It's the start of Holy Week and I've decided to spend the day in the kitchen. It's a comfortable place for me; growing up Greek, the kitchen was just the place you simply wanted to be.
My kids are home - which for the last 23 years has been the norm, but with graduations and life moving on, the house has been relatively quiet. Until now.
Because the ingredients start piling themselves on the counter and the sound of the knife on the chopping block brings my boys - husband included - wandering in. All-to-familiar phrases of "whatcha makin' mom" and "can I have some of that" fill the room, and my heart, with joy.
Holy Week is a special time for me and the family - and we've got a list of favorites as long as your arm. In the Eastern Orthodox faith, fasting as part of the Lenten season is generally observed by most congregants, especially this week. While some don't adhere to the strictest rules of fasting- some abstain for meat for all 40 days or just on Wednesdays and Fridays - some include dairy - each version is unique but designed to draw you closer to God in your spiritual walk.
In our home, we concentrate on fasting from meat or dairy this week - which allows me to get creative with great veggies, soups, dips and grains. Well, all except for Peter. He'd eat Goober Grape on white bread if he could. All. Year. Long.
Connor loves Fasoulakia - a green bean dish with tomato sauce. He loves Fakes Soupa - a lentil soup. Dear husband Jim is a huge fan of Spanikorizo - a spinach and rice dish that has him running to the kitchen when ever he hears the grains being poured into the pot.
As for me - I'm a lover of Skordalia, a potato garlic dip that I could eat with a spoon. I also like Halva (which you can buy in some international sections of the grocery store) - it's made with semolina.
It's the combination of these dishes - ones that don't really make our weekly menu - that help make this special week so important to us. We laugh and talk, cook and eat - sharing our life together. To me, it's better than Christmas. No stress of gift finding or giving. A focus on faith, family and our church. And after a triumphant resurrection celebration, a time of food. Glorious, tasty, fabulous food!