Today we commemorate a legendary man who had compassion in his heart and who “had a dream” that one day there would be equality among all – a man that wanted to make a difference. A man who did just that as we celebrate him and his vision each and every calendar year. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are forever grateful for the seed of hope that you planted, and for the awareness that you created through your compassionate heart.
Well, this brings me to the point…I, too, have a dream: A dream of making a difference in the lives of the hungry and homeless; A dream that I hope to bring to reality through the eyes of my children with education and compassion at the forefront.
I have pondered and attempted to tap into every creative juice that I possess looking for a fun and memorable way to accomplish this. One of my favorite lines from the Movie “Jerry McGuire” is: “…Most of the women my age are trying to get a man, Laurel, not me; I’m trying to ‘raise’ a man.”
Well, for me, I am trying to raise “humanitarians”. I wish for my children to be acutely aware of just how abundantly blessed we are, how “lucky” we are to have food on our table, clothes on our backs, and shelter over our heads. Yet, I do not wish for them to feel “guilty” for these blessings—Rather, I pray for the ability to teach them the “balance” of being grateful coupled with the desire to serve those in need. I believe that one cannot teach values without modeling them. Our head Pastor at our church, Kenton Beshore, once said to our congregation: “…If you feel that you have been blessed, in whatever way, know that you have been blessed to be a blessing!” It is sort of the “pay-it-forward” premise as I see it, and I am blessed to not only know this, but to feel it in the very depths of my soul. I have compassion in my heart for others, and I want to be a blessing.
Just looking into the eyes of my family: two beautiful children who are healthy, smart and loving; a loyal and committed husband, parents and siblings who genuinely love and care for one another…I have been blessed!
Now, back to the creative way I hope to make a difference: I love to cook, yet I have never really been taught. I have been teaching myself over the years, and I am not half-bad. Now, Gordon Ramsey might want to scream in my ear, but he would not know who he is messing with! However, I aspire to be a great cook. I want to be the type of cook that when my now four-year-old son, Giovanni, comes home from sports practice one day and says, “Mom, I’ve invited some of the boys for dinner”, then I can reply with, “Sure, honey”, and whip up some scrumptious and filling masterpiece –only to have them longing to come back for more. “Comfort Food” is what some may call it – I hope that my children always find home a comforting place where they wish to have fellowship with friends, classmates, teammates, family, etc.
The only way for me to get better at cooking is to dive right in – totally my style! My friends can attest to my zest for life and for a challenge. I need to practice by doing…so therein lay the premise behind my desire to make a difference. In 2010, I am attempting to cook recipes from various cookbooks, all representing our family’s genetic background. I have never been to Europe, so I hope to teach culture to my children, Sophia and Giovanni, through recipes from the countries that are in their blood. Namely, Italian since their Daddy is from 100% Sicilian fabric; yet Mommy was woven from Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Wales. This should make for some interesting cuisine! What better way to teach the children about their heritage than through meals?
As a family, we discuss the hunger problem that is not only global, yet drastically local as well. My husband and I speak to our children about the need to assist with this problem. We attempt to fill their minds with awareness and the importance of giving to others. As I spoke of modeling the behavior earlier, that is what I am attempting to do with this project. I am going to be cooking for my family, teaching them about the cuisines from whence they came, while donating 10% of the cost of each recipe to our local Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. We have a deal with the kids that they are to taste everything that I make and give a critique of “thumbs-up or thumbs-down”, and I will blog not only the recipe, but also about the experience of making it. I foresee many humorous tales emerging from “Cooking To Contribute”, a.k.a., “The Trial and Error Culinary Institute of Irvine, CA.”
Stay tuned…the first recipe is in honor of my husband’s ancestors who so bravely landed on Ellis Island a few years before the beginning of World War I…fresh from Sicily and undoubtedly hungry for the Italian cuisine that we all know and love so well. So, here’s to the Sambitos and the Olivieris…an Italian Roast cooked via crock-pot—the Americana-Mama way! Manga!