Happy Thanksgiving! The house is quiet now. Nedim is sleeping in babanne's room. Mom and Robert took Selim back to the Ashram. I'm on the couch, with a mug of warm spice pear cider on the coffee table and the Raiders/Cowboys game in on the TV. At some point I will get back up and get my plate of pie. I took a few bites of each but was too full to finish. Pie for dinner, why not?
At 7:30 am Nedim came into the bedroom and asked me if I was going to get up. He was full of energy and I could barely lift my head off the pillow. At some point while I was a work last night he realized that he wanted to inject some food from his culture and mix it with my family's traditional Thanksgiving fare. He was ready to get in the kitchen and start cooking. I could have used another hour of so of sleep.
I got up. Having him in the kitchen through off my plan and I was grumpy. I had a mental outline of the food left to make and what needed to go into the oven and what would be cooked on the stove. When he started using the knives I wanted and pots I was expecting to use, I had to remind myself to be grateful for a husband who is wants to help out, and not shoo him out of my way. I needed an attitude adjustment, and fast.
First up for me was chopping the sweet potatoes, butternut squash and parsnips. I roasted them in the oven with a light coating of shallot, olive oil, garlic, and honey. While they cooked, shredded cheese for the macaroni and cheese. I had gone to Corks and Curds the other day to pick up my favorite cave aged Gruyere. I mentioned that I was making mac and cheese and the guy there, not Eldin, suggested an English cheddar with caramelized onions to try. Oh my. It has a really strong, smoked flavor that is awesome. I combined those two with a brick of regular extra-sharp cheddar. It was a great combination. I didn't add the breadcrumbs on the top because Selim doesn't like it when it is crusty and crispy.
Selim got off the couch and helped me with the apple and pear pie. I peeled the fruit and cut the halves into quarters. He chopped those chunks into a fine dice. He did a great job. He was so cute, he wanted to wear an apron and look "professional." We worked really well together and in no time, the pie was in the oven. I was proud that I took a chance and didn't follow a recipe. I eye balled a pear pie recipe in that it called for 2 1/2 pounds of fruit. I didn't have enough pears so I added apple. I sauteed the diced pieces in a tablespoon of butter and put the lid over the pan for about five minutes. Then I tossed the partially cooked fruit in the juice of 1/2 a lemon, three tablespoons of flour, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamon.
While that bubbled away in the oven, I prepped the corn bread and wrapped the brie in the puff pastry. Mom and Robert got here minutes before the brie was ready. I had the right size brie and it stayed wrapped in the puff pastry while baking. It cheese didn't leak out and make a hot mess all over the pan as it has in years past.
My last dish in the oven was the skillet cornbread.
Mom had brought the loaf ingredients all mixed together and ready to be baked. While the loaf cooked, I made the mashed potatoes and gravy. Mom prepped with green beans and washed the dishes. We make a good team. When we sat down to eat, the kitchen was clean. I could concentrate on the beautiful colors on the table and wasn't distracted by a mountain of dishes on the counter.
Dinner was on the table at 2:00, just as we planned. It was a good meal. I don't think anybody minded that the gravy was served in a measuring cup. I couldn't find a cute small pitcher that was clean. Selim doesn't really like the traditional Thanksgiving food. But he ate the mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. He drank two glasses of sparkling cider, one apple and one cranberry. I think he just wanted the pie.
He got his pie, after Robert took him outside to toss the football around. I had make pumpkin pie yesterday before going to work. Often I make something with chocolate, but I didn't get to that this year. The two pies with whipped cream was enough. I served warm spiced pear cider in our Turkish tea cups and that felt festive.
After we cleaned up and packed Selim's overnight bag, Mom, Robert, and Selim left. And here I am. I have so much to be thankful for. I've been thinking about the Thankful lists that Selim's classmates read aloud on Tuesday. They had such great things on their lists: family, friends, school, books, water, home, sports, education, God, Santa, food, Grandparents, pets, specific body parts (feet, strong legs, eyes, hands), and the teacher. Some kids wrote out their thoughts in a list and others made relationship groupings. Their personalities came through.
I'm thankful for everything that has brought me to where I am in my life -- the experiences that I have had, and the people that have had faith in my over the years. I have an immediate and extended family that loves me; am the recipient of so much Grace; a job that I love that is challenging and rewarding; a house with a blue door that I get to come home to every night that is warm and where somebody has left a light on for me; a body that functions without pain most days; a spiritual community who cares about my well being and helps me on my inward journey; and a cadre of friends that I treasure. I am so lucky, privileged, blessed... really.