Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful...and stuffed!

I'd like to take a moment to welcome everyone to Thanksgiving 2016...which I, personally, am spending in my house...All. By. Myself. Now, you'll notice I didn't say "all by my lonesome", because, well...I relish the peace and quiet. You see, whenever Husband takes the boys to South Carolina to visit his parents--a couple of times a year--I get several blessed days of solitude. It's basically a Time Out from the usual bustle and responsibilities of my life...and I L-O-V-E it. 

However, when I mention that I'll be on my own for the holiday, I get different reactions. Some folks are startled...or confused...and look at me like I’ve suddenly sprouted another head, before politely schooling their features into bland interest and saying something noncommittal like, "Oh...that's...nice? On the other hand, there are those who nod knowingly--and perhaps a mite jealously--and just GET it. They understand that I'm not weird (yeah, yeah, I hear ya--maybe I am, but not about THIS, okay?) or a hermit, but just a chick who needs to recharge once in a while...away from her fellow human beings.

So, how does one hypothetically fill her solo hours? To start with, we RUN! Last year I signed up for the Gallop & Gorge 8K...and since I survived it the first time, I figured I might as well go for it again. Because let's face it: it's good to do a 5 mile race...exactly once a year....whether I need it or not. It didn't hurt that when I went to pick up my bib, the swag that they were giving away was....a locally-made, mini pie. Um....yes, please! (Not gluten-free...don't care...scarfing that baby down the night before, anyway!) And believe me, when that alarm went off at 7 a.m., and I had to crawl out of bed, dress for a chilly, damp morning...and then go pound the pavement BEFORE COFFEE...I was definitely questioning my motivation...sanity...whatever.

One nice thing about it is that it's a super-popular event, with 1,500 participants this year. Even though I saw absolutely no one I recognized in the entire crowd, somehow chugging along with that many other runners gives you encouragement to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I'm not gonna lie, just like a year ago, it was not easy. But unlike last time, I never had to talk myself out of slowing down to a walk...and I ended up finishing faster as well (even while suffering some... unpleasant effects from last night's rebellious pie consumption--oops!). And that leads me to the BEST thing about the whole shebang: when you're done, your activity quota for the day has been met (and then some--11,000 steps by 9 a.m., dude!), and you can move on to the eating extravaganza....sans guilt!

Speaking of the dining portion of our day...before they left for points south, Husband was chatting about the upcoming long weekend and enthused, "What's not to like? It's a holiday...with pumpkin pie!" Oh, MAN! Thanks, dear--now I neeeeeeed pumpkin pie! can I make that happen? Well, let's start with a gluten-free crust (that contained other stuff I’m not technically supposed to have, but it’s Thanksgiving…and PIE, so we’ll just make an exception and deal with the consequences, right?). Then I perused the Inter-Webs for a vegan recipe, so the filling doesn’t contain any extra eggs or dairy…whoo hoo! Dessert: check.

Other than that, the only thing I really miss about the enormous meal is...the stuffing. Of course, in order to achieve an acceptable version these days, it now must be not only sans-chicken-broth, but gluten-free as well. (‘Cuz, you know,  I need more layers of challenge for my non-thrilled-with-cooking self...) And what else, to round out the feast? Oh yeah: mashed cauliflower, to replace the potato course! Again with the Googling for directions, and yet another--successful, fortunately--jaunt to Whole Foods for the gluten-free bread cubes (because I'm Just. That. Lazy. a "chef"...and if I'm going to be concocting these delicacies for one person, I'm looking for shortcuts, dang it!) Finally, one last issue: the carton of gravy I scrounged out of the pantry was not only expired, but contained soy, which is on my current Don’t List, so I feared the worst when scouring the store for a substitute. But voila! Whole Foods comes through again, with a vegan mushroom gravy! Yessssss! Soooo....done, and done!

Oh, and when I actually threw all these dishes together? You would NEVER have guessed the stuffing was tasted exactly how it should have, and was totally delicious and satisfying. The cauliflower is honestly pretty hard to mess up, so I'm happy to report that, as expected, it turned out yummy as well. As for the piece de resistance? Well...the pumpkin pie was absolutely freakin' fabulous, y'all. Seriously--dietary restrictions aside--I believe that this particular rendition would please anyone's palate. Aaannnnd the rest of it sits in the refrigerator...all for MEEEEE! (But...I'd better start planning how I'm going to get a whole boatload more steps in the next few days, to work off my Solo Thanksgiving Carb Fest--ha!)

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