Thankful for Thanksgiving

This post might be depressing. Not because I’m going to write sad things, but because I don’t have pictures of it all yet.

You see, I try to connect everywhere with other people like me. With people who are food restricted in some manner. One of my favourite “groups” on facebook is that of the Canadian Celiac Association. We’re a pretty jovial bunch over there. We help each other out whenever we can; from figuring out weird symptoms, to giving suggestions on meals, to helping with travel. I feel very thankful for that group. I feel like I can say “Hey, this happened yesterday” and at least 10 other people are going to respond with “Oh, yep, you’re not alone.”

And that summarizes why finding others with food restrictions is so important.

I’m not alone.

In Mr Man’s grade 1 class, he’s found a buddy. This buddy is allergic to peanuts. Mr Man is ecstatic. He doesn’t want other kids to be allergic to stuff, but he’s so happy that someone else “gets it”. His words were “mom, he gets it! He’s like me!” And in grade 1, that’s pretty important.

In Miss A’s class, it seems like all the kids with allergies in my part of town decided to go to kindergarten in the same school at the same time. In her class there are multiple anaphylaxis allergies including peanuts, dairy, and eggs. Then there’s Miss A’s celiac, and there are other food restrictions on top of that. Needless to say, I’m taking this school as a huge education opportunity. They can educate my children, but I can educate them on the ways of allergic life. I’ll do my best – it’s my responsibility as a parent.

But I digress.

None of us are alone, and for that, we should be thankful.

One of the things I’m most thankful for, especially around the holidays, are my next door neighbours. You see, while many of you are celebrating with parents and siblings and aunts and uncles, we aren’t. All of our family lives 3500km away, and hopping on a plane to head out for Thanksgiving just isn’t really financially feasible. Since having kids over the age of 2 where they aren’t free anymore, going back for Christmas is also not entirely possible. We haven’t been back for Christmas since Miss A was 7 weeks old. We were back 2 years ago in early December when my grandfather passed away, and both sets of parents held their own mini-Christmases for us (the kids were stoked.. 3 Christmases in one month!), and last year, Chef Husband’s grandmother passed away a few days before Christmas, so he jetted back for a quick 3 day round trip.

But our neighbours invited us in. I think it started with Thanksgiving.. but truthfully, I can’t even remember.

What I do remember is the food. The copious amounts of food and all of us sitting around willing ourselves to move because we were so stuffed. I remember washing all the dishes year after year not because I particularly wanted to, but because if I sat down I was afraid I’d never get back up. I remember wishing I could roll myself home without it being embarrassing I was THAT full.

This Christmas will be my 4th anniversary of being gluten-free. And over those 4 years, my neighbour’s sister joined in the celiac posse, then Miss A, and finally Mr Man. Over those 4 years, we’ve mastered the art of cooking up a storm and keeping everyone safe.

J-Money (sorry BBF, it was seriously the only nickname that I could think of and kept me laughing..) cooks the turkey, vegetables and potatoes. We cook the ham and dessert. We each make a stuffing. We each make a gravy. And then we eat.

One year on Thanksgiving I had to work. J-Money’s sister was over as was all my family and they called me, at my store, to get my recipe for stuffing because the sister and my family couldn’t go without. Now that is the sign of a good stuffing.

Maybe I’ll make it this week. Just because I can. And just because it’s so darned good.

What you’ll need:
A loaf of bread – doesn’t need to be stale. We’ve used store-bought and home-made.
Butter – we use vegan, GF butter, but any will do.
Stock – vegetable or chicken
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of diced zucchini OR celery (if zucchini from our garden is plentiful, we use it)
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp savory
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tbsp basil
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the bread up into rough pieces. Make them bite sized. You don’t want people having to cut it up.

Stick all the bread in a big casserole dish (I’ve used shallow oval dishes, deep round dishes.. whatever you have on hand, but it should have a cover.

Add the diced onions and zucchini, and the raisins.

Mix.

Add the spices to 3/4 cup of melted butter then drizzle over everything. Mix again.

Now, you want to add some stock. This is the only part that involves a bit of guessing. You want to drizzle the stock so that the bread is a bit moist, but not so that it’s WET. You don’t want a pile of liquid. Sometimes, you only need about 1/4 cup of stock. I usually start with a 1/4 cup and mix, and see – if everything looks like it has some liquid on it, then I leave it. Otherwise, I add up to another 1/4 cup.

Cover, toss in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Take it out and make sure everything smells good. Then put it back in uncovered for about 10 minutes, just to brown up the top.

And voila. Serve with poultry or do what I do.. eat it on its own.

Or pour gravy on it.

Now I’m drooling. How many more days until Thanksgiving?

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