I was going to write about the stupidity of what’s going on in Missouri but then I thought I’d like not to spend this Thanksgiving day on the negativity in the world; there’s plenty of it to go around so I’ll save it for another day!
So today, as everyday, I’m thankful for many things, too many to count! That’s something to be thankful for in itself! Still, to mention a few: I’m in reasonably good health. I’ve got a lovely roof over my head, food on the table and a husband that adores me, quirks and all. I’m blessed with beautiful friends, near and far, and a Poodle that warms every fiber of my being (only not so much so when he vomits on the carpet). I’m surrounded by the love of family and friends, even on the other side of the ocean. I feel truly blessed. And, this year I got to see my California Biker Chicks and Breakfast Buddy Ed too! I met some nice folks while in Arizona and enjoyed the beauty of the desert despite all the heartache. Yes, I am feeling extremely blessed, although it doesn’t come without a measure of sadness: I’ve lost loved ones this year, our troops are still battling evil forces for freedom and there is just so much suffering around the world. Sigh.
And, today I’m thankful that I did not let the gloominess of the weather, nor cranky knees, prevent me from spending time outdoors getting a little pre-holiday meal physical activity. Mind you, I had to drag The Poodle out of the comfort of his bed because I wasn’t about to let him be lazy either! Before I am admonished for making my four-legged love brave the cold let me state that I did bundle him up. The Poodle has two handsome coats for just cold occasions. Today I chose the blue one. He sat patiently while I got it on him, yawning a couple of times as if to say, “Aw, man. Here we go again; she’s putting that ridiculous coat on me.”
I’m also thankful that I was able to complete five miles of a walk-jog (mostly walk), which I now call a “Turtle Trot.” For years I ran miles and miles on Thanksgiving day. I’d be up earlier than usual to get the run done before preparing the turkey and all the fixin’s. Rocket-man had already gone out the door on his run. He had new shoes to try out and he was one happy guy. For a nano second I could feel the green-eyed monster creeping up out of the darkness. I cannot run with him….this is how “WE” started some 17 years ago. Sigh.
NO. I cannot let that happen; not today!
Letting go of rituals is really difficult. I’m not ready to give up today’s ritual either. I may not be able to run anymore but I’m re-adjusting expectations on a lot of things…and my physical activity is one of them. Gone are the days of intense training. Still, I’m going to keep doing something physical….as I have for so many years of Thanksgiving mornings.
My “Turtle” Trot, gloomy weather and all, was really lovely; even The Poodle was happy to be outdoors in spite of his attire. Now that I’ve shaved away a few calories it’s on to haul out boxes of Christmas decorations as well as prepare a dish for our thanksgiving meal. We’ve been invited to the neighbors, so this year I’m not in the kitchen for hours. I tell my lovely neighbor thank you for the invite and that it feels very strange not to be cooking. She says that after the year I have had I deserve time out of the kitchen. How wonderful is that? I’m so lucky to have such a great neighbor.
So here is the dish that I’m preparing to bring, right out of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m going to share it with you. It’s simple and it’s awesomely delicious. Let me know what you think!
Happy Thanksgiving, and may the blessings of today be yours everyday.
Danielle’s Sweet Potato Gratin
6 – medium sweet potatoes (make sure you use the orange-fleshed variety as opposed to the paler variety)
5 – tablespoons fresh, coarsely chopped sage (you can also use fresh Thyme, or both)
6 – cloves garlic, crushed
2 – teaspoons coarse sea salt
1/2 – teaspoons or to taste, ground black pepper
1 – cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes. Do not peel them. Cut them into 1/4-inch disks using a mandoline (or use a sharp knife). Note: Be careful if you’re using a mandoline. That’s how I nearly lost two fingers last year around this time!
1. In a bowl mix together the sweet potatoes, sage, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Arrange the slices of sweet potato in a deep, medium-size ovenproof dish by taking tight packs of them and standing them up next to one another. They should fit together quite tightly so you get parallel lines of sweet potato slices (skins showing) along the length or width of the baking dish. Throw any remaining bits of sage or garlic from the bowl over the potatoes.
3. Cover the dish with foil, place in the oven, and roast for 45 minutes.
4. Remove the foil, and pour the cream evenly over the potatoes. Roast uncovered, for another 25 minutes. The cream should have thickened by now.
Stick a sharp knife in different places in the dish to make sure the potatoes are cooked. They should be totally soft. Serve immediately, garnished with additional sage, or leave them to cool down. In any case, bringing the potatoes to the table in the baking dish, after scraping the outside clean, will make a lovely presentation.