Traditions are the foundation of a society hopeful in a string of ‘tomorrows’. Creating an event with a group of cherished family or friends, meant to come back to time after time speaks of consistency, dependability, glorious expectation. While I don’t recall many specific traditions growing up other than heading to Nana’s every Christmas Day, no matter where my family were living, they’ve been both rooted and evolving since having a family of my own.
Did you grow up with traditions? Going to the cabin every summer? Always having a milkshake at the cafe on your Birthday? A special celebratory ritual you share just with yourself? These moments can be big or small, but repeated they gain meaning and set themselves into the memory of you and your most treasured loved ones.
With some of our kids that weren’t always available to us on our own schedule, Easter might be the weekend before or after THE day, but we ALWAYS hosted an Easter dinner with family and close friends. Same for Thanksgiving and Birthdays. Christmas has consistently been TRADITION on steroids!! But the kids especially love to anticipate the next celebration. Even now the girls will ask if I’d like them to make their special appetizers for whichever holiday is upcoming. (The answer is always yes!!). Close friends will excitedly ask weeks in advance what they can bring to Easter or Thanksgiving.
But life changes. Kids grow. Schedules take precedence over one another. People travel. Or – biggest one of all – COVID happens. It’s happened to all of my own family traditions, over time. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
With our 4 kids, Birthdays started out as big everyone-we-know ‘Baby’ events, which altered into groups of friends, which evolved into big multi-family affairs, which is now a cherished private, special dinner for just the 6 (now 8 w boyfriends) of us to celebrate one another. And we love those moments more than any other of the whole year! We actually all kinda like each other in our little pod ‘o people!
The biggest change in our traditions this year has happened with our big Easter / Thanksgiving events. What started with family and friends-who-are-like-family, somehow had evolved into a massive 65-person anyone we knew (and DO let me know if you need advice on managing large groups!), with or without family of their own in town, extravaganza that was hard at some point to get under control. And the fact of the matter was that only a handful of those people made efforts to see us in between throughout the year. But I’ve been that person that can’t leave anyone out for a long time now – how to cut and slash friends and acquaintances?! COVID! That’s how! Haha. This year Easter / Thanksgiving have been much smaller than even we would like, not being able to include some of the people we truly are close to, but the break from the masses has also been welcome. Sometimes evolving traditions means you can re-define them more meaningfully.
We’ve been more fortunate than many, I know. Our 4 kids and the 2 boyfriends are fairly nearby, and we’ve been a good bubble together. This year has been a welcome break in traditions for all of us as our own family matures and expands, as well as to look at how we spend time together more closely and re-assess what’s most important for the decade to come.
It’s no coincidence that most of our family traditions revolve around food! So I’m sharing this beautiful roasted side dish that is SO VERY EASY to make for your own next special gathering!
And sending you all the warm, fuzzy Fall vibes from my HOME to yours as you celebrate friends and family in any way you do this Holiday Season.
Grilled Fall Vegetables with Fig Jam
- 3 bunches Broccolini Stems
- 1 whole Turnip peeled and cubed (approx 3/4")
- 2 whole Apples (Crisp!) cored and cubed (approx 3/4")
- 1 bag Baby Carrots (tri-color) halved lengthwise
- 8 whole Fresh Figs (preferred – dried will work) quartered
- 2 large Parsnips peeled and chopped (approx 3/4")
- OR any sturdy Fall Vegetable you like!
- 1 sm jar Fig Jam
- 2 tbsp Whiskey
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil (extra virgin)
- 1 rind Lemon peel finely rinded (is that a word?! LOL!)
- 4 cloves Garlic Confit pasted
- Thyme, Salt, Pepper
- Chop all the Vegetables (minus 1 Fig for garnish if fresh) and stir in with all the Sauce ingredients (minus some fresh Thyme for garnish)
- Lay out as evenly as possible on a sheet pan
- Cook at 350d until just tender (about 15-20 mins)
- Broil 1 minute (WATCH!) for color
- Plate and garnish with fresh Figs, Thyme leaves
- This is an easy recipe you can make ahead and let it marinade/rest at room temperature (covered) until 30 minutes before service
- If you want to make it a day ahead, keep the Vegetables and Sauce separate until the day of your dinner
- Mix it up! Any fairly solid vegetable will grill nicely, softer ones will add to the ‘sauciness’ of it all. Experiment with what you find in season, or at the Farmers Market that morning
Let me know what YOUR version of this dish is! Tag me so I can see your beautiful take on this dish!