Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate Thanksgiving
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along with upwards of 400 people(!) at our community's version of a downtown soup kitchen. A wonderful reminder of thankfulness, as Food at First has always been a place near and dear to our hearts
It's a place where, seven nights a week, a free meal is served to anyone who is hungry; no questions asked. The food sourced from local businesses who would normally have thrown it away. Also, Food at First offers a perishable food pantry, taking the thousands of pounds of food that's leftover (after what is used for the meals), and giving it away to people who need it
It's a place where we've both served as volunteers over the years and met each other one summer afternoon while making a mean batch of
Twenty + years have passed since my brother moved from Iowa to Austin, Texas, and every year since, during the week of Thanksgiving, my parents have gone to visit
Therefore, as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving for me has been a different kind of holiday. One lived vicariously through the traditions of others, friends and neighbors, who've graciously invited me to a place at their table.
Truth be told, it's been a lot of fun to see all of the different ways they celebrate. The holidays offering unique and intimate glimpses into a family that you probably wouldn't see during other times of the year.
Certainly, everyone has their version of the classics: turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. (The best are always made from decades-old gravy-stained notebooks) And the funny things like sugar and creamer sets shaped like turkeys, that are only used one day out of the year.
I especially love to sit back as a silent witness to the cast of characters around the table, and the stories they tell while the plates are being passed. Those you sense are re-told year after year
Every family has them, the various cousins, aunts and uncles, significant others, and spouses that have made entrances and exits. The finance's first appearance at the table, a grandfather's final one, a grandmother's last pumpkin pie, a toddler who's suddenly grown up enough to have graduated from the kid's table to the adult's, the sullen teenager transformed into a mature and engaging young man, the eccentric cousins who were determined to travel from far and wide, so as not to miss dinner
I always marvel too, at the steady presence of the host and hostess. Those who, without fail, manage to make a Thanksgiving feast, with all the trimmings look absolutely
This year, for the very first time, we made plans to follow my parents to Austin. I was excited to see the downtown condo my brother, and my sister-in-law recently bought, celebrate my Mom's birthday, play pool at the corner pub, cook with my brother, and sneak peeks into their recipe binder for new ideas.
But most of all, to be together as a family
Alas, after our pet's boarding arrangements fell through, I quietly came to accept it wasn't meant to be. Admittedly, I've been a bit down.
Thankfulness, I know, is as much a habit as getting a workout in every day, or making a cup of coffee in the morning. It's really about shifting our focus to the things we have rather than longing for what we don't
On this Thanksgiving eve, I've chosen to stop contemplating the what-could-have-beens, or those that may lie ahead, but instead to live fully in the present. Setting time aside to really slow down, enjoy, and take stock of all that is good.
A wonderful husband, six furry creatures happy to see me when I get home, the best family one could ever hope to have, a brand new grandbaby, and many more days of togetherness yet to come
“For gratitude, as well all know, is not a given, but rather a way of being to be cultivated. It doesn't come packaged like the Stouffer's stuffing mix, or is it ensured by the name of the holiday. No, real Thanksgiving requires us to pause long enough to feel the earth beneath our feet, to gaze up into the spaciousness of the sky above and to stop and take a good, long, loving look at the precious faces sitting across from us at the dinner table.
Life can turn on a dime. Not one of us knows, ever, what fate has in store, or what challenges await just around the bend. But I do know this: nothing lasts. Life is an interplay of light and shadow, blessings and losses, moments to be endured, and moments I would give anything to live again. I will never get them back, of course, can never re-do the moments I missed or the ones I still regret, any more than I can recapture the moments I desperately wanted to hold onto forever. I can only remind myself to stay awake, to pay attention, and to say my prayer of thanks for the only thing that really matters:
this life, here, now” ~ Katrina Kenison
To everyone who is a reader of The Veggies, I also wanted to take a minute to say a special thank-you
Thank you for taking time out of your busy days to spend a moment or two here. Thank you for all the wonderful comments you leave and sweet notes you send. I appreciate them more than you know
I wish for you and your families, the happiest of Thanksgivings
There's only one recipe I keep pretty close to the vest, a family recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies.
This baked oatmeal combines all of the flavors, plumped raisins, toasted oats, coconut, and pecans. A comforting breakfast to wake up to on a chilly Thanksgiving morning
Unlike oatmeal made on the stove-top, with a porridge-like consistency, baked oatmeal is made in the oven with a dense, firm texture.
To search the web, one will find endless variations; the recipe easily adapted to whatever you have on hand. Fruit and nuts work especially well
Baked oatmeal is extremely versatile. It can also be made ahead of time and reheated. After it's cooled, it'll be sturdy enough to cut into slices, so it packs well and freezes even better. Re-heating it with a splash of milk takes just a few minutes.
~ Adapted from Two Red Bowls
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Baked Oatmeal
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 tbsp coconut oil (optional if toasting the oats prior to baking)
- ¼ cup organic brown sugar (or natural sugar)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp fine grain salt
- 2 cups whole milk (any non-dairy milk will also be great)
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup raisins (more or less, to taste)
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- for serving:
- honey or maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Plump the Raisins
- In a small bowl, add the raisins, and cover with boiling water.
- Add a tsp vanilla and stir
- Let steep for 10-15 minutes, before straining the raisins and discarding the water
- Optional - Toasting the Ingredients
- Optional: You can toast the oats, coconut flakes, & pecans first. It will take a few more minutes but will be well worth it and give the oatmeal a deeper cookie flavor.
- (No worries if you don't toast them, the final product will still be wonderful!)
- To roast .. follow the same procedure for both the oats, coconut flakes, & chopped pecans
- In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the 2 Tbsp coconut oil over medium heat. Add the oats and stir until they're coated evenly.
- Continue to cook, stirring every few seconds to prevent burning, until oats smell toasty
- Repeat the process for the coconut flakes and chopped pecans
- Baked Oatmeal
- Combine the oats (toasted or untoasted), coconut flakes (toasted or untoasted), chopped pecans (toasted or untoasted), brown sugar, ground cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a prepared 8-10" cast-iron skillet or 8x8-inch baking dish, until well-combined.
- In a bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, and eggs.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and give the dish a shake or stir it to evenly moisten. Scatter the plumped raisins evenly across the oat mix and gently stir to incorporate.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
- (Note: The oatmeal should still be soft in the center when removed but will set as it cools)