Commentary: TY

By Edward P. Noga

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Yes, TY is an abbreviation for THANK YOU! The abbreviation dots a lot of our texts, tweets, emails and notes.

It has become a part of our modern communications along with many other abbreviations. For me, though, TY is in my small catalog of recipes I have collected over the years. Yes, I know, I can keep all these in my computer.

The small metal box with postcard-size recipes goes way back in my cooking/baking history. Let me be clear, I dabble in cooking and baking. It is calming and cathartic to take the time to gather ingredients, pull out a favorite recipe, line everything up on the counter like your favorite TV chef, fire up the stove and oven and GO.

As a pastor on the South Side of Youngstown for 35 years, I encountered some phenomenal cooks and bakers. Often, they shared their recipes (both in samples and written on cards) and I filed them. Again, my time in the kitchen cooking or baking is minimal. But seeing the various recipes always brings back the sights and smells and tastes of some glorious food.

Luckily, like many of us, I am surrounded by family and many friends who spend hours in their kitchens peeling, cutting, measuring, marinating, greasing, infusing, slow cooking, setting timers, tasting, adding another pinch, and the list goes on.

At age 96, Mom still cooks and bakes, including the “welcoming” loaf of banana or zucchini bread to new tenants in her apartment building. Mom’s sister, age 93, still bakes bread daily.

Both often share how, in growing up as two of nine children, their alarm clock was the aroma of bread baking early in the morning. They often say, “We never bought store bread. It was too expensive!”

As we reach the many and various cultural and religious holidays of this time of year, the holiday recipes are making their way to grocery lists. And for many, the holidays mean the wonderful tastes of the season that celebrate our heritage, our faith, our families and our friends.

OK! What does all of the above have to do with the title of this column? Well, early on in my tenure as pastor, someone commented once about a former housekeeper at the parish who was noted for her turkey recipe.

Ah-ha! Here it comes! TY! In my recipe box, TY stands for Turkey/Yazbek. Mrs. Yazbek’s turkey recipe was legendary. I contacted her and she said, “Oh, it’s easy!!” (They all say that.)

Days later, this came in the mail:

MIX: paprika, sage, black pepper, bit of salt.                                                                                

CUT in half: an orange, apple and onion.                                                                                       

DIP halves in spice mix.                                                                                                                     

RUB both cavity and entire outside of turkey.                                                                          

PLACE half (or entire if turkey is XL) orange, apple and onion in cavity.                             

LAY 3 slices of bacon across turkey breast/wrap one slice around each leg.

SPRINKLE additional paprika outside of bird.

I was grateful for her sharing a family specialty and figured I better give it a try. Not being an organized or seasoned kitchen dweller, my first try took most of the day. And cleanup was major! But thank you, Mrs. Yazbek. It turned out as you said it would. The aroma of that first attempt will always be with me. TY.

The fabric of our lives is intertwined with people, experiences, successes and failures. The journey of putting the pieces together goes well beyond what we can imagine and it includes a lot of surprises along the way.

Had I never entered the ministry, I never would have been stationed on the South Side and probably would have never met Mrs. Yazbek.

My story is all of our stories. May we take the time during these next several weeks to be grateful for the characters in our life stories who have guided us, challenged us, supported us, prodded us, comforted us and encouraged us.

The busyness of modern times can overwhelm us. The precious personal moments of growth need to be remembered as key ingredients to our recipe for life. TY