So here we are at the "Un-official" start of summer. Memorial Day. FYI Summer really starts on June 20th. Memorial Day is a very important holiday. For most people it is a time of barbecues, parties, parades, and get togethers.
For me...it is a bit more than that. As a young girl in New York City, this particular weekend did include parades and family gatherings. But, also, my grandparents were the ones as well as my parents of course, told us that we would not be able to be together unless our soldiers protected us. They explained that they were our protectors so we can all be safe.
So, with that being said, when we were kids, my grandma would help us make small signs that said "Thank you" on them so we can hold them up and let the soldiers know that we appreciated them. My brother and I always believed that they read them and liked it....and they did.
My other memories of course are the family gatherings after the parade. Living in New York City, it usually meant a train ride to Long Island to have a family member meet us and go to one of the parks and have a huge picnic. What fun!! My Mom, aunts, and grandmother would be cooking for days before the picnic. I can remember roasted peppers in olive oil and garlic, some homemade cakes with fresh berries, chicken that was cooked (partially) then barbecued on the grills (which by the way were these huge cement things that were on a post that you had to put charcoal on it and wait till forever for the coals to get hot), and then while waiting for the coals, grandma would be yelling at us kids to stay away from the grill. There was deviled eggs, every kind of salami, ham and cheese with all kinds of rolls, potato salad cole slaw, garden salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, and all kinds of home baked treats. You would think we were feeding the whole park!!
The food back then seemed to taste different. The ingredients were fresh. Not one item was processed. The meat, and chicken even had a different taste. That is becauase everything did not go through a process, it came directly from the farms. Everything was purchased from the grocer, the butcher or small market where food was brought in everyday.
So, as you celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, please...remember our men and women who sacrifced their lives so we can be with our loved ones...go shop at your local farm stand, that little butcher shop or grocer for your ingredients. After all, they are the ones that will know your culinary needs the best. Please post your thoughts and share some of your happy memories. Until next time, Happy Cooking.
Dorothy Peel, of Montauk, is the owner of and teaches clients how to cook healthy, locally-based foods.