I’m drowning out the sound of Christmas music in the background by crinkling the Halloween candy wrappers that are still in my apron pocket. I’ll be ready soon for Ella Fitzgerald to belt out Jingle Bells, especially the last line. It gives me such a jolt. Just not ready yet. Still savoring Thanksgiving.
It’s Thread & Whisk’s favorite day of the year. We couldn’t have invented a better concept than Thanksgiving. Pick a weekday during a dreary month, cook up a ton of amazing food, and invite your friends to enjoy the feast while reflecting and giving thanks. How about that for a brief moment of grace? It’s a whole day devoted to it.
Oh, but how we torture ourselves with planning and prepping to arrive at the peace that embodies this day. Quite a few years ago, one of my children was born Thanksgiving weekend. I was not hosting dinner, so I know that I hadn't completely lost my mind. But I remember that the weeks leading up to it were completely unsettling to me. I couldn’t get grounded. A few days before the arrival of both the bird and the kid, I left a voicemail for a friend who I always found calming, yet inspiring. I went on and on about completely freaking out until the beep cut me off.
Fortunately, she called me back and invited me to stop by her yoga studio. She had a class going on, so she led me off to a private little room that looked like the world’s tiniest library. It had a small window in it, so I knew she wasn’t locking me in a closet for my own good. She guided me through some gentle yoga poses and then left me to have some quiet time in what was an unusual pose for someone so pregnant. I was in a supported backbend with bolsters and pillows propping me up. I remember a stream of sunlight coming in low through the small window, not very common for a November afternoon in Oregon. I could feel it’s warmth across my belly. In all of my chaos, I found my brief moment of grace.
Thanksgiving is always more than just the one day for me. It’s the excitement the leads up to it, the introspection that it embodies and the celebration with loved ones that fills me with a renewal of energy to joyously wind down the year’s end and anticipate the start of a new one. With the following days' nibbles on the leftovers, these emotions wander through my mind and I give thanks.
This is the Pacific Northwest's late autumn flavors at their best.
Pears from the Columbia Gorge, hazelnuts from the Willamette Valley and blue cheese from the Rogue River Valley showcase Oregon’s bounty when tossed with spicy greens and a mustard vinaigrette. It’s a complementary balance to the indulgent foods at the Thanksgiving dinner table and the weeks to follow.
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp grainy mustard
2 heads frisée lettuce, torn into bite- size pieces
4 cups spicy salad greens (arugula, mustard greens, baby beet greens) 1 head butter lettuce, torn into
4 small Comice pears, cored and
sliced into 8 pieces
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly
8 oz blue cheese, crumbled salt and pepper
Whisk the first four ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Combine all of the greens and lettuces in a large bowl. Add the pears, hazelnuts and blue cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing and gently toss.
Pomegranate seeds or dried cherries add a sweet but tart balance to the juicy pears. Add a 1/2 cup of either.
Double the dressing ingredients and keep the rest in the fridge for a repeat performance later in the week.
In case you ARE ready...