This past weekend we kicked off the holiday season with our first Christmas gathering. Twenty two members of my mothers family gathered with my grandmother (Nana) in what we anticipate may be her last Christmas away from home (as her Alzheimer’s is progressing faster than we anticipated).
During her teenage years Nana dropped out of school in order to support her mother in their family-owned restaurant – Kay’s Cozy Corner. Though she eventually went back to high school in her 50s (and proudly walked as her class valedictorian), cooking was her trade. She shared this with her children and grandchildren by constantly hosting family events where she was known for singing and dancing around the house and driving everyone crazy with her unrelenting positivity. Conversations around her table always began with a trip down memory lane and inevitably evolved into discussions of how the meal was prepared and of course debates around favorite dishes.
This weekend it was strikingly clear that my grandmother’s passion and talent in the kitchen have been passed on to her children. My Aunt (who was hosting) prepared prime rib, a crown roast, homemade spanakopita, roasted eggplant, pearled onions and peas, and several other delicacies. My aunt in from Indiana prepared her traditional mashed potatoes and corn stuffing, and the depth of flavor was impressive. My uncle prepared his famous mac and cheese that included cheddar, havarti, gouda, parmesan and gorgonzola. And my father made my mom’s ‘famous’ jello salad (recipe coming).
While I watched my mother’s siblings in the kitchen, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment in regards to my own fascination and love of food. Writing this blog has pushed me to keep my eyes open and I was so glad to have done that this weekend. I feel even more inspired to document meals we ate as a family throughout my childhood while simultaneously experimenting and bringing new dishes to our table.
This meal below has become one of our recent go-to lunches. It is quick, flavorful, and easy to make on a night like last night when we are exhausted (physically and mentally). I started with this recipe and made some adjustments, as always, based on what we have in the house and what we like!
Steps and Notes:
- Prepare the Chicken
- Boil 1.5 pounds of chicken (about 3 large breasts) in water for 12 minutes
- Cut and let it cool on a cutting board
- Combine in a large mixing bowl:
- 7 stalks of diced celery
- 2 tablespoons of curry powder (we use ‘hot madras’ curry. We tried a sweet curry once but didn’t love that flavor in this dish)
- 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup of mayo
- salt and pepper to taste
- a sprinkle of parsley
- The chicken – diced to your preferred level of chunk
- Taste and adjust
- At this point I ended up adding 1/4 teaspoon more curry as well as a bit more salt and pepper
- Let it sit overnight in the fridge.
- Serve on a halved pita or in bibb lettuce cups
Notes for next time:
- Depending on what I have in the fridge, sometimes I’ll use half celery and half carrots
- This recipe has almonds and rosemary which I plan to try in the future
- Dijon mustard would also add some nice spice