Part of me feels like I should be beating myself up for spending the better part of today cooking a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner for my family and then having the audacity to actually enjoy some of the fruits of my labour.
I have been awake since 5:00 this morning, and since I wasn’t able to go back to sleep, decided to get up and get a jump start on the cooking marathon that is Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner.
Actually, the jump start began yesterday afternoon, when I set my 13-pound turkey in a heavy duty food-safe bag along with a gallon of water, a kilo of salt, 2 cups of brown sugar and a couple of handfuls of pickling spices. The bag was all trussed up with leak-proof clips to keep the turkey completely surrounded by the brine and set in a camping cooler for four hours. At the end of the four hours, the liquid was drained out of the bag, I dried off the turkey (inside and out) and chilled it overnight in the fridge. It went in the oven at about noon today: 400°F for one hour to brown the skin, then 300°F for 2½ – 3 hours. I have to say, this recipe is a definite keeper. While there’s a bit of planning involved, it certainly isn’t difficult, and the results were fantastic. The recipe was from Chef Michael Smith’s FoodNetwork.ca program “Chef at Home”.
First thing this morning, though, I prepped a pile of veggies so they’d be ready to be steamed just before dinner: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. I also cut up some onions and celery for the turkey stuffing and for making a raised bed to set the turkey on in the roasting pan. It’s nice to get that part out of the way so I can get on with my first love: baking (as if you couldn’t have guessed that from my previous posts!)
First up was a recipe for dinner rolls that popped up on my Pinterest feed. My history of making yeast doughs without the help of my bread machine has been sketchy, to say the least. The trick for me, it seems, is to keep as hands-off as possible to avoid a crumbly mess of paste. So my trusty KitchenAid mixer and dough hook came to my rescue. I couldn’t be happier with the results. The recipe on the site makes 4 dozen rolls, which seems like an awful lot for just my family, so I halved the recipe (yes, I added half an egg – the other half went into a batch of scrambled eggs for breakfast) and made 2 dozen, which are almost completely gone, less than 3 hours after dinner.
Then I made made a batch of cornbread – it also was a big hit, even though I kicked it up a bit by adding some chili flakes and ground chili to balance the sweetness of the batter.
Next, I started a full batch of what turned out to be the best scalloped potatoes ever. According to my youngest daughter, the scalded milk sauce could easily be served on her favourite pasta instead of Alfredo sauce. I added about ½ a teaspoon of nutmeg to the sauce, and then added a shredded cheese layer in the middle and on top. It wasn’t complicated and the results were great.
Even after dinner, I was doing more food related stuff – deboning the turkey, chucking some parsley from my garden, celery, carrots and onions in a stockpot and tossing the turkey bones on top, simmering in water for a couple of hours and then straining and bottling the turkey broth. I have a yield of more than 6 litres of broth. What I’m going to do with it all is anybody’s guess, but wasting all that goodness would be a crying shame.
Now, having said all that, I took a calculated risk today and made a conscious choice to enjoy the food I spent the better part of the day preparing, rather than have my Optifast shake. I gave myself permission to take one meal off the Optifast shakes. I feel like I made reasonable food choices – small portions of the higher calorie foods and greater emphasis on the veggies and skinless turkey breast. I’m not feeling hungry, my blood sugar isn’t horrible, and I’m sure I would have felt some major resentment had I spent all day cooking, and then watched everyone else enjoying their turkey dinner while I slurped down a chalky vanilla shake. It would have been worse still to spend an hour or so on clean-up duty afterward.
So, no, I don’t feel guilty about this at all. It’s one meal out of 336 shakes. It’s the first actual food I’ve ingested in 21 days. I’ve had 82 Optifast shakes without a lapse until today. I’m taking 12 (count ‘em, 12) Metamucil capsules a day along with the shakes to prevent GI problems. Tomorrow morning, I will be back on my shakes for nine more weeks, and there are no more holiday dinners before I start transitioning back to regular food.
I don’t consider today to be a failure, or even a stumble. I’ve taken ownership of my informed decision, and I’m okay with it… and that’s a huge step forward in my thought process.