Here, in Canada, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in all the food we’ll be serving, the menu, the recipes, the shopping and cooking (myself included), we forget what this celebration is really all about:
A time to take stock of our lives and give thanks.
The world is in such turmoil now. Politically, socially, culturally, religiously, economically, environmentally, every which way. So there’s probably never been a better time to remember how grateful we are (or should be) for all our blessings, whatever they might be. It’s different for everyone. Some are small and might be considered insignificant, while others have great importance. It doesn’t matter.
At a friend’s niece’s home one year, just before we all tucked into the delicious feast that was waiting for us, we were all asked to share what we were grateful for, even the kids. Such a simple idea, but wonderful. It put the emphasis where it should be; and it was a lovely and meaningful way to kick off our Thanksgiving meal.
In 1578, the first Thanksgiving in Canada, the explorer Martin Frobisher, gave thanks for surviving the long journey from England to Baffin Bay (now known as Nunavut). He’d been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. In the 17th century, the French settlers who came to New France with another explorer, Samuel de Champlain, celebrated their successful harvests.
Me? I’m grateful for the wonderful parents I had. They encouraged me to follow my dreams. They always told me that if I was prepared to work for it, I could do anything I wanted to do, giving me the greatest gift one could ever receive. Confidence.
I’m grateful I can write. That I have the talent, drive, commitment and good fortune to do what I love. I’m grateful for the friends and family who love me, despite my flaws. I’m grateful for my insatiable curiosity. It makes me want to get up every morning and attack the day. And, most of all, I’m grateful that I lived to see another day. I’m grateful I live in a country where diversity is celebrated. Where everyone is welcome. I’m grateful it was my alarm clock that woke me up this morning, not gunfire or bombs exploding; and that everyone I love is safe.
But lest we forget, Thanksgiving has also always been about sharing food. So I thought I’d share a favourite recipe I have for stuffing. I can’t take credit for it. It’s from a Silver Palate cookbook. But every time I’ve made it, from the very first time, I’ve had to double the recipe because everyone keeps coming back for more. It takes about an hour to prepare, but I promise you, it’s worth it. I hope you try it; and I also hope that your guests enjoy it as much as mine always have.
SILVER PALATE GRAND MARNIER APRICOT STUFFING (serves 12 – 14)
1 cup diced dried apricot
1 1/2 cups Grand Marnier
turkey liver (optional)
turkey heart (optional)
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups coarsely chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb bulk pork sausage
1 lb herb stuffing mix
1 cup slivered almonds
2 cups rich chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
(I add some dried sage, as well)
- Place the apricots and 1 cup of the Grand Marnier in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat and set aside. If you are using the giblets, simmer them in a small saucepan covered with water for 5 minutes. When they’re cool, remove and finely dice, discarding the liquid.
- Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the celery and onion and sauté for 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
- In the same skillet, cook the sausage, crumbling it with a fork, until it’s no longer pink. Remove from heat and add to the celery and onion mixture.
- Add the stuffing mix, apricots with the Grand Marnier they cooked in, the almonds and the optional giblets. Stir to combine.
- Heat the remaining 1/2 cup butter and chicken stock just until the butter melts. Pour over the stuffing mixture and add the remaining 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier. Stir well to moisten the stuffing, adding the thyme, salt and pepper (and sage if you add it).
- Bake stuffing in a large, buttered casserole at 325 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes.
It’s a bit of work, as you can see, and it’s definitely not for calorie-counters. But Thanksgiving comes but once a year. An occasional treat is okay, don’t you think? Have left over turkey with salad for the rest of the week.
Happy Thanksgiving, if you’re Canadian and celebrating. If not, have a great weekend.
And thank you, for reading my blog. I’m grateful.