Another year is about to end and a new one, with all of it promises is upon us. Each year at this time we reassess what resolutions we’d made and plan for new ones. For 2011 I resolved to become a CMP; Certified Meeting Professional, and I did.
It was a six month mission that involved a dedication to reading all of the books, studying and joining a study group. We’d meet every Wednesday, discussing the chapters we’d read and created practice tests that turned out to be harder than the actual exam. Don’t get me wrong; the exam was very difficult! The test consisted of 165 multiple-choice situational questions that had to be completed in three hours.
Having achieved my CMP; the highest level of certification you can get in the meetings industry, my goal for 2012 is just as bold. And that is to sell my house. I’ve already begun preparing it for sale. I just had the outside of the house professionally painted a nice, bright white; completely obliterating the ugly sky blue siding with black trim, gutters and shutters. Amazingly, it looks a lot bigger. I also bought a new leaded-glass front door and immediately painted it bright red. I don’t know why, but I like a red door with a white house.
I painted many rooms inside of the house and I also had new carpeting put in the three bedrooms. The next project will be to update the kitchen. By the time March rolls around, I will list the house and hopefully, will be able to sell it and move on to the next phase of my life.
All of this activity had me thinking about how mobile we’ve all become. Years ago, the house you bought was the one you lived in till the day you died. Not so much anymore. Nowadays, people live in their houses between five and ten years, before moving on to the next house.
Nana lived in her house on Keap Street in Brooklyn for more than 30 years before the city bought up all of the brownstones and displaced us to Brentwood, Long Island. Even then, she lived in that house on Clarke Street for 20 years! My Aunt Liz has been in her house on Clarke Street (down the block from ours) for over 40 years now. Talk about putting down roots!
I guess the reason why I write so much about my memories of Brooklyn and Brentwood is because of the longevity of the principal players there.
While we lived in Brooklyn and Brentwood, New Year’s Eve was another holiday when the entire family gathered together at Nana’s house for dinner. Nana made “Menestre”; a soup made with cabbage, sausage, spare-ribs and assorted vegetables. Served with warm Italian bread, it was a meal unto itself. The menestre was the first course. By now you know that there was no way we’d eat only one course when we all got together for a holiday meal!
The second course was Nana’s home-made ravioli with meat gravy. I told you already about how Nana’s house looked like a hospital for ravioli! This was that occasion. After the ravioli, out came the usual; fruit and nuts followed by pastries and coffee.
The last time I had menestre was 1989; the year before Daddy died. It was the last time the entire family was together for New Year’s Eve dinner. Sadly, I prepared it once in the early 90’s to negative feedback. Not because it wasn’t delicious. The boys and their father weren’t crazy about it, because of the cabbage and Louis told me never to make it again.
Maybe that can be another resolution for 2012; to make Nana’s menestre again! I’ll share her recipe with you if you promise to try it!
Here we go-
1 large onion
1 medium head of cabbage (your choice – I like red)
2 stalks of celery
A bunch of fresh Italian parsley and basil
5 or 6 medium peeled potatoes
2 cloves of garlic – minced
1 large can of Italian tomatoes (I use crushed)
2 pounds sweet Italian sausage sliced in half
1 pound ribs (beef or pork-your choice)
Grated Parmesan and Locatelli cheese
In a large 10 or 12 qt. stock pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
Add onions and garlic and sauté about 3 minutes.
Add the can of crushed tomatoes and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add celery, carrots, potatoes and 3 cups of water and simmer for 10 more minutes.
While that’s cooking – in a 10” skillet, on medium heat, cook the sausage and spare-ribs about 5 minutes on each side; then add to the pot
Add salt, pepper, spices to taste (I add Herbs du Provence)
Add 1/2 cup grated cheese
Let simmer another 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and can be pierced with a fork.
** Add another cup of water if the soup mixture becomes too thick.
Serve in soup bowls with warm Italian bread and sprinkle grated cheese over the top
Buon Appetito and Felice Anno Nuovo!