Part 1: A circle of thanksgiving
We stand in a circle holding hands, a tradition that evolved in my parents’ home from a combination two traditions, leftovers, if you will: grace before a meal and gratefuls during meals.
Boil these down for gumbo tomorrow.
Every link in our circle has suffered at least one wrench or break from another link in this circle. Yet, here we are. “First, we’ll take turns expressing what we’re grateful for . . . It can be anything,” to ease the younger links into the tradition.
“I’m thankful for this family . . . “
Gratitude has become a bandwagon for those anxious to reap the emotional, spiritual, as well as fiduciary benefits of thankfulness. Rewire your brain! Relieve stress. Improve sleep. Improve relationships. I ride that bandwagon. Gratitude helps me deal with leftovers of relationships, disasters, even meals.
What are we going to do with all of these potatoes?
In gratitude we push away shortcomings to focus on our strengths, we see beyond our losses to be joyful for our blessings, we displace grudges with forgiveness.
“I’m grateful for this time together . . .”
We acknowledge that, like all families, there have been unfortunate turns in our family. Ours comes back to this circle of thanksgiving, woven with the strength of our love for each other, the joy of the blessings we share, and the magic of forgiveness. And food.
Can we freeze the rest of the cranberry relish?
Thankfulness in many ways is magical. When divides —whether political, religious, social, or emotional— feel irreparably deep, gratitude for the leftover goodness mends, a circle of thankfulness bridges gaps between us.
“I’m grateful to be included in this family.”
We all have at least one thing in common, at least one thing we can be grateful for together.
How many pies?
I’m thankful for common ground.
“. . . and for the children, who are present and engaged.”
My dad closes the circle of gratitude with a prayer.
” . . . and for these blessings, we give thanks.”
We squeeze hands and chime in “Amen” before we dig in and begin creating . . . the leftovers.
Part 2: Leftovers
Stacks of dishes, naps on recliners, impossible puzzles, long walks through the fields, disappointing football games, and then the question.
What should I do with this?
For those of you who tuned in for leftover recipes, here are a few ideas.
In Louisiana, we often pull the okra and sausage out of the freezer and cook up a pot of turkey gumbo on Black Friday. Online recipes for exact ingredients and measurements are plentiful. This is the basic process.
- Start with a stock.
- Boil the bones alone or with some herbs (bay leaf, oregano, for example) and vegetable scraps (onion ends and skin, a head of garlic cut down the middle).
- Make a roux.
- About 1 cup each of flour and vegetable oil for a big pot of gumbo.
- Slowly heat the flour in the pot until it becomes golden.
- Add oil and whisk until it blends smoothly with the flour.
- Continue to heat slowly until the roux is dark.
- Add vegetables.
- Add chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery (1-2 cups of each).
- Once these are soft, follow with minced garlic (4-5 cloves).
- Add the stock, leftover (and chopped) turkey, Andouille sausage medallions (Italian sausage will do), sliced okra (1-2 cups), and 2-4 tbsp of Worcester sauce (to taste).
- Season (salt, cayenne, Tabasco, black pepper) to taste.
- Bring the gumbo to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Serve with rice.
If you end up with extra dressing or stuffing, make dressing croquettes.
- Work a beaten egg into a bowl of about 3 cups of dressing.
- Form balls (slightly bigger than a golf ball).
- Optional: Fill the balls with cranberry relish or any compatible leftover.
- Poke a hole.
- Cook for about 5 minutes:
- To fry, roll in a little flour then deep fry.
- To bake, place on cooking sheets and bake at 400º.
- To air fry, place balls in Airfryer and cook at 330º.
Sweet Potato Chips
Leftover baked sweet potatoes?
- Slice the cooked sweet potatoes about ¼ inch thin.
- Season to taste (salt and cayenne or cinnamon and brown sugar).
- 300º for 10 minutes in Airfryer.
- Deep fry for 2-3 minutes.
- 400º for 10-15 minutes in the oven.
I was the last to leave my parents’, which means my mom filled my car with the leftovers she didn’t want. As I repurposed the turkey, dressing, potatoes, and relish, I reminisced about the week our family spent together. I’m grateful for that leftover lagniappe.
Copyright © 2015 by Pennie Nichols, All Rights Reserved.