Hello! I’m Jennifer Elkin a New York native who believes strongly that you should “do what you are passionate about”.
My passions are Family, Friends, Food, Wine, People, and Travel! I have traveled to 43 states and 8 countries.
I look forward to sharing my passions through my blog “Me and My Traveling Hat”, and my wish is that you will benefit from what I share with you!
I love to cook and eat, perhaps because I am 2nd generation Sicilian and frankly, I love food!
I grew up on 80 acres of apple orchards in upstate New York that my grandfather had bought in the late 1940s. We were surrounded by a big family with frequent gatherings, whether it was a Sunday afternoon or a holiday!
When I say “surrounded by family”, I literally mean “surrounded by family”!
To the left of our home was my maternal grandparent’s home, and to the right of our house lived an aunt and uncle and three cousins. Around the corner was another aunt and uncle with two more cousins. Down the street was my dad’s family…many of whom still live there for over 50 years.
My parents met when my dad’s tractor ran out of gas while farming my mom’s family’s apple orchards. That’s my dad on the tractor waving and my Uncle looking at the camera standing next to the tractor in our apple orchard. (photo above)
There was always a lot of people cooking in the kitchen, and a long line of tables stretched from the dining area into the living room. The tables were always overflowing with food and wine, while all the kids were running around!
I was introduced to red wine at an early age because my grandfather loved putting peaches in the wine and I have memories eating them like this. Hence my love for wine!
As a child, some of my fondest memories are about sitting around the table talking and laughing, or helping my grandparents pick vegetables from the garden, or grapes off the vine to make wine.
I remember afternoons helping my grandmother pick dandelions so she could cook them for us for lunch. Also, picking wild strawberries and blackberries with my cousins…no need for washing them, we would just pop them in our mouth, pure bliss!
We would play baseball on our front yard with all our cousins, or climb apple trees in the summer, catch lightning bugs, play hide and seek, and lots of BBQ’s with roasted marshmallows.
In the winter, you would find us with our older cousins sled riding or building tunnels in the piles of deep snow that was pushed to the end of our long driveway by the man (named Strongman) who plowed snow in our area.
When I was barely a teen, we moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in the late 1960s. This is where I fell in LOVE with the beach, fish, and seafood! I was introduced to some of the freshest fish to be caught when living there.
Later in my life, I moved back to New York and lived in Manhattan. This is where I was introduced to cuisine from all over the world! When Frank Sinatra sings the ‘City that Never Sleeps’, he means you could eat out 24 hours a day! There were many times I would run out in my PJ’s to grab food at all hours while living there.
I have lived in a few other states also. One location introduced me to regional varieties of foods, like the Midwest, where a salad involves Jello and marshmallows that are green. As an Italian girl, when asked if I wanted some salad and it wiggled, it was shocking to me, but to each their own. I never got used to that, even after marrying the man from Iowa and having our children there. Let’s just say we still had green leafy greens, tomatoes, and olives when I made a salad.
Now that I have lived in North Carolina since 2001, it has given us a chance to travel more. Over my lifetime, I have traveled to 44 states and 8 countries.
And I’m not done yet, so much more to see, eat and drink! In many ways, I feel like I’m just beginning! So hold on to the rim of my hat and come along for the ride!