By Marcia Pilgeram
Reader Food Columnist
When the turkey’s been picked from the carcass, the stuffing polished off and that stuffed-belly feeling wanes, we’re left to reflect on the holiday that brought us together in the first place: The day we gather and give thanks. I’m thankful that my house is warm and my cupboards full. I’m thankful for seven adorable grandchildren and one more on the way my youngest daughter is expecting her first child. Though she is achingly far away, I’m thankful she has a mother in-law who loves her so much that she peels and seeds pomegranates and drives 20 miles to hand-deliver Casey’s favorite fruit. I’m especially thankful to call this little piece of North Idaho my home. It’s the most giving community. The soul of Sandpoint is her generosity, and it’s not limited to Thanksgiving.
My thoughtful neighbors, Chad and Meggie Foust, recently served more than 300 free steak dinners to local area veterans at their eatery, Sweet Lou’s. My little buddy Lou was there too, greeting and thanking all who served in the military.
Along with Ponderay Rotary, Cancer Care Services just hosted their largest fundraiser of the year, “A Night to Remember,” raising money to support those in our community affected by cancer.
“Sandpoint Style,” another November fundraiser by Angels Over Sandpoint, raised money to assist those in need in Bonner County. Generous area restaurants donated the food for this annual event. Celebrating their 20th year, the Angels have raised and given away $1.5 million!
Last Saturday at the Community Bank Building, my pal Judy Colegrove of Tango fame served up her tasty potato leek soup for the “Empty Bowl” event that raised funds for the Bonner Homeless Transitions and Bonner Community Food Bank.
The Food Bank relies heavily on these donations, and for Thanksgiving they gave away about 900 turkeys, along with fixings for traditional sides, potatoes, yams, pumpkin, cranberries and stuffing mixes. Their needs are greater over the holidays, when children are home without school meal programs to supplement their daily nutrition.
Bistro at Home has been raising funds to provide a traditional, free, pre-reserved Thanksgiving dinner for four. Thanks to generous donors, they’ll provide dinner for more than 60 families. Beet and Basil has been fundraising too, and have reservations to serve their free meal to more than 100 guests, in two seatings, at their new restaurant. It warms my heart to see these newer establishments (and a younger generation) carry on the tradition of giving.
Multigenerational (and always generous) friends Wendy and daughter Savannah, along with an army of volunteers, will host their annual Hoot Owl Thanksgiving Dinner between 1-5pm. If you’re hungry, just show up for a free, traditional meal and some companionship.
Tomorrow is SWAC’s 10th annual Turkey Trot, starting at 9 a.m. I’ll be there, and I hope you will too! Arrive early to sign a waiver (minors need a parent or guardian signature). Entry fee is a can of food for the Bonner Community Food Bank.
This will be my 23rd Thanksgiving in Sandpoint. How well I remember the first one. My family was fractured by marital discord, and my only son was 200 away. I woke up wondering how I’d ever muster the energy to drag myself out of bed, let alone prepare Thanksgiving dinner. It would have been easy to skip dinner that year — it was just me and the girls — except for the little old neighbor guy, Al, whom I’d impulsively invited, as repayment for catching and returning our wayward Holstein heifer (bovine Hannah, apparently feeling as displaced as the rest of us, frequently wandered away).
Somehow, I made the motions, made the dinner and waited for Al, who showed up a half an hour early (that day and forever after). He was our antidote for misery and fit our family like a glove. He was the father I’d always longed for, and I was the daughter he never had.
He helped Casey with her homework and helped Ryanne build a cow-proof fence, and for the next ten years we never left home without him. He accompanied us on vacations, cruises and family reunions in Montana. Until he passed, he shared our dinner table every single Sunday. He peppered my meals with praise, telling me that my lasagna was better than any he’d ever tasted (even in NYC’s Little Italy), and if I wanted to make it commercially, he would provide the start-up funds.
I’ve often said no one ever loved me more than Al, and I still believe that’s true. And every day, but especially this time of year, I give special thanks for The First (Al) Thanksgiving.
If you’ll have an empty seat at your table, it’s not too late to invite someone. Who knows? It could be life changing. I hope your turkey is moist and abundant, and you give this recipe a try with your leftovers. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
•½ cup mayonnaise
•½ tsp grated orange zest
•2 tbsp orange juice
•1 tsp curry powder
•2 tsp freshly grated ginger
( or ½ tsp ginger powder)
•2 ½ cups diced turkey
(white, dark or both)
•½ cup golden raisins
•¼ cup fine chopped
•¼ cup thinly sliced green onions •½ cup finely chopped celery
•¼ cup chopped
•1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
•4 (6-inch) naan breads and/or
small head of butter lettuce
•Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. Add chicken and blend. Add remaining ingredients, mix lightly until well blended. Refrigerate.
•Spoon about 3/4 cup chicken mixture onto each naan.