I remember once receiving a phone call one late November evening from a friend in America. Izzi was a baby, so it must have been 21 years ago; the friend said it was a tradition, and he always phoned a few friends he particularly wanted to remember each Thanksgiving. We chatted for a while and the conversation drifted onto normal things, the weather, this and that, but the memory of what was essentially a special telephone-call has never left me.
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in France or in England, but ever since that phone-call I have always made a point of making it both a day of reflection and a day to be grateful for all we have, for wonderful friendships and family. It’s also a day to remember those who are no longer with us and give thanks for all of the happy memories those particular special people have given us.
Perhaps this evening over supper we will chat about shared traditions. Thanksgiving is not our holiday, but we appreciate the custom of all our American friends, and perhaps this is how we should teach our children to respect another’s religion, and someone else’s culture. It’s a tiny thing we can do in a world that seems focused on division and hostility, but perhaps it is a way we can remind people about the importance of unification.
Autumn is traditionally a time to give thanks for our food, the vegetable garden may not offer a lot right now but the persimmons are out in force, bright orange baubles against a perfect sky, the natural decorations of fall.
A couple of days ago the entire landscape was enveloped in a blanket of fog, casting an eery glow over the village. Nothing moved; it was as if we were suspended in time
Walking around the narrow lanes, our footsteps were muffled, echoing back at us from odd angles; it was like being on a black and white film set in which shards of history glinted softly around each corner.
The day called for comfort food; a thick warm soup or a chunky stew. Home-made stock is something that is often completely misunderstood and totally undervalued. Far too frequently it is labelled as tricky to make and not worth the hassle, but it is – and I urge you not to sling your turkey or chicken carcass but to take just a wee while to make some stock with it. It really is so simple.
Once you have taken off all the meat from your roast, put the bones in a large saucepan, add a chopped onion, a couple of carrots (you don’t even need to worry about peeling them), a couple of sticks of celery, some pepper-corns, a few bayleaves, a glass of white wine, some herbs and cover in water. Slowly bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a couple of hours over a very gentle heat, with a lid just ajar on top, to relieve pressure but still contain steam and liquids.
At that point, simply strain off the liquid and once cool, store in the fridge for up to three days or freeze in Zip-Locs or old ice-cream containers (Roddy’s perennial favourite storage unit). It is brimming with goodness, it’s a fabulous base for any soup and a wonderful pick-me-up for winter coughs and colds. The bought stuff really is no comparison for the real thing.
We added some noodles and a few vegetables, a hunk of crusty French bread and we had a yummy easy supper or a quick nutritious lunch. No one can deny it is perfect food for this time of year. Make it at the weekend and you have all you need for the week ahead.
These days also call for a little baking
afternoon teas with homemade scones straight from the oven, deliciously warm and sinful, especially after a long walk with the dogs when the calories we have spent need replenishing, or rather that is the excuse! (you can find the recipe on the new website here).
However, no sooner had we hunkered down for what surely must be the start of a long cold snap with thoughts of wholesome hearty food, than we awoke the next day to clear blue skies once more. The fog had been blown away by a fierce gale-force south-westerly wind, replacing the damp stillness with a warmth we had almost forgotten.
The chickens once again sought shade in the hedgerows
and bizarrely we have lavender in full bloom, totally out of season and never have I seen this flower in November here before, I shall harvest it quickly and tie bundles and leave them in a cool dark place to dry.
Today is a day to celebrate. It is a day to wish every one of our American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving. A day when I wish I could pick up the phone and call every single one of my readers, American or not, for I am certainly grateful to you all. For probably 50% of you reading this you will be cooking a turkey or heading off to join friends and family. For the other 50% it is just another regular Thursday, another day in our lives. But whatever today means to you, gather your loved ones around, laugh and be grateful for what we have.
Another thing that is not much of a deal here is Black Friday. But I am doing my own thing. We’ve been busy sourcing new items for our Shop and we are adding new stock on a daily basis. From 2pm tomorrow, Friday, until midnight on Sunday (French time), we are knocking 25% off EVERYTHING. Go visit here, grab a vintage bargain quickly because come Monday morning it will be too late! On top of this we are also offering our “Short Foodie Luxury Break” at a 25% discount if booked by the end of November. (It doesn’t matter when you take the holiday, we are only talking about the reservation).
So hopefully all of this will inspire you. Perhaps you should stay home tomorrow, avoid the shopping frenzy and bedlam of Black Friday, make yourself some turkey stock, bake some scones, book yourself a luxurious weekend in the French countryside and enjoy a little online vintage retail therapy. Sounds like a perfect plan to me!
BUT MOST OF ALL A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING XXX