I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about the meaning of family.
There is the family we are born into, and then there is the family we choose. Some of the family we choose might include the family we’re born with—family members who are kind, compassionate, loving, joyful, giving or interesting individuals with whom we value spending time. Elie and I both have many people in our life who fall into that definition of family.
But then there are the people we encounter in life who embody those qualities; and we fall in love with them, and they become family.
Three-and-a-half years ago, I was recently divorced after a 10 year marriage and moving to Bellingham—where I didn’t know anyone but Elie—to embark on a wonderful new relationship and to launch a new career. In my previous marriage, we focused on family, but we didn’t develop many friendships. With Elie, my world expanded. Not only does Elie nurture his relationships with his family, but he has a rich and vast family of friends who play meaningful roles in his life. It makes me teary to think of the open-armed welcome I received from this other family, and how I have grown to love these people and the additional friendships Elie and I have cultivated together. I wake up every morning thanking God for this life with this incredible man and this extended family who inspires and challenges me.
I think that’s the lesson. There is a vast, full and enriching life awaiting all of us, if only we reach out, welcome and embrace it. Whatever circumstances we are born or married into, we have the ability to expand that world with relationships, experiences, friendships. And in the process, our life becomes infinitely more fulfilling.
Last week, we had our second annual ‘Friendsgiving,’ hosted by Steve and Jamie Moore. We met Steve and Jamie when they started planning our wedding, but they have become a big part of our chosen family. We love these two amazing people and Baby Moore, who will soon be taking his or her place in this family. This year, Steve designed a spectacular space and table, I made a classic Thanksgiving dinner with a few updates, and Jamie created a gorgeous display of pies.
The Honey-Roasted Carrots were one of the favorite dishes of the night, so I thought I’d start by sharing that recipe. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Even people who don’t normally like cooked carrots will love these sweet-but-not-too-sweet, caramelized carrots with a kick. Even better, it’s really easy. After the turkey is out of the oven and resting, just place these in the oven to roast. They can be served hot or at room temperature.
2 pounds carrots with the tops still attached
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Zest of one lemon
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup toasted pecans
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Trim the tops from the carrots, leaving a little bit of the green still attached at the top. Peel the carrots and place them in a large bowl. Season with sea salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, butter, lemon zest, thyme and red pepper flakes. If the mixture is too thick to pour, just microwave for a few seconds until thinned out. Pour the honey mixture over the carrots and toss the carrots to coat.
Place the carrots on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast for 20 – 25 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through and starting to brown and caramelize. Remove from the oven, place on a serving dish and top with the toasted pecans.
Photographs by Matthew Land Studios