While most people are spending hours online with Black Friday deals, I’m busy deleting every single email in my inbox promoting the sales and spending time with my family. Last night instead of going to sleep thinking of waking up at 6a.m. to go to the mall, I thought of how grateful I was to be laying in the comfiest bed with a thick Pottery Barn comforter around me. These are things so many people can take for granted and I think this is the time of the year when everyone really gets to notice how thankful they are for it all, especially everything that has happened in the last year.
Since my blog revolves around food 90% of the time, of course I’m thankful for that. How could I not be? Shopping at Whole Foods for fancy organic products and snacks is nowhere near cheap and having the ability to work, afford specialty items that I post about and make recipes with is something to be grateful for always and I never forget it. Those times I can’t afford Whole Foods for my main resource, I’m not mad but rather happy I know I can even go there and buy frozen açai packets or dairy-free cream cheese every now and then, let alone be able to afford fruit, vegetables and almond milk at Trader Joe’s.
This year for Thanksgiving, my brother and I took control over the food. For my whole life, either my mom has spent countless hours on Thanksgiving lunch/dinner or we headed out to a state park in Ohio when I was younger for a brunch/buffet. Yesterday, it was just my brother and I from 11a.m. to 8p.m. in the kitchen, whipping up recipes he found, two I found and my concoction of coconut oil roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Not one holiday passes where I don’t have my sweet potatoes on the table!
My brother was completely in charge of the turkey. I told him earlier in the week that if I had it my way, I’d be making salmon for Thanksgiving dinner. To be honest, I love turkey. A lot. When I stopped eating meat in 2014, whenever I had a hankering for protein I always gravitated toward turkey. But I’ve got to say, the thought of cooking a turkey for 4+ hours is beyond me. Therefore, my brother looked up this turkey in red chile gravy recipe and went at it. The end result was that melt-in-your-mouth meat that you can only dream about having on Thanksgiving.
For sides and dessert, he chose a spicy sausage stuffing from Emeril Lagasse and a pumpkin hand pie from Andrew Zimmern. I picked out my go-to vegan green bean casserole from Hummusapien and this 15-minute cranberry sauce from Ambitious Kitchen.
The sweet potato + squash combination I made myself was just 5-6 large sweet potatoes, 1 large butternut squash, 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup tossed with a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice. Tossed in the oven at 350º for an hour. I snacked on ’em before they hit the table… and after. Simple and slightly sweetened without being topped with marshmallows.
Because I wanted to focus this post on more than just the food for Thanksgiving, I have to share what I’m thankful for this year aside from all of those sweet potatoes and slices of turkey. If you follow me on Snapchat and Instagram, you’ll see this little nugget roaming around my house. My step-dad and mom bought her (named Keke) my senior year of high school and she’s the biggest fluff ball of joy I’ve ever seen. We also have another fluffy lion named Boris. Although I never come off as a huge animal lover since I have pet dander allergies, I can’t help but squeeze my dogs when I come home to Kansas. When they sit on our couch with us and their big paws hang off the edge, there’s nothing I can’t love about them.
Within the past year since last Thanksgiving, I’ve been on countless trips. I’ve visited my hometown of Cleveland over the summer, followed by my best friends’ hometown of Ann Arbor, traveled up to South Haven, Michigan for a night, ventured to Kansas City, Missuouri, spent New Year’s Eve in Culver City, California and hiked up a mountain in Chula Vista, California. Not to mention, I got to eat my first meal at Café Gratitude near Venice Beach. As the travel loving chickpea I am, I can’t express how thankful I am for working three different jobs this year and having the support of my mom to help me travel to all of these places. Most importantly, traveling to Kansas and visiting my mom (and those cute little pups I mentioned earlier).
Without family and friends, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be as meaningful as it is. After all, you spend all day and night creating food to celebrate over with those you love most. Black Friday symbolizes people going out to buy new things after a day of appreciating what they already have. To me, it makes no sense. Instead of focusing on new, I’ll focus on what I’ve already got: these people that make my life worth celebrating more days than just on Thanksgiving. My best friends from home (Cleveland), my friends I’ve met in Chicago, my roommate who deals with me turning our kitchen into a nightmare with muffin mix everywhere on the daily and my family. Among these common things to be thankful for, I have to end it off with this blog and where it has led me in the past year and a half.
The ability to connect with people who share the same interests as me, who read my posts and say they love them when they might not be my favorite and to have friends from all over the country is what keeps me going at this whole blogging thing. Every time someone who goes to my school passes me on the street saying they read this post or went to that restaurant, it always brings a smile to my face.
I love every second of being THE Chickpea in the City, even if I can’t get around to blogging for a few days (or weeks) at a time due to work, interning and school. Meeting Instagram friends, tasting local and fresh food at restaurants across the city of Chicago and engaging with other foodies on social media. Now THAT is something to be thankful for.
I’ll spend the rest of the weekend being thankful I get to watch movies and go to church on Saturday with my family, drive into Wichita, Kansas to pick up coffee and tea at our favorite store The Spice Merchant and fly home Sunday night back to my cozy apartment in Chicago. I’ll say shopping can wait until next weekend.
Happy Holidays from one chickpea to another! What are you thankful for this season?