by Laura Matiz
I am glad Thanksgiving Day is around the corner. It is my favorite holiday, certainly a holiday that allows a little time to reflect on the positives and not on the barrage of disturbing events dominating the news.
This year I am without a stove because of a building gas leak. For the first time in over 25 years, I won't be spending all of Thursday in my kitchen preparing food. I will miss the early morning turkey preparation, stuffing it, and then putting it the oven before most of the kids and family guests have gotten up, but I hope that taking a break from the usual will give me an even greater appreciation that Thanksgiving is about family and friends. My usual guests are visiting other family members or staying put. I am sure they will also reflect on the change in the routine, even my nephew who has decided to travel to Thailand during the holiday.
Cooking at St. James Church
While I won't be busy in my kitchen, I did get my fill of cooking this past Friday, cooking for 100 at the St. James Church on the Upper East Side. Of course, when you prepare a meal for 100, it is never a solo task. With friends and family helping alongside program chair Faith Fraser's regular team we served a delicious three-course plated meal for people in need. Below, some photos taken by Emily and Brook, clearly show our joy and fun.
After the salad was served, Faith pulled me out from the kitchen to introduce me to the guests in the dining room. She usually does this and it feels nice to get the appreciation. Friday night, she also asked me to say a few words about the meal. On the spot, I was able to convey that what I had cooked was one of my family's festive meals, usually prepared around Christmas. I mentioned how the meal was my son's favorite and how I had learned it from my grandmother. The sfingi I was preparing for desert took a little explaining, but when I compared it to a zeppole, I could hear some acknowledgements. I said nothing special other than sharing our family story and headed back to the kitchen.
Later, during cleanup, some guests asked Faith if they could thank me in person. Because the guests are not allowed in the kitchen, I stepped out to meet them. I was surprised that they wanted to thank me for sharing the family story and how much it meant to them that I had shared my traditions with the group. They also wanted to share their own stories reminding me of the amazing power of story telling to unite.
A Thanksgiving Family Recipe
Last year, I released a blog post with the recipe for our favorite Thanksgiving staple, Nana's Pumpkin Bread. We will certainly miss that treat this year. I hope some of you reading this might try the recipe and comment on how delicious it came out. Here's a quick slideshow showing the steps from preparation to heaven-with-milk.
Savor the moments with your friends and family. Wishing all of you an enjoyable and relaxing Thanksgiving Holiday.