With the harvest fully in and the snow already flying here in Wisconsin, we have one thing on our mind: food! As we head into the Thanksgiving season, all eyes (and mouths) fixate on traditional holiday foods, from turkey to pumpkin pie. While friends and family gathered around a table full of delicious food is definitely cause for celebration, letâ€™s not miss the real purpose for Thanksgiving: gratitude.
A grateful attitude relishes in the gifts our farms and families have been given over the course of the year. With the media spewing out a chronic litany of problems and crises, cultivating a thankful outlook can be a challenge. By focusing on our favorite topicâ€”foodâ€”we find it easier to be appreciative. Whatever may have been going on for you this past year, there undoubtedly were some high points around the table.
To help you reflect on gratitude this Thanksgiving, throw these five questions on eating and drinking better into the conversation mix. Grandmaâ€™s answers may surprise you!
1. What new local food did you discover this year?
Thanks to the burgeoning local-food scene, itâ€™s easy to discover new locally produced options. For us, living in the highest cheese-producing county in the country, weâ€™re always grateful for the abundant local cheese options close by. Our new favorite is the sheepâ€™s milk cheeses made by our friend and new cheesemaker, Anna Landmark of Landmark Creamery.
2. What not-so-good food habit did you replace, improve or give up?
To finding new good-food options, you must continually sift out the bad ones, working toward healthier replacements orâ€”if you can musterâ€”giving them up entirely. Lisa is trying to cut back a bit our coffee habit (not necessarily the worst of habits), even if the coffee we do drink is Fair Trade and organic. After one morning cup, we switch to water the rest of the day.
3. Whatâ€™s your most memorable meal of 2014?
This is hard to narrow down for us foodies, but the answers undoubtedly prompt some reflective discussion. Is it your favorite meal because of the food you ate, the people you shared it with, or both? Our favorite meals tend to cluster around our travels, experimenting with new regional cuisines and meeting the visionary chefs behind them.
Some of our most memorable meals this year included:
- Grecian Green BeansÂ made while visiting our friends, Jan Joannides and Brett Olson of Renewing the Countryside in Zumbro Falls, Minn.
- Haystacks at the Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale in Goshen, Ind.
- Goat Cheese Pumpkin Muffins at the Confluence House B&B in Confluence, Pa. Â
- Fire-Roasted Poblano Chilies at Greens Restaurant in San FranciscoÂ
- Fried Eggplant Tapas with Rosemary and Honey at Curate Restaurant in Asheville, N.C. Â
- Quinoa Breakfast Salad at the Arbor House Bed-and-Breakfast in Madison, Wis.Â
- Shrimp and Mango Jalapeno Poppers at the Key Largo and Islamorada Food and Wine Festival in the Florida Keys
4. What new culinary challenge will you master in 2015?
For Lisa, itâ€™s learning to bake an authentic sourdough rye bread thatâ€™s true to her Estonian and Latvian heritage, where rye bread ranks like royalty. January will be the perfect time to experiment and test techniques. Who knows, by Thanksgiving 2015, rye bread might make the food-appreciation list!
Gratitude means shifting from the glass half empty to half full mindset, taking the time to appreciate the abundance that fills our lives. Enjoy, give thanks and savor the holiday flavors and memories to come. Have a great holiday!
Savoring the good life,