Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cooking THE Meal

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I posted a couple of weeks ago that our doctors put both of us on the DASH diet. We have three months to fix lab numbers or start picking up prescriptions at the local drug store.
What a great time of year for that! Who wouldn't want to diet through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's?

We have no way of monitoring that at home, but we can look at the numbers showing up on the scale. In about two weeks of eating differently and visiting the gym on a regular basis, Cub Sweetheart is down about 7 lbs, and I'm down almost 5. So it's a good thing. I've been able to pull clothes out from my closet, to wear them again, rather than have them hang there, glaring at me.

But it's Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is CS's hands down favorite meal of the year. He loves EVERYTHING about it. Buying that raw, white dimpled bird, whose weight must start with a '2', getting it in the oven, so he can watch over it all day. Me tying an apron around my waist, because this is serious cooking day! When that cooking process hits the point that smells start to waft into the kitchen, and down the hall. All the chopping and dicing and hearing the mixer whipping up fluffy, white potatoes. 

And THE GRAVY - absolute manna to his soul. Searching for the electric knife, the whereabouts of which we can never remember, but finally finding, and he grabs the oversized white cutting board, and the big turkey platter, and begins the artful process of transferring that big bird from the roaster to the table. This  year will be his 35th to carve, and there's something holy in it, so I stand by his side, like a surgical assistant. I hand over whatever he needs, but stay out of his way. Then there's sitting around a table with lit candles, a white table cloth, china and place tags that say we were expecting you, we're happy you're here. Surrounded by people we love,  he gives his best prayer of the year, the kind that makes us all feel privileged to just sit and listen.

Since we're doing this as a lifestyle change, and not just a diet, we're going to have a great meal that involves a good amount of butter, and enjoy the daylights out of it. It would take more than lab results to get in the way of something as sacred as Thanksgiving.

My daughter found Sam Sifton's book at her local library, so I went looking, and I found it too. After looking through it, I was able to grab a like-new copy for under $5. It's a witty read, but chock full of how-to's, a picture of how to set the table (helpful if you grew up eating at a table surrounded by a pack of growing boys who likely would have set the house on fire if my mother had chanced a candle in the middle of them), and wonderful recipes. 

The author has six steadfast rules for Thanksgiving, which are:

#1 serve turkey. Not prime rib, not some fancy kind of fish, just a roast turkey.No diverging allowed.

#2 do not serve appetizers or salad. Make your guests wait for the big event, and you can eat salad tomorrow. Not today.

#3 football is part of Thanksgiving. Watch the Cowboys. Preferably before or after you eat your turkey dinner, but watch it.

#4 serve pie for dessert. Apple, pecan and pumpkin are the top three choices. Chocolate cake is not.

#5 clean up that night. You will not want to wake up to a trashed kitchen the next day. Ask for help, delegate jobs, but get it done.

#6 give thanks. The author suggests you thank each other, which is nice, but I'd add a higher source of my turkey and pie. Nobody around my table created a turkey, or an apple tree.
Here's what the author has to say about calorie count and the Thanksgiving meal:
Let us speak plainly: you are going to need a lot of butter. Thanksgiving is not a day for diets, or for worrying about your cholesterol. It is a day on which we celebrate the delicious. And there is precious little on a Thanksgiving menu that is not made more delicious by butter.
What's not to love?  do NOT worry about lab results for this one day! Here's our menu:
roasted turkey, bread stuffing (because I love CS; otherwise we'd  have cornbread, which we all know is the right kind), mashed potatoes, brown giblet gravy, roasted brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce (the kind that comes out of the can with little ridges on it because we both grew up with mothers who were more about getting food on the table than anything else), crescent rolls, followed by pumpkin, pecan and coconut cream pie (because coconut anything makes everything better).

I'm dusting off my iron and digging out the wrinkled tablecloth and cloth napkins today,finding place markers, wiping down glasses, putting post a notes on platters and dishes so everyone knows their job, setting out china and polishing my mother-in-law's 67-year-old silver, because on Thanksgiving I'm thankful she brought this man of mine into the world, and as much as he loves Thanksgiving, he loves me more, and that's saying something.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Eat, enjoy, do that cheesy thing of going around the table and saying what you're thankful for, and make sure it's not something money can buy. Then go eat some pie and watch some football.

*My brother did actually set the house on fire once, while our parents were away, but it was over a skillet full of fried potatoes. She said when she heard the sirens she knew to turn around and come back home.

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