I sat back in my chair at the end of our Thanksgiving feast feeling full, happy and thankful for so many things. Thankful that my family was together; that we are healthy and that we had enough good food to eat. My sister-in-law hosted this year and my brother-in-law fried a succulent herb infused turkey, which was juicy, moist and flavorful beyond compare. Together, they indulged us with an endless array of delicious side dishes from silky mashed potatoes to a sweet and creamy corn pudding. I brought a bunch of food as well. Not that I had to for the hostess with the mostest, but because I wanted to. Each dish I contributed was an opportunity to be with friends and family, to create together during a busy time of year.
With a crunchy, chewy caramelized bite of chocolate pecan pie, I was reminded of the time spent with Jackie making pies. I wondered if she was enjoying hers as much. With each moist bite of stuffing, I thought of the time I spent with my father Thanksgiving morning, chopping onions, celery and joking about the inclusion or omission of walnuts, exactly like we’ve done for decades. A nibble of the tart and zesty orange cranberry bread brought me back to an afternoon spent with Kathe and a tradition we started three years ago baking bread together for Thanksgiving. A crunchy bite of subtly spiced pumpkin biscotti reminded me of a hilarious time spent with Suzy and I wondered whether her mom was enjoying it as much as my sister-in-law did. And the creamed spinach, which ended up not-so-creamy after all, took me back to a funny time with my mom as we skeptically watched two humongous bags of spinach wilt down to a questionable amount for our side dish.
My brother-in-law largely credits the unbelievable taste of his turkey to his heavy-handed injections of marinade and spice. I credit cooking together — with friends, children and family — as what injected so much meaning into this year’s Thanksgiving.