Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Traditions...

I tried to post this on Thanksgiving but Sam was having some trouble so I couldn't...

I find myself really missing my loved ones during the holiday season... I mostly miss my grandma Nettie... Thanksgiving really has not been the same for me since she had passed 3 years ago. When I was little Thanksgiving would be at Grandma's. It was THE BEST!!! I still can remember every single detail of what she made for our thanksgiving feast and believe me it was a feast... It was a true Sicilian thanksgiving and I have yet to have one better.

Nettie would start out with antipasto on the table. The antipasto consisted of hard chunks of provolone, sopressata(Italian hard salami), tons of olives that were generously sprinkled over 2 small silver trays of raw fennel, roasted peppers that she always made herself, marinated artichoke hearts, tomato and mozzarella balls, Italian marinated vegetable salad, stuffed mushrooms, and a ton of crusty fresh Italian bread. Now my family always got to Grandma's first so I always wanted to help. The house was small so all of the refrigerated items would be kept cold out on the porch...

If anyone dared open up one of her carefully Saran wrapped trays before she opened them up you would get whacked so hard on the knuckles with a wooden spoon that you would feel it for days. And of course this was never considered child abuse... Can you imagine if we did that now...

Next course always consisted of pasta, pasta and more pasta... Usually she would make baked macaroni, but through the years she would change it up a bit and make stuffed shells or manicotti (which she made from scratch). With the pasta was always meatballs, sausage, etc...

The main course of course you had the turkey (which I never ate), mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, mashed potatoes with mozzarella (you haven't lived unless you have tasted these and there was NEVER any left), stuffing (which was a sausage and rice stuffing), stuffed artichokes, cranberry sauce right out of the can, and gravy. No I didn't forget anything... there was never a green veggie served with the main course.

And then there was desert... My cousin Francis always made something and still does called a jello cake. Its really really good, but to be honest I only ever first tasted about 3 years ago and she has been making it for every single holiday since before I was born. Grandma always had roasted chestnuts and fruit on the table and a ton of assorted Italian pastries, pies, cheesecake and some sort of chocolate cake. It was gluttonous...

Holidays have been tough since we had Sam. We usually have them here because with his hectic medical schedule its just so much easier for us to be in the house. This year my parents decided to stay in Florida and we didn't want Sam to be around little kids because we have been having a tough fall/winter season so far. My dad's Aunt and Uncle who so conveniently live down the block invited us over to their apartment for Thanksgiving. My cousin Dorothy was there with her husband Roger and their daughter Samantha and son Aaron. We had such a lovely time and were so grateful to have spent Thanksgiving with family. I made the appetizer course which consisted of my grandmother's stuffed mushrooms and they came out EXACTLY like she use to make them. I was so proud of myself. While I was making them I could hear her telling me what to do and sure enough they tasted identical! My cousin Roger made the main course which was not traditional but delicious nonetheless. He made something called a chulent which is basically everything in one pot slowly cooked for about 24 hours. And my Aunt Sonia, who happens to be the world's greatest baker made some of the most delicious old school Jewish baked goods EVER! I have to learn... she is an amazing cook.

So that was our Thanksgiving and it was very nice. I will try and post more pictures soon and write more about what's going on over here.

9 comments:

Debbie said...

Sounds like a feast had by all. I'm so glad you were able to enjoy yourselves with family.

I know what you mean about holidays past with such vivid festive memories. I think what passes the tradition is watching the new holiday seasons through your children's eyes.

But it isn't the same with our kids. Sam and Amelia don't know what a gluttenous holiday is, because they don't eat. Tons of family around Amelia just makes her cranky (along with Nestor) and there's just so much explaining of "what therapies she's having now" and "no, she's not speaking yet" or "no, she's not eating yet" blah, blah, blah.

Everyone means well, but this time of year can be stressful for our families for other reasons than just figuring out what gifts to buy.

Vasca said...

Carrie...I breathed a sigh of relief catching up w/you. I check every single day watching for the latest and I know how swamped you are. Wonderful that you all could have a family get together...those are importantly precious. My prayers are for you three...always! You are special...and God is supporting you.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know I feel exactly the same as you do! I am sitting here crying and laughing like an idiot thinking of all those crazy holidays! Our kids will never know the same "family" we did. Times are different and lots of those old traditions are lost.

We spent Thanksgiving in Arizona this year with my in laws and had a nice time. But NO ONE will ever present a meal like Gramma Nettie. I could almost taste that meal as you described it. We still need to make that cookbook we talked about! OMG how could you forget to list the dried figs!

Hugs!

Anonymous said...

just a note to tell you that we
we were thinking of you scott
and sam - hope you know
that you are in our thoughts always on turkey day and everday
its great to have those great memories of your grandma nettie
it those type of memories that
can take us away to another
place in time- when we just can't get those times-
always hold on to the
memories

love ya
aunt maddy

Anonymous said...

As I sit and Cry like a Baby - I think I would give almost anything to hear "Nettie" with one of her worn through shmocks on, standing by the stove with all 4 burners going & stuff everywhere - with the eyes behind her head, yellin -"GET AWAY" or "Ya screw balls kids - All of ya - the whole Buncha ya - Go find a job Will ya >>?"
Even to grab an olive was a skilled task -lol
I never understood why we couldn't eat as soon as we got there - after all there was always soooo much - Everything there was always just right.

Almost anything - to see or fell that warmth of the next holiday as well - CHRISTMAS with
MY DAD -IT TRULY WAS HIS FAVORITE! Big Richie running through the house with Fork in Front pocket - tasting everything saying "Nahh that is terrible you don't want any of that" - Just so that he had it for himself -
Or as soon as your Dad walked in the back door of Gram's - my dad "Hey D.B. come on We gotta go for (code word) PASTRIES" and them run out like teenagers - Gram yelling at them as the door shut - Hurry up back - if you miss dinner you aren't eating - FAGGETTABOUTT YA THEN !

I miss them too - Dearly
Though the holidays aren't the same - these days - We still have eachother and our very vivid shared memories !

OH - and PS - We can't for get about the concerts on the landing of the stairway !
Happy Holidays - xo

Anonymous said...

You know now I'm crying... you guys suck. Those Mash Potatos where the best, who has the cherished masher? And you are right our kids will never really know how great those days were, BUT its our job to sure as hell try to carry on what our missed family members have instilled in us.

Love you guys..
P.S.
I will be passing by soon Kiddo

Nicole said...

Oh my gosh. I am now starving. I need to go to some foreign country (right now thinking Italy) and learn to cook for real. YUM!!!
Nicole S.

kristi said...

Yummo...pasta. I am on a low carb diet..ugh.

Dani said...

I enjoyed reading your story of your past thanksgivings...your description of the food, yum...i swear i could smell it! delish!