“We're a nation of largely exhausted cooks today ” ~ The New York Times
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The refrigerator at our house has been a leftover extravaganza the past few days. A little piece of heaven, if ever there was one.
Stuffing is better if it's re-heated, but somehow we never got around to it. Instead, picking off a piece or two every time we opened the door. Turkey is better cold and on a sandwich, with either ketchup or mustard (depending on which one of us you ask)
Leftover sweet potato pie requires only a hot cup of coffee, and a plate (if my husband is feeling extra fancy)
Not to mention the slices of pumpkin & coconut cream pie we'd been hoarding ..
courtesy of my brother
Growing up, my grandparents hosted our holiday dinners.
While neither side of the family was terribly large, the events were still week-long affairs. Furniture was moved, leaves slid into tables, tablecloths ironed, grocery shopping with two carts, peeling potatoes and butternut squash late into the night
Growing up, these were some of the happiest memories for me. The days when my grandmother's recipe cards were strewn across their kitchen tables, and the afternoons I spent alongside them in their kitchens, baking all of our
These were the recipes I knew were special. Those that had been passed down, and were reflected in our family's stories
My grandmothers showed me how to make lefse (best eaten with jam or cinnamon-sugar), rocky road fudge, kringla, and cut-out sugar cookies. The things every family made, although each had a different recipe and every family claimed their's to be the best
The meal was on the table, without fail, between three and four pm. Heads would bow, and hands would clasp, while a grandparent said grace. Giving thanks for the health of those gathered around, a blessing for the food, family, and the day.
The menu never varied: turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce.
Not to mention the loaves of airy white bread that were perfect for sandwiches the next day. Pies made with berries picked from the garden in July and frozen, heaped into a pie plate for these very occasions. If we were lucky, ice cream would be churning in the garage
Without fail, there would be mail-ordered red-tinned fruitcake
that no one ever ate
Every year proclaimed the best year ever; every dish the best it'd ever been. Always, someone would say that we'd eaten too fast. Always, someone who claimed to be too full to swallow one more bite would agree to seconds anyway ..
if only to make it last.
Neither grandmother owned a dishwasher, but somehow, by the time the last car had pulled out of the drive and disappeared into the night, the kitchen would be restored to order, the dishes put away, the turkey's carcass encased in foil and tucked away in the fridge, surrounded by precarious stacks of left-overs.
Like any true master of their craft, they made the entire thing look easy
— — —
“A free meal program that serves a meal every night of the week, to anyone who is hungry; no questions asked. A program whose source of food is something that would otherwise have been thrown away by local grocery stores and food services .. but instead has been turned into some pretty incredible meals” ~ Food at First
What began as a meal for those in need has truly become a community event. This year, between those who came, and those who received meals via special delivery, the total count was 700 + people(!)
With our families scattered around the country, the holidays are mostly spent with just the two of us. Therefore, my husband can be found volunteering in the kitchen, and I'll join him toward the end for Thanksgiving dinner.
The meal has been edited a bit from when I was a kid: no fruitcake, lefse, or home-made ice cream. But otherwise, it's the one I've eaten all of my life.
My favorite part of the day? The sweetest elderly couple who sat across from us. He with a tear in his eye as he said “I'm just glad we can still come to this. God bless all of the volunteers.
They make it look so easy”
— — —
Earlier in the day, I'd taken the puppies for a walk. Along the way, passing a house where a dozen or more family members were tossing a football on the front lawn. For an instant, I found myself feeling nostalgic, and even a little sad
A longing of my spirit for the good old days when the holidays were a production. Those of my childhood or when I was a younger mom myself, and the kids were little.
And just as quickly as it had come, an instant later the feeling was gone. “I've had that,” remind myself. “I've lived it, loved it, and am now in a different season of life's journey”
The rest of the day, we puttered around the house, called the kids, played Scrabble, and ate left-overs. Thanksgiving abundance that would carry us right through the weekend.
Someday maybe I'll be the one baking from old family recipes, and trying my hand at a home-cooked turkey. But until then, my only focus is being thankful for new holiday traditions, and the beautiful life we have today
— — —
This is the salad I made over the weekend when a sea of green was required. There was no real plan, aside from that. No real intent to feature it here.
It started as simply a way to make a dent in the end-of-season kale harvested from the garden. A new recipe chosen from the many I'd flagged, and it turned out to be a good one. A simple Caesar, an assortment of kale and romaine. Toasted cornbread replacing more traditional croutons.
Flash forward a few hours, and I'm in the salad zone. As I was tossing the greens, I kept getting more and more excited about the way the creamy dressing with garlic, anchovy, and a touch of horseradish drizzled across the top was perfect.
Before I knew it, I'd grabbed my camera and taken a few shots.
I didn't make a special cornbread for this recipe since it doesn't call for much. Instead, I picked up a square at the co-op. (Remember, it will crisp up a bit better after it's a few days old)
~ Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon by Sarah and Hugh Forte
Kale Caesar with Cornbread Bits
- 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt)
- 1 tsp horseradish
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 anchovies (or 1 tsp anchovy paste)
- fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup crumbled cornbread, preferably a few days old
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
- 3 cups chopped romaine
- ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese (to convert this to a Vegan recipe, omit the cheese or substitute a Vegan equivalent)
- In a food processor or blender, add all of the dressing ingredients, along with a pinch of salt, a couple grinds of black pepper. Process until smooth
- Store in the fridge until ready to use
- Toast the Cornbread
- Preheat the oven (or toaster oven) to 375° F
- Spread the cornbread pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss gently with your hands to coat.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until dry and crispy. Set aside to cool.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the kale, romaine, and half the Parmesan.
- Toss with the desired amount of dressing.
- Sprinkle with the cornbread crispies, the remaining Parmesan and serve.