A guest post by our CEO Bridget (also Chef, Daughter, Mother)
Shared Experiences are the Best Gift of All
Most of my best memories are centered around food, entertaining or simply preparing a great meal for family and friends. As a trained chef, I think others’ expectation of us is that we focus on the food, that perfect meal or plate. For me, it’s the feeling associated with preparing that meal or experience to create memories, a sense of being taken care of and nurtured. That’s what entertaining is anchored in.
When my girls were young, we started our traditional annual cookie baking party. Baking with twins, gobs of icing and a confetti of sprinkles and decorations produced not one edible cookie for anybody over the age of 2! In addition to the pound of icing on a single cookie, you also have to consider the licking of the plastic spoons before they dive into the bowl to add more frosting…hardly a food safe practice! Yet every year, we added additional friends and family to our cookie decorating party to join the fun. It was never about the cookies! It was always about the joy of being in the kitchen and sharing the experience with my girls and their friends. Every one of them was so happy to be covered in icing. Every one of them was covered in candy just like the cookies!
The holidays are a time to reflect and take a breath to focus on what’s important to us. I’ve been thinking about my usual repertoire of foods that I prepare for my family. I am famous for my red sauce. I agree, it is pretty spectacular. What I love the most about making this sauce is that I use my grandmother’s large, worn metal pot. I am happy to say that it went from my mother to me. I have an obligation when using Grandma Madeline’s pot to make enough for everybody! My mom is the oldest of 9, so I have made A LOT of sauce for my aunts and uncles. I always start super early in the morning to get it going and it simmers for hours. The best part is the extra loaf of bread that I leave next to the simmering pot. I love seeing my family rip off pieces of bread and go in for the dunk as it simmers. By dinnertime, most are too full from the dunk to eat a proper meal. The sauce is outstanding, but to me it’s about cooking something for my family and feeding the soul. I love the history of this pot and all of the good conversations and laughs that resulted from meals it produced.
To this day, my girls will ask me to prepare a very specific list of foods when they come home for holidays and visits. It is my favorite thing to do in the kitchen. As they have gotten older, I have been known to ship my brownies and famous red sauce just so they know I am thinking of them.
Memories are built on time spent with people who matter. Sharing your culinary or artistic talents is a wonderful gift to give. It is deeply gratifying to watch others’ reactions when they taste a new dish you’ve created, an annual favorite appetizer or meal they associate with a holiday, or see a table dressed for the occasion or open a piece of art you’ve produced. Homemade gifts bring an additional appreciation for the inherent talents we possess and share with our family and friends. It’s about the time taken to create the gift and the thought and planning behind it, not the gift itself.
This holiday, channel your cooking inspiration and aspire to create one new appetizer or meal you’ve been thinking about or researched but never pursued. Give yourself a chance to learn more about your culinary capabilities and savor an afternoon or evening with friends and family enjoying your new dish. Enjoy the experience of being together and showing them what you’ve envisioned. That’s what holiday hosting memories are anchored in. The welcoming atmosphere and a chance to appreciate others’ presence.
Dec 22, 2021