Sunday, November 23, 2014

Consider a Bit of Indulgence: Thanksgiving 2014

Pretty Farmers' Market Fall Fruit

Thanksgiving is always one of our favorite days of the year.  I would like it to be so for other folks, too. This little missive offers my thoughts and plans for holding onto Thanksgiving as a time to relax and gear up for the busy days to come.  Of course, it's all about the food. And, it's a four day weekend. And - here's the important part I ask you to please consider -  there are lots of times for relaxing.  Now, understand, we are not Black Friday shoppers.  We're all about shopping at small local business and buying gifts from local artisans whenever possible.  We start our shopping the week after the Thanksgiving holiday.  We don't decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend either.  The point is this is a good time to relax a bit!

Generally, we are away at our friends' farm for a few days of the holiday - and usually when we return we are inclined to hold off on decorating, doing a tree, and definitely shopping.  Both of us grew up decorating the tree on Christmas Eve and it is still what we prefer, although generally now we start a day or two before the 'Eve.

As it turns out, this year we are not traveling, but we are nursing one of our dogs after major spinal surgery.  As we took stock of the situation, and our limitations regarding not leaving the pup home too long by himself, and who among family and friends were doing what, we decided to go ahead and have some fun with the situation. We're pretty good at that.  Frankly, 2014 taught us nothing if not how to roll with the punches!

So, to put it bluntly, we are going to be a bit selfish. And, if you at all can, please consider doing it too! We are planning a treat filled long relaxing weekend here at our urban homestead.  We're starting out on this path with our Thanksgiving dinner for two (I know.  It's not very often we get to do this either, but since it fell in our lap, why not?).  We have a fresh Heirloom Turkey on order from a local farmer.  And I ordered a smaller organic turkey that I will be smoking on Friday (sliced smoked turkey in the freezer? Why yes, thank you).  We've ordered Cape May salt oysters and a small tin of caviar for appetizers.  From there, we go totally traditional.  We'll do the simple stuffing we both grew up with - made by our grandmothers -  bread, butter, celery, onion, tons of sage and thyme, and lots of ground black pepper and cooked inside the bird.  Crudite' tray?  Of course! Green bean casserole?  Absolutely.  Except it will be made with green beans we grew ourselves and fresh local mushrooms.  Yes, we are making cranberry relish from fresh cranberries, but we also have a can of jellied cranberry for sandwiches - as it just has to be.  Stewed tomatoes, pan gravy, buttermilk mashed potatoes and cole slaw rounds out the menu items for Thursday.   And of course, some amazing sweet potato pie with whipped cream for dessert.

After a very busy, hard working year during which we dealt with a number of unexpected challenges, we've decided it's time for us to engage in a little indulgence.  It's time to sit back and enjoy foods familiar to us all of our lives.  It's also time  - and this will be a challenge - for us to "go off of the grid" for a few days, too.  I shall report on how well that went, I promise!

Please understand that I offer all of this because I know that, for many folks, Thanksgiving is the first of many stressful, busy, demanding days that go on until January 1st.  I sincerely hope that you consider letting go of some of that and slow it down -  if just for this glorious weekend.  I understand the issues of shopping for kids and having to host family and all that goes with that.  But that said, we all need to be better at saying, "No", and taking a little time to enjoy home, hearth and the power of a rested us.  The holidays will be so much more enjoyable, and so much more relaxing,  if the "makers" in the family aren't exhausted and burnt out by the time it arrives.

And, for sure, whatever you do, and however you celebrate this wonderful holiday, don't forget to do something to share your blessings with those that are still waiting for their blessings.  I promise you, knowing that you were able to do something for others will make your holiday even more enjoyable.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

NOTE:  A suggestion, not a recipe.  My late father in law insisted on stewed tomatoes at every Thanksgiving dinner.  We make them ourselves.  They are totally easy to make.  Now the point of having stewed tomatoes -  I understand, not a "usual" dish on the Thanksgiving table -  is to make Irish Pizza, which is that wonderful basic turkey stuffing, topped with stewed tomatoes.  Think I'm crazy?  Try it!  You will thank me.

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