life: giving thanks

2016 has been a shitty year. Personally, politically, it’s been an all-around mess. So when I think of giving thanks, I have to think a little harder to find the joy I’ve been missing… whether they’ve been subsumed by loss, pain, or stress, the good times have been there, I just need to shine a light on them.

After mulling it over for a few days, I realized I’m grateful for:

  1. Surviving what could’ve been a tragic car wreck with little more than a ruined car and a few scratches.
  2. The briefest of vacations with the boy, but a vacation nonetheless.
  3. Two healthy, well-adjusted cats. After a few hiccups, they’re getting along and experiencing no more poopy drama.
  4. Minimalism. Because it’s made me appreciate what I have, what I can afford, and what I can live without.
  5. YouTube! A silly one, but I started making videos as a way to force myself to use my camera and learn some Premiere basics. Now, I’m hooked and it’s my preferred form of “reality” entertainment. Plus, I’ve learned so much.

There’s so much more, but I will reserve those for my year-end recap. In the meantime, have a happy holiday!

life: on not following tradition

I’m doing something different this year: I’m not planning/making/stressing over a Thanksgiving feast. Nope. No, sir, not this year. I’ve decided to make it a take out sort of night. Just good, non-homemade food and time spent with family (mom, gran, bf). That’s it. No recipes. No shopping. No cooking. No cleaning. Just time to kick back, watch some films, and veg out.

Being on the Whole30 during the holidays is supposed to be next to impossible, but I’ve actually realized that I’m not really missing any of the stuff I would traditionally gorge on. Growing up Cuban, the foods associated with Thanksgiving were not really on the menu, so I have little nostalgia towards things like pies and casseroles. I only discovered pumpkin pie as an adult, and I prefer my own to anyone else’s, so I can make it any time I really crave it. As I write this, my coworkers are arriving with all manner of dishes for our holiday feast, and I know that I will only pick out those sides that I enjoy and which are compliant. I won’t feel deprived, nor will I feel deprived when we’re chowing on friscase or picaddillo on Thanksgiving.

Sometimes, not following tradition is the best tradition.

in the spirit of giving thanks


Thanksgiving is not a big event for my family. Growing up, I never had any of the traditional elements associated with Thanksgiving (I didn’t even have pumpkin pie until I was in my late teens), so the large family gathering is not something I’m accustomed to or will likely ever experience (we’re a really small group). That said, it’s nice to have a moment to stop and be grateful for the little things. This year, I’m thankful for the ones who are always there for me when I need them. For the friends I’ve made, and the welcome I’ve received at my new job. For my tiny hobbit hole and the little ball of chub who greets me every night when I come home (often with a flick of the tail and a demanding meow for food), and for personal growth and discoveries.

May the feasts be ever in your favor

So this is what I do when I’m not worrying about work or writing….

I started my meal prep yesterday… I’m going for a small, alternative Thanksgiving feast.

My menu: Turkey Lasagna with Spinach and Pumpkin Tiramisu

I made a few alterations, adding cream sherry instead of rum to the tiramisu, and some red peppers and olives to the lasagna’s meat sauce, but stuck to the rest of the ingredients.

The tiramisu is extremely easy to make, just takes some time for the whipping cream to turn into… well… cream. Other than that, it’s just a matter of layering it all nice and pretty 🙂

I used my trifle dish instead of the springform pan listed in the recipe, and sprinkled chopped pecans instead of cookies for the presentation.

Thanksgiving prep time

I just finished the meat sauce for the main dish, but I’m going to prepare the layers later today and then cart myself over to my mom’s house for the actual baking. Should be quite impressive when it’s all put together.

Here’s the sauce… it’s a lot thicker than I expected, which is good. I was concerned that it would be too watery.

Thanksgiving prep time

And because I can’t help myself, there will be a traditional pumpkin pie… just waiting to bake it at my mom’s place. There will also be some extra dishes courtesy of the boy.

A feast for three

My little Cornish hens are roasting away alongside a pair of sweet potatoes. Much less involved than roasting a turkey. While I like turkey, I didn’t really want to give in to the frenzy of preparing one. This will be a different, simple sort of meal, but flavorful. Plus, it’s just me, my mom, and my gran, a whole turkey (even a small one) lasts for days when we do make one. I’ll consider one for Christmas, but I fear we may very well be having a Cuban Christmas this year–pork is not my favorite, but my dad (and the rest of my relatives) love having it when he comes over on Christmas day; my mom makes roast pork sandwiches with Cuban bread, swiss cheese, and green tomatoes, and they are indeed tasty.

I made a pair of pumpkin pies yesterday, and a bunch of pumpkin cup-pies with the extra filling that was left after the crusts had been filled; I can’t wait to have a slice of pie 🙂 it’s my favorite and this is the first time I make it all by myself. Pictures later.