Thanksgiving is less than a week away and I’m still cooking up a storm. Everyone knows you can’t have a traditional Thanksgiving meal without cranberry sauce but we like to do it a little differently in my family. My mother makes the best cranberry sauce on this planet, but instead of a sauce, it’s really more like a cranberry relish. There’s no cooking involved and it’s really quick to prepare. My favorite part about it is that it’s made with fresh ingredients. This is not the canned jelly version of cranberry sauce.
Thanksgiving isn’t just for carnivores. A delicious feast can still be enjoyed even without the giant bird. Even though the hubs and I partake in the ritual, we have a few vegetarian and vegan friends who thoughtfully shy away from many traditional Thanksgiving foods due to the meat and dairy factor. I always love having these friends over because I like the challenge of preparing foods that will provide them with the full meal experience and that everyone else will also enjoy.
This is why I don’t put butter or milk in my mashed potatoes…
I hate going to the DMV. It’s such a disaster. I spent the entire day Friday trying to change my name and most of it waiting at the DMV. I first went to the Social Security office where the person behind the counter apologized multiple times for my long 30 minute wait. Dude, 30 minutes is nothing! If every time I went to take care of some obligatory government-type business it only took 30 minutes, I’d be stoked.
The DMV is another story. I proceeded to the nearest office and, preparing myself for the worst, walked inside where there was barely even any standing room. People were yelling and pushing and right then I knew something was up. An announcement was made that the system is down and they didn’t know when it was going to be up again so everyone would just have to wait. Seeing the growing anger rise in peoples’ faces, I decided to get the hell out of there and treat myself to some lunch.
Have I mentioned that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays? Fall has so many wonderful flavors and Thanksgiving is a celebration of them. My family has the biggest Thanksgiving feast I’ve ever seen with dishes to please every palate. Oh… and the casseroles! The Midwest is known for their casseroles and there are usually about half a dozen to choose from at my family’s annual buffet. And the casserole that gets gobbled up the fastest? None other than that Southern classic – corn casserole.
Today is Veteran’s Day and every Veteran’s Day I remember my grandfather. He was a very special kind of man – kind, loving, generous and very unlike the stereotypical staunch, hard and proud men of his generation. My grandpa had a kind word and goofy joke for everyone he met. I was told he was still telling funnies up until the day he passed away. My grandfather had 6 children and more than twice as many grandchildren yet he made each one of us feel special. He always seemed to have time to spend with each of us and never failed to shower all of us with hugs and kisses.
At just 5 feet, 4 inches tall, Grandpa was not large in stature but he was large in spirit, personality and loyalty. He signed up to join the army a few months after the bombing at Pearl Harbor when he was 21 years old. He actually didn’t meet the weight requirement to enlist but the man who weighed him pressed his foot down on the scale a bit so that it would appear he weighed more. His enlisted weight was 109 pounds.
While I’m sitting here in my comfy chair, wrapped up in my cozy blanket, I’m watching Anthony Bourdain travel the world and experience not only the food of a country but learn some of its dark and fascinating history. It’s a reminder of how people of different walks of life can come together over a good plate of food, share stories, rehash memories and find true connections. Mr. Bourdain has helped me navigate and find the best food specialties in many cities including Venice and Nice. But what I love most is not the food, but the stories.