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Growing Up Italian: Giving Many Grazie

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Thanksgiving if the holiday that made me a better person. It made me more aware that there are so many reasons to be grateful, and I need to celebrate each one of them.

Mille Grazie!( A thousand thank you)

282574_3992988218608_817038196_n Holiday table at my house

Growing up I never celebrated this special day, but lately, due to the fact that a lot of Americans make Italy their final living destination, it is more and more common to see some traditions from the New Continent getting established like  “trick or treaters” for Halloween or  a full traditional Thanksgiving menu offered in restaurants all over the boot shaped peninsula.

In my own journeys, I discovered a common denominator to food gatherings over the world: most of the time a celebration brings together the ancestral human need to be grateful for something, and the primordial need to eat to survive.

It doesn’t matter if I’m in Oregon, giving Thanks on the anniversary of the Pilgrims celebration for their first harvest in 1621, or in Italy giving Grazie just because we love food and good company!  Sharing a communal table with the people who enhance my life making it special  is the true meaning of Thanksgiving for me. By the same token, who said giving Grazie (or Thanks) has to happen only once a year?

Unlike Christmas with its trees, presents and wants and needs, Thanksgiving is more of a “stop and think” holiday. It’s a day that goes really through my heart and my mind.

I hosted many dinners to celebrate my being grateful for something. Growing older makes me appreciate more each birthday for instance. Some people didn’t get even to get as old as me. More wrinkles bring less doubts, while an older body, they say, often carries a younger spirit. With the clock ticking away, a reminder of my own mortality, I must find a greater purpose. For this opportunity too, I AM grateful.

“GIVE OUT WHAT YOU MOST WANT TO COME BACK” a friend once told me.

One doesn’t necessarily have to give away money to be generous. I give away my time and my talents, my food. These days where everyone is over-occupied, when fast food has replaced a sit down family lunch, I discovered that the simple gesture of taking time to bake an Artisanal loaf of bread is extremely welcome. It creates ripples of goodwill, and it does “come back” in other forms like an unexpected bucket of garden produce, or a book or flowers. This is also Thanksgiving to me. For all of this too, I AM grateful.

10519731_10152493555808581_3437067438979375105_n This sticker is hanging on my refrigerator, constant reminder to GIVE

Just recently, as you know, I lost my only immediate aunt. Her whole life was a statement to the importance of being generous. Feeding the lesser fortunate, helping a friend in need, hosting a huge family gathering…. She was all that and more, and her absence was felt, indeed.

In my twenties I wasn’t exactly sure of what my role in life would be. I was profoundly envious of the ones who did.  I knew however, that growing older without having seen the world would not be an option. Will Smith says: “If you want something go get it. Period”. Easier said than  done, but I wanted to give it a try.  I decided to grow BOLDER while getting OLDER.

A little dose of selfishness was necessary to make it through the tough times. The reward- in my case- was the fact that I got to go through a new path. Make new friends and be more understanding, compassionate, and appreciative of life in general. The journey of self discovery  was challenging, but once I found me, I must say, I’m pretty happy with what I see.

Being totally alone in a foreign country, I found my passion, the key to my inner happiness and emotional balance.  It wasn’t were I had been looking all along: it wasn’t through fancy clothes or strolling on exotic beaches. It was through food. Simple, earthy, traditional food from my childhood cooked with love for the ones I care about.

I still like all the good things life has to offer: exotic and fancy travels, new shoes and clothes, of course. I just know what I can do and don’t feel deprived if I don’t get to have any. Another reason, for me, TO BE grateful.

In conclusion, it’s up to you on how you want to give Thanks this week. I’m sure you, like me, have plenty of reasons to be grateful.  Everyone deserves a little celebration. Make it  BOLD, or Italic :)…just never regular!!

Of the many Thanksgivings parties I threw over the years, the dinners that seem to be better perceived are the ones where I cook a sort of fusion between traditional Italian and conservative American. The recipe I chose for today belongs to this category.

From my grateful heart to your house, today, I’m thanking you for reading this. Make it a special one!! Until next time, Mangia! and Ciao!

[gn_box title=”CRANBERRY AND APPLE STUFFED TURKEY BREAST” color=”#231″]
Serves 4

DSCF4537 Stuffed Turkey Breast, my way 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey breast (about 2 1/2 lbs) ask your butcher to debone it and butterfly it for you
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 shallot , minced
  • 3 baby Bella mushrooms, diced
  • 2 oz sausage
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • 1/3 C dry cranberries
  • 1/4 C chopped pecans
  • 1/2 C Marsala wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Frittata, RECIPE follows

Directions:

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the minced shallot and cook on low heat until soft.

Add the mushroom and cook until they release their own water. Add some salt.

Once the mushrooms have cooked add the sausage, breaking it down with a spoon.

When the sausage starts to brown, add the diced apple, the cranberries and the pecans.

Cover with a lid and keep cooking on med-low heat while adding the Marsala.

Cook, covered, until the Marsala has been absorbed and the mixture is dry.

DSCF4533

Dry fruit, sausage and apples. Ohh so good!

Set aside to cool while you prepare the Frittata.

FRITTATA

Ingredients:

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 T panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg, a pinch
  • 2 T grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1/4 C finely minced herbs (I used Parsley, thyme, and sage)
  • 1/3 C milk

 

DSCF4531 Herb and cheese frittata. It adds an extra layer of richness to the turkey roll.

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients except for the butter, set aside

In a non stick (possibly) fry pan (8″), melt 2 T butter

When it’s warm pour the egg mix and make sure it takes the shape of the pan.

Cook until the bottom starts to detach and the top gets opaque. Flip it, you can use a lid to help you. Finish cooking.

Alternatively, after cooking the frittata on the bottom, place the pan under a broiler to brown the top.

HOW TO ASSEMBLE THE ROLL

Pre-heat oven to 450F

Roll out the turkey breast, skin side down.

Place the frittata on top, and add the apple mix.

Roll the breast like a jelly roll, with the longer side facing you.

Secure the log using food graded kitchen twine, like you would do with any roasts.

DSCF4535

I promise it will taste as good as it looks.

Place in a 9×13 oven proof pan coated with some oil.

Sprinkle the meat with salt and Olive oil.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

Let rest for a few minutes so the juices will re-distribute. Slice, serve, Mangia, Enjoy!!

DSCF4540 Love food by the slice [/gn_box]

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