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Local Voices: Meals and Memories of My Dad

An empty seat at our table this year comes with giggles and tears.

It’s almost midnight. Cranberry sauce is done, stuffing is made, turkey brining, broccoli cauliflower medley cut up, and so it goes another pre-Thanksgiving waltz. Always fun when it’s set to music. Always tiring.

I usually think about my late mother-in-law on this day. She taught me how to orchestrate the meal, using recipes handed down to her and morphed along the way. Years ago I begged her to write exact measurements for me so I could capture the same spice blends that she created. She struggled with the idea, but humored me with pretty good guesses.

Thirty years later, I haven’t veered from her courses too far. I still rub the turkey down with butter for the golden brown finish. (Olive oil on other days.) My stuffing still uses homemade stock and croutons, turkey liver and egg. (Although I use a blend of specialty breads to dry rather than her Wonder loaf.)

The side dishes have changed occasionally, with the broccoli there to anchor them. Always mashed and sweet potatoes, sometimes brussels sprouts or roasted cauliflower.

I’m grateful for the shared times and recipes. But this year, I’m also thinking of my dad and the following changes that will be evident tomorrow at dinner, our first holiday meal since he passed:

No one will salt the entire plate first before tasting.

No one will spill wine saying, “Oh leave it till we’re done”.

No will will ask me to jump up for coffee before my meal is complete.

No one will come out to the kitchen and graze ALL the desserts before I serve.

No one will ask to take back the pie they brought.

And no one will squeeze me and say “Well Dood, (short for Doodie, don’t ask) you did it again."

Here’s to those food memories and the loved ones they honor. Hope my in-laws set a place for Dad this year. It’s the same recipes you know.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ryan Martin (Editor) November 24, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Thank you for sharing this story, Lisa. I lost my grandmother a few months ago and I can very much relate to how you're feeling today. The holidays are sometimes a reminder to be extra thankful for the blessings we have, and I'm realizing that this year more than ever before. Happy Thanksgiving, Lisa!
Lisa Hautly November 24, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Sorry for your loss Ryan. I'm sure there's a heavenly place setting for your grandmother today.

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