Plant a seed and lighten up

Inspired by The Beekman 1802: Boys A Seat at the Table book I thought, “Why not host an open house showcasing the local artisans featured in my last column?” It was during one of my busiest weeks. My house wasn’t decorated except for a few Poinsettias. No time to make appetizers or signature cocktails. It was a run to the store for food to thrown on my table and felt like a deer caught in the headlights. This was not my plan.

What did I learn? It didn’t matter. Everyone had a great time, friends brought food and drinks and the vendors sold merchandise. Everyone was relaxed but me. It was a great turnout. My new mantra is ‘lighten up’. Life is hectic but if you are spending it with people whose company you enjoy, that is all that matters.

Plant a Seed

The following is an excerpt from my favorite column about family and creating memories.

Take a moment to remember a holiday from your childhood. My hope is that you can recall some magical memories that warm your heart. My memories fill my heart and my stomach centered around the family meal.

My childhood in the Bronx is not your typical Bronx tale but similar to growing up on a farm. My grandparents, Alfredo and Felicia Oliva, owned a home on a corner lot plus the lot next door. Magic happened in the garden, the cellar and my grandmother’s small basement kitchen.

The lot was a garden of abundance or what Italians call “Abbondanza!” The front was filled with colorful flowers. The back was loaded with vegetables, fruit trees and grapes. Walking the garden paths are some of my fondest memories outside of the kitchen.

There would be huge gatherings of family, extended family, cousins and paesanos. Every Sunday felt like a holiday. If it was warm we were in the backyard feasting. If it was cold we feasted inside. Feasting would not be an exaggeration. Everything was always fresh and homemade.

My brother, Willliam, and I would sit around a mountain of flour that my grandmother cracked eggs into which turned into pasta dough. We rolled the dough into cavatelli with our little fingers. We helped make the homemade sausage, which dried on a clothesline in the cellar.

Crates of grapes would turn to wine in huge barrels in the wine cellar. The largest production was the homemade tomato sauce. There was no better place on earth than next to my grandmother in the garden or in the kitchen. These are all seeds that were planted in my memory.

Food was the centerpiece of the table. Our presence and those of our loved ones decorated the table. We sat and feasted for hours not only for the holidays but every time we got together. Food is love and it doesn’t matter if you have a simple kitchen like my grandma or a fancy one. What matters is that you plant a seed.

For you and yours, I wish you a holiday filled with good food, good company and plenty of seeds. Abbondanza!



The photos featured in today’s column are from the Goshen Christmas house tour. Seven Goshen homeowners warmly welcomed 500 guests into their homes for Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan’s third annual Goshen Christmas House Tour.  Two historic locations, The Stagecoach Inn and the Goshen Music Hall, which featured an art exhibit curated by the Goshen Art League were also on the tour. The day full of festivities on the first Saturday of December raised more than $25,000 in support of Catholic Charities’ mission to provide help and create hope for those most in need in our community.