As I begin preparations for the big Turkey feast this year I am always reminded of my turkey in the snow story! Years ago living in New York we had a bad ice storm and lost our power. It was late in February so there was no need to panic as it was so cold outside ( as well as inside, LOL) so I decided to take out my Frozen Turkey and pack it in a snow drift to keep frozen! The storm knocked out our power for seven days, leaving us a lot of food to cook quickly. No problem as we had natural gas to cook with, so I called several friends and invited them to dinner.The evening of the impromptu dinner “party” we regained our power, so half the meal was cooked outside on the grill and half inside . I think what made it so special was that we were all together without expectations, sharing and caring and probably had more fun because of the circumstances! I always find myself running around before Thanksgiving worrying is this enough or is that what they will like, or will I be able to get it all done and still have a good time? You all know what I mean, it’s stressful just thinking about it now a few days in advance. Tomorrow I will start shopping and meet friends and neighbors in the store and will laugh and talk about the same concerns and then the day will arrive and all our traditions of running around getting it all together will happen! There will be lively conversations, laughter and a sharing of a great meal regardless if the turkey is dry, or the gravy didn’t pan out and we used Franco American Gravy or at the last minute we forgot the Peas in the microwave! Once again this memory will include remembering our past traditions and loved ones and creating a new chapter to be recalled in years to come.
Oh and by the way……….. Remember the Frozen Turkey in the snow well we found it thawed out several weeks later right behind the shed where we had put it! After the snow had melted I looked out and thought what is that in the black garbage bag and then I remembered. We still laugh at how we could have forgot that we put it there!
Cranberries and kindness………
It is that time of the year again when we gather together with Family and Friends and celebrate the start of the Holiday Season. Whether you are cooking or invited to someone’s home or spending it at a favorite Restaurant, Thanksgiving seems to bring back memories of our childhood. Giving thanks is a gesture that comes from our hearts and Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to share these feelings. As children we are taught in school of the Pilgrims and the early Settlers that gave us traditions as well as customs from our ancestors and their Countries. Our Family likes to enjoy the traditional Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and visiting with our Family and Friends. Actually the preparations have become some of the funniest memories over the years ! We look forward to the next day when you put everything between two slices of bread and just enjoy the blending of all the tastes together. My Dad used to say he’s was going to have a Dagwood the next day and combined turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and cranberries and had it on rye bread. Oh my, no one talked about carbs back then! These memories and traditions I try to keep ( as if its hard to enjoy a great meal LOL! ) and add our special touches that we’ve added over the years. Once again I’d like to share with you a story of two people and the link that keeps us together. Many years ago we were celebrating Thanksgiving with family in upstate New York. Cousin Theresa and Billy and Cousin Maryann and Charlie and their Families had invited our Family to Dinner that year. Cousin Dominick and a friend John were there and John’s mother Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a lovely women who had been a Head Mistress at a private school in NYC and was telling us many stories which we thoroughly enjoyed. She also had brought along a jar of her homemade Cranberry relish. Well by now I know you are thinking this must have been great and yes it was the tastiest cranberry relish I had ever had. The funny thing is how simple it is to prepare. It is raw and has three ingredients , cranberries , an orange, and sugar. I can still recall just thinking about it how my mouth burst with this delicious taste. Needless to say this recipe has become one of our favorites and served as part of our Thanksgiving meal. Another memory was of a gentlemen who lived in my Daughter’s apartment Bldg named Joe. He was a very talented man who actually did Audio work at Lincoln Center and also loved to cook. He would send for the best ingredients for his dishes or cakes and then make them and give them to people to enjoy. One of his famous recipes and enjoyed by many was his cranberry relish . His recipe was cooked with orange zest and walnuts and sugar and was absolutely amazing. He would start preparing in early Fall with ordering the cranberries from Wisconsin and the nuts from somewhere else and getting his jars and canning equipment ready for the big day. On one of my trips I was lucky to be there while he was making it, and he showed me his cranberry canning operation. It was so obvious the love and enjoyment he had both talking about it ,and preparing , but most of all sharing. It became a part of his Holiday Tradition as well as many who received this bottle of joy! Of course we were on the recipient line that year and actually got two! Thinking and remembering these two special people are really what makes me enjoy this Holiday most of all. Maya Angelou has said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Although not related and when we met just acquaintances these two lovely people have left me with a special feeling of a time so thoroughly enjoyed! A link that has been added to a chain of wonderful memories.
Several years ago on a trip to New York I was on the Subway and got off at 66th Street near Lincoln Center. Upon walking closer to the exit I could hear this lovely mellow music being played. The sound of the instrument was low in pitch and moving with an expression of such emotion. Alright I seem to be getting carried away but I really want you to imagine being there. When I turned the corner I could see a young man playing a beautiful cello and his cello case open and people had placed tips inside for this budding musician. This is not an uncommon sight in New York City rather one of the many I have had the opportunity to enjoy. Street players are many in number and in all different venues from subways to parks to street corners, the sounds of saxophones, trombones, flutes, and cellos create such a festivity in the air. It’s fascinating how so many people who are in a hurry, chatting on cell phones or talking with friends, will stop and listen for a minute and many will leave a tip for the performance. It’s a moment in time to enjoy the soul of the artist as he performs his passion. I’m not trying to imply he or she is not motivated to earn a tip but I look at the unique personality and vulnerability of that person. Hearing the cello player in the subway inspired me to pursue taking cello lessons. I was fortunate to find a teacher in Vero Beach Florida who had been a member of the World Orchestra. He was now retired and giving lessons in his home. After taking lessons for six months and really appreciating the beauty and sound of this great instrument,I had another magical NYC moment. I was shopping with my Daughter at the Food Emporium across from Lincoln Center when Yo Yo Ma came into the store. I quickly walked down to where he was standing and waited a minute to approach him.I actually grabbed a box of cereal off a shelf and then proceeded to stand behind him in line at the checkout. I was so excited and my heart was pounding and then very nonchalantly said excuse me are you the famed Cellist? He humbly replied, “no, I’m just a cellist,” and smiled. We then spoke for a few minutes and I asked him if I could have his autograph and he picked up a blank white piece of paper by the cash register and he wrote Dear Denise, To my fellow cellist. Warmest wishes, Yo Yo Ma! As he handed it to me he gave me a big hug and I was thrilled beyond words. To have met such a wonderful humble man, that was so happy to chat and make me feel special as a “fellow musician,” was truly an honor!
I have so many music memories, but I’d like to leave you with this funny story. Walking in Central Park one morning, I saw a women playing a harp. I walked over and listened and noticed she was selling CDs. I asked her how much they were and when she told me I thought I would stop back and get one after having coffee. As I turned I also realized she might move on, so I said to her, “I’d like to purchase your CD but only have a ten dollar bill and I am on my way to get a coffee.” She said that’s ok keep a dollar out for coffee and I’ll accept nine dollars. Before I realized what came out of my mouth, I said, “where can you get coffee for a dollar!.” I actually couldn’t believe I said that and yet it came out LOL. She laughingly remarked ok take two and leave me eight! I happily gave her my ten dollar bill and she handed me back two dollars and I walked away with my new CD and yet another great lesson. I realized she was in a better place than I that day. Not only would she have played for free, even without an audience, but upon seeing my enjoyment, she was willing to give back to me so I could enjoy it many times to come. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org This will always be one of my special memories and I’m posting her email address so you can check her out on the net and see her short video on you tube.
When I think of lace I always have a smile on my face. I think of all things white and special. From weddings, to babies, to decorating, or setting a dining room table, when you add lace it always seems to be softer, elegant and pretty. While shopping one day I spotted this picture of Queen Anne’s Lace. Of course loving all things Queen and now in the midst of creating Britalia Way Gardens I thought I would plant some seeds and add to my new pathway Queen Alley. It turns out it actually grows wild and I will have to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t invade other areas in its path. It is sometimes referred to as wild carrot and there are several varieties. The name Queen Anne’s Lace came about as Queen Anne enjoyed making lace and the red flower in the middle was thought to be a drop of blood from a prick to her finger as she was working on her lace. Yet another Royal tale! Remembering the Royals brings back a beautiful memory of a Tea I had in honor of Prince William and Kate’s wedding. It was such fun planning and sending out the invitations. (Actually I emailed them ….oh my something the Queen would never do) . Well anyway everyone invited had a title. Years ago my nephew Sal had nicknamed me Duchess (so you can see I have always played the part of Royalty LOL} and so we had quite the guest list. There was a Countess, Baroness,Princess,and several Lady’s. All came adorned with Hats and had a great time. My good friend Carol from my old neighborhood in New York flew down which made it so special. Actually she came and made handmade chocolates in the shape of tea pots as a part of the party favors (always ask friends who are talented its so much fun). The other part of the favors were Hankies that were on the plates with their place cards. On the back of the place card was a little saying that read A pretty Hanky to use if you Please Just for Fun…..or to cover a Sneeze. I know your about to click off at this point but really it was such good fun. Sometimes we all get caught up in so much drama and issues its fun to act a little silly and feel carefree. It’s like being able to step back into our childhood when imagination was a part of our everyday. Another memory when I think of lace is from my mother-in-law. When she was making the cover for the bassinet when having my Daughter Stephanie, she told me that many people use the lace from the veil of their wedding gowns! I had decided not to and sometimes wish I had. It would have been a way to lace the past to the future generations. Creating Britalia Gardens is becoming so rewarding to me in many ways. It’s like starting with a blank canvas and as you plant you watch what you imagined become real. Please check on In my Garden at the top of the page to see the step by step progress. In closing I have added a lace from my past that was made by my Grandmother and given to me by my cousin Linda as a remembrance. Thanks Linda!
I am always amazed at how something so simple can create a special moment and feeling in your heart. While shopping at Tea and Sympathy in New York last week, I noticed a woman admiring this Poppy tea cup above. I walked over to her and started chatting about how vibrant the red was on the flowers. Realizing she was from England with her accent I asked her if she lived here or was visiting. She explained she and her Husband were from Yorkshire and she intended to bring home four sets of the tea and saucer cups with different designs. She explained it was Poppy month in England and of course on November 11th at the 11th hour there is a special celebration to honor those lost at Flanders Fields. I remarked the cup was wider and shallower than the ones I had at home and her Husband Colin explained that it was a morning cup. They are wider so the tea can cool off quickly and you can be on your way to work or school and not be late waiting for your tea to cool. An afternoon cup like the ones I have at home are deeper to keep the heat in while enjoying your afternoon tea and conversation. I told her of my blog and my new interest in gardening and she told me of her rose garden and how she enjoys it as well. We then exchanged email addresses and promised to write and hopefully will try and arrange a meeting when they visit next year. With my new cup and saucer in hand I left the store thinking how special it will be each time I enjoy a cup of tea in it. I will always remember meeting Carol and her husband Colin and the stories of Flanders Fields and morning Cups. Walking back to the apartment that day I talked with Stephanie about how special this day had been. A simple cup and saucer created a new friendship, a lesson in tea cups, and most of all a deeper appreciation to all men and women who have lost their lives to War, and Honor those who have served and are serving now. Thank you so much.
Here I am flying home with my head literally in the clouds! (My husband always teases me about that as I’m such a dreamer). It was great visiting my Daughter Stephanie in NYC and really enjoyed all the Fall sights and cool weather. I spent time with family and friends and of course had some of the best food in the World. I get so inspired to be creative in both cooking and gardening after a visit to New York. My favorite place is Central Park and seeing every type of plant and tree imaginable and set in backdrops that are magnificent is amazing. Clearly, nature at its finest with a feeling of grand elegance and topped off by history with all the Statutes around the entire park. Walking around the farmers market is always so fantastic. To see such a selection of fruits, vegetables, fresh breads, eggs, local honey, and beautiful lavender is great. I tried some tri-colored chards that I sauteed with some onions and celery and used as a base to plate my roasted pork tenderloin with heirloom tomatoes. I also picked up a celery root and made a great Greek salad adding the fresh root. The leaves you get with the root are great in a light soup with peas and rice. Another idea for the leaves is to make a pesto with garlic and then add some cream cheese or even fat free yogurt and spices for a great dip or salad dressing .
I think the best thing about visiting New York is to just observe all the chatter around you. For example staying at my Daughters apt is like being a part of a sitcom. She lives on a beautiful tree lined street in an apt in a lovely turn of the century building. That in it self sounds picturesque but does pose issues. You really don’t have to see people on a daily basis as you can hear mostly everything through the walls. Actually you know that phrase If Walls could Talk well Stephanie’s Do! Another example the window panes are so thin when the leaves fall outside you think they are blowing around in your apt. I’m always amazed at how loud everyone can be from discussing dinner plans to picking up the kids or even just making an appointment. New Yorkers are emotional and don’t hide much. The cutest thing was last week I heard this women talking so lovingly and I had too take a peek to see the child and it turned out to be her adorable dog! She was chatting about what a great Play date they had and about stopping for a treat on the way home! Priceless NYC moment. Some of the neighbors came over for a wine and appetizer gathering and what a fun time. Without even knowing what everyone was bringing it turned out to be so colorful and quite healthy. I’ve posted a picture in the gallery. Although we rarely see them, the next door neighbors are always having International people over and I love all the languages and dialects you hear. From England, Ireland, Germany and last week Chile!
Another funny encounter was on a trip downtown. I got off the subway and wasn’t sure of the direction I needed to walk. I stopped a gentleman and as he was giving me directions I realized I had to make another stop. When I stopped him and said I think I need to change the address he threw his hands up and said “Are you Kidding me, do you know where you’re going?” Once again only an emotional New Yorker will display such drama at giving directions! I thanked him for his help and walked away with such a smile on my face. I really enjoy Florida but miss the dynamics of the City!
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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