Thanksgiving is not a holiday here in Italy. It is a day like any other so by the time I get home from the office it is pretty impossible for me to roast a turkey, even the smaller kind they sell here, and organize a meal for a group of friends.
When my American friends and I were not parents yet, we organized a dinner every year and ordered a pre-stuffed turkey in a fancy schmancy food store. In those days having dinner past 9 wasn’t a big deal. It was not a school night and colleagues at the office were pretty forgiving if you walked into the office a little hungover and sleepy the next day. Kids are not quite as forgiving. The first time we ordered the abovementioned turkey it was a little flat looking (it hadn’t even crossed our minds to specify that the turkey should not to be deboned) but we printed out Thanksgiving place cards and decoration and hung a big American flag on the wall and had a really good time.
Nowadays, if we do a big celebration, it is on the week end. Nonetheless, I try to keep some of the tradition alive and make simple yet Thanksgiving-reminiscent dishes for the family on Thursday night. Turkey in some form and an easy fall-inspired side dish like the one I am posting today. I tell my children about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower and the Indians who helped them survive that first dreadful winter in the New Land. We draw turkeys with our hands and talk about what we are thankful for.
This year I drew inspiration from a post by The Nervous Cook, in which she oh-so-charmingly described making butter in the second grade while her teacher told her and her classmates about how Thanksgiving started. The point was to show children the fun way how people used to make everything from scratch, with hard physical labor. They then used the butter on an important staple of those days, corn. Pop corn with homemade butter: how simple, yet how brilliant! I immediately did this with my children and was quite stunned myself at how easy it was to make your very own butter, even without using a stand mixer (which would sort of defy the whole point). All you need is some cream, about a cup, a pinch of salt and a jar. Just shake, shake, shake until the cream thickens and then solidifies, the fat separating from buttermilk. I think it took about 20 minutes on and off with all three of us taking turns (I’ll let you guess who did most of the shaking). It took even less to polish off the bowl of pop corn. I am thankful for these special little moments with my children.
My job. A lot has changed in the past couple of months and it hasn’t been an easy transition but I feel fortunate to have a good job in a beautiful office, colleagues that are also friends and a salary to bring home.
My whole family, each one of you.
Being healthy. This should be at the top of the list, because you don’t really need any of the rest if you aren’t around to enjoy it.
An unexpected (but much hoped for) four days coming up with my sister and her family. Any time our kids get to spend together is precious.
I am thankful for this blog and I am thankful for friends. New friends, old friends, blogger friends. Thanks for being a part of my every day.
I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. And even if it isn’t Thanksgiving for you, just take a minute to think about what you are thankful for in your life. We should do this more often. What are you grateful about today?
I was lucky to have some roasted chestnuts my mother in law gave me in a doggy bag leftover from our Sunday lunch together. If you aren’t that lucky, to make life easier you can roast yours beforehand. My mother in law sprinkles some salt on them before roasting, I think it is the perfect extra touch. Cut the brussels sprouts in half, toss in a bowl with olive oil, pepper and salt and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and lay out on a lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200°C. Add the chestnuts for the last 5-10 minutes to heat them up. Toss them in a bowl again with extra salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.