feeling thankful

feeling thankful | the merry gourmet

Last night, I roasted some turkey thighs and wings along with some aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, and garlic). The next step was to make stock from the roasted turkey and vegetables. I was tempted to make the turkey stock last night, but I didn’t have the energy and I had a banging headache starting up.

This morning, I woke up with that same headache. After a trip to the gym and a bowl of cereal, I swallowed some ibuprofen and started cooking.

I started with turkey stock. Those roasted turkey parts simmered gently in a pot of more aromatics, some thyme, chicken broth, and white wine. Slow bubbles rose to the surface before breaking and releasing the most heavenly aromas. As the house filled with scents of Thanksgiving over the next two hours, my headache slowly disappeared.

Later, I rolled out the pie crust dough and fitted two pie plates with blankets of buttery pastry. After blind baking the crusts, I poured in the pumpkin pie filling, carefully transferred them to the oven, and an hour or so later, the pies were done. The bread making came next. Last year, or maybe the year before, I started making cloverleaf rolls from scratch. A couple of bad experiences with frozen, store-bought Parker House rolls convinced me that I just needed to make the bread myself. After discovering this Cook’s Country recipe, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to store-bought.

The cornbread and biscuits that I baked yesterday afternoon were put to use today in the cornbread dressing. I have eaten this dressing at every Thanksgiving and Christmas since I’ve celebrated the holiday with my husband. And thinking back, that’s a very long time – we started having Thanksgivings together in 1989, back when I was in high school. It just wouldn’t be a proper Thanksgiving without this dressing on the table.

I have been on my feet for hours today, and most of those hours were spent in the kitchen. My hands are raw from washing dishes (I’m a clean-as-you-go kind of girl). My upper back aches and my legs are tired.

This was one of my favorite days. I love Thanksgiving.

It’s been a tough year, and so many times, I’ve wished that I could go back in time or fast forward, anything to move beyond the hurt that this year brought. Not having Dad here is devastating. But this Thanksgiving, I’m looking at the positives.

I am thankful to have a career that I love, one that I have a hard time calling a “job,” because it is so much more than that. It is a calling.

I am thankful for my friends and mentors who constantly support me and lift me up. They make me want to be a better person.

I am thankful my father is no longer suffering. I so wish he was still alive, but I know that his life was not what he would have wanted in the end. I am thankful to have so many good memories of him, before he fell ill, when he was just Dad.

I am thankful to have found the gift of cooking. Teaching myself how to cook empowered me to feed my family and my friends, and it gave me the joy that comes from creating something amazing and nourishing out of simple ingredients.

I am thankful for my wonderful, beautiful family. They are my life.

And I am thankful for you, Reader. You make me want to keep writing, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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15 Responses to “feeling thankful”

  1. Gail — November 26, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

    Love you, honey.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 26th, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, Gail. xo

  2. Jen Schall — November 26, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, MJ!

    Loved reading this… I am thankful for you and your beautiful writing. Thank you for sharing and always being an inspiration!

  3. Paula — November 27, 2014 @ 7:22 am

    Your Thanksgiving meal sounds lovely and it will be lovely, everything made with love is always delicious.
    Your are very blessed and I love how you acknowledged your blessings in this post. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, know that we are all blessed by you.

  4. Though it’s obviously a bit voyeuristic, I find that hearing (or reading) people’s gratitudes can serve as a good reminder of everything we should be focusing on in our lives – good food, family, and our loved ones who are no longer with us. Thank you for this!

  5. This is lovely, MJ. I always love your writing, and I am so grateful that you continue to share with us, even when the stories are hard. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. You deserve a year of happiness.

  6. Family Foodie — November 27, 2014 @ 9:07 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Thank you for welcoming Alex into your beautiful family – I am so thankful for that.

  7. Beth (OMG! Yummy) — November 27, 2014 @ 10:52 am

    Happy Thanksgiving MJ! A lovely post and beautiful stock. It’s been a tough year for us as well and yesterday I had a few hours with both of my kids in the kitchen – my son made all the pies, my daughter made her must-have green beans and I continued my week long cooking bonanza with as you say, tired legs and dry hands but I loved it. Thanks for capturing that in your post. Have a wonderful day!

  8. Mimi — November 27, 2014 @ 11:04 am

    Great post. Beautiful photo. I never knew what to expect with blogging, but I certainly never thought I’d have this lovely community of friends. It’s pretty magical! Hope you feel better soon!

  9. Sharon — November 27, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

    Love reading your posts! Happy Thanksgiving.

  10. Karen — November 27, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

    As always, I appreciate your writing and your reflections often mirror my own feelings. Today is four years exactly since my own dad passed away, and I try to embrace the joyful memories, especially at the holidays. Time makes it easier, but the missing is always there. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you.

  11. Eileen — November 27, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

    Jennifer, You’re posts come directly to my email and if I don’t have time to read them when they arrive I let them sit until I do. I enjoy what you write. It’s honest and familiar in many ways. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  12. Kathryn — November 28, 2014 @ 5:31 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Thank you for coming here and continuing to share your pain and joy (and everything in between) with us.

  13. Lisa — November 30, 2014 @ 8:14 am

    I SO enjoy your blog! You are my friend Penni’s oncologist, which is how I learned of your blog. You have lots of FANS!
    I also taught myself to cook only within the past 6 years and lost my Mom 2 years ago after being a part time care giver for 5 years. It is rough… Only those who have been through it can understand how hard it is to watch your Mom or Dad lose their fight with illness. Hang in there! You are tough! Your calling says volumes. Keep up the great work!

  14. Di — December 8, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

    And this reader is grateful you keep writing.

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