One of my favorite aspects of the holiday season is that it inspires families to get together for the sole purpose of cooking together. My friend Kristin in Boston will often gather with her mother and aunts to bake perogies, a Polish specialty. My friend Megan’s family has an annual tradition of making homemade raviolis to be shared with friends and family. (Lucky me – I’ve been one of the lucky friends to taste these addictive little nuggets of happiness!)
In my family, we often yearn for the Syrian specialties that take hours and hours (and even days) to prepare. These items don’t exactly scream “30 Minute Meals” but that is the very reason why we crave these specialties 365 days of the year.
In honor of said cravings, the women of my family recently gathered at my Aunt Patsy’s house for a fun-filled day of rolling, stuffing and baking sfeehas (savory meat pies), cheese breads and spinach pies. We even got a little crazy and made a few “everything” pies filled with all three.
Today’s blog post is in honor of my Aunt Paula who spent hours and hours preparing the ingredients in the days leading up to Sfeeha Sunday. She made all of the dough from scratch, caramelized pounds and pounds of onions, prepared the spinach filling and made the hushwee (meat mixture). If it weren’t for Aunt Paula, Sfeeha Sunday would not have occurred. Even worse, our family would be sfeeha-less right now.
My message today is not about recipes or instructions for you and your family to make sfeehas. I’m not going to tell you the health benefits of these mouth-watering baked goods and you better believe I won’t be listing the nutritional content. (Aunt Paula mentioned using 4 lbs of butter in the dough alone. Did I mention the onions in the spinach pies are fried?)
Rather, I’m here today to encourage you to gather friends and family in the coming weeks and months to create baked goods or ethnic specialties from your childhood. It’s amazing how many pounds of dough and hundreds of sfeeha’s our group of 7 hammered out in one day. By creating a little assembly line and dividing the tasks, you are well on your way to filling your freezer with homemade goodness.
Above all else, you are creating memories to be shared from generation to generation. There’s a good chance I ate a little too much that day, but the laughter, love and delicious memories that we created as a family that day are priceless.
Thank you for a day to remember Aunt Paula – I love you.
Your oven is waiting.