Ramblings from Thanksgiving
It’s the little things that count. Bright and early Thanksgiving morning, it came to me that I needed to clear out my oven. I don’t mean “clean out,” I mean clear out. I use a toaster oven almost exclusively (love the awesome Breville toaster/convection combination). It doesn’t overheat my kitchen. It’s eye level, easy to clean, just the right size for my small family. But I definitely needed the big oven for Turkey Day.
So I removed all the pans I store in my stove’s oven and it struck me – I only use three or four of these on a regular basis. Hmmm… I set aside the four I use most often and relegated the rest to the hinterlands.
I wiped down the inside of the oven and put the oven thermometer back on its rack. Then I thought, “What the heck. Check the oven temp.” Imagine my surprise to find the oven was 40 degrees lower than the setting! (This might explain some problems I’ve had baking.)
By 9:00 a.m., I had the kitchen tidied up, the ingredients out and I was ready to start the Thanksgiving marathon. As fellow celebrants joined me in the kitchen, there were many chances to share the dozens of little tips I’ve learned while working with Living Without’s food editor Beth Hillson and test kitchen director Madalene Rhyand.
“Don’t scoop out that flour,” I explained to one person. “Spoon it into your measuring cup and then level it with the back of a knife.”
“Wait,” I suggested when a would-be cook started to add a quarter cup of liquid to a mix. She was using a plastic measuring cup and hadn’t filled it to the top. I showed her how to use a glass measuring cup (meant for liquids), sit it on the counter and check it at eye level. Just an extra tablespoon of liquid makes a 25 percent difference in a quarter cup measurement.
“Let me get you the parchment paper,” and “I’ve got a heavy-duty plastic zipper bag you can cut to roll that out on,” I told my friend as she worked on the biscuits.
“We’re out of cornstarch,” my gravy maker said. “Arrowroot is above the stove,” I told her. I know how to substitute for my substitutes!
“Do I need to put these rolls on a separate table?” “No, everything is gluten-free this year,” I answered.
As we chatted and gossiped throughout the morning, I was left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. It seems everyone has problems or issues of some sort. I ended up feeling grateful for my problems - they seem pretty small compared to some.
This put me in mind of my favorite poem. Probably my favorite because it’s the only one I can remember all the lines to:
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.
--Adam Lindsay Gordon, Australian poet
As you go into this festive season, embrace gratitude, enjoy each moment and set aside stress when you can. Happy holidays!