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Thanksgiving: the meal that keeps on giving/Or: Preserving Gustatory Glow



Thanksgiving occurs at a really inconvenient time for us. At the end of September we put the tipi to rest for the winter, and finish harvesting and preserving the garden's bounty. In October, the task is to keep up with the annual dump of leaves, annuals and perennials that succumb to the cool nights and windy days. Between the end of October and Christmas we also celebrate three family birthdays and our anniversary (our 40th this year!!!). During all this, our business work schedule becomes a rigorous sprint for the holiday finish line, as we work to have products ready to present to our customers for their holiday gift giving.

Perhaps because of the inopportune timing of fitting one more celebration into a packed schedule, Thanksgiving truly becomes a day to take a deep breath, look up, and reconfirm the many small and large reasons we feel happy and fulfilled, living the sweet life in a manner we got to choose for ourselves.

We were eleven around the table this year, a lovely combo of dear friends and family. One in our party is a gifted florist, who came over Wednesday afternoon to transform two pushed-together picnic tables into a grand feasting table with a voluptuous combo of on-hand linens and candles, charming paper placemats, and a cornucopia of baby gourds, mosses, copper spheres and multiple small vases filled with flowers, turkey feathers and even vegetables. 

The cherished turkey platter was hauled out to form the centerpiece.

The bird was big-26 lbs-I stuffed the cavity with onions and apples, and rubbed the outside with an entire jar of Dr. Bob's Wild Juniper Rub on Wednesday and left it to chill in the fridge while awaiting its fate. On Thursday we popped that beautiful big boy into the oven around 10, added a bottle of white wine to the pan around 11, and left it to roast while we put the finishing touches on the rest of the meal. 

Our meal was the ultimate potluck, and guests brought the appetizer, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, stuffing and three kinds of pie. I had made the cranberry orange relish earlier in the week, and Bob had his famous brioche rolls ready to bake off by 1PM. All we had to do at the last minute was finish the mashed potatoes, make the gravy and carve the turkey while everything else was warming up in the oven. The only casualty occured when I knocked my glass of champagne off the counter while lifting the roasting pan filled with gravy off the stove. The shards and bits were swept off the floor and no one missed a beat...

My favorite way to be with people I love is to enjoy long, conversation filled meals around the table, and that's just what we did. We sat down to dinner aroung 4:30, stuffed ourselves beyond what should be possible, and lingered at the table, enjoying every delicious mouthful as we talked about everything under the sun. After dinner nobody moved; while the meal settled my mother and her friend Barb led us through a few improv games like the ones they play every Friday with their friends at the senior center. After almost an hour of this, we felt ready to tackle the fresh apple, maple pecan and coconut cream pumpkin pies. After more lingering and talking, we finally heaved our expanded girths up from the table around 7:30 and portioned out leftovers for everyone to take home.

We woke up Friday morning still feeling full, but by lunchtime my mouth was watering for one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving dinner: turkey sandwiches. I make them with Bob's oatmeal bread, mayo slathered on one side and Dr. Bob's Cranberry Jalapeno Jam on the other. In between goes sliced turkey, fresh greens (I used baby spinach), salt and pepper, and--wait for it--potato chips. It's THE. BEST. THING.

By Monday, I realized that we had eaten turkey in one form or another for every lunch and dinner since Thanksgiving, so we switched gears Monday night, but have been back on a turkey diet since then. There are almost as many suggestions for what to do with leftover turkey as Black Friday ads. I'm about to pop the rest of mine into the freezer for future enchiladas and pot pies.

One of the things I am most thankful for: delicious leftovers fueling us to the finish line of this busy week, and the memory of the joyful gathering that nourished our stomachs and filled our souls while we made the final push towards our biggest sales event of the year that starts today. Thank you, friends, family, and Ma Nature, for your gifts that sustain us.