Tag Archives: family

The Tradition of Turkey Soup

The Tradition of Turkey Soup

We cooked our first turkey in Cabo on Christmas Day. I should have used the wood-fired oven, but I’m still learning how to use it properly and didn’t want to risk ruining our precious bird.

We shared a lovely meal with Ron’s brother, David, and good friends, Andrea, Pablo, their four month-old baby Tobias, her friend, Giovanna, and our long-time friend, Scott Parsons. It was a VERY traditional dinner: turkey with bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, carrots, green beans, cranberry sauce (with Serrano chile, of course!), a Mexican variation on Waldorf Salad (thanks to Andrea – it was delicious!) and Tres Leches Cake for dessert.

Meanwhile, a few thousand miles away in Canada, my precious Mom came out of holiday dinner retirement and was preparing a very similar meal for my family. It’s been years since she (or I, for that matter) has prepared a turkey dinner – a meal that she has always enjoyed making. In order to make the undertaking manageable, she prepared everything she possibly could well in advance of Christmas Day so that she could enjoy herself and not feel overwhelmed. The dinner was a GREAT success and I’m so proud of her. At 87 she’s not afraid to take on new challenges and push herself to do more.

We sent lots of leftovers home with our guests and still had plenty left for several meals in our home. On Christmas night, I stripped off all of the meat from the turkey carcass and made a huge pot of soup broth.

Two days later, I made turkey vegetable soup and used an amazing array of organic vegetables and herbs from our local market: onions, celery, carrots, sweet potato, yellow squash, green beans, broccoli, kale, parsley, thyme, sage, and oregano.

I made a BIG pot of soup and we will be enjoying it for a few more days. Almost as good as the original turkey dinner, it’s a tradition that makes the holidays complete.

 

 

A Special Spoon

A Special Spoon

I started the two day process to make chicken soup tonight. I use a combination of recipes: from Julia Moskin of the New York Times and Ron’s 97 (soon to be 98) year-old Mom, Mother Mary as I love to call her. There is nothing that brings more comfort than a bowl of homemade chicken soup.

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When we were recently in Santa Clara, California, Ron was fighting a bad cough and chest congestion. Moms never stop being mothers and Mother Mary immediately set to work to cook Ron a pot of her very special and delicious chicken soup to make him well again. She keeps two packages of organic (and she will only use organic, bless her!) chicken legs in the freezer in case of sickness and to prepare a pot of her famous and delicious “cure”.

The broth is so thick and filled with goodness that it completely congeals in the fridge. Heat it up and the kitchen is filled with that amazing aroma of pure, beautiful and healing food. Mother Mary learned how to make chicken soup from Aunt Mae, a generous woman who adopted Ron’s family and loved each and every one of the family members as her own, even though there was no blood connection.

Mother Mary told me years ago about a special wooden spoon that she uses that was gifted to her when Aunt Mae passed away. The spoon is well over one hundred years old and holds the energy of the two amazing women who cooked wholesome and nutritious food for their families, friends and loved ones over the years. I never had the privilege of meeting Aunt Mae, but I know that preparing incredible food was and is the most powerful expression of love from Mother Mary (as I’m sure it was from Aunt Mae as well).

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry's

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry’s

Mother Mary gifted me with this spoon on our last trip. It is the only material thing I ever want from her and she generously passed this special spoon, this legacy, on to me. Every time I hold this spoon, I feel the incredible love and energy of both women. I will cherish it always and think of them every time I use it to make special food for my family, friends and loved ones, just as they have done for over a century.

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Enjoy the Journey!

I LOVE cookbooks and had a massive collection of them in my past life. Wherever I traveled, it seems I picked up a new cookbook and got to explore the foods and flavors of the places beyond the trip itself. I also chose cookbooks of places I hadn’t yet traveled, but LOVED the cuisines, like India, Thailand, Africa, the Mediterranean, etc. I kept a precious few cookbooks when I purged my belongings last year and gifted all of the remainder to charity – paying the incredible gift of amazing food with others who might not otherwise get to experience travel and/or a variety of cuisines of the world.

One of the best ways to get to know a country, a culture and its people is through food and drink. Everything we do socially is centered around them: a first date with drinks and dinner perhaps, holiday meals shared with traditional recipes and loved ones, bringing food to a family to offer comfort and support during difficult times, a business meeting over coffee or lunch, etc. Nourishing our bodies and our souls with good quality food is one of the most important things we can do to honor ourselves and to show our love for others.

It takes time to plan, shop for and prepare good food. The investment is worth it and cooking is one the things I truly love to do. It’s meditative and creative. Like anything, learning the basics and the techniques are important to make the process more enjoyable. Some people have a natural flare and others have to work at it. Absolutely no one knows it all and there is always more to learn.

I worked really hard to write my three cookbooks and I loved doing them. Been there, done that and wrote three books! Now, I’m enjoying preparing food from other people’s recipes or creating things in our kitchen from my imagination (or from memory of foods we’ve enjoyed). This is an exciting new chapter in my life and I’m enjoying trying new recipes immensely.

I’m travelling lighter these days with very few cookbooks but a world of recipes at my fingertips with the internet and some fabulous food sites. One of my favorites is the Cooking App from the New York Times. It has become one of my main sources of inspiration and an absolute delight to cook recipes from. We LOVE Melissa Clark and her fun, fresh approach to food. Her recipes are delicious and videos capture her delightful personality.

As I prepare and play with new foods and recipes, I promise to share them with you. I’ll share great food and hopefully save you the process of finding the best recipes, food and flavors as I find them. I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I delight in sharing it!

Mike and Halloween in Los Gatos

Back to northern California!

Ron and Mike have been dear friends for over fifty years. They met at the grocery store in Santa Clara that they were both working at while in high school and college. They share a rich and wonderful history together and have seen each other through much of life’s journey.

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Ron and Mike basically see one another twice per year: on our way north and east to New York in May and then again on our way west and south in October. They rarely contact one another in between, but pick up exactly where they left off when they do see one another. As with all of Ron’s friends and family, Mike has made me so welcome and I love hearing the stories of their shared past.

We spend as much time as possible with Mike when we’re in Santa Clara: tennis, billiards, dinners at their favorite sports haunt, By-Th-Bucket Bar and Grill (www.btbbarandgrill.com) as we usually arrive in Santa Clara in time for the World Series finals, and shared meals at Ron’s Mom’s house. Mother Mary has adopted Mike as practically one of her own and Mike, as a bachelor, thoroughly appreciates her fabulous home cooking.

We spent Halloween night with Mike and his lovely new girlfriend, Debby. We met them in Los Gatos and had a great time walking down Main Street and Santa Cruz Avenue checking out the costumes. Both Mike and Debby were in costume, but Ron and I were disguised as tourists yet again! We ended up dancing and sharing some drinks and more than a few laughs at Number One Broadway, the Los Gatos place for live music (www.numberonebroadway.com). It was a great evening and we always enjoy spending time and sharing life with Mike – one of Ron’s oldest and dearest friends.