CASSEROLES AND FAREWELLS

Before December takes full hold of me, I had to set aside a few words for November.

November, my favorite month, swept in quietly from the hold of October and greeted me with the known & thrilling excitement of family, friends and delicious food. November, a month that was kind to us, was filled with much family time – visitors from West Virginia, gatherings in Guthrie with the Grays, the discovery of a new church home and dates with lovely friends.

I could not help to think of Lucia this time last year. Our trip to Houston, her prancing around Sasha’s mom’s house in point shoes eight times too big. Her words that were there, but more strangled beneath her tongue -slightly less abundant. Suddenly she has blossomed in my eyes. But maybe that is because my memories from this time last year are so prevalent and strong. November has a way of sticking to my bones. I can see her, with her bouncy curls – shorter at the time – requesting milk and sitting on Lance and Sasha’s couch, watching Sleeping Beauty. Sasha’s childhood bunny at her side. A more limited palate she had –  though cheese and jelly toast are still among her favorite snacks – just maybe she shared a few snap peas with me as we put our groceries away last week.

Thoughts of my grandparents and family – memories of my childhood and good times fill my heart during this time of year. I miss those that I cannot be near & hold the ones that I am with even closer. I dream up activities for my little family, try valiantly to create a holiday season for my daughter, just like the ones I always knew.

This year, though I could not have my Grandpa George’s green beans or my Grandma Airie’s chocolate pie, I made a casserole in their honor – my first ever – because I know they would have had something eighty times more delicious at their table, and I know that they would be proud of me for using that damn stalk of celery: waste not, want not. They must have been watching over me that Thanksgiving morning that I baked because my dish came out of the oven a huge hit – my dad says my Grandma Airie must have left a gift to me. I like that thought.

Happy December.

Ingredients:
1 bunch of celery, thinly sliced
1.5 cans creamy onion soup
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of butter
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a two quart casserole by greasing the bottom and set aside. Chop and prep all other goodies. In dish, layer celery, soup, almonds, cheese and bread crumbs. Repeat. Top with bread crumbs and some dollops of butter. Bake approximately 40 minutes.