The Gathering Place

I am again preparing for the holidays running at full speed ahead. The house has been decorated inside and out. Gifts have been purchased and wrapped and ready to place under the tree on Christmas Eve. Baking is finally finished and not without its own set of mishaps. This past Saturday I pulled my pumpkin bread out of the oven…it looked so beautiful…set the aromatic loaves on racks to cool…turned them out a few minutes later only to discover that the bottom half of the loaves were not cooked! Total panic set in as I realized that it is 8 days before Christmas, I still have baking to complete and the bottom heating element in my oven has gone out! Fortunately it was a relatively easy fix and by dinner time that evening my oven was working better than ever.

For as long as I can remember, my house has been a beehive of activity. It is the heart of all family activity. Being Italian, good food has always been the center of my life. As a child, I learned baking skills from my mother and grandmother. Many times Sundays were spent making bread and pasta. Each creation would be served to my dad and, with baited breath, await his seal of approval. As an adult, I have continued to find joy in the kitchen creating new dishes and passing learned skills on to my children and family. I never know who will show up for a meal nor how many will be served. “Strays” just tend to migrate here, whether it is dogs that follow kids home, the 2-legged human type, wondering what is for dinner or my sister calling to inform me there will be 2 more for the upcoming holiday meal. When my kids were younger, their friends would take a poll checking to see what was on the menu for dinner, trying to decide which house to eat dinner at that evening…mine won the majority of the time! I can’t count how many times kids, friends and family would just show up to eat dinner. It is a good thing I don’t know how to cook for two!

My house has always had a revolving door. This is where we gather for family and extended family meetings, in times of joy and in times of sorrow. There is where we celebrate birthdays, holidays, and the simple fact that it is Sunday. Impromptu meetings for various booster club activities occur here. Family vacations are planned here while the kids discuss who is going to ride in which car. This is where 25 TCU saxophonists gathered for a Christmas party and enjoyed a gourmet meal of ribs and grilled vegetables. This is where my youngest daughters’ best friend runs for a hug and meal, where my nephew learns how to cook, and where my son and daughter bake gingerbread men together. This is also where my kids’ friends magically appear at the kitchen table for a Thanksgiving meal. I never really thought of all this as anything unusual…it has just always been this way. It wasn’t until my sisters’ husband said one day as we discussed another impromptu family Sunday dinner and I didn’t know what I would prepare yet…“It doesn’t matter” he said.” The food is always good and this is just the place to gather.”

I am very blessed to have such a wonderful family. I’m glad we not only live close by but are also very close and have a strong bond with each other. We have shared a very busy year together; struggles and achievements. I look forward to another very busy year and a new revolving door to replace the one that is worn out.

From my Gathering Place to yours, may everyone have a safe and happy holiday!

Try this tasty twist to turkey. I made this on Thanksgiving and the flavor of the meat was fantastic!

  • 3 tablespoons light butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced onion

Make a paste with the butter, parsley and onion. Loosen the skin from the breast, drumsticks and thighs. Rub the past under the skin. Cover turkey with foil and bake at 350 degrees according to package directions. Uncover turkey the last 45 minutes of baking so turkey will brown.

Corn Salsa with Black Beans

15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 large tomato chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients into bowl. Makes about 4 cups. Serves 16. Serving size ½ cup.

Nutritional information

Calories 32
Total fat 0 grams
Carbohydrates 7 grams

My family loves this corn salsa. Use pita chips or fresh vegetables to dip.

Taken from Diabetic Living Online.