Friday, November 19, 2010

TURKEY SERVED WITH A HEAP OF LOVE

I was young when I cooked my first turkey dinner-newly married and just a few months into my first teaching job. I had a class of seven severely mentally and physically handicapped, non-ambulatory, teenaged boys who had lived their entire lives at the residential treatment facility where I was working. I loved those boys. In a very short time, they had become more then my students. They had become my family.

I knew that they had probably never had a home cooked turkey dinner, so I decided I would cook my first Thanksgiving meal, complete with all the trimmings, for my boys.

I spent the entire day before Thanksgiving in the center’s kitchen cooking and baking. I had hauled in all my own pots, pans, utensils, foods, and spices with me that morning. Since I was on the clock and couldn’t leave, I had to carry on when I discovered I had forgotten several important ingredients (like eggs for the pumpkin pie, butter for the mashed potatoes, marshmallows for the baked yams, and sage for the stuffing). And, when I went to wash the turkey, I found the neck in its cavity and I had no idea what it was, and I did NOT want to touch it (like I said, I was young) so, I wrapped my hand in a towel and shoved that disgusting body part back into the bird!  I found out later that I had also cooked the bag of giblets inside the turkey.

To make a long story short, the dinner was not very good and I was feeling a bit embarrassed as I served it. I had invited my husband, sister and several aides to join us with promises of a gourmet feast and it is an understatement to say 'gourmet' it was not. But, my boys loved it! They gobbled it down with gusto, grinning all the while. They clapped and they cheered. They ate every last bite.  My boys thought it was the finest meal that they'd ever eaten and that I was the world's greatest chef.

Since that Thanksgiving dinner 38 years ago, I have learned to cook, and, Thanksgiving dinner has become my favorite meal to prepare. My children all come home and we revel in a royal feast.

And, every year, I think about my first Thanksgiving at CWC and the lesson I learned that day: When you prepare food with joy for people you care about, LOVE permeates the food. And, love really is all you need.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WINTER LOOMS

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns".- George Eliot
I do love the change of seasons in Wisconsin. Well, mostly. I love the spring, summer and fall...winter, not so much.  This dreary morning as I took a walk, I saw the signs of winter's approach all around: the birds are gone, flown away to the warm south; the squirrels are scurrying around hoarding nuts; the branches of trees and bushes are bare and lonely. Every living thing is preparing for the dormant season ahead when the earth rests and readies itself for another rebirth in spring. This is our circular journey of life. Still.... I hope winter holds off just a little longer.