The Cambrian

Putting the emphasis on the ‘giving’ at Thanksgiving time

When one is blessed with so much, it is easy to be thankful. But one must go a step beyond being a gracious receiver, and commit to being a gracious giver. I was reminded of the Scripture tale of the poor widow who had so little, but sustained Elijah for a year from her meager pantry. Our pastor, the Rev. Emil Robu, was giving one of his inspirational homilies, and he also related Jesus’ New Testament parable of the widow who gave all she had, just one mite, about the price of a pomegranate in those days.

Fr. Emil went on to quote Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, and we make a life by what we give.” We live in a truly blessed community which epitomizes that philosophy, and it is gratifying to see generosity so graciously given, privately as well as publicly, so for that I am thankful.

One lady who has given much treasure to Cambria with her many talents is Alese Bell. She and Betsy Kinkaid have catered many events in which they are involved, and when people are enjoying little bites of this or that, it’s usually their contributions. At this year’s Great Kitchens Tour to benefit the Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, we received Betsy’s popular recipe for a new addition to the Macedo Thanksgiving table, with main ingredients fresh from farmers market:

Celery Salad with Walnuts, Dates and Cheese

1-1/4 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 small shallot, minced

2 tblsp. sherry, or white Modena balsamic vinegar

2 tblsp. walnut or peanut oil

2 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 bunch celery, thinly sliced on the bias

1 cup pitted Medjool dates, quartered

3 oz. Pecorino cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler

Toast walnut halves on a pie pan in a 350 degree oven for about eight minutes; cool completely before chopping coarsely. Make the dressing by mixing shallots with vinegar, whisk in the oils, and season to taste. Mix all together in a large bowl with the celery, walnuts, dates and cheese, tossing well. Serve at once. (Cook’s Notes: I have increased the dates and decreased the celery from the original recipe.)

To make ahead, refrigerate the salad and dressing separately for up to a day. Walnuts should be stored in an airtight container, and added with the cheese just before serving.

Breaking news: The pumpkin industry has announced that due to the flooding in the Midwest, supplies of the canned product will be limited after this holiday season. Those of us who roasted our Halloween pumpkins are ahead of the game, making grandson Roth’s favorite lunchbox addition from a recipe in the Portuguese Geneological Society’s newsletter:

Portuguese Cakes

(Bolinhos de ahobora)

2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin

1 cup unbleached flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

1 tblsp. melted butter

1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Beat eggs with sugar, butter and pumpkin; add flour, soda and cinnamon, beating well. (I added one small package of orange Jello for extra flavor.) Butter and flour muffin tins (I used Pam oil/flour spray for baking.); fill with batter only about halfway. Bake in a preheated, 350-degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes; cool on racks before removing from pan. Makes about 24 cakes; the first one should be eaten warm with butter or Smart Balance. Then, spread with orange or ginger marmalade, or home-made apricot preserves — scrumptious!

Please share your seasonal recipes with Consuelo, c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or e-mail to