What's to be thankful for?

** INCLUDES PUMPKIN APPLE PIE RECIPE

Thanksgiving is two days away as I write this. To me, the traditional Thanksgiving is to cook that lovely turkey, fill the house with the smells of delicious food cooking and pies baking, have the family over, eat until you can't eat any more, sneak morsels to the dogs, then ignore the clean up until the next day and kick back to relax. That's the way it's been when I've hosted the past two Thanksgivings here.

This year my Dad decided we were doing something different. We were going OUT for Thanksgiving Dinner. Say what? To me, the holidays are for being home with family, not going to a restaurant. What about the cozy home feeling? What about the cooking smells? WHAT ABOUT THE LEFTOVERSS???? Those are the best part.

Then I started to think...maybe he doesn't like my cooking. Okay, so the last meal I served didn't turn out as good as I'd hoped. The bacon didn't cook over the meatloaf and the mashed potatoes were a little soft. But it was good anyway. And it's hard to screw up a turkey. I mean, as long as you cook it properly, it's fine. Did he hate my cooking??? (Did I ever mention I'm a bit insecure?)

But I'm fairly certain that my Dad doesn't think along those lines. He wanted to do what he feels would be easiest for everyone and going out to dinner on Thanksgiving was it. I've agreed reluctantly.

But it struck me this morning as I was preparing my shopping list for the Pumpkin Apple pie I plan to make for desert, just what Thanksgiving is really all about. It's not really about the food. Okay, it's partially, mostly about the food. But it's about giving thanks for all we have, for the people in our lives and all that they mean to us.

When I think about that I feel blessed. Many people my age no longer have a Dad who wants everyone to go out to dinner or a Mom who is thrilled by that idea because she doesn't have to cook.

My greatest blessing is that I still have my parents - healthy and active. They are my parents and in many ways my friends. Growing up I never though we'd be that way, but so much has changed and I'm happy about the time we get to spend together.

I used to joke that I had replaced my Grandma Con (mo mom's mom),. My father used to drive out to pick her up and bring her over for dinner every Sunday. She passed away and it seemed not too many years later I began taking her place. I came over every Sunday, shared a meal, even sat in her chair until it finally gave out and my folks replaced it with a new one. (Now that is MY chair. Everyone in the family knows it. You don't sit in MY chair.)

I especially enjoy the one on one time I have with them. I've written about the last 20 years my mom and I have gone to Ocean Point , Maine over Columbus Day weekend. It's a very special time for me. Nothing ever really changes. The room is the same, the view is the same. The company is the same. But we have the greatest times. We laugh, we talk, we share. We seem to share the same off kilter sense of humor which makes it even more fun. That's what I treasure most. The time we just spend together.

Here's my mom and I at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Maine a number of years ago. (Oy! Will ya look at that hair!) We were there this past fall too. Nothing changed, including her favorite fish sandwich. There are so many memories we share that even if we can't go back again, I'll have them in my heart.

My Dad and I were never really close. But I believe all that has changed in the past couple of years. He has been by my side, just like my Mom has, in all the big moments of my life. He was there when I bought my house, advising, supporting, talking to the home inspector. He helped me to make my house a home by painting several of the rooms and overhauling the bathroom - which majorly needed it. And since then we've become closer because we now have things to talk about - the yard, the gutters, home improvements, the cost of said home improvements. He's been over a number of times since to help with this and that. Most recently we got the yard outside prepared for winter. What I like the most was the time in between projects, when we stopped to catch our breath and just sat together and talked.

Here's my Dad and I taken at my favorite lighthouse, Nubble Light in York , Maine -also taken quite a few years ago now. He hasn't changed. Neither have I , of course.

Time moves on. And things have changed in our relationship. I help them out a little more and more as time is passing. But that's the way it should be. They gave so much to me, that I'm grateful to give even a little of it back. And they remain my strongest supporters. They are always there for me, as I am for them. And isn't that the way it should be in families?

So this Thanksgiving, I don't care where we have our holiday meal. I only care about who I'm with and I'm very grateful that I'll be with my parents.

PUMPKIN APPLE PIE

(recipe courtesy of Nancy Fuller, Farmhouse Rules and the Food Network)

It says the level of this is easy. But looks like alot more ingredients that I anticipated. Not complaining. I'm eager to try it and see how it comes out.

INGREDIENTS

One 9-inch deep dish homemade or store-bought-pie shell, unbaked

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 Gala apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 McIntosh appple, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Salt

One 15-ounce pumpkin puree

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

One 12-ounce can evaporated milk

2 eggs

Whipped cream, optional

DIRECTIONS

Special equipment a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven.

Fit a 9-inch deep dish pie plate with the pie dough. Then trip and crimp the dough, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet set over medium heat, then toss in the Gala apples, McIntosh apples, 1/2 teaspoon the of the nutmet, the cinnamon, ginger cloves and a pinch of salt. Cook until the apples begin to soften, 8 to 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, add the pumpkin puree and whisk in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, eggs and a pinch of salt.

Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator and fill the bottom with the sauteed apple mixture. Pour the pumpkin filling over the top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Bake until the pumpkin is set, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.

Cool, and then slice the pie and top with whipped cream, if using to serve.

PREP TIME: 15 mins. Cook 1 hr 40 min Yield 8 servings.


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