Things to appreciate

Dated: 12/12/2018

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Things to be thankful for.

November 30, 2018

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Jeramiah Fitzsimmons

Well, I think we've all made our way back into the kitchens and the subsequent eating that follow such things despite our vehement cries of "I'll never eat again!" following almost every Thanksgiving day meal. Actually, we didn't eat to that extent at our house, which was nice, and provided a few extra left-overs for school lunches and such. Although, I did make a substantial dent in an innocent pumpkin pie. It look lonely, so I took pity on it. Really! 

 

I was up early Thanksgiving morning lighting the smoker, and once it was up to temp, I set about to smoke a rather large ham for the lunch planned later that day. The night before I had stirred up a batch of brioche, and set the dough out to begin rising and coming up to temp. It's an overnight ferment dough, which means that you have to plan ahead in order to have hot bread at mealtime! I decided to give in to my strange desires, and made a big batch of mini brioche bubble rolls, half with poppy seeds, half plain. 

 

Irritatingly, I let it slip my mind to apply the egg wash to the non-poppy seed rolls, so they didn't have that lovely glossy brown sheen that the others had. They still tasted good, however, especially with a nice slab of fresh butter layered on top. 

 

 

In the meantime, there were potatoes (russet & sweet) to peel, cube and set to boiling, cream to whip for the pie, butter to set out so it wasn't hard when it was time to eat, and oh yeah, we need breakfast too! 

 

We ended up eating breakfast about 10:30, which was later than I wanted, but hey, at least I'd had 2-3 lattes by then to keep me going. I made some lemon cottage cheese pancakes, which are amazingly light and airy due to the meringue in the batter. These were topped with a quick blueberry compote, and disappeared with alarming speed. I guess that's what happens with two pre-teen boys, a wife and daughter that have been lurking in the kitchen for a while and been denied any sustenance.  

 

One thing I hadn't had for eons, or at least a long time, was something I enjoyed as a child, and to my knowledge was only enjoyed at holidays at my grandparents was mash sweet potatoes. I wasn't sure how they'd turn out, since I'd never made them, but I figured they couldn't be THAT hard. I mean, what's one tuber vs another, right? Well, good things happened and they really were that easy, which was nice since there were plenty of things going on and demanding constant attention. After boiling them till they were fork tender, I drained them, and dumped the batch into the stand mixer. After whipping them, adding some butter and a little milk, and a dash of salt, they were ready to go with a healthy dollop of brown sugar and, of course, more butter.

When at my grandparents for Thanksgiving as a kid, I used to take a respectable helping, flatten them out with my fork, and proceed to cover the entire mess with a equally large helping of brown sugar and butter. This, in turn, led me to being told "You're going to get diabetes from all that sugar!!", which of course isn't how it works, but that's a topic for another day.  

 

Anyway, about 1pm our company showed up, bringing a broccoli and cauliflower salad, and after carving the ham, plating it, fetching the potatoes & rolls from the oven, pouring drinks, herding kids, and getting all the little items and things on the table, we were finally ready to eat. Which we did. Shocking, I know, but true nonetheless. 

 

Later, after the table was cleared and food stowed away in the fridge, the male components of the group headed out to a local gravel pit and spent a while plinking with some rimfires, while the boys took potshots at things with their air rifles. After we had expended a few hundred rounds, and the sun began it's slow crawl behind the mountain tops, we headed back to the house to explore the idea of inflicting some damage on those pies we'd seen lurking around looking dangerous.... which we proceeded to do, along with some great coffee, of course. We had pumpkin and apple, which I had nothing to do with except the eating thereof. 

 

But, this really isn't all about the food. Which is something to be thankful for, to be sure, but there is more to life than just eating. Taking stock of things that are not replaceable, like family, friends, health, our freedoms and more is a good thing to do from time to time, although, it is easier to do with pie. Just sayin'....

 

I'm thankful for my family, a lovely wife that helps me in more ways than I can keep track of; two healthy boys that are quickly approaching their teens and causing me to wonder about how to best direct the vast energy they have; a little girl that is her daddy's source of great amusement, especially when he gets to chase her around the house and tickle her and rub noses and give horsey rides (when my back allows, anyway); friends near and far that have helped, guided, encouraged and accepted me with all my quirks and the heavy dose of sarcasm that is always on tap; for my home, that affords me a place to live, sleep, eat and entertain to my heart's content; for clients current and past that have entrusted me with helping them make some of the largest investments in their life, buying and selling their homes, and becoming friends along the way; for my country, which while it has some flaws and wrinkles and warts now and then, and is far from perfect, still provides some of the greatest freedoms ever known; for those that have given their time, abilities, and sometimes their lives serving and defending those of us that live here; for my church, which has helped me through some of the darkest, lowest times in my life, and also been there during the best possible times I have ever experienced;  for my mother, who taught me many of my basic cooking skills and started me on something that would allow me to show others my appreciation for them at the table; for my father, who, despite situations that did not turn out the way they should have, has become a huge part of my life, unknown for for many years. 

 

For all these, and many other things that I'm surely doing disservice to by failing to mention, I am thankful. May your holiday season allow you time to reflect on those things that bring meaning to your life, and may you share that with those around you. 

 

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and looking forward, a Happy New Year to all! 

 

Jeramiah

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