yesterday was the first thanksgiving in about four years that I’ve done much cooking. since we have a full day of school on wednesday, I’ve gotten into the habit of traveling on thanksgiving day and arriving at my family’s house at about the point when my mom and my sister are putting the crust on the apple pies. but this year, with azure rendering my amtrak habit obsolete, I decided to stay home alone and suddenly I had the whole entire day. so I decided to cook.
I’m grateful that my food environment is one in which I can feed myself almost entirely with things that were grown, milled, or made by people I’ve met in places I’ve been. I still had some root vegetables and onions stored from the end of the CSA season; my pantry is stocked with flours & oats from brooktondale, 230 miles away in the finger lakes region; and I just got a fresh batch of honey & maple syrup from the farmers market last week. after school on wednesday I stopped at the greenmarket again, not with any real agenda, but to see what might look fun to eat.
the funny thing is that I wasn’t intentionally planning for a local, sustainable, ethical thanksgiving. it wasn’t until I was looking at the snapshots on my iphone that I realized only one of my dishes (the ice cream, made mostly with coconut milk) wasn’t almost completely a product of my mid-atlantic foodshed. that I do this without thinking, now, without even any particular effort — that is one aspect of my life for which I am truly thankful.
(although these low-light iphone photos make the food look like it was cooked about three decades ago, it was all very satisfying, and completely worth a day in the kitchen. the honey-roasted acorn squash with quinoa-apple stuffing was my favorite, although it’s the cranapple-rosemary crumble that I keep snacking on, and the pumpkin dumplings that were the most fun to make. I should make dumplings more often. it’s like the grownup version of play-doh, which is also tasty. we made our own playdough in my house, so it really was completely edible.)
I truly don’t mind spending holidays alone. in high school I was left behind to fulfill my non-marching band duties at the thanksgiving day football game; I remember spending hours in the dark basement of my family’s quiet house, happily eating bowlfuls of extra pumpkin pie filling while I watched an x-files marathon on FX. (actually, with the recent release of the x-files on netflix streaming, this thanksgiving has had a fair amount in common with that first one I spent alone. I find myself both nostalgic for the time in my life when I had hours to spare writing episodic reviews, and shocked at how much of the nuances in the character development were lost on my teenage self.) I never went home for thanksgiving break when I was in college. I rather enjoyed the muted version of campus that existed for those five days; it felt somehow like being on the inside of a snow globe.
so I wasn’t feeling too bad about having thanksgiving by myself. as it turned out, though, I was surprisingly un-alone, even though I spent the day cooking and eating by myself. my friends texted me all day long, sending me pictures of their dinners and families. my own family called me, and then put me on speakerphone while I detailed the absurd quantities of food I’d cooked. yesterday, I brought my thanksgiving leftovers to the dog-friendly bar around the corner and another friend helped me finish them off, accompanied by two pints of cider for me and some duck breast for azure. I realized, as we said goodbye — thanks for meeting me to hang out!; thanks for making the trip to my neighborhood! — that I had long since lost track of the things I’d said thank you for, even in just the past two days.
(thanks for reading!)