press hard.

I don't know what it is, but I love seeing what other people wear.
And what they eat.
And read.
And how many throw pillows on the couch they find to be an acceptable number.

I rock a real "Tell me everything" vibe.

And since I should be getting groceries right now, heck, I'll provide a little commentary. Time mismanagement is one of my spiritual gifts, and senseless yammering is another.

 But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself.  Back to the feast, and the wherefore of side dishes.  Vegetarians are often cornered at Thanksgiving, asked how they find any food to eat, what with the big beast of a centerpiece and all.  I, however, believe they've got it made, at least based on my own meatless years.  I don't like turkey, it's the sides that make my knees weak, the mushroom-studded stuffing and tarragon leeks and hit parade of fall vegetables.  No turkey?  Whoot!  More room for brussels sprouts, I say!  The hubs, however, does not say this so much.

He's the sort that will burst into the kitchen around November 21st, announcing "I've got great news.  I've invented a new holiday!  It's called MEAT day, and on it we'll have chicken and turkey and beef for dinner.  As much as we want.  'Kay?  How 'bout tonight?"  He's the one that calls dibs on the drumstick.  In September.

So, there are turkey legs burbling on the stove, stock-bound.  On the counter, a grocery list with the words brussels sprouts.  A recipe on my desk for Mile High Chocolate Pie.  Friends coming, Thursday, to feast.

I'll only speak for myself here, I love a day (a season!) that inspires gratitude on all sides. I think back on the past year and I remember that first smooth stone, tossed into the pond. Gratitude. It slipped beneath the surface and the concentric circles formed and before I  knew it, I was thinking harder about the things I am most thankful for. So, for letting that first stone fly - thank you.

If I decided to log my every thankful, I would have a volume so thick as to require its own shelf on the book case. I know, in the end, that my time is better spent living gratitude than writing every whip-stitch of it down. So, I've started penning my thankfuls on the inside surface of my heart, every day. And I am pressing down hard when I write.

For tonight, I'll not attempt the unabridged list. Instead, I'll share some here-and-now, bright-burning highlights.

I'm thankful that I'm spending Thanksgiving with my peeps. Last year my heart was a little fogged over.  This year, I have new wrinkles and a new tinge of weariness, but what it means is that we are together, and I'll take it.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to bake three desserts in less than 24 hours, starting with a chocolate pie  that indeed lives up to its name.

I'm thankful for unexpected surprises left on my doorstep {sigh}.

 I'm thankful for the cachepot of friends I have collected over the years, you guys pull me through. every single time.

I'm thankful for the hope of a new story.

I'm thankful that I am much more than the sum total of all my failures.

I'm thankful that Tom and Jerry humor transcends generations.

I'm thankful for the guy at the other end of the couch.

I'm thankful for the rattle and whir of a furnace, for air scented heavy with orange, for ponytails, my boys and Susie, for flannel pajama pants and cinnamon rolls in the fridge for tomorrow morning, the kind that you have to whack on the countertop to open.

I hope all of you have big fun brewing for tomorrow.

And remember,  press hard.

just sayin'.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May it be filled with chocolate pie, Brussels sprouts, and the people you love.

Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts

First things first: buy good sprouts. They should feel firm and have tight, shiny-edged leaves. I like to buy medium-size ones. You could buy littler ones, if you like, but don’t buy them any bigger. I find that the larger they are, the stronger – i.e. more bitter – their flavor. My dad used to come home from the grocery store with big, hoary, loose-leafed, air-headed sprouts, and it made me crazy. Do not do that.

These sprouts would be delicious alongside most any meat that typically graces the holiday table: beef, turkey, ham, lamb, you name it. And with a crusty hunk of bread and some cold leftover chicken, they also make for a warming Sunday lunch.

1 ¼ lb. Brussels sprouts
3 Tbs unsalted butter
¼ tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

First, prep the Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem end of each sprout and pull off any ragged or nasty outer leaves. Cut the sprouts in half from stem end to tip, and then cut each half in half again. Ultimately, you want little wedges.

In a large (12-inch) skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned in spots, about 5 minutes or so. I like mine to get some good color here, so that they have a sweetly caramelized flavor.

Pour in the cream, stir to mix, and then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low or medium low: you want to keep the pan at a slow simmer. Braise until the sprouts are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 30-35 minutes. The cream will have reduced some and will have taken on a creamy tan color.

Remove the lid, and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Let the pan simmer, uncovered, for a minute or two to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the sprouts. Serve immediately.


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