I was so excited the moment I learned that I would be on my own for Thanksgiving. Always on the go, I could not wait to have 3 days of absolute nothing – simply my pajamas, my couch, me, myself, and I. No one coming over which means no stress of cleaning the house, preparing a menu, or taking a bath. I could just… breathe.
My first day to myself: I slept in, a little, did some things around the house and then jumped right into baking. I had a date, a middle of the day coffee date, but a date nonetheless and for some reason the excitement spilt over into baking – sweets. Little did I know those very sweets would by my therapy for the evening when my “date” didn’t show. Of course, it only triggered my urge for more cooking, so off to the grocery I went…
“Thanksgiving dinner here I come!”
After many tears through the night, and many double fudge Ghirardelli peppermint brownies, I slept and woke feeling very… blah. I immediately decided my mood had to go so on went the Christmas music…
“So this is Christmas…” thank you Celine Dion.
And there I sat… after some reading and praying, I wiped my tears, put on a pot of coffee, and then off to brush my teeth.
For some reason, yesterday’s event of being ‘’stood up’’ set off something emotional in me. I began craving being with my family… tradition is key. I figured the best way to help me was to do what I knew… turn on the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade in one room, Christmas music in another room, and the channel that would have the pre-game/football game on in another room.
I called my sister while I sipped some pumpkin spice coffee and had a wonderful talk until I heard…
“At least you don’t have to worry with any one getting on anyone’s nerves.”
To which I responded, while fighting back tears, “But that’s what makes it Thanksgiving.”
I don’t know why it bothers me so, today. I’ve been in my house one year as of this week and my folks celebrated with me last year. Of course, the celebration ended when we lost all our food due to the death of the refrigerator. Nonetheless, they were here last year… they’ll be here this year for Christmas –
30 days 4 hours … I’m just sayin’.
I decided to call my folks, which went just about as well as it did with my sister… ending in tears.
I have two knots in my shoulders – I’m sure it’s stress. Or, from sleeping on the couch the last two nights, because I saw a mouse go in my room and I didn’t see it come out. In addition, dragging my Christmas tree down the stairs, along with the box of decorations, didn’t help the knots any.
I’ve tried really hard not to mope today but every time I turn around, I’m in tears. I felt really happy three times today:
- When my daughter called me to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving in her New Yorker accent;
- When my new soup recipe turned out amazing; and
- When my Cornish hens, too, turned out amazing.
Cooking is therapy for me, especially if it’s a new recipe I create. It also helps soothe soul, say when you’ve completely decorated your Christmas tree only to plug it in and discover no lights work – NONE!
Second helping = Healing balm
For the most part, my day has been good – I am counting my blessings… I didn’t shower, I’m still in my pj’s, and I’ve not washed the first dish.
I realize I’m not the only person alone on this day. I realize there are those that are far, far worse than me. Moreover, if I wanted to feel guilty about sulking over tradition, I could beat myself up for not going to a homeless shelter and helping them feed the homeless.
But the fact remains, I miss the tradition of today… the noise – the loudness of the television because my dad is too cheap to buy him hearing aids… the buzz in the kitchen with not enough counter space and the oven making the hormonal Italian women sweat… the kids running in and out… the sound of horseshoes clanking out back… the grandmothers yelling at the kids, “Santa’s on TV”… the fights over which football team is going to win… the laughter of card games or scrabble games… the last minute running to the grocery store because someone forgot something… or the spur of the moment, “Let’s go see a movie!”… and, I simply miss holding hands around the table and giving thanks to God with the family all gathered at one place.
Nonetheless, I give thanks! I give thanks that family was able to be together and my children were able to be with them. I’m thankful for air that I breathe. I am thankful that Jesus chose to love me even before I knew him. I am thankful for life, family, and friends. I am thankful for strength, food, shelter, and clothes. And, I am thankful for mercy, grace, and forgiveness… peace, love, and joy. I am thankful for all He’s done in my life, all He’s doing, and all He’s yet to do. I give thanks!
In NOT keeping with tradition, I thought I’d share my two successful recipes from today with you.
Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup
4tbsp sweet unsalted butter
1lrg shallot finely chopped
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp dark brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ fresh ground nutmeg
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup boiling water
1 medium/large butternut squash
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Salt to taste
Slice butternut squash in half and scoop out guts. Place in microwave and cover with wet paper towels. Heat for 7 minutes and then remove. Peel skin off squash, then cut into small pieces and place into blender or food processor. Puree squash, being sure to pulse it making sure you get all pieces. Slowly add hot boiling water during this process to help the puree process. Once pureed, pour in medium saucepan over medium heat and add whipping cream.
In frying pan, on medium heat the following: butter, shallot, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Cook for approximately 5 minutes. Add mixture to saucepan – all of it, leave nothing behind. Turn heat to simmer and cover. Salt to taste when ready to eat.
Pesto Cornish Hen with Mushroom Stuffing
2 Cornish hens
1 chopped portabella mushroom
1 cup finely chopped fresh sweet basil
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts
4 cloves of fresh minced garlic
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup olive oil
½ cup water
Preheat oven at 350. Rinse and clean Cornish hens. Place on rack in deep baking dish.
Place basil and pine nuts in blender or food processor and pulse. And 2 cloves of garlic. With blender still running, slowly add olive oil. Stop the blender and scrap the sides, being sure to mix the ingredients. Add cheese and pulse again.
Take the mixture (known as Pesto) from the blender and rub down bird. Be sure to get inside the hens, under the hens, and under the skin of the hens.
Add mushroom to blender, along with sun-dried tomatoes, remaining 2 cloves of garlic, and onion. No need to rinse the blender, the pesto flavoring will only add to the taste.
Take the mixture (known as Stuffing) and stuff the inside of the hen. Add water to the bottom of the pan – this will allow moisture to rise while cooking without getting the hens wet. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.