Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

As a child, every Sunday we went to Granny and Pop’s (my great-grandparents) house for dinner. Granny’s food was mouthwatering. Our Sunday dinner was almost always fried chicken and gravy. If she had prepared another vegetable that wasn’t mashed potatoes, I’d cry and she’d whip up some instant potatoes that you’d swear were better than the real thing. I also had to have fried cornbread patties, so I could pile my mashed potatoes on them. YUM. I had very specific ideas about what I wanted to eat. And as an adult that no longer gets to eat her delicious cooking, I’m glad I made a fuss.

Week-ends with my mother’s parents, Joycie Bear and Papa, assured we’d have sausage, biscuits and gravy for breakfast, every morning. Waking up to Papa whistling in the kitchen, the smell of sausage and bacon, knowing we didn’t need to do a thing until called to the table. (tickled out of bed, usually… we’d wait for him, giggling)

As I recall these memories of my childhood love rushes in and fills me completely. The love they put into the meals and their willingness and joy to please and make us happy is overwhelming. As much as I knew they loved me (it was A LOT), I felt it in their food.

Cooking is one of my greatest joys, second only to sharing the food I’ve prepared with anyone and everyone that might possibly need or enjoy it. I smell my grandparents in my kitchen often. I’ll stop what I’m doing and take big, deep breaths inhaling it all. The food, the memories, the absolute knowledge that food IS love.

My partner, Dionne and I spent 3 weeks in Italy this past summer, visiting my little sister, Johanna who’s living there for the next year. After weeks of traveling and eating delicious Italian food, I was ready to cook. It was our last few days with my sissy and we were all beginning to feel a bit of sadness in anticipation of our departure.

So, what did we do?

We had three days of good ol’ West Texas country cooking. I fried everything that wasn’t tied down. We laughed and talked and breathed deeply the scent of love. I felt such appreciation for my country roots and the yummy comfort food I was raised on.

This is fried chicken and cream gravy just like Granny and Papa made for us as kids. Looking back at this picture, the hearts on the table cloth say it all.

Granny's Fried Chicken and Papa's Gravy

Granny’s Fried Chicken and Papa’s Gravy = Love

(You can see more pic’s in Johanna’s Comfort Food Sessions photo album on FB!)

Part Deux

We got so wrapped up in our family holiday that very few pictures were taken. (I love/hate when that happens.) And the ones that were taken weren’t amazing. But. Never fear.  We had our Thanksgiving ReMix last night and it was delicious.

I made some fresh turkey gravy with onions, celery and fresh herbs and put the turkey breast in to heat gently. We had brussels sprouts and red potatoes that didn’t get made on the actual day that got their turn to shine. Brussels sprouts with bacon and a few cherry tomatoes and the red potatoes got a bath in milk, butter and rosemary. Delish. I wanted to make some fresh rolls but didn’t have the energy. Ha! That’s because I’ve already had enough rolls… (although Dionne is off work today and I can hear her in the kitchen making bread… I’m smelling cilantro, yum.)

Turkey Day ReMix

Turkey Day ReMix

So that was dinner last night and lunch again today. We ate all of the brussels sprouts last night so we did have to make more rolls for lunch. I mean, there they were just waiting to have butter melted in them. What would you have done?

The next and final stop for this fabulous turkey from Richardson’s Farm will be a yummy turkey pot pie.

Oh, and did I mention Dionne made bread?

Fresh Baked Bread

Cilantro, Dill & Green Onion Cottage Cheese Bread

Giving Thanks

What a wonderful holiday, Thanksgiving. I hope you all had fantastic meals and good quality time with the people that mean the most to you.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. This holiday isn’t about spending money and buying a bunch of gifts, it is about appreciating and enjoying what you already have. Spending time in the presence of the family and friends that make our lives beautiful.

Dionne, Al, Joycie Bear & Crystal

Dionne, Al, Joycie Bear & Crystal – That sun is bright!

This Thanksgiving, as with most, I cooked for my Grandparents – Joycie Bear & Al, my mom, my sister Johanna, partner Dionne and my son, Quentin. We had a local organic meal this year using veggies from my Greenling local basket, and a free range turkey from Richardson Farms (which I ordered through Greenling as well, YAY, YUM and Thank you!)

When I was a little girl, I would wait all year to eat my Joycie Bear’s Thanksgiving dinner and now as an adult, I wait even more anxiously to cook it for her. I learned to cook from her and her mother, my Granny. I felt the absolute love they had for me in every tasty bite. It was a gift I am driven to pay forward to everyone I can. I LOVE to feed people.

My grandmother, Joyce, is the most precious woman in the world. Strong (though she doesn’t see it) and quiet, she has been the rock in our family. She is kind, loving and compassionate, willing to help anyone who needs it and has been a steady beacon of support and love throughout our (at times tumultuous) family history.

I spent my Thanksgiving exactly how I wanted to this year. I was not working for someone else worrying about sales, money or deadlines. I planned the meal, cooked and cleaned my house, all the while bursting with love and appreciation, preparing my home to host my sweet family. I said about a million times, “I’m so happy to be me! Thank you God for putting me here on this earth at this time with these fantastic people.”

I love who I am and where I am and what I’m doing. I appreciate my life so much and the people with which I choose to fill it. Nothing is missing. It’s all here. Perfectly imperfect in every moment.

Do I have everything I’ve ever wanted? No. Is anyone’s life ever completely, 100% exactly what they hope for? Probably not often, but there are always so many things to love and appreciate.

What do we want and why do we want it? These are the only 2 things we should ever concern ourselves with. We could write a novel about what we don’t want or what’s wrong. We can blog about our troubles and issues and tell everyone we know how sick we are or our child is, but that never makes those problems go away. To the contrary, it only spotlights them and adds more energy to the situation, expanding it and making it bigger. We must stop chronicling what we don’t want.

Spend more time thinking about what you have to love and appreciate and less time worrying about what hasn’t shown up yet. Our focus and attention on what we appreciate and want more of will expand and more of that will make it’s way into our reality.

Throughout my past week of giving thanks, I would laugh as a new wave of appreciation came over me; I wondered how many people felt the same as I. How many of us love the food we grew up on and love even more feeding the wonderful people that fed us for so many years.

I give thanks today and everyday for all of our lives. I give thanks for the joy we are free to feel and share. I give thanks for the kind, compassionate love we are capable of cultivating, and that when we extend first to ourselves, can overflow to all others.

I am overflowing today and each new day with love and appreciation for life and everything in it.

Life is good and life is easy. If it’s not for you, it truly can be.

I’m here to help.