Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving

04
Dec
12

Eating like a “boid” …

Eating like a “boid” …

Stuffed Cabbage, Credit: Big Oven.com

Many women I know (and a few men-truth be told) are perpetually on a diet. Sometimes its even to the point where their diets are on a diet and the kind of thing where one can discern the caloric and fat content of a Starbucks Morning Bun at fifty paces.

Way back in the day — say when I was fourteen and in my grandmother’s kitchen in Far Rockaway — She’d put a plate of food in front of me that could feed half of Queens and then, sitting next to me, patting my hand would say, “Eat, darling, eat.  You eat like a boid. Eat, darling eat.”

Now mind you I LOVED her stuffed cabbage, but, we are talking one at a time, not three, not to mention, the candied yams (at any time of year), stuffed derma (never one of my favorites) and a large breast of paprika chicken.

Matzah Ball Soup, Credit: Saveur.comThat was just lunch — not a holiday meal where a plate like that was the appetizer to be followed by Matzah Ball Soup (hmmm), gefilte fish (’cause there had to be a fish appetizer course), Turkey (if it was Thanksgiving), what my grandmother called “meat” which was pot roast, carrots and potatoes baked with tomatoes to the point where the meat was in strings, the aforementioned paprika chicken, and assorted vegetables such as beets, potatoes and peas and carrots.  And we can’t forget dessert, which was usually cake (macaroons on Passover) and pieces of candy or fruit from the endless supply of bowls filled with the stuff, plus coffee (instant), tea (Lipton), fights over sneaking real milk (not kosher) versus the dried milk substitute, oh and when my Uncle Bunny was over, shots of Slivowitz for the adults at the table.

The period from Thanksgiving through the New Year brings to mind my Grandmother’s bounteous table–or as I like to call it a heart-attack-on-a-plate. And even with her many admonitions about my avian-like behavior, which frankly I never really understood, because I always felt like I ate enough for a week!

Later in my twenties, I made the schlep to Far Rockaway to an older, svelter Grandma who in fighting off her high “sugar” count (aka Type II Diabetes) had dropped from a size 18 to an 8. Still, she’d put a humongous plate of food in front of me, as if I’d been out on the velt chasing lions or something before hopping the A train and with nary a thought to what it might do to my health.

More to the point, her sense of proportion reflected a feast-or-famine mentality honed I suppose from her experiences raising a family during the Depression and her own childhood in places like the Lower East Side and East Harlem where money was always tight.

A lot of years later, however, a portion of that size is an automatic five-pound weight gain (even thinking about it gives me at least a pound or two), not to mention a GERD attack (indigestion plus a throat on fire) and an instant case of narcolepsy.

While counting calories feels incredibly luxurious in a world where many people would still look on one of Grandma’s plates of food as something miraculous, Western types with jingle in their jeans and a ready source of fabulous foods face different challenges. And if you’re a woman of a certain age like me, “water weight” no longer cuts it as an excuse.

What is required is a mindfulness about food that takes into account the body’s carbohydrate, protein, fat and caloric needs, the state of one’s health, and a moment of reflection from time-to-time on where food comes from and how it gets to one’s table. After all, most of us do not go to the back forty to pick our own tomatoes, green beans and sweet peas (except maybe in summer at our country places), nor do we pluck our freshly killed chickens, milk cows or gather our eggs at 5:00 in the morning. What we do is wander through the aisles of a supermarket or Whole Foods or the local deli or maybe even make it to a Farmer’s Market to pick up fresh foods or more than likely prepared meals (frozen, boxed or fresh) or skip it all and eat out or better yet, order in Thai.

What we don’t necessarily do is take the time to reflect on what we are eating and how it got there or how its many nutrients pass through the miracle of the body to be stripped down into constituent parts to fuel our many activities.

Chocolate, Credit: Kitchen TalkWhether its eating too little or eating too much, what we owe ourselves is eating “right” especially as we enter that period where food abounds and whether through many temptations (hmmm, yes, chocolate), lots of holiday gatherings or just plain anxiety, how we eat seems to get laden down with a lot of extra baggage, plus a notch or too on our belts.

Whatever your persuasion during the next several weeks, be aware that issues around eating will definitely be on the table … so think twice and if you do have that yummy extra helping of freshly made potato latkes, what the heck, enjoy, after all, it is only once a year!

23
Nov
12

And now the rush …

And now the rush …

I’m off to work today where I shall relish the quiet when most people are off.  I’ll be able to get through the pile of tasks that always seems to make their way to the bottom, have the chance to catch up on correspondence and the little things like reorganizing file folders on the shared drive that always get in a tangle when I’m in a rush.

My day will be the opposite of the usual hustle of the work-a-day world where the mindset is to operate at a constant double-time pace and even meals are gulped down as afterthoughts to emails, drafting reports and in the minutes between meetings.

For those with four days off this holiday week, today, so-called “Black Friday,” will bring on a rush of a different kind.  Armed with circulars, coupons and for the tech-savvy, Smartphone enabled electronic badges, folks fortified by turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie will elbow their way through crowds to grab whatever “doorbuster” prize they can snag with a “beat the clock” mindset as minutes wind down till the sales items switch on and off as if they were nothing more innocuous then the periods of a school day.

Yep it’s 6:00 AM Barbie followed by 7:00 AM Nintendo and so on and I suppose if one has 14 nieces between the ages of say 5 and 7, snagging Barbie at $2.99 a pop versus the usual $9.99 might be worth getting up at 3:30 in the morning to make one’s way to Toys-R-Us or Target or wherever to push through the crowds (yep, crowds of crowds) to grab just the right Barbie in that magic hour between 6:00 and 7:00.

I suppose when it comes to saving $1,000 on a washer/dryer unit that exactly matches the model one has been pining for a 5:00 AM quick run to Lowes makes sense, but otherwise, I’m not so sure.

And then there are the Black Friday shopping tips that one can read up on that give advise on what to avoid:

Among the most common occurs when a consumer is drawn in to the store by the possibility of an amazing door-buster deal. Usually, these deals are available in very short supply. When shoppers are shut out of such deals, sometimes they go ahead and buy a similar item—for a much more expensive price. (Time Magazine)

This year’s permutation has included earlier start times cutting into family Thanksgiving celebrations for shoppers—not to mention “no holiday” celebration for the many workers who need to show up hours earlier.

What it brings to mind is that all of this rush for the supposed start to the “holiday” season has an opposite effect if rather than thinking through finding the perfect gift for a loved one is reduced to a cage-fight reminiscent of an MMA bout.

And I guess that’s my point. This crazy rush to buy things has little or nothing to do with why we exchange gifts or of the notion that we honor those we love by putting thought and care and even a dose of mindfulness into how we go about that process.

Sure, I know that folks have monetary issues and that holiday gifts are often ways of delivering the things that folks need—especially when it comes to clothing for kids who by the New Year period have started to grow out of their Fall clothes. So yep, the arena that is 5:00 AM at Walmart may be a necessary evil for some people. What I would question is why those sales can’t happen anyway and whether our “buy-in” to this annual slugfest hasn’t compromised us to the point of throwing away the meaning behind our gift giving.

The question is, if we all said no to the frenzy, wouldn’t retailers find another way to sell us their wares? I think the answer is yes and for prices that are just as attractive. For my money, I’d rather fight in the ring.

Happy Friday …

22
Nov
12

Giving thanks …

Giving thanks …

Orange Cranberry Relish

Sometimes holidays sneak up as not so much unbidden, but as a surprise that hits one square on with a flood of emotions. It’s that “oh sh*t” moment when the understanding that nothing has been prepped, decisions on what to do haven’t been taken nor the landmines of things like what to do about Aunt Sissy’s nasty yorkie.

Thanksgiving falls into that category. A big family extravaganza with civic rituals that span back to George Washington’s time layered on with all the “blah, blah, blah” about Pilgrims and the Patuxets … or as my fourth grade teacher Mr. Samuels taught us, the Indians.

We have Abraham Lincoln to thank for a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” He proclaimed this day in 1863 with the Civil War raging–a not unhopeful event given the circumstance–and the final Thursday in November as the annual date.  In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt who was faced with five Thursdays in November set the date to the fourth Thursday in November hoping to given merchants an extra week to hawk their wares for Christmas.

What it all boils down to–bended history, rank commercialism and the boogie-monster of “family” aside–is the chance to truly take a moment collectively as a nation, as a community, as a family and individually to tease out the good and the bad, the things that are truly praiseworthy along with the not-so-goods that need to be jettisoned.

For those New Yorkers still battered by Superstorm Sandy having come through the storm at all is primetime for taking a Thanksgiving moment or two knowing full well that there are families who were shattered by unfathomable loss. A late season hurricane does seem like an obscene joke especially one that is followed by a snow storm less than a week later.

Still we are good at picking up the pieces and if nothing else the tragedy has created a sense of everyday-as-Thanksgiving as scores of volunteers literally from around the nation as well as around the block have come to the hardest hit areas to work.

This is a long way of saying that the greatest gift of giving thanks likely comes down to helping others and whether through physical labor or a timely monetary donation to fund such endeavors we are truly a community–one that pitches in when we need to even after the bright lights of the media have moved along to other events.

So whether it’s “ugh” time when Uncle Louis prattles on about football or a joyous moment when the newest cousin in the family waddles over to Grandma take a moment to smell the orange cranberry relish and feel free to join me in feeling really, really lucky.

A special thanks to Girlboxing readers too for hanging in lately, it is truly appreciated and know that you have all my best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

 

Orange Cranberry Relish

(1) 12 oz. package fresh cranberries

(1) cup sugar

(1) navel orange

Grated orange peel from one orange

(2) – (3) cups orange juice

Rinse and pick over the cranberries.

Place in a heavy 2 – 3 quart saucepan, and cover with orange juice under medium flame.

Add in sugar and grated orange peel.

Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. (You should be attentive at the stove as the cranberries will start to pop.)

Reduce flame and simmer for about 40 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens, stir occasionally throughout.

Place in a festive bowl and allow to set and cool (about an hour or so).

Cover tightly with plastic wrap before refrigerating.  Will keep for three – four days.

23
Nov
11

Thankful? You bet!

Thankful?  You bet!

Orange Cranberry Relish

Being a vegetarian, the turkey thing is not exactly my idea of Thanksgiving.  What the holiday does bring is the run-up to my annual heathenish/Jewish/I love Christmas anyway month of reflection on why, with a nod to Lou Gehrig, I am the “luckiest” person “on the face of the earth.”

I could start with the blessings of an amazing daughter and fabulous husband — or that I even have the opportunity to wake up each day with enough food to eat, the ability to work, hot running water, and an iPad, iPhone and Macbook to play with.

The point being that whatever sorrows and triumphs I may experience over the course of a day, a week or what has become the sum total of my lifetime, the process of saying “thank you” to the folks who make those experiences possible is one that requires more than just a day to sit back, overeat and watch football. Rather the point of it all is to live in a realm of “thank you,” where common courtesies, extending oneself to others even when one doesn’t have to, and otherwise being mindful of the other seven billion on the planet is a way of life.

So if I haven’t said so lately, thank you to all the friends who have extended themselves to me by reading Girlboxing. You’ve all made it a place where I feel comfortable enough to jot down my thoughts and opine to my heart’s content on the little things and big things that have meaning to me. Most importantly, you’ve all helped to expand my world and my way of thinking — something that has been an incalculable gift.

Please also accept my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Orange Cranberry Relish

(1) 12 oz. package fresh cranberries

(1) cup sugar

(1) navel orange

Grated orange peel from one orange

(2) – (3) cups orange juice

Rinse and pick over the cranberries.

Place in a heavy 2 – 3 quart saucepan, and cover with orange juice under medium flame.

Add in sugar and grated orange peel.

Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. (You should be attentive at the stove as the cranberries will start to pop.)

Reduce flame and simmer for about 40 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens, stir occasionally throughout.

Place in a festive bowl and allow to set and cool (about an hour or so).

Cover tightly with plastic wrap before refrigerating.  Will keep for three – four days.




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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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