November 2010
The Herb Farm

Aromatherapy at Thanksgiving

Several years ago I decided, instead of spending hours in the kitchen baking and cooking for just a handful of guests who come over for the Thanksgiving feast, I would visit other folks who invited me to their homes for dinner.

After my usual breakfast with the cats, I dressed for the three outings of dining exploration adventures awaiting me.


On the first stop at noon sharp, there was a table full of food as our host spared no expense in laying out the traditional cornucopia of picturesque dishes. There was spiral-sliced, honey-baked ham; baked turkey breast; candied yams; seven-layer salad and some kind of bean thing made with canned green beans that squeaked on your teeth when they were chewed.

The next stop was at 3 p.m. at a friend’s house for turkey sandwiches and a football game. The turkey was evenly-cooked and juicy, and the condiments for the sandwiches were tasty. Mayonnaise and cranberry sauce on a burger roll with lettuce made the sandwiches uniquely delicious.

Finally, I had one last scheduled stop that day. I promised to visit some friends for wine and dessert at seven o’clock. There we had pumpkin pie and chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream and a rich Zinfandel.

One would think after all of that food and traveling, I could not possibly be hungry. But, I was hungry. I didn’t feel satisfied even though I had eaten multiple helpings at all three stops. There were no leftovers in the refrigerator, so I knew I had to cook.

I had a fresh-brined turkey on ice in the cooler, so I preheated the oven and popped the turkey in at 9:30 that night. I had planned to roast my bird on Friday anyhow because I enjoy eating turkey sandwiches, turkey soup and turkey salad. There was also a prepared pumpkin pie I made earlier and it was just waiting for me to bake it, too.

As I sat down in front of the computer to go over my holiday greeting list, the aroma of the turkey began to fill the house with the seasonal scents I so love. Sage and tarragon, orange and lemon, thyme and rosemary, black pepper and garlic – each spice could be individually identified. Then, as the turkey started to brown, all of the herbs and spices blended perfectly to make the most pleasurable perfume anyone could smell.

I stepped outside a few times that night to enjoy the crisp autumn air. The seasonal-sweet must of wet, fallen leaves, pine needles and a hint of Eastern red cedar with the smell of the turkey roasting inside the house was just the therapy I needed to complete the holiday.

It was at that moment I realized how much I enjoyed seeing everyone that day, but there was something missing and it left me hungry and longing for something else. I was longing for the Thanksgivings I remembered as a child. It wasn’t food I hungered, but the aroma of the home filled with the smells of the season. I hungered for the smell of all of the love that goes into cooking a meal.

Although the food I ate at those three homes was delicious and nutritious, someone at a local store actually prepared their foods. Even the pumpkin pie was bought already baked. Their homes didn’t smell like anything. Their homes didn’t have that warm smell of love that is such an important part of holiday entertaining. It’s an important part of entertaining, period.

I roasted my turkey.

So, at around 3 a.m, when I took my bird out of the oven, I didn’t eat. I went to bed and slept soundly and contently, because my holiday was then complete. I call that "aromatherapy."

Enjoy the holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanks for reading!

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As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.