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.