The Bring-It-Back Pan | Roundabout

The brownies begat the lemon squares, and the lemon squares — with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a thank you note — begat the Bring-It-Back Pan.

Our lovely young friend Lia called last week. She asked Dirk if he’d take a peek at her taxes, make sure everything looked all right. Dirk was happy to help. (Dirk says, in case you’re now thinking of calling him with tax questions, don’t. He is not an accountant.) To say thank you, Lia brought a 9×13 pan of brownies. They were so tasty, they rivaled the most luscious, delicious brownies I’ve ever enjoyed. After our family gobbled them up, I didn’t want to return the pan empty. I baked a double recipe of lemon squares and left it on Lia’s porch.

The brownies begat the lemon squares, and the lemon squares — with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a thank you note — begat the Bring-It-Back Pan.

Last night, I sat chatting with some ladies, including Lia, and we decided that the world would be a sweeter place if treats were shared with friendly abandon. Lia, her mom and sister are plotting to refill the 9×13 with something delicious and bring it back to us! I’m so excited. Then, I will return it to them again. There’s no rush; we could each take weeks to return the pan. Then it will be a surprise when it comes back again.

And Lia’s family is expanding the fun: They are buying a couple of baking pans at the second hand store, so they’ll have several Bring-It-Back Pans circulating among their friends and co-workers.  We talked it over and decided that we all need a little TLC. So, on behalf of this lovely group of do-gooding ladies, I am issuing a challenge: Start your own Bring-It-Back Pan.

It’s not hard. You may even have an extra pan lying around, waiting for a purpose. This is it. It might start as a thank you, or just as a friendly gesture. You could take a different twist on this, and call yours a Pay-It-Forward Pan. Or even the No-Strings-Attached, Feel-Free-to-Keep-the-Pan Pan. We just like getting goodies back.

Also, with the upcoming changes in school boundaries, this might be a good way to get to know some new friends better. One more way to reach out and make a more neighborly community.

If you accept the challenge, here are a few suggested guidelines:

1. Don’t put any pressure on your friend when you share treats. You never know when someone is at one of those nasty, totally overwhelmed points in their lives when they don’t have time to bake or money to buy a treat to share. That’s OK. Just hand over the treats and don’t worry about the pan. Set it free. If it loves you, it might eventually come back. Or, do the traditional paper plate delivery.

2. Don’t feel like you need to limit your friendly gesture to treats. When I’m in a good casserole-making frenzy, I often make up an extra one to share with a busy friend. Lots of things fit in a 9×13.

3. Don’t leave food on someone’s porch if they don’t know it’s from you. They might be scared to eat it and throw it away.

4. Don’t eat food that has been left on your porch when you don’t know who it’s from. That’s scary. Just throw it away.

5. Also, remember it’s against the law to leave things in your friends’ mailboxes, so don’t do that. However, here’s a fun story: Years ago, a friend called me in the afternoon. She had tried to bring me treats in the morning, but I wasn’t home, so she left them in my mailbox. She wondered, did I get the treats? I did not. But I’m guessing our mail lady went home pretty tickled that day.

Now, go bake!

— Denise Roundy is a columnist for Kingston Community News. She blogs at