Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Pie-giving 2014: Giving thanks and helping others this Thanksgiving

With one flip of the calendar, I am in an autumnal mood! I become giddy with the thought of cozy sweaters and crisp air. While many folks are thinking about the start of the school year, my mind immediately fast forwards to Thanksgiving — that marvelous food-centered American holiday.

Every year, whether spent in the company of friends, family or simply with Lenny the Pug, I silently give thanks for all my blessings.

In the fall of 2011, while this company was in its infancy, I lost what little financial security I had. I was shaken to my core and terrified of how I would survive. Luckily, I had an incredible support system who offered me everything I needed to keep my head above water and Lenny in kibble. They refused to let me falter and in return I promised that I would do everything possible to make this company successful. 

It is terrifying to start over. It takes a leap of faith to dive into the unknown. And I’ll be honest, there were many times my faith wavered. Sometimes it was a kind word or hug, others it was looking at Lenny and knowing I needed to do everything I could to provide for him, and still others were pure determination to not allow “them” to beat me. Whatever it was, I managed to break through the haze and find the light each time things grew dim. Three years and many ups and downs later, Lenny and I still have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, clothing on our backs, and the “little company that could” is steadily growing and making its mark not only in people’s tummies, but in their hearts as well. But what of those who are not as lucky?

It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the amazing folks at Coalition for the Homeless during the past year and a half. The First Step Job Training Program is near and dear to my heart not only because the program director, Elizabeth Henderson, is one of my closest friends, but because it “gives homeless and low-income women the training, social support, education and work experience they need to overcome a tremendous array of stability obstacles, empowering them to build a better life for themselves and their families.” If starting over WITH a support system in place is terrifying, I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like to begin anew with nothing. 

These women choose to stand up and take control. They choose to make a difference in their lives — their families lives. They are able to meet the challenges these changes present with confidence gained through the First Step program.

I admire each and every one of them for taking the risk because I cannot say for sure that I would be as brave as they if the tables were turned.

And so that brings me to my annual “giving thanks.” I am proud to announce that we have partnered with Coalition for the Homeless for our first annual “Pie-giving” benefitting the amazing ladies of the First Step Training Program.

Thanks to our generous and compassionate fans, every woman in Class #126 will be receiving an Alecia Bakery NYC Pumpkin-Gingersnap pie this Thanksgiving! Let’s do it again next year!

The Wisdom of Lenny

I have a confession. I am not a good blogger. While I was once a prolific memoir writer, my words seem to get stuck in my head these days. Or rather, they play out in my head and then once they’ve been heard (by me, of course, as I do not, I repeat I DO NOT! hear voices in my head…yeah) I lose any desire to repeat them in any way shape or form. The inspired moment seems to have passed and I am on to the next.

So that, my friends, is my lame excuse for having failed in my personal goal to write a blog entry once a week. Okay, it also threw a wrench into things when more folks discovered our delicious goodies and we signed more wholesale accounts thus preventing me from sitting quietly with my thoughts at the computer as often as I’d planned. Either way, I have fallen short of my hopes to purge my usually random, silly and sometimes strange thoughts, into the blogosphere.

Therefore, please allow me to summarize the past three holiday-laden months. The Thanksgivings and Christmases of my youth are long gone. My family has expanded and moved and I no longer join those who remain in the Midwest for the holidays. I haven’t decorated my home or bought a tree in a couple years despite having a collection of multicolor twinkle lights and ornaments larger than a single gal in the city should own. And the celebrations tend to be simply a plate of food shared between Lenny and I while we watch sappy rom-com movies or “Bones” re-runs. New Year’s Eve leaves me feeling a lot like the tourist dreamily peering through the twinkle-lit windows of Tavern on the Green during its heyday. And I always manage to channel Charlie Brown with his empty mailbox on Valentine’s Day. All wanting to be included in the party, but our invitation seems to have been lost in the mail.

It can all become quite sad and overwhelming. That is when I look to the wisdom of my little three-legged black pug. He neither knows nor cares what day it is. He pays no mind to the commercials filled with beribboned luxury cars or that “Every kiss begins with Kay!” He dislikes raucous, noisy crowds. He doesn’t care for flowers. And chocolate is toxic to him. His only desire is to spend time with me — preferably on my lap or nestled next to me in bed. With every big-eyed look he gives me and contented sigh he makes, I am reminded that it is the simple things in life that are most important. He doesn’t need hoopla or presents or fancy dinners. He just needs to know that he is loved. And that, I can easily deliver…not just on the holidays, but every day.

So, I listen to the little pug and don’t worry that our holidays at home don’t live up to anyone’s expectations except his. Because, quite honestly, he is wiser than me.

One down…four more to go!

 

Thanksgiving remembered…

I remember fondly, as a child growing up in Michigan, my family’s gatherings. But the one I most remember is Thanksgiving. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents and anyone that happened to be alone on that day would gather together in my grandparents’ tiny home in Findlay, OH. We’d watch the Macy’s Day Parade on television followed by a full day of football. We’d laugh and play and make plans for our Christmas gathering. The star of the day, however, was the food! Oh the food!

The enormous turkey would be stuffed with oyster dressing and put into the oven the night before to roast on the lowest of settings. To this day, I’ve never tasted a more tender, sweet piece of turkey than what my grandmother, Nellie, made in that tiny stove of hers. She would hand-peel steaming hot boiled potatoes (a method I never fully understood the justification of until I was much older) just as the sun was rising for her secret recipe potato salad. Every palate would be sated. She had candied yams, mashed potatoes, ham, turkey, multiple types of stuffing, and the list went on and on ending with a stack, yes, an eyeball high stack of pies!

They say baking is an exact science and as a baker I agree to a great extent. But the rules that govern baking didn’t seem to affect my great-grandmother. Hazel Gardner was a tough broad. At a mere 4’10” and 90 lbs. dripping wet, she terrified every member of our family and I suspect most of the Midwest. Her Siamese cat, Poocheye, was probably the only living creature who didn’t shrink in her presence. But good golly could that lady bake! In her cracker box sized kitchen, she turned out my absolute favorite dessert — Sugar Pie. That’s right. Sugar Pie.

It was a slightly sweet, creamy custard pie in the most perfect of flaky crusts. Great-grandma said it would cure everything. She made it for everyone who became ill. She made it for family gatherings. What she didn’t do was write down the recipe. Doh! I set out to harness her power over germs and learn how to make the delicious pie. Well, that was my intention. It took great-grandma a blink of an eye to tell me the recipe as I sat on the floor, notepad and pencil at the ready. But I sat flummoxed. She used words like “pinch” and “dash” and “until it looks right.” What? How did a “pinch” translate into teaspoons? And what exactly was “right” about the way the conglomeration looked?

No, I was never able to recreate my great-grandmother’s pie. And I could never duplicate those soft, quiet moments with my great-grandmother either. It was like a shooting star. You had to be there to fully comprehend the moment.

So, here’s to friends, family, Thanksgiving, food and the memories they create!

What is your fondest Thanksgiving memory?