the day after

In the end, it was one of the quietest days of the year.

After months of developing recipes, filming videos, working on an Ipad app, making the feast several times over for filming and photographs, both Danny and I worried that we would be utterly exhausted of Thanksgiving on the day we were meant to make it. I kept joking, sort of: “Can’t we just go out for Thai food?” (It turns out the Thai restaurant on Vashon is closed this week for renovations. Darn.)

I’m glad we didn’t go for Thai. We had a lovely Thanksgiving day.

My parents came over, along with my brother, my sister-in-law, their wonderful son, her brother, and a colleague of hers from work who didn’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving. Danny and I prepped in the kitchen the day before, when Lucy was at preschool. The night before, Lu stood on a chair beside me, cracked eggs by herself and watch them disappear into the pumpkin puree in the bowl of the stand mixer. She kept singing to herself, “I’m making pie with Mama!” (And I’m so glad that Danny snapped this photograph.) This was one of the best moments of the entire month.

The morning of the meal, Danny cooked and cooked as I played with Lu. We intended for all three of us to be in there, but I was slammed by the same stomach flu that hit Lucy a few days before. It wasn’t what we planned.

When is life ever what we planned?

We snapped a few photographs when the meal was laid out on the table. And then we put away our phones. We stopped answering questions from cooks and bakers frantic with worry and writing to us on Facebook. We put away the rest of the world.

We sat at the table with our family and new friend, laughing. We passed plates of food, sharing what we had learned, hungry and happy to have everyone there. We paused for a moment — well, not my brother — to take it all in. And then we dived in.

After all the planning, prepping, baking, cooking, and plating, dinner only took about 30 minutes. If that.

It was lovely.

Afterwards, there were ridiculous board games, the living room a muddle of eagerly shouted answers and laughter spilling out. My parents had brought a copy of Outburst from 1995, the only one in their cupboard. It’s amazing how quickly what feels urgent and relevant goes forgotten. The scandals and passions are mostly the same, the names and faces the only ones changed. I have to remind myself of this all the time.

As it grew darker and later, Lu beamed and bounced around the room, fed by the energy of her beloved cousin’s attention. Elliott kept asking, “Lucy, can you tell us about another recipe?” And she gesticulated widely, demonstrating how to layer mayonnaise and sushi, banana mush and soup on top of each other to make some concoction called Schister. We all laughed, amazed. And then Elliott asked for more stories, more food. She was so tired she turned goofy but she kept going.

I think that love and attention will be her fondest memory of this year’s Thanksgiving.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about today. The food itself? It really doesn’t matter. It’s the vehicle that drives us toward the table, toward all that laughter and easy banter, the sitting back in our chairs before we clear the table, the board games, the memories, and the goading for more stories. Those are what matter.

Thanksgiving dinner could be spaghetti with meatballs or ice-cold fresh oysters or slow-roasted pork. For years now, I’ve wanted Thanksgiving to be a potluck, with all my favorite people, family and friends, where everyone brings his or her favorite dish of all time. Now that would be a celebration.

But for some reason, we’ve decided as a culture that we need this super-starchy, all-the-textures-the-same, routine meal. And then so many of us work ourselves into a lather to make sure that the pumpkin pie and gravy look exactly the way they did last year, even if we can no longer eat gluten.

Especially if we can no longer eat gluten.

This is why Danny and I worked so hard, along with our dear friends Debra and Rod, to make over 20 cooking videos, demonstrating how to make each component of Thanksgiving, gluten-free. This is why we worked for months with our friend Pableaux to make an iPad app, all about the baking required for a gluten-free Thanksgiving. Our hope was that those videos, the recipes, the app would bring people ease.

I hope that they helped some of you.

But now, I have to say, we’re done. We’ve been posting a video and recipe nearly every day of November. We were so intent on making Thanksgiving easy and delicious for the imagined audience that we almost didn’t enjoy our own Thanksgiving.

Next year, we’ll create a post, listing all these videos and recipes that someone might need to make a gluten-free Thanksgiving. And then I don’t think I’ll ever mention the day again.

Maybe next year we’ll have that potluck.

I think I like the day after Thanksgiving even better than the big one. Expectations gone. No need to move too quickly. Nothing to get done, especially because we don’t go shopping. It’s pumpkin pie for breakfast with a big cup of coffee. It’s stuffing with gravy and a fried egg. It’s leftovers and naps and board games and long walks.

So if you’re wondering what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers, we have a few videos left for you. The recipes are underneath the videos. You can get them there.

Simmer some turkey stock with the leftover carcass.

Make some turkey hash with leftover vegetables and potatoes.

Enjoy some cottage pie, with turkey, vegetables, gravy, and mashed potatoes.

And if you’re tired all those carbs and starches, make turkey lettuce cups with pear and walnuts.

We hope that you enjoy these. And we hope that you’ve enjoyed this month of cooking videos and recipes.

With that, we’re done for a bit. To tell you the truth, this has been exhausting. We’ve been posting nearly every day, in spite of the stomach flu, cancelled preschool days, finishing the last edits of our cookbook, taking up new gigs, and dealing with family matters. We’ve been answering questions left and right, trying to calm those of you were pissed at us that we did an iPad app instead of an Android app or an ebook, and working hard to keep up with everything else. We need a break.

And we want some time to find our own way again. We thought that we should provide a service for gluten-free Thanksgiving. I haven’t had the chance to really write in weeks. We haven’t been making our own food. We want to make this place our recipe journal again, instead of doing what we think people want. I want some time to watch for the light, to be grateful I am not dead, to simply be.

So we’ll be back on Monday, December 3rd, with new stories, recipes, and homemade videos, created slowly, with love.

Have a good rest of November, everyone.

31 comments on “the day after

  1. Wendy

    Thank you so very much for all the hard work you have done (for months) to help make Thaksgiving amazing for all of us who live Gluten Free. You are an invaluable resource and have gone above and beyond what most of us hope for in terms of guidance. I have been following for a couple of years, and my goodness… This time you went all out, posts, videos, the App (which I love). Thank you! Thank you for making gluten free friendlier, safer, and more beautiful for all of us. Enjoy your down time and your beautiful family. Much love to the three of you!

  2. Paula

    With all that you have dealt with over the past several months, I don’t know how you hosted your Thanksgiving Dinner without falling asleep at the table. How lovely that you opened your home to your SIL’s colleague. I’m sure it will be a gathering that he/she will long remember with fondness.
    I hope that all your hard work culminates in many, many others enjoying for a long time to come, what you have so generously poured your very heart and souls into.
    Rest and recoup and enjoy this time away from *work*.

  3. Gina

    The fantasy of becoming self-employed is that you will take a vacation whenever you want, and on your own terms. The reality is that working for yourself much more strenuous than working for someone else. Enjoy your time recouping, Shauna!

  4. Wendy B

    Your Thanksgiving dinner sounds lovely. Ours was just for two this year and that was just fine. It was quiet and calm and absolutely wonderful. I made the very basics – turkey and dressing and it was just fine. I hope you all enjoy your time away, you certainly deserve it!

  5. Jenn Sutherland

    Shauna and Dan – Thank you SO much, from the bottom of my heart for all of your work in the last many months preparing for this day of feasting. I look forward to your words on the page, videos, tweets and FB posts, and have been grateful for your deep sharing in this season of feasting. The iPad app is particularly wonderful. I’ve been GF for 10 years, and reading your blog since the beginning, and yet, I still learned a lot from the little tips, tricks and videos. And I baked a PIE, because of YOU – and that banana coconut wonder disappeared long before the standard pumpkin at our table. So thank you for being a part of our Thanksgiving, for guiding the way and teaching me to make good pie. Now exhale, and enjoy your time away from media of all types with your family. XOXO

  6. Megan

    Thank you so much for your generosity with these recipes and videos, and all the work that went into them. I’m not GF, but I used the mashed potato recipe yesterday and it for real changed my life. HOT DAMN, are those amazing mashed potatoes! Thank you, thank you.

  7. Vera

    I am pretty sure there are plenty of home cooks out there that included your names and your family in their Thanksgiving. With all the effort and love you put into this big project this month, you have helped many people. Thank you for that. And enjoy the rest of your holidays 🙂

  8. molly

    Oh, Shauna.

    I’ve been following silently along all month, amazed at the work you all did to make this happen, oddly attached because of my near-miss at the meal. Thinking to myself, oy! This all begin in August! What a whale of a project. What a feat. What a wonder.

    Sometimes whales are best seen from afar.

    Good for you all for taking a break, so well-deserved, so definitely earned. I’m so sorry the flu bug hit when it did (like there’s a good time, other than “never”). And so glad you’ve had your first taste of peace in weeks. More ahead, my dear. Go grab that light. (Follow Lucy; the little people always know where to find it.)

    Until then? I’m making me some cottage pie! Flippin’ brilliant idea. (You’ll look back, you know, realize this thing has legs).

    Peace, rest, and big old boatloads of laughter to you,
    xo,
    Molly

  9. abbie

    Blessings to you and your family. You are an inspiration, a light and a force to those of us who look at that typical restaurant menu and can’t find a single option. Thank you for your hard work. Your words, knowledge, testing, standing up at the stove, behind the camera, at the computer are so very appreciated, by me, by my gluten-free son, and by the rest of my family who is coming to eat their first gluten-free thanksgiving meal, yes, today, Saturday…two days after Thanksgiving. Keep going. Keep following your heart. Keep doing what is right for your family and for your soul. Know you are very much appreciated. Hugs and Prayers…

  10. Melissa

    Yes, this was a selfless act of kindness – wanting to share the blessings you have learned along the way…MANY of us are truly grateful for ALL you have done beyond what was expected. But sometimes when we try to please everyone, we become exhausted and miss the spirit in which we started. **Remember who you are and why you do what you do – because it is your passion – don’t loose your passion in the midst of pleasing others. We all struggle with different areas of life – celiac being one of them. There are lessons we need to learn and no matter what others try to do to help us, we must go through the process to find what works. For those who have a problem with anything you have done for FREE and with a good heart – that is just the spirit in which they live – it has NOTHING to do with you! Be PROUD of all you and your family have done and sacrificed to bring a little joy to the world. Many blessings to you all!

  11. Connie

    Last year was my first attempt at making a GF pie for my (now) 12 year old stepdaughter who was diagnosed with celiac disease. It’s been really amazing to see her grow this year. She had previously fallen off the expected growth curve for kids because eating gluten was giving her such abdominal pain that she ate very little. Anyway, I’ve learned a LOT from you over this last year or so and am most thankful that you are sharing your experience! I was very happy to purchase your iPad app to support your work. I’ve had lots of luck using your GF all purpose flour mix in all sorts of baking which the kids enjoy. I’m looking forward to making some sandwich bread next… Thank you for all of your work!

  12. MargieAnne

    You have earned your break and I hope you have a good rest.

    We learned long ago that traditional food is not always the best way. I once turned what was supposed to be an amazing Christmas Day into a disaster because I made myself so tired I was crabby.

    Living down under helps as Christmas Day, our traditional family Feast Day, can be very warm. We are on holiday and some of us are at the beach. Many families picnic the following day.

    My best memories are at our beach house when I was a teenager. Roast leg of new season spring lamb, from our own farm, served with mint sauce and gravy from the roasting pan. New potatoes with butter and a mixed salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, radish, spring onion and grated carrot … whatever takes your fancy, with a dressing made with mashed hardboiled egg yolks, sugar, vinegar, creamy milk, mustard, pepper and salt. Dessert consisted of too many choices but always jelly, trifle, fruit salad, icecream, whipped cream, and chilled traditional Chistmas pudding which was more like a very moist rich fruit cake. Mum used butter rather than suet in her ‘Plum Duff’. As the years went by we added Pavlova and strawberries to this sweet feast and ate dessert from Christmas to New Year. When the family increased as we married and had out own children we had Pot Luck meals and added Turkey and other veggie dishes. Add to this small dishes of chocolates, nuts and dried fruit spread about to nibble on ad lib and you can’t imagine the food that was available. Not a problem when at the beach because we went swimming, kayaking, walking and running and were soon ready for More Food.

    Converting the traditional English Christmas Dinner to something more comfortable in our warm climate has evolved over many years. Many chefs advocate seafood, some families BBQ but one thing remains constant. It is a day of feasting with the protein, be it fish, lamb, ham or turkey, taking centre stage. The meal is incomplete without some kind of wonderful dessert.

    We will have two Christmas Dinners this year. One the weekend prior with our South Island family and the other back home with our daughter and son. I feel blessed that we can share this special time with all our family even if we cannot be altogether at the same time.

    Hope your flu bug disappears quickly and you feel back to normal ASAP.

    Blessings.

  13. Leslie

    Just ordered your cookbook from Amazon. So excited! I have read your book and your blog. It’s comforting to know that there’s someone I can turn to for great gluten-free recipes, videos and great g-free stories. Thank you so much! 😉

  14. Sally - OGFB

    I’m glad you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving. I’m sure you helped a lot of new coeliacs find their way through this holiday, time for a well deserved break.

  15. Julie

    Thank you , thank you for all your hard work. I love knowing that your recipes always turn out yummy and I’m reminded of the important things as I read your posts! As for people complaining- So sorry to hear that. Have a relaxing break and some special time together as family! love to you all~

  16. Megan

    Thanks for sharing. I made your stuffing recipe from a few years back. I make a different one each year but yours is my all time favorite so I decided to go back to it! Thanks for making a gluten free lifestyle easier!

  17. Marilyn Zembo Day

    I’ve just nominated you for “The Super Sweet Blogger Award” which pretty much just invites you to answer a few questions, if you’d like to follow through, and then list blogs that have inspired you. You can see my “award nomination” blogpost at http://kitchencauldron.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/super-sweet-blogger-award/, where your blog is listed. Thanks for inspiring me – especially when I’m trying to ensure that my (several) gluten-free friends are well-fed when I’m providing some of the sustenance!

  18. manuela garcia

    Dear Shauna and Daniel,
    Enjoy your well deserved break. Your work is always amazing, honest and generous, but this last few weeks? Wow, you outdid yourselves. I know the kind of effort it must have taken. I really do. Reading through this last post has reminded me the last summer solstice celebration here at the bakery. It is a big day here in Barcelona area, families gather together in the evening, share a meal and then there is a crazy night of firewoks that lasts until the day after, where you feel like you are in the middle of a world war. Meals in every home vary on that day, but one thing doesn’t: the cake. For that evening, everybody has Saint John’s Cake. It is a fermented brioche dough similar to your King’s Cake, but with many variations in filling and toppings. We are almost the only ones that offer this gluten free, since our bakery is 100% gluten free, so that week is one of the busiest of all year, more so that Christmas itself. This last year we didn’t have any sleep for three days and two nights. None. We baked, and baked, and baked. Non stop. Round the clock. It is such a strange time. You feel like you are living on a different dimension to the rest of the world. We had to take 20 minute bike rides in the middle of the night, just to fight sleep and exhaustion, and sat by the sea in the dark, to get chilly enough to wake us up, and then go back to the kitchen and continue baking. While the entire city sleeps and goes on about life, calling friends and family and planning for the big day.
    On the actual day, we are almost close to insanity with exhaustion, but people walking in the shop to collect their cake, gleaming with happiness seems to help us forget about it. By the time people finish work, get beautifully dressed for their special evening, we close the shop fully aware of every muscle in our bodies, jump on our bike and take the five minute ride home. We crawl into bed just as the fireworks are starting and sleep right through them, for the next fifteen hours, as if we were in a coma.
    I always wonder if people think about ones making the food they are eating, what it takes. The dedication, the love, the energy. Each of those cakes goes through my hands and I put my soul into all of them, my entire mindfulness.
    Do you know the craziest thing of all? When it is all over, and we go back to the normal routine, I actually miss those few mad days. I miss baking while the entire city is asleep, the cold breeze in my face through the motorbike helmet when we take one of our ¨fighting sleep¨ rides though the deserted streets. Being awake making those cakes knowing that everyone will have them on a special, magical night. I actually miss it.
    Crazy.

    1. Denise Rivers

      This is stunning and beautiful. The best part of our special gifts is the joy we receive in the giving away of them. You capture the joy of the crazy that those of us in the medical world experience frequently. We know our exhaustive bedside work, late night hours and nights without sleep that result in a healthier patient are the curse of our profession but provide the greatest joy.
      I used to complain about the work when i was young and stupid. Then I put the complaints aside, ignored the harsh words from family members in pain and afraid and pushed through. Did what I needed to do. Knowing the joy they experienced after their loved one got well existed, whether i got credit for my help or not, was enough.
      NOW I make the effort to do my job even better when it is hard and unsexy and unrecognized. For it is in those dark hours, when we work selflessly for others when it costs us our joy, it is in those hours our character is truly shaped.
      Thank you for this lovely bread post.
      I just love it.

  19. april

    People acting ugly about things during the holidays? For shame! Enjoy your holidays. You have always seemed very Thoreau-like to me in your ability to keep life simple and appreciate each day as it comes. Peace and blessings, little family.

  20. Kate

    Well done, Shauna and Danny! I’ve been reading your blog with some curiosity over the past month. I’m Australian and we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here, but for sure I’ll be looking for any excuse to try your amazing recipes, especially when winter hits the Southern Hemisphere! I hope you enjoy your break, and congratulations on the videos, the cookbook, the recipes, surviving it all, etc … !

  21. Erika

    My boyfriend just recently learned that gluten has been the cuplrit, causing countless upset stomach episodes. In an effort to help him adjust and still enjoy this food centered holiday, i went on GF cooking spree. I made EVERYTHING (inc. the turkey) from your recipes. I figured you two were the experts. And you steered me 100% right. Everything was incredible, and traditional, and exactly as we’d expected from years past (in fact, some were better). We’re both thankful for everything your family has done for ours.
    Much Gratitude!
    Erika

    1. shauna

      Erika, that is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing this. And we’re so happy that you had a great Thanksgiving.

  22. Sabrina Modelle

    All of the work you did for these Thanksgiving videos is so apparent. You, and Danny, and Deb, and Rob did such a beautiful job. I hope you have some lovely downtime to rest and enjoy each other, now.
    X
    S

  23. Marilyn Zembo Day

    You have done monumental work this month and deserve a rest. I will be sure to tell all my gluten-free friends about the videos and the app. Already gave them your address a year or two ago. What you’ve done is give a gift to many people. Now it’s time to gift yourself with rest & family time and personal creative time. Enjoy the holidays.

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