Thanksgiving Wrap Up
[A funny thing happens when I'm a wee bit stressed about schoolwork, holidays and the million other vagaries of mere existence: I start talking to myself . . . ]
Me: Life is like a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers --
MeanieMe: It's an indistinguishable mish-mash of reconstituted remnants from happier times? A bland attempt to recapture in scraps the experiences, sensations and emotions of all-too-occasional special occasions? You never know what you're gonna get?
Me: Can I finish? As I was saying, life is like a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers - it's often made up of highlights from those exceptional moments when we are profoundly reminded of our membership in family, community and society. Just as there are several helpings worth of turkey and trimmings to be had in the days after T-day, many of us continue to graze on these special instances as we return to our everyday lives, to tide us over with pleasant memories until the next big event.
MeanieMe: [Zzzzzzzzzz] Wha-? Oh, sorry. Must've dozed off after "As I was saying . . . "
Me: Moving right along, this analogy came to me as our family sat down to enjoy the copious remains of our Thanksgiving meal on the Day After, eating with gusto until once again our bellies were full and our sighs were contented. It was just like the day before, except that it really wasn't.
The good china had been replaced by Chinet paper plates, the silverware with plasticware. The 15-lb fresh, local turkey that was slowly roasted for nearly 5 hours was now rendered into convenient slices of dark and white meat, microwaved to an edible temperature in less than 5 minutes. And the delicious side dishes, condiments and desserts, which my mother- and sisters-in-law prepared with such care and consideration, were inauspiciously lined up on the kitchen counter in the same plastic containers in which they were refrigerated overnight. Though the flavors of the food were (almost) the same, the entire context of the meal was much different.
MeanieMe: Well, well. I thought I was the crabby cranberry, but here you are being Miss Pilgrim Party Pooper, hatin' on the leftovers. Can't say I'm surprised: last year's post-Thanksgiving entry about how the all-American holiday story is just a socially-constructed myth was a major downer, too.
Me: Hey, that post had a happy ending and I am not hating on the leftovers. Just let me get to my point.
MeanieMe: Which is . . . ?
Me: That it's all well and good for us to try and recreate the best occurrences in our lives, but oftentimes, we set ourselves up for a measure of disappointment if we expect an exact duplicate of a singular experience - like eating a plate of reheated leftovers in the belief that it will be a Holiday Feast Redux. The reality is that all the little details and intangible variables that come together to make these moments so special may not always be in place; no matter how hard we might try, what we get is a slightly faded facsimile of the original.
Instead, let's take a few elements from those great times - say, the surplus from a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, like moist turkey, piquant cranberry-horseradish sauce and a tender baked sweet potato - and make additions from today (wheatberries, whole wheat tortillas) to create something different yet reminiscent. It may not reach the level of noteworthiness as a big ol' holiday, but it makes an ordinary day a bit more special.
MeanieMe: [Zzzzzzz] Wha-? Oh, sorry. Must've dozed off after, "Blah blah blah . . ."
Me: I'm not talking to you anymore.
Thanksgiving Wrap Up
This dish was inspired by the Harvest Wrap - roasted turkey, wild rice, yams, and cream sauce, rolled in a soft wheat tortilla - served at The Good Earth restaurant in Edina, MN. Although it's been quite some time since I've had the original, it immediately came to mind when I considered what to make with our Thanksgiving leftovers. The appetizing appeal of this wrap is in its combination of textures - from the crunchiness of nuts, the chewiness of a whole grain and the creaminess of mashed yams; I changed up a few of the ingredients from Good Earth's version to use what came from our bounteous Thanksgiving table, namely wheatberries in place of wild rice and a cranberry-horseradish sauce for the cream-based one.
I'm pleased to submit this dish to the Thanksgiving Makeover Challenge hosted by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie. Be sure to check her blog on December 7th for what will certainly be a delectable round-up of entries!
Whole wheat tortillas
Roast turkey, sliced
Mashed sweet potatoes (see below for suggested preparation)
1/2 cup cooked wheatberries
Pepitas, slivered almonds, chopped hazelnuts or other nut
Creamy Cranberry-Horseradish Sauce (click here for recipe)
For gingered sweet potato mash, choose 1 medium-size tuber, peel and cut into quarters. Place in a pot and add water until just covering the potato chunks; bring to a boil and cook until pieces are tender. Drain and place in bowl with 1 Tablespoon butter, 1-2 teaspoons of ginger paste (or very finely minced gingerroot), and 2 Tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. Mash with a fork or masher until potatoes are smooth (if using a potato ricer, mash potatoes first before adding butter, etc.)
1. Warm tortillas in a non-stick skillet over low-medium heat until soft;
2. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of mashed sweet potato lengthwise in center of tortilla, then top with turkey slices;
3. Spoon as much wheatberries as desired over turkey slices, then sprinkle pepitas or other nuts on top.
4. Fold bottom of tortilla (edge that is perpendicular to the filling) over, followed by the sides. To keep tortilla folded, flip it over so that 'seam' side is down;
5. Spoon cranberry-horseradish sauce over the wrap and serve immediately.