As I reflect on the past few days, it is with great appreciation that I have enjoyed our family traditions. We have rarely participated in large Thanksgiving feasts and have only a couple of times ventured out for Black Friday madness. This year was no different.

Late Tuesday, I had the pleasure of picking up my daughter at the MBTA T-station at Riverside, just one exit south of the Mass Pike on I-95. While picking her up is a total joy, the traffic at the I-90 / I-95 intersection is horrible late any afternoon. The final 5 miles to the station took me 40+ minutes, an 8 MPH average. With her, we averaged only a bit faster for the first 30 minutes for west bound trip towards home. Her train from Saco, ME to Boston was delayed and the Green Line had a break down causing her to detour as well; she was starving and very tired when she got to the car. We stopped at the first rest area on the way home which allowed a bit of the traffic to subside and for us to put some grub in our bellies. Rest area food has certainly come a long way from years past, with McDonald’s not being the only choice. Given our family’s complete displeasure with fast food, the choice went to a chicken and cheese stromboli from some Boston based pizza shop. While the stromboli was excellent, the cold, Heinz marinara sauce was horrible. But it was food and now time to head home.

Wednesday was a normal workday for Sue and I, each putting in our requisite 10 hours of work before returning home but we were both off for the Thanksgiving holiday. We decided to cook our turkey using a new-ish method of preparation. We have brined our turkey in the past, but a new Cook’s Illustrated recipe slightly changed how we did the brining. We brined the turkey overnight in 6 quarts of water and 1 1/2 cup table salt. We use a 5-gallon beverage container (similar to this), placing the container outside since it was near freezing. In the morning, we removed the turkey, patted it dry, and put it on a half sheet pan with it’s cooling rack. This goes into the fridge uncovered for 8+ hours according to the recipe. We didn’t have that long, but kept it in there for about 5 hours until we started cooking. The point of refrigerating it after brining is to draw the salt out and allow for crisp skin. It worked like a charm. We had to start with the breast down, then rotate 1/4 turn for each of the two sites, finishing it with the breast up. Each turn came another basting with butter and the challenge of actually rotating a partially cooked, 16 pound turkey. When it’s done according to the thermometer (160 degrees), we pulled it out and covered it with a huge bowl so it could rest and finish cooking from the inside out. The final result was a delicious, moist turkey – the best we’ve done to date.

After the turkey was safely in the fridge to dry on Thanksgiving, it was time for a bit of pre-feast activity. The wife and daughter headed to the YMCA for some cardio and I headed out the door for my first outdoor run in months. I was using my GymBoss timer and a 3/1 run/walk ratio. That’s three minutes of running, one minute of walking for however long I run. I must say that it feels weird to run for just three minutes and then start walking, but it sure feels good after 30 or 40 minutes to know you have that walk break coming up. I ran an old route that took me through one neighborhood, then out on a long stretch of quiet roads before heading home. As I hit the edge of my neighborhood, I could have turned left, up a monster hill, and been a bit under 5 miles for the run at my driveway. Instead, I kept going straight and ran home through our local park, making it to 6 miles at the park’s edge. I cannot believe I actually ran six full miles outside for the first time in almost a year. My pace was just under 11 minutes per mile WITH the walking. Afterwards, I felt great and quickly cooled down – there must be something to the whole run/walk/run method! After burning over 1000 calories on the run, I didn’t feel guilty at all having that one piece of gingerbread with bourbon whipped cream for dessert!

The day ended up being incredibly relaxing and low key, allowing time with family and the time to reflect on just how lucky we all are and how thankful we need to be every single day.

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