Monday, November 26, 2012

131: Gratitude is more than attitude

Thanks to Thanksgiving, we shelled out $136 this week.  We bought cranberries imported from far-away states, a large turkey from our local Turkey Lady, lots of good local dairy products, frozen ice cream and frozen peas from origins unknown.  Probably we bought coffee and certainly someone bought some vitamin water bilge.  The 36-week grocery average continues to hover at  $131/week.

I spent large parts of Thursday cooking, and then I spent more time Thursday and much of Friday "putting up" food.  Getting ready to be thankful together takes a lot of work.  I like doing a lot of work, mind you -- I'm not complaining.  In fact, I'd like to offer this as a sort of a philosophy:
Gratitude is more than attitude.   

My kids get a little grossed out by the sight of the naked, uncooked turkey awaiting its stuffing.  I know they shudder even more at the details of making soup.  It's ooky indeed, I agree, and reason enough to become vegetarian.  But they're not vegetarian; they want to eat meat.  And even back in the day when I myself was vegetarian (but my then-husband was not), it was me who did the soup making.  Because gratitude is more than attitude.  It's being so grateful to this bird who gave up its life, that you're willing to be a little uncomfortable with the ooki-ness.  You appreciate as much of the bird as you can.

Our large turkey made all of these things for our family:
  • A Thanksgiving meal for 8 people (some years, fewer people; most years, many more).
  • Leftover turkey for days.
  • 12 quarts of turkey stock, canned in my borrowed pressure canner.
  • Three shepherds pies.
  • Ooky dinner for the dog.
  • Ooky dog treats (frozen in an ice-cube tray for easy separation).
  • A large pot of Texas Turkey Tomato soup.
And without someone being willing to do the ooky soup part, only the first two items on this list would have been possible.

The last entry on the list (the Texas etc.) was a typical Miser Mom recipe, tossing together a bit of turkey stock, some leftover "Texas barbecue sauce" (hence the name), a bit more leftover tomato sauce that was going nowhere because of the pre-eminence of the rest of the leftovers, a whole bunch of celery that was sitting on the counter whispering "eat me now", and a cup or two of rice just to add body.  Salt and onions got thrown into the mix, too.

 J-son and I taste-tested this recipe at lunch on Saturday, and while we ate it we watched Carole King sing "Turkey Chicken Soup With Rice".  The verdict:  worth singing for.  We nearly--but not quite---finished off the pot with the whole family Sunday night.

It's one thing to stop whining for a little while and spend some air time saying, "I'm grateful for . . . ".  That's a big first step, not only for kids but also for lots of us (um, especially for me).  It's so easy to get caught up in the "It's all so stressful!" mode of thinking, and it's healthy to pause and remember that, after all, Life Is Good.

So, I say I'm grateful for the food on my table.  I say I'm grateful for the people gathered around the table, too.  But you wouldn't much want to hang around with someone who said "I"m grateful for you" and then ignored you.  It would be even worse if that person forgot to check in with you before you got moldy and then tossed you in the compost bin.    (Oops, I guess the people/food analogy doesn't work as well as I thought).   At any rate, checking in on the contents of the fridge and boiling up the last of that beautiful bird is part of the whole "Life is good to me" ritual I want to observe.

And so, I like the effort of Thanksgiving because all that cooking (and more cooking, and then even more cooking) reminds me that actions speak louder than words.  That lip service can be acted out via elbow-grease service.  That paying attention to that turkey on the tray or that celery on the counter -- that using it, and eating it -- is one small way to live out our gratitude.  


  1. I love your thinking here. I have just recently learned how to make stock, so I make stock each time we have a rotisserie chicken. I'm still on baby steps, but I did buy (and freeze) a whole chicken to try roasting my own when I get a little free weekend time one of these days.

    I appreciate rotisserie chicken because it is yummy and not too terribly more expensive than buying the raw whole chicken. And being able to make stock out of it stretches my dollar and really saves me that extra amount the chicken costs over a raw one (because we would otherwise buy nice, fancy broth or stock). So it is win-win. And now I think I know what I'm "making" for dinner some night this week. We didn't do Thanksgiving at our house, so I need to build up some good leftover potential.

    1. J-son would agree with you on the rotisserie chicken. Or on any chicken, really! He just loves it!

      And isn't making stock a satisfying experience? Even when it looks like there's nothing left on that chicken you just carved up, there's still so much good nutrition tucked in tight. And you can remember the original great meal every time you have soup in the future. --MM

  2. We have a huge pot of turkey stock in the fridge that needs to be frozen. We'll get around to it! It's so nice having meat stock from scratch to add to recipes throughout the year. I'm always a little disappointed when I search the freezer and find we're out so I have to add water instead.

    1. Is it horrible to admit that once or twice a year I'll buy a chicken (and cook it up for the family) just so I can use the carcass to make soup? True confession. --MM

  3. I share what you express in this post. When I eat meat at home, I always think that the best tribute we can pay to the victim is eating it all. Even to keep some of the rests (viscera, skin, bones... whatever is not edible) for cats and/or dogs seems to me better than to throw them to the garbage or to the compost bin.

    1. Not only do I agree with you, but my dog also gives his most hearty endorsement! --MM.