So, first of all, Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays.
For I think, the first time ever, I am ready for Christmas ahead of time. Which is pretty remarkable considering the week I just spent in bed. We still have food shopping and cooking/baking to do, but that’s it. It makes the last week of the season that much more enjoyable, to take it all in and just let the gratitude and glatitudes of Christmas wash over me.
As the kids have grown, the number of presents under the tree have diminished, as they have moved to gift cards and bill payoffs on their wish lists. So this year, my Husband, Bri, decided he wanted to box and wrap every gift we had-including socks and gift cards. I have to say, it makes for a rather festive display. And it was pretty fun wrapping everything. The kids have a ball when we do that and then it turns out an index card is all that’s inside.
I’m also totally in love with my tree this year. I found THE perfect tree at the tree lot. So with a foot cut off of either end, we managed to fit it in the house and I have to say that she’s so perfect, everyone has thought it was fake. Even in person. I have really cherished looking at the tree and reveling in the season, especially when laying on the couch for endless hours gets to be too much. In the Spring, we will pay tribute to the gift this tree gave us and plant one to replace her.
After several rough years in a row, full of loss, pain and illness, I finally feel immensely at peace in my heart. While nothing has truly changed, I think it’s actually me that has. Despite all we have gone through and will continue to, Grace and gratitude now fill my heart. Gratitude for all that I have and Grace for that which I do not. Acceptance has given me the gift of peace. And while I know there are still many, many hurdles ahead, I can say that we will get through them. I may swear, alot, yell and cry in the process, but truly that’s just the process. The process of life. And by wishing away all the bad and the challenges, we inadvertently miss out on all the good.
So today and everyday, I am incredibly, incredibly grateful for all of my Blessings. Part of which includes the incredible privilege of having come to know all of you. Blogging has brought me some truly amazing gifts; new friends and acquaintances, a sense of purpose, a sounding board that includes people who get it, instead of those who suggest we try Yoga, awesomely strong fighters who share their impossible battles and people to cry with when yet another test comes back normal. We are a community that sticks together and cheers one another on, give accolades and guidance and support one another when it all just becomes too much. So to all of you, thank you. You have been the final piece of the very complex puzzle of surviving and thriving despite chronic illness. I am honored to know you.
In that spirit of receiving, I wanted to also give. So while it isn’t much, this recipe is deeply personal to me and it’s actually the only copy. When I was a kid, one of the things I loved most was my Grandmother’s Casada Pie. It was only made once a year on Easter. And it often puzzled me why something SO good was only made once in a year. So after begging, my Aunt brought my Grandmother to my Parent’s house to teach me. Now this may not necessarily sound like such a big event, except that my Grandmother didn’t speak English AND she didn’t cook like other people……..measurements were in the context of one pinky fingernail, up to the middle knuckle and a pinch. Which to make it ALL the more complicated, my Grandmother was only about 4’9″ and about 80 pounds; so my knuckles, at ten, were already WAY bigger than hers. We spent the day; with my Aunt translating from Italian to English, converting fingernails to teaspoons and knuckles to tablespoons. I also learned that I would NEVER be able to make a crust the way she did-without a bowl. As crazy as it sounds, she would put all the dry ingredients on the counter, in a ring and then pour the eggs and milk into the middle AND IT WOULD STAY!!!! She showed me that day and had me try it; the eggs and milk quickly running out from under the flour circle and making a colossal mess. I’ve only ever tried it one more time with my Son and guess what? It ran out again and made a mess, again. So, clearly, that’s not my inherited talent. However, it only adds to the magic of that day that I still carry with me-sort of the mystery she took with her. To this day, this remains the only written copy, anywhere, of my Grandmother’s Casada Pie. A recipe that I lock in a mini fire proof safe. For a time, I kept multiple copies throughout my and my Parent’s homes, too, in case it was ever lost. So here is that recipe, written in the handwriting of my ten year old self and yellowed with age. I make it whenever I feel like it now, but typically, for Thanksgiving and New Years. Here’s a tip though: use bowls.
The crust does not have sugar, so it’s best to roll it thin. As rolling is something that pain prevents me from doing, my Husband now takes on that task and brags unendingly about how well he makes our now precious pie. While it isn’t something we do, traditionally, the extra crust was made into cookies and coated with egg yolks for a golden brown hue. I find that without sugar, the crust and cookies really aren’t our favorite-hence rolling the crust thin. If you do choose to make cookies, cook at the same temp of 350 degrees and just watch them . They’re done when they’re golden brown.
Use flour to coat the surface you roll the dough on, to prevent sticking. Once the crust is rolled out and placed in the pie pan, pinch the edges to create a scalloped edge. Use a fork and poke holes throughout to allow air to pass throughout the dough, while it cooks. The pie is done when a knife comes out clean and the texture of the filling looks custard like in appearance.
I hope you enjoy my Grandmother’s Casada Pie and that the memories it holds will also create memories for you and those you love. That’s the thing about recipes and cooking-they’re typically for an occasion that you spend with people you love.
I am sending you an abundance of peace, love, gratitude and glatitudes this Blessed holiday season. May the New Year bring health and happiness to you all. Love, Stace