Photo credit: http://mylifethroughthelens.deviantart.com/art/Sweet-November-271528885 Google image
A small confession. I never liked November. It seemed like an intrusion, a traitorous month between the exciting 31 days of Halloween and magic of December. Despite the fact that November had two holidays that allowed me to miss school for three days, I still did not make friends with November.
I never much liked Thanksgiving either, which was probably why I didn’t care so much for November. Thanksgiving was a betrayal. In a word. Giblets.
gib-let (jib’-let), n. Usually, giblets. the heart, liver, gizzard, and the like, of a fowl.
Picture : Offal of the Week from the Eat Me Daily Blog 2009 (eatmedaily.com) photograph by Ryan Adams Google image
Blerk. The name itself is revolting. Giblet. It sounds like something you should wear at your neck, rather than something you should eat. And did you notice the words and the like? Um. What the heck else would and the like entrails entail? I do not even want to think about that. (Apparently, from this photo…and the like would be that long old neck.) Shudder.
It was my grandmother’s fault. She felt Thanksgiving gravy had to have giblets in it, or it was an affront to all that was holy. Like grandmother, like her daughter. My mother put giblets in her gravy. They floated in a greasy, liver-colored pool of gravy and turned mashed potatoes into enemies. Giblets were the bane of my Thanksgivings.
One year I could not detect a single giblet in my mother’s gravy. It was smooth and properly perfect gravy-colored perfection. We sat down to our feast and for the first time EVER, I confidently dipped my fork into that perfect mount of fluffy white Idaho potatoes drowning in that glorious gravy, knowing there wasn’t a giblet in sight. I stuck a forkful of potatoes and gravy in my mouth, eyes closed…. savoring the taste of Thanksgiving in its utter and complete perfection. What should have gone down pleasantly, stayed ugly right there in my mouth. My mother watched me out of the corner of her eye the entire time….gloating and smug over her deception. My mouth knows a giblet. There were giblets in that gravy. Giblets that took a ride in a blender and became the basis of the last Thanksgiving gravy I ever trusted to my Mother. Ick. Ick oh ick oh ick.
The other affront. Lime green Jell-o salad with pineapple, cottage cheese, mayonnaise and walnuts for heaven’s sake! Blerk! I suffered through those few those Thanksgiving dinners like a martyr, trying not to gag. My mom eventually discarded Jell-o salad for an ambrosia salad that I, to this day, still swoon over. It is our family tradition.
She also reverted to using chunky giblets again, but not before she saved a bit of gibletless gravy for me. I finally had reason to be thankful.
Now I adore November. I love the feelings that just saying “November evoke: coziness, comfort, crawl-under-a-blanket-with-a-good-book-and-a-bowl-of-popcorn self-indulgence, serenity, bake-some-thing-pumpkiny-sweet-and-spicy and something-delicious-simmering-on-the-stove contentment. November brings blustery windstorms that snatch the leaves from the trees and slingshot-like, propel them into the air where they pirouette gracefully before settling to the ground; or, when the wind sets fallen leaves cartwheeling across my yard and into big piles that beg to be jumped in or sluffled through. Little chickadees and junkos, like small brown leaves, seem to fall from the trees and settle to the ground searching for seeds.
Photo credit: mura floor coverings @ muraflor.com Google image Guys! This is actually a floor covering! Wild, right?
November means longer nights. I can’t even say how much I love the longer nights. Honeyed light from my lamps sets my rooms aglow with amber warmth and abiance, candles flicker and the fire dances. Sunrises set the entire sky ablaze with brilliant reds and sizzling golden colors. There is nothing like a dramatic November sunrise. Unless it’s a November moonrise, when that enormous pumpkin-colored harvest moon slowly rises above the horizon and makes its slow climb into the darkening sky, changing into a silver button that fastens itself on the velvet-black of the November night.
November is also a color. Or it should be. I should speak to the Crayola people about that. Can’t you see the color November would be? A swirl of autumny color in a waxed stick: golden maize, burnt umber, orange squash, brilliant crimson with the faintest hint of a deep green. You could color leaves with it. Even the sky during the day changes cadence: a lovely silver that transforms itself to pewter then lead when the storms blow in; ashes of yellow when the sun groans through heavy mists; lavender when the fog slithers in and wraps itself in and through everything; break-your-heart blue when the frosted air nearly crackles.
Photo credit: http://patwashington.blogspot.com/ Google image
Photo credit: http://blodsravn.deviantart.com/art/November-sky-1-364870072 Google image
November is a month to sigh over, get lost in, wonder over, find solace in, cozy up to and enjoy. The fact that Thanksgiving comes at or near the end of November is its own celebration. A feast. A gathering of family and friends. It is a time to warm our hearts on memories. To begin the giving that is a prelude for December; even if the only thing we give is thanks. November is a month to be acutely aware of how richly our lives are blessed. To pass over all the things we think are tortuous in our lives, and forget ourselves into utter gratitude. It isn’t too late to start living more gratefully….to see all that you have rather than what you don’t have. To forgive and forget and instead, simply love. To rid ourselves of the unnecessary burdens we carry and find joy in the freedom that comes from leaving the past behind. It is a time to give, even if it pinches: to the churches and organizations that give to the homeless and the hungry, to drop a dollar into a cup from an outstretched hand, to go through our abundance and give to those lacking in even the simplest things in life….an extra blanket, a too-small coat, a pair of shoes, a hat, gloves….things that we often take for granted and have two or three of. It is a time to be grateful for life and how abundant it really is.
Your Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving may be fraught with the craziness of Black Friday. Or it may be a time for relaxation and continuing the family time that gratefully stretches a couple of extra days longer. For us, the day after Thanksgiving always meant a trip to the Red Barn Tree Farm to cut down our two trees and the tailgate breakfast of donuts from The Donut House (best in the entire world…BEST!) and hot chocolate with candy cane stirrers that we enjoyed after the tree cutting was done. Big shoulder shuddering “sigh” here because we no longer do that. Our children have lives and families of their own. The only time I get to do that is when I go with my children to get their trees. I am so glad of that. Tender mercies.
So, in the hopes that your Thanksgiving weekend is more of the relaxing variety rather than the hectic pandemonium of Black Friday shopping, I want to share our family’s favorite pancake recipe. I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been making these, but they are so good. And good for you, which is a huge plus. Pancakes are the ultimate quick comfort food. They can even be an autumn brinner (breakfast dinner).
Whole Wheat Yogurt Pancakes
2 cups whole wheat flour (I like white winter whole wheat flour…Bob’s Red Mill makes a good one)
2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, lighly beaten
¼ c butter melted or ¼ c coconut oil or other oil
1 c plain greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
1 ½ cups buttermilk
Preheat griddle. Sift dry ingredients together, add eggs, butter or oil, yogurt and buttermilk and stir JUST until ingredients are barely blended. You will have lumps. I always spray my cast iron griddle with nonstick spray and then spread a thin film of bacon grease over the top of it. It makes the pancakes taste SO GOOD! When the pancakes have bubbles on top, flip them. They are done when the surface of the pancake, lightly poked, feels like your cheek. Keep warm in a 125-degree oven. Serve with maple syrup, jams (we love pumpkin butter) or apple cider syrup or even buttermilk syrup. Recipe makes enough for 4 people or 3 very hungry people. My husband loves it when I cut fresh peaches into the batter.
Photo credit: snowvillageinn.com thanksgiving menu Google image
To see some incredible sunrises here on the island, please follow me on Instagram: thechroniclesoffarnia. I would love to have you share my joys with me. I hope your holidays are filled with great food, fun and the sweetest memories. I am grateful for each one of you. So grateful.