Theia’s founder, Joanna Gordon Martin, recounts family Thanksgiving traditions and favorite family recipes while remembering loved ones affected by aging and Alzheimer’s that are no longer with us.

Two people are always the first to pop into my mind when it comes to Thanksgiving. My aunt and uncle, Dorothy and Bob Greenwald– the ultimate hosts. I also think of them at this time of year because it is Alzheimer’s Awareness month.

There were no two people more loving or more generous. They opened their door to all on turkey day, and once someone came to their table, they were hooked and returned year after year.

The scene would be the same each holiday. We would arrive, Bobby would race to the door, arms outstretched, insisting on kissing you on both cheeks and telling you how “marvelous” you looked. And behind him would be Dorothy – beaming – ready to embrace you in the tightest hug. They were eager hear your updates (and as I got older, I realized how truly impressive it was that they could engage in deep conversation while they were cooking a meal for a crowd).

Dorothy’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease finally ended last November. She remained the sweetest until the very end. Whenever you visited, her love was apparent, even if she could not exactly remember how she knew you. And through her decline, she and Bob were still totally in love.

Bob was the ultimate caregiver, tending to all of Dorothy needs, and insisting that they were “fine”. By June of 2015, Dorothy needed more care than Bob could manage. Her doctor insisted on assisted living. Bob went with her, refusing for them to be apart. By October of 2016, Dorothy needed memory care, and Bob moved to independent living across the street.

After one day without Dorothy, Bob’s heart gave out. He was transferred to intensive care. Without Bob, Dorothy refused to eat. By Thanksgiving, they were both gone.

Rather than dwell in the sadness of their absence, I prefer to honor the important lessons they taught me:

Always look at the cup as half full.

Live life with an attitude of gratitude.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Love fiercely, and make sure that those you love know it – not just through your words, but through your actions.

You need to eat!

And with that in mind, I share two of my favorite dishes that Dorothy made every holiday.

Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving.

Spinach Pie
12 small servings

Defrost two 10 oz packages of chopped spinach (defrost in refrigerator the day before) Squeeze dry. This needs to be done by the handful. You have to get all the water out or the pie will be watery.

Mix with:

1 lb ricotta
¼ lb feta
2 eggs
2/3 cup of milk
Rub a little oil into the baking dish. Pour in mixture. Top with ½ pound sliced mozzarella. Bake in 375 oven for 45 minutes or until the cheese browns.

Chocolate Roll
Melt 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate with 3T water.

Cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Separate 5 large eggs (or 6 small eggs)

Beat egg yolks w ½ cup sugar (scant) until sugar dissolved completely. (Eggs will turn light yellow)

Beat whites until stiff.

Fold chocolate into egg yolks.

Fold whites into mixture.

Grease 16” pan. Put in layer of wax paper with 2” overlap on either end. Butter paper.

Pour onto paper. Bake 15 minute – 350 degrees.

Take out. Cover cake with damp cloth.

Refrigerate 1 hour or more. Overnight, 2-3 days OK.

Take out. Let stand at least one hour.

Spread wax paper on counter. Sprinkle with cocoa through strainer.

Place cake pan upside down on paper.

Pull back wax paper. Spread with 1 cup heavy cream whipped stiff.

Roll, using wax paper as handles.

Cake can be wrapped and frozen.

If frozen, thaw 2 hours unwrapped in refrigerator.