Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Updated November 2016: Here is a pic of baked macaroni and cheese. You're welcome. Happy holidays!

Caveat Emptor: There are no selfies or other pics beside the one of my boy throwing shade because I asked him to shred cheese. KIDS THESE DAYS! You'll just have to use your imagination. Also, this is mostly not running-related. It is about food, however.

As one commenter on Facebook wrote a few months back when all of the media attention was at its highest, I must be addicted/obsessed with food since I enjoy cooking. You know what? I am addicted to food. I am obsessed with it. But only on THANKSGIVING. And I would like for you to indulge me in this non-running related post. Because I love Thanksgiving so much, I'll accept that comment even with its ignorant and ridiculous assertion that loving cooking equals food addiction. But anyway...

For this holiday, I hope everyone has the gumption and wherewithal to EAT ALL THE THINGS. Yep, I said it. 


with no regrets 
and no shame 
and no silly attempts 
to conform to what society thinks is a healthy meal. For this one day, friends. You will not derail your life or your "diet" or your lifestyle if you allow yourself this one day to stuff your face. 

Work out, go for a walk or a run, do Zumba, do Crossfit, do a Turkey Trot, do yoga and Pilates, do a Beachbody video (or a few)....but please eat, and do it heartily and with ELAN. If you've been following me on FB or the Gram, you know that I've been upping the ante on my non-running workouts, even as I recover from Javelina (and I know I haven't posted my last installment of the race report yet, but TG is on my mind today!) I've been preparing for this day, because I will eat all the things without a hint of shame. At the end of the day, my face will be greasy, my belly full, and my heart full. I will be grateful to have spent this day with my son and friends from all over the world (this year Croatia, Spain, and Benin will be representing!) and my one of my besties and his momma from Chicago and NYC.

So, don't bombard me with messages, both subliminal and direct, imploring me or my family to make our Thanksgiving meals healthier. Thanksgiving is ONE DAY of the year and I would be DAMNED TO HELL, if I made some cheapened, no-taste-non-filling-non-gluttonous-non-heart-attack-inducing food to the table or to my family's meal. I made lasagna last year and my son is STILL throwing shade about it. I'm an adventurous gal and I love and flourish on cooking new things, but that is left for the other 364 days in the year. Don't mess with my Thanksgiving.

If you spend Thanksgiving with your family, friends, or even people you don't like, SAVOR IT. Someone invited you to eat. Someone invited you to have fellowship with (hopefully) GOOD FOOD. If you are part of the growing subset of the population that can't cook, or that hasn't ever really had the opportunity to have really GOOD and WHOLESOME home-cooked food, please just come to my house next year. I don't disappoint.

Thanksgiving is basically the only holiday I celebrate. I don't do Easter; I have all kinds of stupid anxiety around Christmas; I only want to run Finger Lakes during the July 4th holiday (I don't care for fireworks, but I loves me some running for many hours in the forests of Upstate NY); I celebrate my 40th by doing another ultra, and my kid's birthday?  I send him to summer camp as his gift.

Do NOT mess with Thanksgiving, though. It is sacred (cue Gregorian chant here, preferably sung Anonymous 4, but I digress...) 

I don't know what your family does, but what mine does is comparable to a royal feast. For a family with limited financial means, back in the day (and now too) WE.THROW. DOWN. for Turkey Day.

It is a ritual that begins weeks before the actual day of indulging. Back in the day, from calculating how with limited funds how they were going to feed the immediate family and everyone else who "happened to be in the neighborhood"--Oh really? Because you live two buses and three trains away--" to figuring out how all of those people were going to fit into our two-bedroom railroad apartment, my family made do with little financially but somehow produced the feast to end all feasts. No matter what the finances were, or how small and cramped our Brooklyn apartment was, we managed. And we ate. And boy did we eat.

There was always a turkey. Not just a turkey, but a 20-22 pound turkey. How else would we feed all the people? The turkey would be placed in the oven, after having marinated and such at around 4 in the morning. It would roast all day and somehow, even though quite literally nothing else could fit in the small oven we had, everything else would magically appear, fully prepped, seasoned and cooked from the deep recesses of the stove. A miracle every year, I say.

And there was roast beef in its own jus/gravy, and duck, and brown sugar and mustard glazed ham topped with carcinogenic maraschino cherries held in place with charred toothpicks. There were also ALWAYS two chickens (one barbecue, one just "plain") because there wasn't enough poultry. And the cook's (my mother's) piece de resistance, the PORK SHOULDER or PERNIL as the Boricuas in our neighborhood called it. Stuffed with oregano and chopped garlic, vinegar, adobo and other goodness, this cut of pork-- complete with it's hardened chicharron, was roasted for hours and hours until the spicy, tangy, and heavily aromatic meat fell off the bone. It was a treat to be handed some of the skin while it was cooking. It was if you had been let into a secret world of taste and wonders. The skin was hard and crunchy on top, and fatty and juicy with the all of the swiny dripping goodness on the bottom.

And gravy. There would be one kind of gravy for everything, never lumpy and never EVER made with any store-bought broth. Drippings from the turkey, chickens and duck would make their way over to the gravy pot and my mother would sprinkle some Wondra and Gravy Master into that bad boy (along with some other magic) and BAM, most flavorful, most complementary, most satisfying most everything-you-could-ever-ask-for gravy was born.

That's just the meat. I'm sure I'm leaving some other animal flesh out but now onto the CARBS. During really plentiful years and even during the lean years we would always have egg-based baked macaroni and cheese (no bechamel sauce here, NO SIRREE!), potato salad, some iteration of rice and beans (these days it's either yellow rice and gandules/pink beans) but in other years it was red beans or cow peas and rice, the broth always stewed first with a thick piece of smoked meat. Sometimes we would have macaroni salad in addition to, and never in place of the potato salad. We also have candied yams, and NOT with gross marshmallows on top--that would make it dessert, and although essentially that's what candied yams are we'll stick to calling it a side dish and maybe a taste of what was to come in the sweet potato pie. And then there's the dressing (Note: NOT STUFFING), which I learned to make at an early age, since passing off this time and labor intensive part of the meal must have been what my mother had been longing for years: sweet cornbread and broth made with veggies and the neck, gizzards, and livers of the chickens and turkeys, and lots of poultry seasoning and well, magic would contribute to this sweet and savory treat that when smothered with gravy goodness left you in a coma of its own.

Veggies! One would think that veggies wouldn't have a place in all of this absolute gluttony. But alas, they do! The vegetable focal point in our family is GREENS. Not turnip, not kale, not beet, not definitely NOT mustard, not anything but COLLARD GREENS, boiled for hours and hours in broth with, you guessed it, a large hunk of smoked flesh--I use jowl meat these days, but others might use fat back, neck bone, slab bacon, or if you're that kind of family (half of mine is) smoked turkey wings and legs. There are always two big and honking pots of greens going.  We also do string beans (cooked the same way!), and mashed rutabaga. No one but me and my mother eats the rutabaga. It's a tradition to make it just as my grandmother used to--she would peel it, cut it into chunks, boil it, and inevitably burn it a little while she was smoking a cigarette. I can't even fathom rutabaga without its slightly burnt/caramelized, spicy aroma.

Now we get to the desserts, with an s. 

It's not enough to make a dozen sweet potato pies. (And if you want a LOT of shade thrown your way, mention how wouldn't it be nice if we tried a pumpkin pie...or maybe not, because that will promptly get you kicked out of the kitchen, and possibly excommunicated from the family.) We must also have a cake, banana pudding, apple pies, AND peach cobbler. 

And drinks. We never gave much thought to drinks besides the obligatory Southern Comfort Egg Nog. Some of us nowadays, since we are GROWN, spike the eggnog with rum, Henny, or Jack Daniels...but most of us drink water or, GASP, soda. For this ONE day.

After we have eaten in shifts, we sit on the couches and folding chairs, because there is really never a dining room table, and talk about people, rank on one another, crack jokes, roll our eyes, doze off, and then maybe eat some more and pack plates to go because the bounty is REAL. We clean, we wash dishes, we pack the food away and then head to our separate homes and lives. Even though I do not have the pleasure of dining with my family up in New York this year, I know that I am with them and they are with me during this most important day of family celebration and thanks.

On Friday, I may have a slice of pie, and eat some leftovers. But I'll also go for a run and get back to my pre-TG routine no problem because that's exactly what I have done. I've created a routine that my body craves and will pop back into because that's what it must do. I'll continue enjoying the family and friends that are still around, and I will invite them to come and workout with me. If not, then so be it. No judgment, just love and contentment and thankfulness that they are here partaking in my sacred ritual.

A Very happy and wholesome Thanksgiving to you and yours.


  1. Tell it. I love how long you went on talking about all the foods. (I only read half though because I have the attention span of a senile fly)
    Lemme also just say this: it is fine to want to eat healthy for yourself, to sing the praises of eating healthy, to encourage others to do so, to offer healthy options and healthy recipes to others. BUT, it is not ok to judge other people for what they eat, or lecture them. AND that especially goes for holidays. Like you said, it's ONE DAY. So I hope the haters and the judgers don't make any comments here, and use all that extra energy to make something delicious for Thanksgiving.
    Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

  2. Sounds perfect to me! Enjoy your family and your feast. See you on the trails one day soon.

  3. All of this. YES. Thanksgiving is also MY holiday. Enjoy!!!

  4. Yes and yes again. We'll be over to share leftovers Friday.

  5. this is so good!
    exercise shouldn't be done as a punishment to eat, lets just eat. fitness is a great thing, but I have noticed that one has to really be careful not to be caught up in the cycle of eating just "right" (which means a plethora of things lately-paleo, gluten-free, corn-free, hcfs free, etc....)
    often times the way we receive food and how we think about it (yes I will eat this slice of pecan pie and be so thankful and that it tastes so delightful) is just as important as the food itself.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Girl, I am 100% WITH YOU! I have spent the entire day today making pies, blondies, and other fabulous, calorie and sugar laden treats! Tomorrow I will EAT ALL THE THINGS! Happy Thankgsgiving, Mirna & fam!

  7. Love it and it sounds very close to what we did and still do! Rock on sista!

  8. Thank you lady! Just before I opened this post, we were having pretty much this same conversation in our house. I hate the attitude that exercise is the punishment you have to do for eating, and my gym sent an email that was like "We're closed Thursday but we'll see you Friday to make up for all the fun you had"... yes I know some people do want to lose weight and whatever, but that whole punishment/reward system seems so unhealthy. Also, it's a freaking holiday!! Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Thank you for reminding me... because of you I. Ate. It. All.
    Thank you thank you thank you!