Having Given Thanks

I have vivid memories of being at the kids’ table when I was a little girl. This would have been at my Grandma Vernice’s house for holiday dinners, probably Christmas because we mostly spent Thanksgiving with my mom’s family. But still, a holiday dinner nonetheless. 

I remember feeling very grown-up getting to sit in a totally different room from the real grown-ups. We even got out own butter plate. How cool is that? There were probably times when I wished I could be part of the larger group, but thinking back, those feelings are overwhelmed by how special it felt to sit with just my older cousins in charge.

Our Thanksgiving Day hummingbird visitor.
But now, I can’t even remember the last time I was at a family event that had a kids’ table. That thought prompted me to set places for the boys this year that were a little apart from the grown-ups, but not too far. I hope they liked it. Even if Nanna sat with them. 
This year was my last small Thanksgiving for a while. While it was nice to have complete control over the food, I’ve decided it is time to go back to going big. I used to have family thanksgivings that were probably at least 15-18 people, and I kind of miss that. The last couple of years we’ve had just 5-8. That’s a pretty big difference. I guess I’m just cut out from a bolder cloth than that.

As you can imagine, having fed only 8 people this year, 3 of them under 10, we had a lot of food left. So this week I have been using it up and spreading it all out. I wanted to pass on my favorites, just in case you still need some ideas for creative ways to use up those leftovers. 

  • Fried dressing cakes. Just press out some thin patties of leftover dressing/stuffing and fry it up on the griddle or in your favorite skillet.
  • Rose’s amazing leftover pizza, which I didn’t get to try but did sound pretty swell.Creamed corn with pumpkin puree added to it. Seriously. Just make creamed corn but add pumpkin puree. 
  • Turkey Pot Pie. I made one of these and put it in the freezer. Instead of cream of whatever soup, use gravy and pumpkin puree, and replace the traditional crust with leftover mashed potatoes. Thaw overnight before baking. It’s kind of like this, only with leftovers. 
  • Turkey Enchiladas en Mole. I used store bought mole sauce, and in our house we omit the cheese and use fake sour cream. Just put some avocados on there and you will never ever know.
  • Turkey Shawarma. This one is tomorrow night’s dinner. Joe just about fell over when I suggested this as a meal. I think he would move to Israel just to eat shawarma everyday. No joke. It might be how he convinces me.The obligatory turkey stock, to be used later to make soup or risotto or whatever I can dream up.

To aid in the making of shawarma, pot pie, etc. I shredded all the meat that was leftover as I made the stock. That way I was able to get all the bones and bits into the stockpot, and have all the leftover meat ready to go for making dinners this week. 

I hope your Thanksgiving was something special, no matter how many people were there or what you ate. And now on to the end of the year!

Filming their “Thanksgiving Special”

One for every year

Our family wrote lists of the things we are grateful for, one for every year you have been on the planet. Here’s my list. It’s not complete, but at the same time it’s really hard to write a list like this without adding a whole bunch of little silly things.

I hope you all have lots of things to be grateful for, because the world sure is full of beauty.

1. Joe, who’s my best friend and whom I love more than I ever thought was possible.

2. Lilli, who has inspired me to be the best I can be, for her.
3. The rest of my family, for being quirky and keeping me on my toes.
4. My and my family’s continued health. 
5. The full use of my body, especially my hands and eyes.
6. My sense of taste, so I can make others happy.
7. Our home.
8. Having enough and then some.
9. My chosen family–they are some of the best friends around.
10. Scourge, who loves me unconditionally and brings us presents.

11. The chickens. Especially Effie, who was such a hero even though we didn’t know it.
12. To live in Seattle, where we have access to fresh and clean anything we need.
13. The ability to travel freely.

14. People who are willing to enact change.
15. To be left unpersecuted for choosing Judaism.
16. Small farms, food artisans, and food advocates.

17. Neighbors who mind their own business.
18. Hummingbird visitors.
19. Accurate histories of important world events.
20. The internet.
21. My sense of humour.
22. Other people’s recipes.
23. Art and music to make our lives more brilliant, and to help us think outside the box.
24. Free speech.
25. The ability to learn from my mistakes.

26. The natural world.
27. Science.
28. Changing seasons.
29. People who are more patient than I am.

Getting Ready

Fall is definitely a food lover’s season. I mean, along with summer and spring and winter of course.

In this crisp, cool season, there is much to look forward to as a person who enjoys spending time in the kitchen and at the table. There is the promise of a warm kitchen when the oven is on to bake or roast. There is the beauty of a steamed up window when you are cooking a hearty soup or a big pot of pasta sauce.

There is the smell in the air when you step outside, the crunch of leaves underfoot. The dirt under your fingernails when you put your garden to bed, and the warm mug that awaits you when you step back inside. 

Maybe all of these things aren’t directly food or eating related, but they all play a role in how we experience the world around us, and they all, eating included, help us to connect with that world. 

In our family, keeping kosher is also meant to help us connect in a deeper way, through our food, to our environment, and of course, to God. But you can do that even if you don’t keep kosher. You can do it just by being present as you savour a meal, or enjoy a brisk walk in the glow of a late afternoon. 

As you prepare your tables for the feast that many of us will be sharing with loved ones next week, take some time to remember those connections. Try for a day or a week to take them out of the I-take-these-things-for-granted closet in the back of your mind, and embrace them. 

It will make the food taste even better.