|December 1, 2011||Posted by ameliaps under autumn, fall, thanksgiving|
There is so much sowing and harvesting that happens in the months leading up to November (and December) and I welcome a pause to reflect on this goodness with my family and friends.
My list of thanks is long as I am blessed and count my blessings everyday.
A few years ago, I had a life-changing moment. I contracted meningitis. I was rushed to the hospital and stayed there for a week in intensive care. I then had a slow 6 month recovery. I was terrified when it happened: my head was in huge pain, I was extremely sensitive to light and I thought I was going to die. My husband was super-prompt in detecting the signs and immediately took me to the hospital. Once I overcome the crisis, with patience, love and care he helped me recover, taking care of me, the kids, and everything else. For a few months I was extremely weak. I also had mononucleosis at the same time. But it all went away, eventually.
Like with every brushed encounter with death, this was a spiritual and leveling time. It turned on a switch in me that never goes off: thank-full-ness… for life is fleeting, unpredictable, and finite.
After that episode, life has been fuller for me than it was before. I try (my best) to live each day as if it were the last one, always looking for something special to be thankful, be it small (a new fruit in season, the reflection of a stick in a puddle, dancing in the kitchen, writing my morning pages) or infinite (love, my family, Nature, light, God).
This Thanksgiving, I gathered my family plus a special friend around the table and we said our usual thanks: “Dear God: thank you for another beautiful day, thank you for this food we are about to eat, thank you for our family and friends, thank you for keeping us healthy… and please watch over all those in need. Amen”
May the feast begin!
We sourced a locally grown organic heritage turkey, brined it and then roasted it, according to Alton Brown’s directions.
Our sides included aunt Greta’s stuffing (made with mashed potatoes, bread, onions,celery, parsley), green beans almondine, caramelized shallots and fennel, broccoli and corn pudding, sweet potato and ginger souffle’, roasted cawliflower, orange and cranberry sauce, Parkehouse rolls, gravy. Everyone did something. We all contributed to this convivial meal.
The cocktail du jour was a dramatic “prosecco al melograno” (Italian sparkling wine with pomegranate seeds): simply fill champagne flutes with pomegranate seeds and “bleed” a few of them for some drops of juice. Then pour in some cold, bubbly Prosecco (or champagne). The seeds will rise atop, as if dancing, in a drunk frenzy, as the bubbles fizz up.
I also made “Castagne bollite con lauro e finocchietto”: chestnuts boiled with bay leave and fennel seeds. This is something very typical from Southern Italy, especially during this time of year. You have to slit the chestnuts before placing them in a large pot of water with salt, a couple bay leaves and a couple of tablespoons of fennel seeds. They will need to simmer for about 40 minutes or until tender. Once ready, you can peel them and enjoy them warm. The meat is sweet, nutty, aromatic and tender: very different from the flavor and texture of a roasted chestnut.
Finally, we closed the evening with two dessert I tried for the very first time: a kumquat meringue pie and a mince-pie lattice tart. For the crust, I used the fool-proof, all-butter, really-flaky crust from smitten kitchen.
I adapted the lemon meringue pie recipe from the stellar Luscious Lemon Desserts, substituting lemons with kumquats (and integrating the juice with some tangerine juice, because kumquats don’t have much to squeeze out of them!). To decorate, I candied some sliced kumquats (refer to one of my previous posts for how to candy kumquats)
For the mince pie, I kind of improvised the filling, loosely inspired by this 1991 Bon Appétit version. I did my very first lattice top. And, NO, I did not use suet, for the traditionalists out there wondering!
I forgot to mention that I really “deserved” my feast this year: I run and finished my very first half Marathon the morning of Thanksgiving (in just over 2 hours).
I am giving thanks.