The month of June has been filled with a plethora of emotions. Professional angst led the way with big decisions looming and changes on the horizon. I had exciting but tough decisions to consider that made my focus narrow and kept my head buried. That’s when life came to a screeching halt.
We lost a beloved family member unexpectedly. And although this lovely lady led an adventurous and fulfilled life, it was heartbreaking to lose her. We spent a week in my old stomping ground, sitting around the old wood table rehashing memories, sorting, giving things away and just when I thought there wasn’t a bright light to be seen, I stumbled upon an old friend that I haven’t seen since the age of 13. We cried. We sat on sofas and visited, reminisced, laughed, shared stories of our children and remembered why we had been good friends.
Before leaving the old stomping ground, Ranger Craig and I found the sweetest cafe that serves traditional food of the region. Cuisine I know well, food from my childhood and adolescence, meals that hold memories. Ranger Craig and I indulged in Fried Catfish, hushpuppies, coleslaw, chicken fried steak with white gravy, fried okra and sweet tea. It was a feast! We left with smiles on our faces and memories swirling in our thoughts.
I returned home, washed clothes, took Tank to his favorite kennel and then headed to the airport for the second time in two weeks. A family reunion was happening and I couldn’t miss it. Exhausted but energized because I would see family that I haven’t seen in two years. More tears, hugs and loads of chatter and conversation. Nieces, nephew, brother, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and people I had no idea I was related to… all merging at my parents home for a celebration.
The noise levels raised as the house and backyard filled with familiar faces, children’s laughter and larger than life characters with a penchant for comical relief. Once again food was central around this celebration table. We served my Mom’s favorite eggplant parmesan, a penne with a tomato cream sauce, lasagna Bolognese, caprese salad, Caesar salad and of course cake for dessert. I don’t think we have a speck of Italian heritage but it seems to be one of my family’s favorite types of cuisine. It feels comforting. It feels like home.
I’ve always identified with the familiar phrase “home is where the heart is”. It seems a bit cliché sometimes, but it couldn’t ring more true this month. I’ve left a piece of my heart in many places and with many people who I share memories and special moments.
Once again, I find food to be a common denominator. Much of life is lived around the table (or, at least mine is). Sharing a meal and sharing time; creating memories. Cementing emotions and eventually leaving a piece of my heart with the moment.
We’re home now and I find myself missing my loved ones. My twin sister and my brother who I feel so connected it would be hard to breathe without them. My beautiful and loving sister-in-law who is the best sister-in-law in the world. So much that I call her simply, my sister. My precious kids. All of them. My own daughters, my nieces, my nephew – giving me so much joy in my life that my heart just might burst. As my Auntie Ellen would say… they are completely delicious. 🙂
I’ve gotten terribly mushy with this post. I try to keep these posts mostly about food but I couldn’t help myself today. Although I don’t know each of you individually, I want to thank you for following Karista’s Kitchen. Thank you for loving the recipes, for your kind comments and for using them to create your “life around the table”.
Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,
Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad
1-2 pints cherry tomatoes or Heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 container or 2 cups marinated mozzarella balls, cherry tomato size (ciliegine)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons aged, good quality balsamic vinegar
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (Julienne) or hand torn (save a little for garnish)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Toss the tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper. Transfer the tomatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Roast them in the oven for about 5-8 minutes or just until they are wilted. You only want to bring the sugars (sweetness) out of the tomatoes so don’t leave them in too long or they will be too mushy.
In a large bowl toss the marinated mozzarella with the fresh basil. Then gently fold in the tomatoes and then pour onto a platter. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil on the salad and then the 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Season with another pinch of salt and pepper and then garnish with remaining fresh basil.
Serve room temperature or slightly chilled.
*This recipe was originally created for Home By Design Magazine