Nov 14, 2014

Thanksgiving In A Bucket.

"As a chef you don't like the word 'bucket' near your food, but after I looked at the article, I thought the portable part of it was brilliant," said Vivaldo. "The idea of someone who doesn't have a lot of dishes or china, doesn't know how to entertain."

Because the bucket is so portable, you can take it to friends, take it to work, maybe to the park, or put it together if you have a tiny little apartment.

Besides all that, cleaning up is a snap. Another bonus: you can do all the cooking the day before, or even buy all the prepared things you want to layer from markets or restaurants.

Keep in mind these things are cooked, here's the pecking order:

  1. Stuffing to start as it is nice and sturdy.

  2. Add sliced turkey topped with gravy as the liquid seeps down through turkey to stuffing.

  3. Top with barely cooked blanched green beans or veggie of choice.

  4. Spread on the mashed yams.

  5. Top the bucket off with cranberries or cranberry jelly.

Remember to press down each layer to make it nice and compact.

Reheating can be a challenge, so it's important your container is oven or microwave safe.

And then you're going to have to get past the fact that all your items will be touching.

"And then, getting it out -- It didn't look pretty one little bit," said Vivaldo after she tried cutting a slice.

So Vivaldo does a take on the bucket, a Thanksgiving torte or lasagna in a casserole dish that you can cut and serve evenly.

If the bucket is a bit too bizarre for the big meal, make it after. It is a fabulous way to tidy up your leftovers.

Nov 3, 2014


I was spanked. Not a lot, but when I was, I usually deserved it. Not only was I a brat, I loved to lie as a kid. And I was good at it. 

Lucky for me, I was cute.  It was continually my saving grace. 

My first words were, “No, Daddy!” That didn’t work for my Dad.  My two older sisters were different than me. I don’t think they ever got the belt. One was stoic and never complained and took being the first born extremely seriously, and the other looked like my dad’s mother. She had a golden pass from discipline. She was a really nice kid. I can still hear my mother telling people, “My girls are all so different, but it’s not quiet, it’s like a circus.”   

As for me, it wasn’t my goal to be good. I think when you are born the last in line and vying for attention and jostling for position, you do what you have to. My vantage point as the baby was when I entered the big top, I saw all of the performances.  If I told a lie, big deal. 
What I wanted was to find my unique place in the troupe. And I have always been one for doing exactly what I want. My second grade teacher wrote on my report card, “Even with correction, Denise seems undeterred.” I’m guessing that I was not listening to what she said, and continued on in my own way. It was a progressive school. Discipline was very sedate. Today, a similar teacher might say, “Denise, use your words.” And for me, that would still be a no. No way, but good on you for asking with such zen dedication (told you I’m a brat).

At home, nothing was sedate.  Excited fighting Italians performed constantly. Swats, smacks, wooden spoons, ping-pong paddles, rulers, yardsticks; the instrument of discipline was whatever my parents could grab while trying to catch me. I wasn’t stupid enough to stand still. 

Yelling? Screaming? That was just the band warming up. All performers need an overture. When shit flies now on sets where I’m working, and later people apologize, seemingly horrified by their behavior, I can’t help but think that they have no idea where I come from. This calm exterior is part of my act.  Crazy is in my blood.     

As I got older the punishments changed. The days of, “You just wait until your father gets home.” turned into a quick a swift kick in the butt. My mother was tiny and she kicked like a mule. It was quite a surprise the first time. I was exiting the lion’s cage, turning on my heel, flipping my hair and when she got me, I was walking upstairs. That day I realized she didn’t want to wait for my father. She’d had enough. And I was humiliated that my tiny mama kicked the crap out of me.

We came to a truce after that. I was fifteen and I loved her. She worked so hard at being a good mom. And I knew she loved me more.     

My father, the ringleader, we still had work to do on our understanding. The usual teenage rules rode in on an elephant: You’re grounded, your car will be taken away, how would you like to spend the night in juvenile hall? The infamous juvenile hall….I’m not sure it really existed. I did know my canopy bed wouldn’t be there. I was well aware of the fine line between a princess and a delinquent.

I like nice sheets. Always have.

I learned the difference between discipline and torture when I was seventeen.
Such a clever, smart mouth I had.  My father had had enough that day. And I insulted him. I can’t tell you how and  looking back, I was wrong. Very wrong.

Every dinner in 1967, my father and I fought about Nixon, Vietnam, war in general, long hair, peaceful demonstrations and nuclear power. We liked to fight. We both wanted to win. And my mother would take her plate and would go into her bedroom screaming, ‘’Go ahead, kill each other!‘’  A supporting role, but none the less impressive. 

When I made a comment that was below the belt, my father, with his baseball mitt hands, slapped me across the face. My eyes stung. I saw stars. I was stunned and I felt ashamed. Because he was right. And I deserved it.

What broke the silence, the horror, the tension was my mother screaming, “Johnny, don’t hit her in the face…she’s cute!”