My Aunt Connie’s Thanksgiving Gift

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  There is no gift giving, No real decorating to speak of unless you are Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart and I share a birthday.  That’s about all we share.

I love Thanksgiving.

Photo by Virginia Simionato on Unsplash

I cooked my first turkey when I was 15 or so.  I wanted to learn.  Easy peasy.  Even bad turkey is good.  I learned how to make gravy from the giblets.  I already knew how to make bread and Grandma Emma’s chocolate bottom pie.  I always have fresh cranberries for my mother.  Roasted asparagus for my brother.  Squash with sausage for my dad when he was still alive as well as cornbread dressing and regular dressing.  In fact, dressing may be my favorite.

Of course, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.  And Brussel sprouts.  I vow each year to add corn pudding but haven’t yet.  It’s already two full days of cooking and I’m getting old.  There will be wine and everyone’s favorite soft beverage. 

Everyone has that one thing they want to see on the table, and I try to cater that.

For me, it’s not Thanksgiving without olives.  Black ones.  Pitted.  The plain old ones in a can.  Jumbo.  Often, they don’t make it to the table.  I eat them in the kitchen, off my fingertips, while cooking.

Before we moved to Hawaii, so I would have been younger than 7, we were in Michigan for Thanksgiving dinner. I was in the kitchen with my Aunt Connie who I had no memory of. She was wearing an apron.  She is Italian and is the widow of my mother’s brother, Gary. 

My mother abhors olives.  I had never even seen an olive before.  One by one, Connie took olives and stuck them on the tip of my fingers and thumbs while I was in the kitchen underfoot.  I ate every one of them.  Best thing I had ever put in my mouth.  Loved them.  I became a black olive connoisseur at that moment.

At the table, there was a relish tray though of course I didn’t know that’s what it was called.  There was celery and I don’t remember what else besides the olives.  I loved celery.  I still do.  It’s probably why I love dressing so much.  I put celery in everything I can get away with.  I was an adventurous eater as a child (still am) and ate my body weight or more at each meal. (Still do.)  I gorged on celery and olives as well as everything else on the table. Except cranberries.  I’m not really a fan.

Black olives are the gift from my Aunt Connie that I will never forget.

This year I am not cooking for Thanksgiving.  I feel kind of guilty about it, but a friend is catering.  I will add in the missing things that are important to those of us intending, but we’re talking a few hours in the kitchen, much fewer pans, and much much less cleanup.  Of course, there will be olives.  We’ll see if they make it to the table.

I do feel guilty.  But there has just been so much going on that I can’t afford two days lost in the kitchen though I love it.  I do.  I love cooking holiday dinners.  Preparing food may be my love language.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with everything and everyone you need to feel grateful. 

Happy Halloween

I am not one of those people for whom Halloween is a high holiday. I enjoy it, but I seldom dress up though I have fun when I do. Which begs the question — why don’t I every year?

Well, partly because I’m always a witch whether I dress the part or not.

We had punkins come trick or treating at the office on Friday. About 40 of them from a local preschool. One little girl solemnly told me, “I just love your costume.”

I miss the days when Chef Boy ‘R Mine was little. He rather enjoyed trick or treat and the whole costume thing. For his first school Halloween, the children were allowed to wear their costumes to school. That was the year of the infamous Ninja Turtle Costume — Donatello to be exact.

Continue reading

Hurray! It’s National Coffee Day!

Today is National Coffee Day.  For me this is a high holiday.  I’m always tempted to decorate and make a luscious meal with wine that I can finish off with a robust cup of coffee – maybe with cream.  I generally drink, well always drink, my coffee black.  My father looked askance at me when I put cream in my coffee as if I was committing some crime.  Marines drink their coffee black.  None of this frou frou cream stuff.  After a grand dinner, however, I like the richness of cream in a really good roast of coffee not just for the taste of it, but the mouth feel and texture.  It becomes like liquid velvet. 

I drink Folgers coffee in the morning.  I do like a mild blend first thing in the morning, but it is one of my goals to be able to afford fresh ground Tanzanian Peaberry for my a.m. indulgence.  And indulgence it would be.  I think it reasonable to say that Tanzanian Peaberry is the nectar of the gods.  In my more hedonistic days, I used to buy a bag a month from a small coffee roaster in Milwaukee who was thrilled to ship it to me.  For a price. I’ve learned in life that you can have anything you want – for a price. 

But the immediate goal is to persevere with writing until it becomes a monetarily successive gig.  I’ve progressed from hobby writer to writer writer, but I’m still seldom a paid writer.  Don’t laugh, but I’ll probably celebrate my first book sale with a fine cup of coffee.  

Taped to the refrigerator, I have a quote by me: Sometimes coffee is a religious experience and others it’s just a caffeine delivery system.   

I once scribbled that in a notebook.  I said it to a few friends and one asked if she could quote me.  Flattered, I said, “Of course.”  I tried to meme it a few years ago, but alas it did not go viral.  I really do feel that way about coffee.  Folgers in the morning is a caffeine delivery system.  A robust blend with cream after fine dining is a religious experience. 

Whatever your preference – coffee, tea, hot cider or something else – please enjoy it today on this National Coffee Day in solidarity with me.  I swear, I can’t believe I don’t at least have a t-shirt for this holiday.  I have been remiss and shall remedy that later today! 

COVID-19: Day 29: No Easter Outfit

Some time ago, I wrote the infamous Why I Blame My Mother For My Shoe Fixation post. 

Having an Easter outfit with new shoes was pretty routine.  I’ve carried it into my later years even though I don’t attend church.

There will be no Easter outfit or Easter shoes this year.  Or an Easter dinner though I am playing around with the idea of making scalloped potatoes on Sunday.

I did order my mom an Easter basket which they kindly delivered yesterday.  She was tickled, but still and all it just doesn’t feel like Easter.

I’m growing weary of this quarantine, but I am still suffering it happily.  The alternative is death and destruction and in this time of Easter, we are to focus on life.  So maybe I’ll plan the Out of Quarantine Outfit and new shoes