Monday Morning QB

Well, the Superbowl of Meals, aka Thanksgiving, is over and the pressing questions have been answered.

Was the turkey moist? Was the stuffing delectable? Did the pies dazzle and delight?

Yes, yes and yes on my part. Although getting a hot meal out on plates for 14 people isn’t an easy task, so as people sat down, grace was said, in rounds. Two of the couples at our meal had to go to another Thanksgiving dinner, at other houses.

When Zeke and I were first married, we did the two Thanksgiving meal marathon. The problem is you’re eating the same exact meal- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and pies- twice. The only variety is the question of the green side- green beans, brussel sprouts or (God forbid) salad. Salad is never a good idea at Thanksgiving as there are too many other yummy things to eat. At any rate, after that first back-to-back day of duplicate meals, I put the kabosh on two Thanksgiving meals in one day.

Zeke’s Dad used to serve champagne and heavy hors d’Oeuvres at Thanksgiving. I’m against heavy appetizers, since there’s so much food awaiting. My Mom always had a vegetable plate for Thanksgiving, with those black olives out of the can that taste like band-aids, so I asked her to bring that and her famous Deviled Eggs, which got wiped out. The pies were Pumpkin and Pecan and my sister Elise baked a Yellow Cake with chocolate frosting for my birthday.

I got my Empower Farms delivery last week. Normally I would be delighted to get a basket of unusual vegetable goodies, but on the week of Thanksgiving? It’s like those cooking shows where they throw you a curve ball at the last minute and you have to incorporate it into your game plan.

I got starfruit (which I don’t need because I have an overloaded tree), zucchini, plantains, papaya, yuca, okra and a small pumpkin. The pumpkin looked as if it needed to be used, so I took off the top, took out the seeds and sliced it into rings for later use. I don’t like papayas, so gave them away. Yuca and plantains scream Cuban Food, so Zeke picked up bone-in Pork Chops to go with my Cuban meal on Monday.

I’ve never cooked yuca before. I peeled it, chopped it, boiled it and served it with an olive oil, garlic and lemon dressing. I sauteed the plantains in oil and made black beans and rice as another side. Zeke seasoned the Pork Chops with a spicy Coffee Ancho Chile rub and grilled them. They were delicious!

It’s a pretty good Cuban meal for two gringos.

he said.

And it was, but I needed to start cooking and prepping for Turkey Day, so my next two meals may go down as the worst in my personal history. Tuesday I ate Fried Okra and Cinnamon Ice Cream for dinner. The only way I know how to make okra is by frying it and I’d made the cinnamon ice cream to go with the pies for Thanksgiving. The ice cream, from The Perfect Scoop, is made by steeping broken cinnamon sticks in the cream mixture; it was creamy, spicy and delicious.

I may have topped that meal with my meal the next night, which was Lays Potato Chips with French Onion Dip at Riviera for dinner and some pre-Thanksgiving Stuffing for dessert.

After Thanksgiving, I wanted to breathe a huge sigh of relief, but there was no time as I had to head down to the Keys with Wyatt to visit the Turtle Hospital on my birthday. After a meal of Turkey Sandwiches on Hawaiian Rolls (yum!) we headed to Marathon. The Turtle Hospital tour was very informative and we learned the many ways sea turtles can get injured out in the water. We also got to see some turtles in tanks and feed them.

After our tour, was a quick drink at the chickee hut for sunset and on to Di Giorgio‘s Cafe, an Italian restaurant in Key Largo, where I got a free Birthday Meal. Wyatt loved his Shirley Temple with extra cherries and his Spaghetti with Meatballs. The next day I was to meet A.J. at her new place of employ- Patch of Heaven Sanctuary– for lunch and a tour.

Wyatt and I crammed a day of activities into a half a day on Saturday. First, breakfast at Waffle House (Wyatt’s suggestion), a little tennis, some paddle boarding and then swimming in the pool. And then, off to Homestead to meet A.J. and Phoenix. We had lunch and a tour of Patch of Heaven, which is a lush, zen, tropical oasis. It was a lovely day. I kissed them goodbye and then drove back to the Keys, exhausted.

Sunday, Zeke and I took the boat out for a spin. We were trying to find Ocean Reef, where we got married. We didn’t find it, but did almost run aground. We ended up at Alabama Jacks for lunch. The food was good (Lima Bean Soup and Shrimp Egg Rolls) but our server had a major attitude. Good service can make mediocre food tolerable and make good food leave a bad taste in your mouth.

So, the last piece of pecan pie has been eaten, the last bit of stuffing put into my Turkey Soup. Thanksgiving is over, December is upon us and that mad dash to the finish line of the Holidays and a New Year.

This year I hope to remember to do things that keep me sane; things I often get too busy to do during the Holidays. These are activities Steven Covey labeled: “Important but not Urgent” in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These things don’t necessarily keep your little world spinning, but if you don’t do them, you might stop spinning yourself.

For me these are: getting a good night’s sleep, exercising, meditating, eating healthy foods and journaling. I’m sure you have your own list. You do you and whatever keeps you sane this Holiday Season. Ho ho ho!

Up Next: My Mom’s Famous Deviled Eggs

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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