Yesterday I celebrated the bounty of Thanksgiving with my friend Pat and her children, which was just delightful. The food was bounteous and delicious, but not to the point of groaning excess. While I was at the yoga fundraiser in Takoma Park, Pat and the children were cooking.
Jonathan, who is eight, made the cranberry sauce. Being the superb cook that she is, Pat said it’s just the recipe on the back of the bag (one bag cranberries, one cup sugar, one cup water, cook until the cranberries are split and liquid starts to gel), except that she replaced the water with apple juice, replaced the sugar with brown sugar and halved the amount, added currents (nice touch), and then put in orange rind, cinnamon, all spice, cloves, and powdered ginger. Only a true cook would think that is just the recipe on the back of the bag, but I know what she means. As long as the proportions are right you can vary anything to taste. The addition of the dried fruits and spices were just right for the latin-influenced cooking of the rest of the meal.
Rebecca made the mashed potatoes, which we had because she wanted them. They are amazing, they are miraculous, she claimed, mashed potatoes. All you do is mash them and then they are amazing. Ordinary potatoes completely transformed, just by mashing them. Rebecca also offered grace, giving thanks for “food, family, friends, and just for being alive.” Simply said from the heart; no more needed to be said.
I was sent home with the leftover vegetarian rice and peas, which Pat had specially prepared for me to honor my preference to eat vegetarian. As is traditional in her family, I brought home the leftovers with the understanding that when I returned the container, it would have within it a food offering in return.
Pat did cook a turkey as part of the meal. When we were cleaning up (I was carving the rest of the turkey to store for future meals), I asked Pat whether she would be making stock with the turkey bones, so I would know the best way of carving. She said she did not have time, so though I am mostly vegetarian, I took the bones to make stock. I had, then, the leftovers one would never have if you’ve long since stopped roasting birds, and Pat felt more content knowing that we would be using all of the bird that fed us.
Today, when I am home cleaning and cooking and enjoying a precious vacation day, I will make turkey stock. With the blessing of these particular leftovers, I can make what would be traditional to a Thanksgiving meal that I would have cooked: roast winter squash and stuffing (using the turkey stock, the remains of a loaf of bread I baked last week, dried mushroom, and celery). My delicious meal of stuffed roasted squash, will be enhanced by the lingering (not leftover) energy of the friends with whom I shared a delightful meal and the knowledge (that by minimizing what goes uneaten) that we are eating in a more sustainable manner) [yes, it’s all about balance; my vegan friends would no doubt be compelled to remind me that eating vegan would have been more sustainable].
Many thanks to Pat and her family for welcoming me and for sharing.