The upcoming vacation is on the minds of the staff at the Privacy and Technology Center. We are a team of people who care deeply about the community and the foods that unite us. As a holiday treat, we bring you some of our favorite holiday recipes and the stories behind them to inspire your own meals. Happy eating!
macaroni and cheese
When I think of Thanksgiving, I always think of mac and cheese. In my southern family, macaroni and cheese is the star of the show and you have to meet a number of credentials before signing up to bring in the dish. A couple of years ago, I was looking to update my macaroni and cheese recipe and came across this YouTube video. I tried the recipe on myself and my friends and we all agreed that it was one of the best we’d ever had. I share this video with you, so that you too can bring the star to your table.
–Associate Korica Simon
Leftover Thanksgiving Egg Bake
The cookbook is splattered with sauce and grease stains, and my aunt watches me take a photo of the recipe. “Your grandfather invented this recipe,” she tells me. I tell him: “This is what I look forward to every year!” “In fact?!” is her response, “not the turkey, the mashed potatoes, the gravy, the lime jelly (a story for another time), dinner rolls, blueberry pudding, or pumpkin pie (yes, CAKE, another recipe for another time)?” “They are all delicious, but THIS is my favorite Christmas recipe.”
We throw it together with leftovers while we’re huddled in the kitchen cleaning up dinner and eat it the morning AFTER Thanksgiving. My extended family and I are all in our casual, comfortable clothes, hanging out at the table, maybe there’s a sports game on TV, a half-played card game is lying around, a cool day outside. On a shelf, the elaborate dishes from last night’s dinner are drying. People walk through the kitchen, grab a steaming baked egg dish, and sit where they can to eat it; the leftover filling flavors remind you of the memories we made the night before gathered around the table sharing our gratitude.
–Associate Principal Katie Evans
(Not just in) Chicago Buona Beef
The kitchen has never really been a source of tradition in the Foster family. When I was young, my mother worked long hours as a banker, and my father, while proud to be in the minority of homemaker men, was far more adept at caring for than preparing elaborate meals for four children (this is not is a slight against my father). – the 1990s was the decade of junk food and saw the rise of fast-casual). We strayed from our usual fare of Pizza Night, Taco Night, and Spaghetti Night over the holidays, but the dairy-heavy, flavor-light Midwestern classics still held sway.
Our festive gatherings dwindled as my family moved from Chicago to suburban New York, and with fewer mouths to feed, we decided to abandon any pretense of any duty, let alone desire, to cook a mediocre feast. At the same time, we miss our roots! So we jumped at the chance to start a new tradition: embracing the advent of online ordering to ship our favorite Chicago treat 700 miles across the country. If you were among the millions who watched “The Bear” last summer, then you can guess what that delicacy is. For the past decade, my family has gathered in kitchens on the East Coast, from Larchmont, NY to Philadelphia, PA, and Charlotte, NC, to worship at the altar of Buona Beef.
If your family (or friends or anyone you spend time with over the festive season), like mine, yields cooking to some other love language, consider this expertly-handled Instant Pot Italian Beef Sandwich Kit. Buona Beef,* complete, as Any good Chicago Italian beef should be, with French rolls and hot giardiniera.
*Our devotion to Buona Beef stems from monthly (okay, possibly weekly) trips to the North Avenue location in Oak Park, Illinois, but Portillo’s and Al’s Beef loyalists need not fear: shipping meals to Chicago is apparently big business .
–Member Judge Meg Foster
bengali chana masala
Growing up in a multiracial and multicultural household meant our family created new holiday traditions very different from the festivities of our friends and relatives. Every Thanksgiving meal was more of a boisterous potluck than a traditional gathering. Our guest list is constantly changing to include friends, neighbors, family, and sometimes strangers with nowhere else to go. Each year’s table varies to reflect the guests, but one thing always stays the same: our turkey breast (never a full bird) sits amid plates of samosas, veggie stuffing, sweet potato confit, pakoras, and ham. The dishes were garnished with spicy sauce and tamarind chutney, with the last drops drenched in freshly baked bread rolls and naan. Our Thanksgiving mixed meals are one of my favorite childhood memories because they feel representative of all the symbols of my family: good food, care, and love. Our guests taught me the importance of community, breaking bread with neighbors, coming together across differences, and how to savor every bite and moment of a meal cooked for you by your loved ones. To this day, I will always choose a tasty and messy dish over a beautiful and bland one. This chana masala recipe, similar to my mother’s basic recipe that I grew up eating on both holidays and weekdays, will make your dish tasty and fragrant. I highly recommend trying something new this holiday season, it just might stick as a new tradition for your family for generations to come!
–Communications Associate Serena Zets