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A time to laud the lowly holiday leftovers

November 23, 2012
By Karen Wils , Daily Press

ESCANABA - Twas the day after Thanksgiving

And all through the house

Not a Tupperware was empty

After we fed every mouth!

Leftovers of turkey, dressing, cranberries and pie

Were stacked in the fridge and pantry up high.

We are a nation rich in food. Even the poorest of us eat better than in many other places around the world.

Food will be in the spotlight from now until Christmas. Every magazine, morning show and newspaper will show us scrumptious photos and recipes to make our family celebrations complete.

Nothing feels better on a cold blustery night, than the warmth of the oven spilling out the aroma of fresh baked Christmas cookies.

Traditional recipes handed down generation after generation make this season special. Breads, meat pies, coffee cakes, sausages, wines and relishes - each aunt or uncle or cousin has his or her favorite to make.

Coming together around the table and sharing a grand meal together was a celebration in itself.

Today, things have changed a lot in the food department. Years ago, Grandma put out her best, homemade, home-grown, food for the feast. Not to many generations ago we were living off the land. The eggs came from the hen house, the cream from the cow, the venison from behind the house and the veggies came from the garden.

Now-a-days, of course, most of our food is very processed and bought packaged up in the stores.

Feeding people today is not so easy anymore. It seems like almost everyone is on a special diet. Some folks require lactose-free meals, some need gluten-free, sugar-free, low-sodium, and low-cholesterol. Organic, vegetarian and vegan menus are common today.

And don't forget the peanut allergies if you're planning to bring a holiday treat to your child's classroom, make sure you include a list of ingredients.

Everyone is trying to tell us how to eat these days too. First Lady Michelle Obama is trying to make school hot lunches healthier. This is a good idea. Our children sure have become couch potatoes compared to us when we were young. But a good piece of homemade bread with a little real butter is a good thing for most Yooper children before they face the cold winter weather.

Even my Catholic faith is getting into the "food thing." As a sacrifice in this "Year of Faith" our Bishop has asked us to do the old-fashioned meatless Fridays again.

This is fine, I'm good with rice tomato soup, but the restaurant owners are loving this. Fish (and seafood) is expensive. I know some husbands are using this as an excuse to go fishing instead of house chores. (I won't mention any names.)

If the Bishop wants to promote sacrifice, he should have insisted on home-cooked casseroles or soups for Friday night, not a fish fry. Better yet would be a request for a poor Yooper's diet on Fridays. That would be venison and potatoes.

Growing up with many mouths around the table and plenty of deer on one side of the river and plenty of potato farms on the other side, my mom made many tasty meals out of the inexpensive things at hand.

It's funny how the bigger our grocery stores become, the less healthy our diets become. It's time to let moms be moms. Grandma was right. She knew when you needed chicken soup for a cold, honey and brandy for a cough and some good homemade sauerkraut for your digestions (Probiotic).

My mother used to say, after many meals of venison stew, "just eat and be happy and be glad there is something on your plate."

Enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers with your family.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.



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