Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

I have a confession to make -- I'm not a big fan of this holiday. At least, not what the holiday has become. For one day, our culture allows -- no, encourages -- folks to indulge in massive communal gluttony. Intuitive eating? I don't think so. Try free-for-all gorging.

And then there's the food. I don't like traditional Thanksgiving foods. No, that's not true -- I don't dislike them, I just simply don't prefer them. For me, here's how Thanksgiving dinner measures up:

turkey = okay, but I'll pass on the gravy
potatoes = best with lots of garlic, if one must indulge
corn = well, there's not much I can say about corn -- so crunchy and good!
stuffing = no, thank you
sweet potato pie = I'd probably like this, if it ever found its way onto my T-Day table
cranberry sauce = tasty, but so sugary it makes me sick these days
candied carrots = see above re: cranberry sauce
pie = if you insist . . . (okay, you got me, I really do like pie, especially apple)

Add in the fact that Thanksgiving is a big-time football day, and that I was in marching band in high school and therefore required to shiver through a game every Thanksgiving . . . well, you can see for yourself how what should be a lovely day turns into the story of How I Grinched Thanksgiving. Or something.

Don't get me wrong -- I like the idea of Thanksgiving. And I've liked it more and more since becoming a member of the Best Husband Ever's family. They live and breathe balance -- in God, in food, in exercise, in rest, in love. I don't think there could be a better example of life lived to the fullest, with love, in the entire world. With them, Thanksgiving is not about a gut-busting meal. It's about hanging out.

That's why I'm looking forward to today's "festivities." We'll be having dinner over at the Best Inlaws Ever's place in the afternoon, and then watching a movie or two. I can't tell you what we'll be watching, but I can share the options that I'm bringing -- Waking Ned Devine (which I have not seen, but the hubby says is good) and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (which you must watch, especially if you like Joss Whedon or Doogie Howser or cheesy musicals -- even the Best Husband Ever loves it, and his avowed cinematic nemesis is High School Musical).

I can also tell you what I'm bringing to the turkey day table. I tried to make this:

. . . but it didn't work out. What you see is an all-natural cranberry relish -- no added sugar or preservatives, thank you! It's quite delicious, when the chef doesn't botch the process. If you'd like the recipe, watch my Examiner page -- that and two other cranberry-licious recipes will be going up soon! (By the way, I'm totally psyched to be the official food examiner for my city!)

As my cranberry relish didn't quite happen (I think I ran low on cranberries), I tried out a similar recipe based on pear. Want that recipe? Well, you'll have to wait, I'm afraid, because it's my entry for this round of the Royal Foodie Joust and I'd like to give it its own post. I'll give you a hint, though: the ingredients include fresh pears, medjool dates, raspberry vinegar, and a few secret spices. Okay, they're not so secret: cinnamon, ginger, and (here's the funky but flavorful one) fennel.

Although this incarnation of fruit relish ended up being a dreadful sludge-color, the taste is far improved from the lackluster cranberry version. (I should note that I prefer the cranberry relish, if one has enough cranberries to retain the proper fruit-to-date ratio. Which I didn't, this time around, so pear it was!) I'm hoping that it will make a fun alternative turkey dressing, and it would taste great on pumpkin pie.

Speaking of pie, I'm a guest poster on Whit's Getting Fit this weekend! I don't know when the post will go up, but I chatted a bit about my favorite Thanksgiving-themed recipe and sung the praises of the illustrious pumpkin. Thanks for letting me write for you, Whit! If you haven't checked out her blog, you must. It's full of humor, grace, running, and, of course, good eats.

I think I successfully managed to turn this humbug of a post into something a little more appropriate for Thanksgiving Day. What are you doing today? What are you eating and, more importantly, with whom? And, of course, I couldn't let you go without posing the ubiquitous question -- what are you thankful for?

Here's my rundown:
  • the Best Husband Ever (it's his birthday today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • my parents, parents-in-law, brother, sisters-in-law, grandma, and the rest of my family
  • my friends, both near and far
  • our pups
  • my wonderful job
  • our wonderful home
  • the fact that I can read, write, and think what I want, when I want
  • that I can run, climb mountains, dance, stretch, and rest
  • tea and coffee
  • the seasons, even when winter gets me down
  • my health, and my freedom from anorexia, and the fact that I'm [slowly] learning to be gentle with myself in the healing process
  • aaaaaannnnnnnnddddddd . . . the number one think I'm thankful for? (This was not a countdown, by the way, but I wanted to end with the most important.) God. Without Him, where would I be? I'll tell you: caught up in myself, and stuck in quite a mess.
"So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? . . . And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

"Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture. . . .

"None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us."

~ Romans 8:31-39, The Message paraphrase

Guess what! In the spirit of thankfulness, here's that pear relish recipe. (Be sure to stop by the Leftover Queen's forums for other entrants into the Royal Foodie Joust; this month's ingredients were pear, ginger, and fennel.) Thank you for your amazing readership. It means more to me than I can say!

Spiced Pear Thanksgiving Day Garnish

2 pears, chopped
equal part Medjool dates, soaked
water as needed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger (ground)
1/8 tsp fennel (ground)

Puree the pears in a food processor. When smooth, add the equivalent ratio in dates (I used about 1 cup -- you may need to play with the amount to avoid over-sweetening the relish). Process again, adding water as needed until a pulpy mixture remains. Add the spices, blend until well-combined, then store and refrigerate.

This makes an excellent topper for turkey, pie, or simply a crusty piece of old-fashioned bread.

Happy Thanksgiving, in the truest and most wonderful meaning of the holiday!

1 comment:

  1. JennDZ - The LeftoveNovember 30, 2009 at 7:32 AM

    I love your gravy! It sounds amazing and I think it would be delicious on Turkey! So funny to read your post. Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite meal of the year. I think it can be healthy and delicious, and yes, a little indulgent. But it is good to indulge every once in a while. Plus I love that seasonal foods take prominence on everyone's table!Thanks for your awesome entry in the Joust and I hope you had a great holiday!


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King