It’s been a rough few years recently.  Like a lot of other people, I was hit hard by the depression/recession that began in 2008.  I stayed afloat as best I could, but by 2010 I found it hard to be grateful, and it was even worse last year.  While I was aware that I still had plenty of reasons to be grateful, I was still finding it hard to feel grateful.  I had to dredge up my objectivity and force myself to acknowledge those I owe thanks to.

It seems a little easier this year.  That’s a little odd, because 2012 has been a shitty year on many fronts; but right now, this minute, I can make a list without having to force myself to write.  (It comes and it goes.)  Pell-mell:

  • I’m grateful to my family and friends.  Without them I would be homeless and destitute.  They’re there when I need them, they cheer me up when I’m hard to cheer.
  • I’m grateful to my cats.  They think they rule the universe, but they still like to cuddle.
  • I’m grateful to my husband for loving me.
  • I’m grateful to great writers that have trapped messages of wisdom, knowledge, hope, curiosity, and imagination within paper pages or even rows of 0s and 1s.
  • I’m grateful to Americans for voting for the future, not for a past that never was.
  • I’m grateful to people who work hard to do the best job they can and be the best people they can be.
  • I’m grateful to artists that offer glimpses of beauty, greatness, or meaning in strange and varied forms.
  • I’m grateful to scientists, medical professionals, engineers and others who push the limits of what can be done to make our lives better, longer, and more filled with meaning.
  • I’m grateful to those who struggle, everywhere on Earth, to bring justice, peace, prosperity and safety to all and to break down barriers between people.

Turkey b’stilla

B’stilla (or bastilla, bisteeya, pastilla or bstilla) is a succulent Moroccan dish — traditionally, a meat pie made with young pigeons (squabs).  I have a recipe here which I have prepared with Cornish game hens before, although it lists chicken as the main meat. However, turkey — and especially brown meat — makes a perfectly lovely substitute.

If you’re using Thanksgiving leftovers, the turkey meat will already be cooked so you can cut cooking time down a bit for the meat filling since the recipe assumes raw poultry.

This recipe includes instructions for mixing your own ras el hanout, which is to Moroccan dishes what curry is to Indian food — omnipresent and ever changing depending on the mix you use.  I’m very fond of it and when I make a b’stilla, I always mix extra ras el hanout and save it in an air-tight container for later use in other recipes — soups, eggs, rice, etc.

The recipe offers an option for making lots of little individual pastries wrapped as finger food, but I’m partial to one big pie — and it’s less work to make!