My apology - this post was not published Sunday evening as I had planned; hence a few days delay.
Well, well. The 1st Sunday in Advent just arrived. That came around quickly. For some reason, I thought it would be 5 December, and not this close to Thanksgiving.
Like many companies, we can only carry forward five PTO days. As a result, I took the entire week of Thanksgiving off. It was a matter of using my PTO days or losing the days at the end of December, which was not going to happen.
In the US, many employees get very little time off the first few years of their employment. Coming from Europe, it is hard to understand why employees have limited support, especially when it comes to PTO. Some companies only offer 5-10 days off and might not close for bank holidays. As such, employees are working their butt off for no benefits.
I remind my staff to take time off and use their PTO throughout the year. It is vitally important that you get some downtime and enjoy days with your families. As the department leader, I attempt to show a good example and take time off too, and more importantly, limit my email interaction while on PTO.
Instead, I spent the week catching up on a long list of DIY projects that had been lingering for too many months. It felt really good to cross them off my to-do list. I was proud. Completing a small task gives you a sense of satisfaction, and kids will hopefully recognize that setting goals and achieving them is important – even at home.
During the week, I tiled and grouted the shower, built a desk and wall shelves for my daughter, built a small deck for the knucklehead gang using reclaimed deck boards, tidied up the garage, fixed some dents on various walls (and repainted), cleaned the Traeger, and made a shitload of food.
Man! I felt accomplished and productive. This DIY shit is awesome and addictive.
Perfect your cooking timing
For the Thanksgiving meal itself, we downsized our turkey to “only” the breast of the beast, only to realize that it is a fairly large size too.
I smoked the sucker for 3+ hours on the Traeger, until the internal temperature reached 165F, at which point I removed it to rest 10-15 minutes before serving.
Preparing the Thanksgiving Day meal is a science and perfection of timings. My wife and I agree on when to roughly eat, allowing for 15-30 minutes on either side.
Once you agree on the feeding time, then you calculate backward to determine when you need to start your cooking adventures. I cook a lot of the food the evening before, so we only have to heat it up and to reduce our stress levels.
pecan pie from heaven
For the first time in my cooking career, I made our own pecan pie … from scratch. It was bloody amazing and addictive. A 12″ wonderous creation.
Once the crust was ready and filled it with a thick sticky sugary substance. The secret ingredient was a locally distilled whisky, adding an awesome flavor and taste.
Lately, I smoked it on the Traeger for 50 minutes. All prepared in a cast-iron skillet. A glorious and magical experience.
The result? absolutely mouthwatering amazing.
Thanksgiving Week – easy meals
After a busy week of DIY, Thanksgiving meal mayhem, and Black Friday shopping insanity, I spent a full Sunday afternoon preparing meals for the week, including a number of awesome school lunches. Our kids will be the envy of their classmates.
For the past many weeks, I have also attempted to cook some more Danish-inspired meals, using Danish recipes. It, unfortunately, involves a lot of heavy creams which I’m replacing with coconut cream and other suitable substitutions. And, Danes enjoy a lot of pork; chops, sausages, and pork loins. Plenty of healthier sides to balance out the fatty creams.
|Weekday||Snacks n’ Breakfasts||Lunch||Dinner|
|Monday||Fruit cups + homemade cinnamon buns||Pizza pepperoni rolls||Pork chops with pineapple/cilantro rice|
|Tuesday||Rice crispies||Pesto and mozzarella sandwiches||Leeks, grilled ham pieces, red/green peppers pie (quiche)|
|Wednesday||Grapes||Philly cheesesteak melt||The Red Pot – tender roasted pork loin pieces, served in a curry/paprika, red peppers, and cream sauce, served with mashed potatoes.|
|Thursday||Chocolate filled croissants||Caesar salad with grilled chicken||Sticky chicken Chinese noodles (Jamie Oliver)|
|Friday||Chip bags||Rise bowl with black beans, grilled chicken, and corn.||Easy dinner on the Traeger. The missus and youngest offspring are going camping.|
One day, I might get so organized that I will link the meals below to my recipes. We can only live in hope!
Have a fantastic week, my friends. I hope you enjoy these meal plans. It is so much easier to make food in advance, although you need to invest several hours during the weekend to prepare the meals.
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