the mushrooms and shallots, bring to a boil, and reduce liquid by half, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring enough to keep the rice from sticking to the edges of the pan. Stir the rice almost constantly—stirring sloughs off the starch from the rice, making the creamy sauce you’re looking for in a risotto. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. This process will take about 25 minutes. The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.

Eduardo Rodriguez previously served the Reformed Church in America in the areas of local mission engagement and leadership.