Giving Thanks

Pumpkin

I don’t want to be funny today. I don’t want to be even remotely witty, as our tagline promises. I want to be direct and sincere in expressing thanks.

This Thanksgiving, I have it easy. All I have to do is make a pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting and bring it to dinner at a friend’s home. So instead of making, or singing, a grocery list (yes, I like lists), I decided to write up a gratitude list of what I’m thankful for at LC, and asked many of our folks to do the same. (Please indulge us this ridiculously long post. Won’t happen again, I promise.)

1. First, I’m thankful to you, our loyal readers. Thank you for the small notes of encouragement (people actually still do write notes!), holiday gifts, get well cards, compliments and complaints, comments, and eagle eyes that have caught errors that slipped our glassy-eyed gazes. You’ve had a firm hand in shaping LC because many of your suggestions became policy. But most of all, thank you for being there. Some of you have been reading and cooking with us for almost 12 years. (That’s longer than many marriages I know.)

2. LC recipe testers. Thank you for being so flexible as we threw, nay, hurled so many changes at you this year. Your grace under pressure and willingness to turn recipes around on a dime are an inspiration to us all. When readers see “Testers’ Choice” posted in the comments section of a recipe, I hope you realize they see it as an extra seal of approval. You, my lovelies, are the UL (Underwriters Labortory) of the online cooking set. You rock.

3. Our incredible roster of award-winning writers—all of whom have worked incredibly hard to bring you a quirky, personal, and passionate view of the world of food. Thank you all for your eccentricities, fetishes, kinks, and foibles. LC is a richer place because of you.

4. Every single person on the masthead. Thank you for taking your job seriously while remembering to have fun. It makes getting up every morning and taking that 35-foot commute to my office a pleasure.

5. On a personal note, I have to thank The One. He has been advisor, business partner, share holder, negotiator, taster, tester, task master, design consultant, accountant, cleaning lady, and, most important, loved.—David Leite, Grand Pooh-Bah

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Most people I know tend to mutter about the eccentricities of their workplace as if this were a bad thing.

Take my best friend, E. He’s inclined to quite a lot of muttering when he comes home most weeknights. Yet because he’s my husband and because we’re newlyweds, I indulge his need to rant. Or at least I try. I really try. In exchange, he rarely complains when I stand at the stove testing turkey recipes in August or tap, tap, tap on the keyboard into the wee hours. I’ve quite a lot to be thankful for with him in my life, including knowing that we have a mutual respect that supersedes the daily ennui.

Speaking of respect, and workplace eccentricities, at Leite’s Culinaria, a somewhat off-kilter way of seeing the world isn’t regarded as an inescapable workplace dysfunction. It’s tantamount to workplace policy. This is by design—maybe I should say mandate—of the man who founded this witty blog, David Leite.

His playfulness manages to draw out a similar far-fetched zaniness from each of us. I’m relieved by the accept-nothing-that’s-expected attitude in the writings of our contributors, who embrace our article ideas and run with them in ways too inspired for us to anticipate and end up delighting you. I appreciate our recipe testers, who tirelessly tolerate our carefully construed yet sometimes inane requests with waggishness. (Speaking of which, I’m also quite thankful for the mutt we took home just today from the pound. She seems to have had a rough life up until now, yet given her own tail wagging she seems to have decided to give E and me a try.)

And, perhaps most important, I see this attitude reflected in you, dear readers, who not only indulge us but inspire us to continue on with our antics, whether you realize it or not. After all, like attracts like. For this indulgence, this impudent disregard for the ordinary, this workplace whimsy, I am unspeakably grateful to you all. (Bow of gratitude.)—Renee Schettler Rossi, Deputy Editor

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Gratitude is a powerful thing. I try hard to cultivate it year-round, reminding myself to appreciate what I have—especially when the bugbears of daily life threaten to drag me down. I have varying degrees of success, which is why I love Thanksgiving. It’s long been my favorite holiday. For the food itself, sure, but more for the way that it reminds me what food does: it nourishes us. As nourishment, food is a blessing, especially when there are so many around the world who do not have enough of it.

But here’s something I’ve realized since I began working at Leite’s Culinaria: more nourishing than food, is community. Creative, supportive, listen-and-be-there-for-you community, without which a person is little more than a lonely island. While I’ve long been blessed with a full circle of amazing family—parents, husband, son, aunts, uncles, cousins—plus the best friends a gal could hope for (and for whom I’m incredibly thankful), I’ve never had a caring community of, well, strangers to call my own.

For 15 years I’ve worked in print editorial, helping writers and publishers turn out content that strives to be as worthy of consumption as any fine meal. But in the past year, working online and under David’s and Renee’s direction (and with a brilliant team all together), I’ve experienced for the first time what it’s like to truly connect with readers. Not anonymous, you-know-they’re-there-because-of-sales-figures readers, but readers with names and faces and personalities and opinions. Readers who take the time to comment on what we publish. Yes, readers like you.

More than any other place I’ve worked, at Leite’s I am encouraged to connect directly with readers—and to do so in as personal a way as I dare. In August, I put this to the test. I sunk my heart into an essay about my Greek heritage. And the thing I’m most thankful for is that you responded. That can only happen in a community and with a publication as welcoming as this one. Really, you don’t feel like strangers to me anymore at all.

To everyone who has ever left a comment on our site; to those who haven’t commented, but who’ve read an essay we published and thought it resonated; and to everyone who turns to us for a recipe for their table, around which their own friends and family gather…thank you. I hope you have a very special holiday.—Allison Parker, Managing Editor

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The planning, the shopping, and tricky seating,
The cooking, the baking, and all important eating.

But let’s slow down and be thankful for a bit,
Of those who will make this dinner a hit.

David, our leader and commander of the ship;
Renee, our recipe general who’s ever so hip.

Julie, cloud computing in seemingly thin air;
Allison, our taskmaster extraordinaire.

Cynthia and Dan, and contributing writers,
Photographers, proofreaders and reference citers.

But most important of all,
Our testers, with their orders so tall.

Cook this, bake that, by when you say?
Hurry up, your deadline’s  today.

Cooking in uncharted waters,
Recruiting spouses, friends, sons, and daughters.

Is the recipe perfect, what can I do,
To make it better for readers like you?

A bit more time? A smidge or a dash?
A cup of rum or just a splash?

Tireless testing and attention to detail,
Make our holiday recipes truly set sail.

Thank you.—Beth Price, Director of Recipe Testing

——

Most of you won’t recognize my name. I work behind the scenes here at Leite’s Culinaria, formatting all the recipes on the blog. I am fairly new to this position, though I have been around Leite’s Culinaria for about six years as a tester.

One of the reasons I became more involved with LC is because last fall my life turned the corner, and suddenly I was living in an empty nest when both of our boys went off to college. As a stay-at-home mom with no kids to look after anymore, it became apparent that I needed to find something more to do with my life.  I was home alone more than ever and really found life more than a bit depressing with them gone.

Working for LC has given me the perfect opportunity to do something new and different with my life. It’s become one of the most rewarding things that I have done, outside of my family.  It’s a true learning experience, as I become more proficient in various forms of technology as well as reviewing and testing recipes, wondering which would work for you and which will end up in your recipe files.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving and that you, too, find those little or big things at home and at work that you can be thankful for.—Julie Dreyfoos, Production Manager

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I’ve always associated Thanksgiving with family get-togethers; full of festivities and catching up on the past year—well, at least since Christmas, anyway. Over the years I’ve come to learn and to love the idea that a family can be people who we care about and who, in turn, care about us. They don’t necessarily need to be relatives.

With that in mind, I have to say that I am very thankful to the family of LC’s staff, who trusted my culinary work and elevated my confidence in cooking. Thank you’s all around to the superb team of recipe testers, whose respect and support for each other has become greater than the sum of their parts. Of course, many thanks are due to the community of Leite’s Culinaria contributors, readers, and followers, because you are the driving force behind what makes our endeavors so worthwhile, and you are what, in the end, shapes the blog.

I’d like to wish all of you a delectable Thanksgiving with whoever your family may be at this time of celebration, and thank you sincerely for being a part of my extended family.—Dan Kraan, Testers’ Community Moderator

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If I had to pinpoint one thing I’m thankful for, it’s for the fact that the testers and contributors to this blog make me look really good whenever I’m having guests over for a meal. (I know you can relate.) It’s so easy for me to get stuck in the ho-humness of making the same dishes over and over again, and testing for LC breaks me out of my comfort zone. Editing for the blog gives me an opportunity to see how other people are cooking—how you approach these recipes, what additions and omissions you make, and even which recipes to steer clear of completely. Your comments and recipes save me from embarrassment—I almost never serve a flop—and my table is now more global than ever. I haven’t purchased a cookbook in months, and instead usually turn to this hub of recipes, this community of food lovers, to help me plan my meals. Thank you, and I hope you have a wonderful, lively holiday season.—Cynthia Furey, Copy Editor

Please, take a few moments and tell us what you’re giving thanks for this year.

About LC Staff

Comments
Comments
  1. Karen says:

    Well said by everyone, and all of us are ever so thankful that we have YOU upon which to rely. Our Thanksgiving tables will be a little more merry, our groaning boards a little more vocal, and our spirits a great bit more, well, spirit-y. (I know that’s not a word, but you get the idea.)

    And, Beth, the poem is perfect, and you do know it’s always more than just a splash of rum!

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at Leite’s Culinaria and to the rest of us who aspire to such greatness.
    Karen

    • Allison Parker says:

      Thanks, Karen. Personally, I’m all for inventing words—especially anything to do with spirits. Speaking of which, I’m also with you on “more than just a splash” of rum. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  2. Louise says:

    Thanks to all of you at Leite’s Culinaria from one of your less vocal but nevertheless one of your oldest readers– his is what I read first when I open up my computer each morning. I am grateful for the recipes I have found, for the essays I have read, but most of all I am grateful to be here for this Thanksgiving. Eight years ago I was given four months to live if I didn’t have bypass surgery and four years if I did, but I didn’t. It is now eight years later, and I am able to enjoy the pleasure of having my daughter, my son and daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren living in Raleigh near us. And so I wish all of you the very best for the holiday season, all of you including the devoted readers.

    • David Leite says:

      Dear Louise, I’d like to thank you, for being one of our long-time readers. Gosh, you and I go way back. I’m so glad to know that you’re in good health, and I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  3. Mariko says:

    Thanks for good writing on all things food and something for me to aspire to.

  4. Susan says:

    I’m a newbie reader here; A thankful one. A certain Thankful Butterscotch Cake kept luring me to this wonderful site, and I found more to be thankful for as I poked around. What I appreciate is the time many of you take to stop and reply to the comments, whether they are about a recipe, or a conversation about nuts. Makes me feel like I’m welcome in your home for the holiday and every day! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • David Leite says:

      Susan, thank you from the bottom of my heart. When I set out to create this blog (really a website back then), I wanted to make sure it was a place people felt at home–as if they were pulling up a chair to our table and we were chatting over coffee or were standing beside us as we cooked. And to know almost 12 years later, readers feel that is such a satisfying thing. Thank you, and I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  5. PatDA says:

    I am so thankful for a home to live in with a husband whom I love dearly, family and friends to share great meals with, good health, and a furnace that carries on and keeps us all warm in this frigid weather that has struck the Pacific Northwest this November. I am thankful for Leite’s Culinaria and contributors that know how to make really good Brussels sprouts!

    • David Leite says:

      PatTA, thanks for your kind words. We hope you had a great Thanksgiving with your husband!

  6. Deborah says:

    Wishing my American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks to our wonderful friend David, I know I had a great Thanksgiving meal last month and I’m sure all of you will enjoy yours today. Thank you David for all the terrific recipes you shared with us this year!

    • David Leite says:

      Deborah, thanks for writing, and I’m so glad we were able to help out in your Canadian Thanksgiving!

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