Tag: single holidays

Thanksgiving for One

So yummy and doesn’t it look pretty? I think I got the table setting right.

As I mentioned in my last post this Thanksgiving week has been a little different for me.  For the first time in several years I didn’t go to California to visit my folks and for the first time since my mission I didn’t see any family.  I must admit, I had moments of sadness throughout the weekend but I tried to look at it as an opportunity for growth.  There aren’t many new experiences that come my way at 31 so why not take advantage of the one’s that do? (Blowing out my back at the 5k didn’t help much!)

In the months proceeding the week I thought I’d be having thanksgiving day meal alone and I looked up and down the blogosphere for someone doing a thanksgiving for 1.  Is it even possible to make a feast for one or is the idea oxymoronic? Could it be done?  I decided to take up the challenge and I’m here to tell you it can! (went to my friends house for actual Thanksgiving day meal which I was grateful for)

Here’s what I did:

turkey, 2 kinds cranberry sauce (love!), mashed potatoes, stuffing muffin, crescent roll, turkey, gravy

Week before- purchased all ingredients so no stressful holiday grocery shopping.  Next time will get smaller turkey breast but leftovers never hurt anyone.

Tuesday- Made cranberry relish-  Wagner family classic very simple.  In food processor or blender pulse cranberries, whole orange rind and all cut into chunks, 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 pecans/walnuts.  You can make it without the nuts but it makes it healthier and cuts the sweetness.  You can add more sugar if you like it sweeter.   I made a big tub because it lasts forever and I love it. I actually used agave but you could use any sweetener.

Wednesday- Made

pecan and pumpkin tarts

chocolate pecan tarts- 2/3 c sugar, 1/3 c butter, 1 c corn syrup,  3 eggs, 1 c pecans, 1 lindt salted dark bar chopped into small pieces.  Mix all together put in keebler mini graham cracker tart pans. Bake 350 25 min or until fork comes out clean.  Top with REAL whipped cream

Friday- Make pumpkin tarts- 3/4 sugar, 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 large eggs, 1 15 o can pumpkin, 1 15 o can ev milk.  Mix together put in keebler mini graham cracker tart pans.  In this case I actually prefer the graham cracker crust.  It doesn’t get soggy like pastry.  Mix 1/4 brown sugar, pumpkin bar mix, pecans for topping sprinkled on top.  Bake 350 20 min or until knife comes out clean.  Top with REAL whipped cream

The pumpkin tart may be the find of the project.  Really yummy and with the smaller size it makes for easy portion control.  Always nice for thanksgiving!

Saturday I was going to do more to prepare but my back had gotten blown out from the 5k on Thursday and shopping was all I could get through.  (I did way too much shopping this weekend but it was a lot of fun!)

Sunday- This was the big day.  Rubbed turkey with butter and put it in the oven before church.  Stuffed it because I forgot to get citrus/herbs for cavity.  (The one thing I did make too much of was stuffing).  I also put the yukon golds in some water in the crockpot before church.

turkey breast is smaller and I mainly like white meat anyway.
yukon golds in the crockpot! Perfectly done when  I came home from church!

I also made the stuffing.  It was a lot of fun making something different than my family would make.  It was a cornbread stuffing with turkey sausage, celery and onion. I just used a boxed cornbread stuffing cubes but not stovetop.  Cooking it in the muffin tins helps with portion control and makes it easy to freeze for cooking for one.

stuffing muffins

Once I got home from church I sliced the turkey, mashed the potatoes, heated up the stuffing, made the gravy (probably hardest part!), heated up crescent rolls from the can and made salad dressing.  The sale was simple arugula with a pomegranate blood orange vinaigrette (blood orange juice, cider vinegar, pomegranate seeds (which kind of have a cranberry feel to me.  Love them!) and agave, very simple!).  The combination of the sweet, tart and spiciness of the arugula was awesome!

salad was another winner. fresh arugula with blood orange pomegranate vinaigrette. (no oil and you did not miss it at all)

With a glass of apple cider everything was perfect!  It all tasted great and I didn’t end up with tons of leftovers.

leftovers.

I also rewashed and reused pans and other equipment along the way so I only used 1 load of dishes and it took me about 45 minutes to clean up from the whole meal. Awesome!

Here’s some things I learned from the experience:

1. To quote the amazing Judith Jones “Some say Why would I want to go to all that trouble just for me? My answer is: If you like good food, why not HONOR YOURSELF enough to make a pleasing meal and relish every mouthful.”  Cheers to me!

2.  There seem to be people from a certain generation that have a hard time with spending time alone.  Someone said to me this week “You went to the 5k alone”. My friend piped up and said “Rachel does lots of things alone…”.  I felt proud that I am challenging stereotypes and expectations for single women.  I hope I never stop! (Goodness knows I’m buying a house alone I should be able to eat thanksgiving by myself.

3.  As far as the meal itself pick 2 or 3 sides to make from scratch (I chose mashed potatoes and stuffing, my favorites).  The rest was more assembled like the salad or cranberries.  The rolls aren’t super important so I didn’t make those from scratch.  I eat sweet potatoes all the time on my diet so to me they don’t seem that special so I opted out of those.  Whatever you like.

4.  Then plan it out over a couple of days so that you aren’t so overwhelmed both with prepping, cooking, and most importantly cleaning!  Make the dessert the day before or buy those from a good bakery (or the rolls, or whatever you have that’s quality.  You could even buy the turkey and then focus your efforts on cooking sides.

5.  Don’t forget little details like real whipped cream and cranberry relish.  If your family always has a pickle platter have pickles.  Or if you secretly hate the family jello salad don’t make it!  That’s the great thing about cooking for yourself you can do whatever you want.  If you want to make turkey curry go for it.  Want to try sugar free recipe, go for it.   Want to make collard greens or eat ham instead of turkey do it!

6. Think of phase 2 recipes for leftovers. I’m already thinking of all the way to use up leftover mashed potatoes and turkey.  Cooking everything in smaller containers like the tarts or muffin tins makes them easy to freeze and eat later if you get sick of the leftovers.  Come January a turkey dinner may hit just the right note!

7. Because you are cooking for 1 live a little.  Buy lobster or mussels, get the good french butter or be like me and get a massage while on break!  There will be plenty of your life when you are scrimping and saving every cent to pay for kids and retirement.  An occasional treat for a single’s dinner is highly worth it!  Plus, you can afford to go organic, get grass-fed meat, artisan bread.  Whatever excites you!

8. It is a lot of work and goodness knows I too often shirk the responsibility of cooking for myself but I promise you (and need to tell myself too) that it is worth it.  It is always more satisfying than the flimsy mediocre alternative.

9.  I did little things throughout the meal to make it a little bit healthier.  For instance, I used milk instead of cream in the potatoes. I used turkey sausage in the stuffing, the salad had no fat and used agave for sweetener, no pastry made the tarts lighter (and I think better), agave in cranberry relish and not much of it.  Again, those are the kinds of individualization you can do when cooking for yourself that are hard with family that are used to things the same way.

Again from Judith Jones:

“There is something about going home at the end of the day or giving over a quiet Sunday afternoon to cooking- smashing the garlic, chopping an onion, getting all those good cooking smells going, stirring and tasting mindfully, and then adjusting the seasonings- that makes us feel creative.

It is a comforting form of relaxation- something that is needed in our busy lives.  I always love the moment of drama, too, when everything comes together and I quickly dish up my handiwork arranging it pleasingly on a warm plate and then take it to the table where I set a place for one with a cloth napkin in a family napkin ring.  I light the candles, turn on some music and give thanks.

I wouldn’t miss this pleasure for anything!”

Me either!

10. Cheers to doing one more thing on my own, even feasting!

Apple cider toast. Cheers to one more milestone and a delicious meal!

Happy Turkey Day 2012!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you are all doing well and having a wonderful holiday with people who care about you.  This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve had in a while where I haven’t been with my family and I feel a little sad about that.  I miss seeing my nieces most of all but hopefully we can skype and say hello later in the evening.

I was determined to not sulk and feel sorry for myself this weekend so I have planed a lot of fun things (hopefully I wont’ work much but no guarantee I’m so behind on things and have to catch up!).  Today I was in a 5k walk for the food bank.  We did one last year with my family and this year my friend Suzanna and her family was there, so that was fun.  I finished in 1 hr 16 minutes which I felt pretty good about.  My legs and feet are throbbing.  I don’t understand how anyone could prefer running/walking to swimming.  Swimming can be intense on your muscles but so much tamer than running.

Too bad its a bit to cold to do a Thanksgiving swim; although my Poler Bear Club friends might disagree.  Burr!

So now I’m just watching the parade and icing my puffy muscles so they don’t seize up.

This afternoon I am going to Suzanna’s family thanksgiving which should be fun.  I have met most of her family over the years and they are from Indiana which is fun.  She said other friends were coming so I’m sure it will be a large group.  I’m grateful to be invited. (I have the best friends!).

Tomorrow after a morning swim,  I might try out some black Friday shopping- brave Ikea and Home Depot to see if I can get some things for my new house.  We will see.  I’m also getting a massage.  Can’t wait for that!

Saturday I am going with my friend Kate to a shooting range.  There is a scene in my book where the character goes to one and I wanted it to be authentic (plus I’ve kind of wanted to learn for a long time but with my eye sight I didn’t think I could).

On Sunday I am going to make a Thanksgiving for 1.  Yes, you read right.  I’ve decided to take on the challenge of making a feast for one person.  It seems impossible but I think I can do it. Should be fun!

So, I’ve got lots going on this holiday weekend.  The only reason I post all of that is some of my friends and family might worry about me (thank you for that by the way) but I’m fine and richly blessed.

Finishing the race!

A few things I am grateful for this year:

1.  I’m grateful for my family and for my non-family family.  This includes my swim family, church family, book club family, gym family, facebook family (my facebook family saved my life early this year), twitter family, and my friends family.

2.  I’m grateful to be building a house! WOWZERS!

3.  I’m grateful for a new beginning with a new year with a fresh start, new ward, new house, new experiences.  2012 was a doozy.  One for the recordbooks of Rachel Trials but I got through it and looking forward to starting over.

4. I’m thankful for NaNoWriMo and getting me to finally write the book I knew was in my head and proving to myself I can do great things.

5.  I’m grateful for SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water).  My 5k was definitely a highlight but it would only have been so with all the support and friendship.  I can’t imagine not having it in my life.

6. I’m thankful for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the outlet for my aggression it has given me.   I love it more every time I go.  My trainer Ben is awesome and such a funny guy.  He definitely believes in me.  My trainer Michelle is also unfailingly loyal and encouraging.  The best!

7.  I’m thankful for my eyes.  My eyes have been through a lot the last 2 years and going through the surgery and vision therapy has been hard but very rewarding.  To see the world in a new way is such a blessing. I’m also grateful for my doctors and their skill in treating me.

8. I’m grateful for my insomnia specialist and the pathways we’ve made in the last 8 weeks.  It’s been great! I’m getting closer to sleeping the way I’ve always wanted.

9. I’m grateful I was diagnosed with low thyroid this year.  It has helped me overcome all the pain I was experiencing last year.  The doctor that diagnosed it is named Dr.  Ling and she and her nurse practitioner have been so wonderful.

10.  I’m grateful that I live in a world where for the most part I can be a thriving, successful, happy single person.  I know I have my moments but in some societies I wouldn’t have even had the option of living alone, leading my own life.  I’m grateful that I can be single, awesome and wait for Mr.  Sunshine to get with it and get here! 😉

11.  I’m the most grateful for my testimony of the Book of Mormon.  I have needed it so badly this year.  I have needed it’s words and it hasn’t failed me a bit.   I know Heavenly Father loves me.  I may complain now and then about the ward environment or some other small thing but in the end I would be lost without the Book of Mormon and my testimony of the gospel.

http://mormon.org/missionaries