Samantha Brown is well prepared for Turkey Day
The smell of Thanksgiving is unlike any other. From the baking turkey, to the grilled vegetables and apple pies, the smells resonating from the kitchen are enough to excite your appetite.
For most, this smell is only momentary, present in the morning and vanished with the final plate, but for SMC student Samantha Brown, the smell of Thanksgiving has occupied her kitchen for three weeks and counting.
Brown began cooking her Thanksgiving meal at the end of October and has continued to add to her detailed menu each day. She believes preparation is key to avoid dealing with the stress of the holiday, if she does little bits each day, there is nothing left to do when November 25 arrives.
Growing up in a redbrick tenant house in New York, Brown always enjoyed huge family Thanksgivings. Of the six apartments in her building, four were families. "We would all open our doors, all mothers prepared food. From apartment to apartment we would walk around and share food with usually 40-50 people," said Brown.
"Thanksgiving gets to the bottom of my heart, I guess the most important thing is, it is non-denominational, it is something everybody shares," Brown said when asked why this holiday is so near and dear. "It is a day when everything stops, no stores are open and everyone just appreciates the day."
After owning her own casting agency and having three children of her own, Brown was not satisfied with feeling uneducated.
"I peaked at my career then I felt fine, I knew I succeeded, then I wanted to have children then reroute and have an education." At age 40, she returned to SMC where she then transferred to UCLA as an English major.
Brown raves about SMC. "I think that school (SMC) is probably the best school and their language department is superior to other colleges," she said. She has now been taking classes intermittently at SMC for the past 20 years, mainly language classes.
Residing in her beautiful Santa Monica home with her husband of 30 years, Brown was blessed to be able to design the kitchen of her dreams. She plans to host 20 to 40 guests this holiday. "I know I am going to put the most amount of effort in it. I love working with my hands, love entertaining, and love surprising them with more food than they can imagine."
With her three paged, tightly spaced list, Brown plans to serve her butternut squash soup appetizer, her 25 pound turkey and stuffing, her 100 pound lasagna, at least eight to ten vegetable platters, and ten desserts. All of her ingredients are made from scratch.
"I love my lemon cream pie, but everyone loves my chocolate cake," said Brown. Her husband Jack Brown states, "It's hard to have a favorite because there are so many choices, but people love the lasagna because it is homemade. "
"No one makes it like you,'" her husband complements. Coming from an Italian family, Brown says lasagna is usually a bigger deal than the turkey.
Although preparing for four weeks prior to Thanksgiving may seem excessive, Brown finds it therapeutic and relaxing. All of the little stressors such as measurements, gravies and desserts are already taken care of.
"Everybody is off doing his or her own thing. The men watch the games, the women play games, and there are little cliques, it's really nice. No one gets dressed up. If you get dressed up, you don't eat a lot," Brown said of her home's environment.
The love for family and gift of hospitality can be seen in the diligence Brown puts into creating the best Thanksgiving experience one could imagine. Her freezers are packed with gravies, sealed vegetables, strudels and cakes, but Brown is most grateful that she has the means necessary to bless other people.
"I am grateful that everyone is alive, no one is sick, no one is severely hurt by the economic downturn and that we still have an abundance enough to feed everyone and bring everyone in."