Thursday, December 31, 2015

Notarnicola New Year's Eve Tradition

(all food & photos by and from BarefootWilley's kitchen)

 "Food should be nutritious and sustain you.
Bring joy and flavors into your life.
Dazzle your palate..." (TSW)

During middle-school my family moved down the road from the Notarnicola's, a family of eight with six kids. Becoming fast friends with their daughter, well, once she and I warmed up to each other, we did whatever 12-year-olds did in those days; gin rummy, bocce ball, rode bikes, played monopoly and talk talked. But NOT until I helped her with Saturday morning chores. Oivey!

The biggest chore was the never ending laundry for this large family. Thank goodness only six people were still living at home, because that meant twelve feet rather than sixteen. I never saw so many mounds of socks in my life. It was a known fact that washing machines ate socks so I asked what their secret was to keeping pairs matched. My friend stated, “Large safety pins.” This was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. Apparently, by the age of twelve I hadn't gotten out much.

During middle school and high school days the Notarnicola's were my surrogate family. Half Italian, half Russian. Mom and Dad N. I called them.

One of the many benefits of having this wonderful family in my life was the heart of their home; a kitchen filled with Italian and Russian heritage. I was introduced to different food's such as pierogi's, blintze's, crepe's, ravioli, prosciutto, homemade sausage, pasta and pizza, spaghetti and acorn squash and eggplant parmesan, to name a few. Basically, homemade anything!
Homemade Sauce -
Botticello tomatoes 
Gismondi garden basil, oregano, garlic
Mr. Gismondi's Garden Basil, Oregano, Garlic

Biscotti Christmas tradition
Biscotti - Christmas Tradition
In addition to what was already a daily feast for the mouth, the Notarnicola's had a New Year's Eve tradition. Surprise of all surprises, food! Their homemade menu displayed the exotic items present at this feast although, liver pate, yuck! There was stuffed pizza bread. Fish eggs. And so much more. However, the piece de resistance, were Mr. N's homemade cannoli's. Not much else to say. The word speaks for itself.

Uncle's, aunt's, grandmother's, and cousins would grab a plate and go downstairs into the family room to warm themselves by the woodstove and watch Saturday Night Live during the 1970s with Rosanna Rosanna Danna and the Cone Heads.

Biscotti Christmas tradition
Biscotti - Christmas Tradition

Let me be clear, they may have had this tradition, but to me, because many foods were new, every meal was like a special holiday!

And like most homes, no matter the heritage or holiday, you had to try food before saying you didn't like it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Dis-ease of Christmas

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that __________"

my reputation won't be ruined by this unplanned pregnancy
that my husband won't divorce me
that my family won't disown me
that my girlfriends' will still want to have coffee with me
that the boys' won't throw stones at me.
Like I don't have enough going on, now we have to pack for a 70 plus mile road trip to our home town because the governor wants a head count.
You're kidding? This couldn't wait till after I gave birth?
I hope we can find an affordable place to take a bath and sleep off the trip.

My husband reports he found us a room. I can't wait, my back is killing me.
What? You're kidding right?
This is all they have?  A manager with hay. We're putting our newborn baby in that?
And where are we going to sleep? Honey, I'm tired, aching and filthy from the dust.
I'm pregnant for God's sake. How do you spell Non-Comfort-Inn? 
Never mind mints, they don't even have a pillow, no bath, no nothing except smelly animals. This isn't exactly the Honey-Moon-Suite.

This wasn't what I pictured as newly weds. I had different dreams...
perhaps a young Bethlehem bride thought.

Does your day, month or year ever look like this?

How did it go for you when you planned; your wedding, graduation, children, guests, wallpaper, a vacation, a party, a job, your dreams? I've had seasons that interrupted what I thought was a great idea . A season like above can take the wind out of my sails, attempting to squash my creativity, soul and strength. Therefore, I must guard my heart.

It occurred to me every event has three stages. BEFORE, DURING and AFTER. 
They bring planning, expectation, anxiety, excitement, avoidance, frustration, giddy, yearning, enthusiasm, celebration, mountain top, valley low, depleted, filled, longing, satisfied, dissatisfied, reflection and more.

Each stage plays out differently for everyone because
 we bring to the event our own expectations built on our 
dreams or reality or our own brokenness.

What about the season of Christmas?
No matter how one celebrates this event, it is an event that is planned.
You make plans to celebrate or plans to avoid.