For me, the gratitude began not on Thanksgiving, but the previous day, when my poor exhausted mother and sister returned from the hospital in New Orleans. They were HOME! And my sister, rather than the woeful, morphine-sedated girl I’d heard on the phone for a few anxious days, seemed like herself!
I drove Steve to the airport :( then went home, tucked myself into bed, and felt ready for a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Since the previous two days had involved attending a Thanksgiving celebration with the kiddos at my previous workplace; and a trip to not one but TWO delicious but nutritionally dubious ethnic bakeries (of the Salvadoran and Korean types); I woke up with not much of an appetite at all. At the crack of dawn, arrgh.
I did like five crossword puzzles in bed (amazing); did yoga (Morning Flow from yogadownload.com, my old friend); went grocery shopping to get my sister whatever she asked for cause she got a bloody appendectomy and deserves some enjoyment (I was pleased to discover that if you arrive at Safeway at 9 am on Thanksgiving it is actually not very crowded at all); and then sat down to a highly delicious breakfast.
Greek yogurt; chopped up farmer’s market apple; shredded wheat (which was slightly stale so I also added a splash of milk) and the last of some roasted almonds I’d made the previous day.
Ohhhh the TEXTURE!
Morning was spent reading cookbooks, taking a walk with my mom, laying the groundwork for the evening’s recipes.
Lunch first featured a savory butternut bread pudding; leftovers from the night before when I welcomed my family back to the nest with a comforting pot of home cookin’
Sweet tender squash; wonderfully chewy bread (in all honesty, I did this in a large part because I let some beautiful farmer’s market spelt bread go staaaaaaaaaaale while my mom was outta town- this revived it, thank goodness!); rich eggy custardy bottom that got all golden.
Made it more or less the way I did last time- savory butternut bread pudding-, minus the spinach.
Did get in my leafy greens via a serving of kale.
My new FAVORITE way to make kale in a hurry, inspired by reading Kath: just rip it into pieces and microwave it for a minute and a half, making sure you rinse it for cleanliness and so it’s slightly damp and- this is what’s INSPIRED- throw in a little soy sauce, too.
I used mushroom soy sauce. WOW. SO SO SO GOOD.
That didn’t quite do it, trying to eat light though I was for Thanksgiving, so I had the rest of the morning’s apple. Jonagold. FAB!
Then it was time to pull the gingerbread out of the oven, and poke it with sticks!
I followed the technique from a recipe I’d made before, warm gingerbread with lemon glaze, and I kinda tweaked it (omitting eggs, due to not wanting to buy eggs; adding pumpkin cause all the cool blogs were doing it, etc.) but honestly the original is way better.
So… make that.
You will still get to poke holes in your gingerbread
Then pour the lemon-sugar glaze atop
And watch the magic when it turns from the appearance of Elmer’s glue to a thin lovely glaze.
I want to add that I woke up in the morning unsure whether I’d be attending any Thanksgiving at all, nor what if anything I’d be contributing.
But I’d decided that yes, I’d put in some face time with my dad’s family because we’ve all had a loss together and I feel like I’ve barely seen them.
So naturally I called Jeanie, the hostess, and said, “I know I don’t HAVE to bring anything, but if I WANTED to bring something, what would round out your table?”
Her luscious-sounding descriptions left me confident that I’d eat well, but I thought, why not, round out the table. I brought the above gingerbread (a favorite of my uncle Tim’s; his favorite thing is to soak it in dark rum hahahaha), and I also brought this:
Roasted carrots and kohlrabi- just chopped up the kohlrabi and drizzled it with olive oil and threw it in a 400 oven to give it a, say, 20-25 minute head start. Then added chopped up carrot and a ton of minced garlic, another 20-25 minutes. Took everyone out, drizzled them with balsamic.
Also made cranberry sauce with the fresh cranberries I’d pounced on at the grocery store. Buncha cranberries mixed with this weird but tasty pistachio jam we have from the Lebanese store; some ginger, and some cinnamon. It was great.
A tip for transporting holiday items in a safe and effective way.
Step 1: Go to amazon.com. Buy some boots!
Step 2: Take out the boots, put your food in the box.
The highlight upon arriving at Jeanie’s, as it’s been for our past several visits, is sitting on the uh-mazing new porch.
It’s so beautiful and so comfy and even warm thanks to space heater and apparently god-awful-to-install-but-wonderfully-insulting plastic film stuff over the windows. Also a wonderful red fluffy piece of furniture we call the floof.
Nibbles were in abundance: cheese (excellent), crackers and piri-piri sauce (the green one- it’s South African, my dad’s family’s heritage, and FABULOUSLY spicy) as well as a Jacques Pepin (my aunt Jeanie loves him a LOT) red pepper dip that we basically decimated.
I may have drunk both of those Diet Cokes…
Soon enough it was time to go in and check out the formidable buffet:
Those mashed sweet potatoes? I got a special shoutout from my aunt, who said she’d added the bergamot infused balsamic vinegar (!) I got her as a birthday present. It’s from my favorite new store- will post!
My aunt’s dining room is way too small to do a sit down dinner, and we’ve grown to appreciate our casual help-yourself style anyway, so I grabbed a plate and headed to the living room floor.
I ate this plate (along with more nibbles, obvi)
From the top, my roasted carrots ‘n kohlrabi; the mashed sweet potatoes; my cranberry sauce, the wunnerful roasted brussels sprouts with apples, and Trader Joe’s cornbread stuffing in the middle. Skipped turkey due to Advent fasting for church. And, as all previous Thanksgivings I have done this, didn’t miss it. Side dishes are really what the holiday is all about. Er… and gratitude, obviously.
We took an eating break and enjoyed lots of quality chatting, and then disaster!
Lou, a friend of Jeanie and Tim’s, had brought a GORGEOUS tart (you can see it in the buffet pictures above). She put it in the oven to warm up, and then came in and went “It went splat!” and she had burned her arm, too!
And then we all went “Ehhhhhh… we don’t really care.”
She put it back together and we ate it. Like, homemade butter crust, almond paste (!) and poached pears (!). The hell we were throwing that away.
It was FANTASTIC!
Along with some of my gingerbread. And, yeah, probably a pumpkin pie sliver was nibbled. More gingerbread, too. And the tart was just in PIECES so it was just BEGGING to be picked at.
My dad: Did you make the brownies?
Me: The gingerbread?
Him: The ginger brownies?
Me: Juuuuust gingerbread.
Him: Oh… they’re good!
So… always nice to get cooking compliments. Of a sort :D