I’m Thankful for Elastic Waist Bands!

Back when I was younger and a rookie to Thanksgiving dinner I would sit at my grandmas table with the top button of my jeans undone and the zipper halfway down. But now, boy oh boy have I learned the ways. Stretchy, breathable, Lulu leggings with a cute sweater. I still look nice, and I can fit a third piece of pie in without bursting out of the seams of my jeans. Took me long enough to learn. I have years of second helpings to make up for. Gobble till you wobble. Am I right, or am I right?

brookstreetMy family has done Thanksgiving dinner at my grandma’s house for as long as I can remember. When my grandma hit the big 8-0 she decided it was time to hire a catering company. Back in the day there weren’t too many companies that offered pre cooked Turkey dinners. The Brookstreet Hotel was one of the few and so we went with them. We used them for 5 years and each year was very different. There was never any consistency. One year the skins were left on the mashed potatoes, another year they weren’t. One year their carrots were plain, the next they had a maple glaze. It’s hard enough to please 12 people, even harder when things change each year and not necessarily for the best. So after my grandma got diagnosed as a celiac (gluten intolerant) we decided to switch it up because Brookstreet did not offer gluten free options at the time (not sure if they do now…). Turns out, after 5 years of using the same company, many other companies followed the trend and now serve Thanksgiving dinners pre cooked and ready to go.

So last year my dad took it upon himself to find a new catering company. He stumbled upon Next Catering after a minimal amount of searching. You can’t really mess up a turkey dinner so how important is it who cooks it? Very important apparently. It was the WORST Thanksgiving dinner ever. The turkey was dry, the gravy was over salted and the potatoes were so sour they were inedible. The only part of the dinner that was good was the stuffing, the only thing containing gluten that my poor grandma couldn’t enjoy. Now normally we use the same company for Thanksgiving and Christmas but there was not going to be a next for Next catering. So we went back to Brookstreet and had the same mediocre dinner as always.

This year, my dad spent a lot of time looking at all the catering companies available in the Ottawa area. Which one’s offer gluten free, which have great reviews, what makes them stand out above the competition? The companies branding… so to speak. He found out that the National Arts Centre provides this service. Although we have never eaten at the NAC restaurant (le cafe) we have been to many events there and have never been disappointed. He felt pretty confident trusting this company to provide a great dinner since they’ve always provided great experiences.

nac

On the way to my grandmas we swung by the NAC to pick up the dinner. My parents in the front of the car bickering about where to pick it up. My dad, insisting that the instructions said to go to the parking garage, my mom insisting that that couldn’t be right.

So we drive down into the underground parking garage in my dads tinted, black SUV. There are no other cars, all we see is a man in a chefs hat standing next to a tall metallic box and we pull up. My dad rolled down the window, stated our last name and the chef instructed him to pop the trunk. He loaded the back of the car with the goods, closed the trunk, gave the car a tap and we drove off. It was as if we lived in a dystopic society that banned Thanksgiving and we were at some black market, underground catering company. Very strange experience. Definitely did not have high hopes for the meal itself after that ordeal. However… It was amazing! Delicious. General consensus that everything was great. The potatoes were creamy, carrots were cooked and not mushy, turkey was moist *cringe*, such an awful word. But there were no complaints! And the whole thing, minus the stuffing of course, was gluten free! The NAC impresses us once again and I managed to fit three helpings in, thank you elastic waist bands!tgmeme

We will probably use the NAC for Christmas but does anyone have a different go to catering company? Or, has anyone tried the ones we’ve used but had different experiences?

Eating the milkman’s horse and other Thanksgiving tales

It’s Thanksgiving weekend. This holiday, more than any other, makes me think of and miss my mom. She was born in 1930 in Germany. The deprivations and horrors of Hitler’s regime and the Second World War filled her childhood and teenage years. For good and for ill, those experiences shaped my mother.

Although we were a poor family, my mother always managed to put on a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. Every inch of the table would be covered with dish after delicious dish of turkey, stuffing, vegetables, potatoes, sauces and gravies followed by at least three desserts.

My mother would sit beaming at the head of the table and survey everything that was on offer. And then she would say, “We have so much to be thankful for. During the war, we never had enough to eat. I remember serving my father horsemeat once. He didn’t ask where I had gotten the meat and I didn’t tell him. The milkman’s horse had died and I was there to get some.”

At that point in her story, she’d stop and stare off into the distance, remembering the serendipitous moment when she got a portion of a dead horse. And then she would resume, “Now look at all that we have. We have enough food. We have a roof over our heads. We are safe in our beds at night. We are so lucky.”

And we are.thankful.png

Here’s a list of some of the very simple things in life I’m thankful for. Perhaps some of these will resonate with you or spur you to consider your own list of gratitudes.

  • A shower after a hot, dirty, sweaty day
  • Bright winter days so cold the snow squeaks
  • Travelling – all the new places, faces, smells, sights, foods and sounds that challenge, delight, intrigue and excite
  • Those first green shoots in the garden. After months of Canadian winter, they are a thrill and a promise.
  • Ringing church bells
  • Reading poetry. Here’s my favourite poem.
  • The smell of tomato plants in the sun
  • Philosophical debates
  • Ghost stories
  • Pine trees – the way they smell, their wooden, fractal-inspired cones and their deep moan on windy nights
  • Songs from the ’80s. I was a teenager then and no music is more evocative for me.
  • The first cup of coffee in the morning.
  • Skeletons and skulls… they’re always grinning!
  • Really good shoes – especially red ones.
  • No alarm clocks. I love a morning where I don’t have to be up by a certain time even if I rarely sleep in.
  • Nuzzling the warm little nape of a baby’s neck and smelling that baby smell.
  • Kindness – more and more this is the trait I respect and admire and want to emulate.
  • The full moon
  • A big cozy chair, a drink, a great book, likely a kitty snuggled in my lap and time to read.
  • Thunderstorms
  • Cooking and baking – it’s like magical alchemy right in my kitchen
  • Fancy soaps, especially handmade soaps
  • Animals. They amaze me with their sheer variety, beauty, Zenlike purpose, abilities and authenticity.
  • Champagne cocktails
  • Dawn – still and stirring, promising a fresh start
  • Frogs singing on a hot summer night
  • Getting into a freshly made bed – the sheets crisp and clean. Ahhhh!

So how about you? What are you thankful for?