I can’t remember the exact day, but some time right after our wedding, my new husband and I were driving around Ann Arbor, Michigan and I remember looking at him and saying, “I have everything I need. I feel so complete; so thankful”. It was an awesome feeling and I meant it. I really did. But shortly thereafter, maybe, I don’t know, like 48 hours later, the feeling vanished and was quickly replaced with the ever present feeling of , “want”. What is it about being thankful and satisfied with what you have that is so difficult — at least for us “First World” folks? It’s hard being thankful. It’s really really hard.
I’ve been working on my ‘thankfulness’ ever since Oprah told me to start keeping a gratitude journal way back in 1996, when I had moved on from watching reruns of Saved by the Bell to watching Oprah when I came home from school. That extremely wealthy and powerful sage of a woman had an episode, or several episodes, centered around the idea of creating gratitude in your life and dang it, I was 16 years-old and that sounded like a good idea. I was on a path to existential goodness and Oprah was leading my journey. Oprah told me (yes, JUST me) to start keeping a gratitude journal; leave it by my bedside table and every night I should write down 3 – 5 things that I’m thankful for. Except, I didn’t actually write down anything I was grateful for as Oprah had suggested. Instead, in my nightly prayers which I had been saying since I was 10, I started adding a mental list of 3 – 5 people or ideas or things that I was grateful for that day (i.e. Thank you Gd for the ability to work, have relationships, my best friend, my new car, etc., etc.). I’ve been keeping my mental gratitude list for the past 17 years now. I’m not sure my nightly list has necessarily changed my way of thinking or helped in maintaining a certain level of gratitude because, truly, I find it extremely difficult to fight that human urge to just want more. I do mental check lists sometimes and I say to myself, “Ok Whit, this is it. This is everything you’ve ever wanted.” And then I drive into the parking lot at work that the faculty shares with our super privileged students, do a little car comparison and suddenly I start wishing I could afford to buy a new car. Or, I visit a friend’s new apartment and think to myself, “Oh man, I’d LOVE a kitchen like this.” Whatever that situation or circumstance, there are times when the whole “being thankful” thing is hard. I know, I know, poor little privileged white girl. But my point is this, I still try. I acknowledge that it’s hard. But, it’s like I tell my students, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. But really, I’d still love a KitchenAid . . . or a new car . . . or a pair of Ray-Bans. Dang it, I’m doing it again. :)
OK team, brace yourselves because I am so excited for this post. I’m excited not only because I’m somewhat obsessed with that picture of the turkey meat marinating in all that delicious goodness, but also because I was asked to participate in a ‘cook off’ of sorts where YOU, dear reader, could be a winner. How is that possible? Well, this post was brought you in partnership with KOL Foods. KOL Foods selected eight kosher food bloggers to create eight Thanksgivukkah recipes and, lucky for me, I was chosen as one of those kosher food bloggers. Your job as the reader is to decide which one of us bloggers whipped up the most delicious creation by voting in this forum. A vote enters you to win a $200 KOL Foods gift certificate. So go vote for my recipe, errr, I mean your favorite recipe, starting December 9th! And while you’re voting for me, you should check out the rest of the turkey offerings that KOL Foods has for sale, including the most enormous turkey wings, turkey chops and smoked turkey sausage. I love KOL Foods for their customer service, convenience and the high quality of their grass-fed meats. In fact, KOL Foods is the only source for domestic, 100% grass-fed, kosher beef and organic, pastured, kosher chicken, turkey and duck.
Now, about this meat. When I first received the delivery of turkey stew meat I thought to myself, “What the h*ll am I gonna do with turkey stew meat? It’s 1000 degrees outside in Miami right now. I’m not making no stew.” But then I opened the package and realized that turkey stew meat is basically another version of my beloved pargiyot, which is essentially the Hebrew word for “young chicken meat”. It’s dark meat that’s juicy and full of flavor. And what do I love to do with pargiyot? Put that thing on the grill! So, while most of America is bundling up and drinking hot pumpkin lattes and roasting chestnuts on an open fire, I decided to fire up the grill. This recipe is 100% inspired by the colors and flavors of Miami and is now one of my all time favorites and I’m so thankful to KOL Foods for allowing me this creative opportunity. Plus, the good news is that it’s really 3 recipes in one—- you’ve got the kabobs, the chimichurri and the cranberry aioli. So even if you’re not breaking out your grill any time soon but you’d like a little extra ‘something’ to add some flavor to a regular dish, the chimichurri and cranberry aioli could be just the thing you’re looking for.
Well, good luck on winning your KOL Foods gift certificate. I also wanted to let you know that I included a few pictures from our very Miami Thanksgivukkah. And, if anyone’s got some suggestions on what works for them when it comes to keeping a thankful mind and soul, I’m all ears so leave your comment below.
Turkey Kabobs w/Cranberry Aioli & Chimichurri
Ingredients for Kabob:
1 package KOL Foods turkey stew meat
2 zucchinis, peeled and cubed
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 purple onion, cubed
1 loaf of challah or sourdough bread (can be regular or with add-ins – I used cranberry walnut sourdough)
Olive oil for brushing before grilling
Ingredients for Marinade:
1/2 olive oil
Ingredients for Chimichurri:
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup of lightly packed parsley, feel free to use stems (this is the base of the sauce so you will use more of this than any other herb)
1/4 cup of lightly packed cilantro, feel free to use stems
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
6 – 8 sage leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Ingredients of Cranberry Aioli:
2 tbsp cranberry jelly
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2-3 tbsp hot water
How – Marinade & Kabobs:
Wash and dry your turkey meat and set aside.
Finely chop the sage so that it’s leaves are the size of the thyme leaves. Using a medium sized bowl, combine the herbs and olive oil and whisk together until well-combined. Add kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder and whisk again. Dump the meat into the bowl of the marinade and stir so that meat is fully covered with marinade. Cover with saran wrap or transfer into a Tupperware container and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Place cubed sweet potatoes into a small, microwavable bowl. Microwave the sweet potato for roughly 2 – 3 minutes so that it is just soft enough to put on the kabob stick. Once finished, set aside and let cool.
Once your meat has marinaded for an hour, take out of fridge and pour out the marinade so that no liquid remains. Assemble your kabob in any way that you choose — I went purple onion, turkey, zucchini, sweet potato, and turkey. As shown in the picture above, I did not put the bread on the stick until the last 3 – 5 minutes of grilling so as to keep the bread from burning.
Brush each assembled kabob stick with olive oil before putting on the grill. We have a small hibatchi grill so we grilled each side for roughly 10 – 15 minutes, covered (which prevents it from burning). Add the bread during the last 3 minutes of grilling and leave uncovered.
How – Chimichurri
In a food processor, pulse the garlic until finely chopped. Add the parsley, cilantro, thyme, sage and crushed red pepper and pulse until the herbs are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse to blend. Add the vinegar and pulse to blend. Season with salt and pepper and transfer the chimichurri to a smaller bowl.
How – Cranberry aioli
Combine all ingredients EXCEPT for the water into a small bowl and whisk until combined. Your mixture will be somewhat thick, which is where the water comes in. For a more smooth, ‘sauce-like’ aioli, add water, one tablespoon at a time. If you are looking for more of a dip, feel free to omit the water.