Thursday, November 6, 2014

What I'm Thankful For

Every year at Thanksgiving we begin the meal by going around the table and saying what we’re all thankful for. We’ve been doing this since our girls were little and were first starting to talk (a popular contribution at that age was “Pie!”). Our guests are always invited to join in, and they always do, bringing their personalities and varying levels of comfort to this family tradition. What I’m thankful for each year hasn’t really changed over time, although in an effort to not allow the food on our plates to grow cold, I usually compress it into a sentence or two. But here on my blog, I have ample room to elaborate. So elaborate I shall, in the spirit of the upcoming holiday. Here goes.

I’m thankful for my family. That’s always first. For Chris—and nearly 25 years of marriage to my best friend. Who, notwithstanding some challenges along the way, loves and accepts me—weaknesses, flaws, and all. He’s still my dreamboat, and life is rarely dull. 

For our daughters Isabel and Faye who, despite more complicated pressures than I faced growing up, are more well-adjusted than I ever was at their age. I’m thankful for their interesting, strong, beautiful, loving selves, and how they each manifest those qualities in their own unique ways. 

And for the rest of my family, especially my mom and sister Lynne. I don’t get to see them very often, but in some way they’re always with me.

I’m thankful for good health. I make healthy living a priority in my life, but sometimes things are out of our control. As I traverse middle age, I’m all the more aware of being grateful for good health.

I’m thankful for meaningful, fulfilling work. It won’t make me rich, but it’s challenging and satisfying and just the right amount so I can maintain balance, another priority. Plus I get to be my own boss. I’m really thankful for that.

I’m thankful for good friends near and far. It’s not a big circle, but I’m more into quality than quantity when it comes to friends, and just about everything else. You know who you are.

I’m thankful for our pets, Callie and Chocolat. In my next life I wouldn't mind being one of them.

I’m thankful for the ability to travel, not only as a tourist, but for the extended travel I’ve had the opportunity to do. It’s when I’m settling in and discovering a place gradually, like I’ve had the opportunity to do a few different times, that I feel like I learn the most about the world.


I’m thankful for a home I love in a quirky, little village in a quirky, little state. It’s one of the most diverse places I’ve ever lived—not racially or ethnically perhaps, but in most other ways. And it’s gorgeous ten and a half months of the year.

Finally, I’m thankful for good food, much of it produced right here in Vermont. I’m thankful I have access to quality food grown and raised in a thoughtful way by people who care about their impact on the planet. Most of what is on our Thanksgiving table will have been produced on small-scale farms within about 50 miles of our home, whether it’s turkey, vegetables, or the makings of a pie. Yeah, I’m thankful for pie too.

To help support those in need, I hope you’ll join me in donating to your local food shelf this holiday season, and throughout the year.

Classic Apple Pie with Buttermilk Spice Ice Cream

Makes one 9-inch double crust pie with ample ice cream

To make the ice cream:
2 cups real buttermilk
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
pinch of cloves
pinch of cardamom

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sugar, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cream, vanilla, and spices. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally to distribute the spices. Follow the instructions on your ice cream maker to make into ice cream.

To make the pie:

Prepare the crust:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ pound cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup ice water

You can make the crust the old-fashioned way with a pastry blender, but I find that a food processor works just as well and is a heck of a lot easier. Put the flour, salt, and butter in the processor and process about 10 seconds, until the mixture is grainy. Add the ice water a little at a time, while the machine is going, and process up to 30 seconds. Be careful not to over process. The dough should just hold together when you pinch it. If it doesn’t add a little more water.

Remove the dough onto waxed paper (or your preferred surface) and shape it into two flat disks (do not over handle it). Wrap each disk in waxed paper and chill for an hour.

Prepare the pie:
9 apples (I like McIntosh), peeled, cored and cut into eighths
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
pinch of cloves
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. In a large bowl, combine the apples and lemon juice. Sprinkle with the sugar and spices and stir gently until the apples are well coated.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough disks out with a rolling pin until they’re even and about ¼-inch thick. Transfer one disk to a pie plate. Put the apples on top of the crust, mounding them toward the center. Add the butter pieces, distributing them evenly over the apples. Cover with the second crust and trim off any extra. Seal the rim (I like to pinch it together in a crimped pattern, but a fork works well too), and vent the top with a fork or knife.

Put the pie in the oven and lower it to 375˚F. Bake about 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown (be careful not to over bake and burn your crust). Serve warm, topped with ice cream.

No comments:

Post a Comment