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Carol Anne Costa: A Rhode Island Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28, 2013

 

This Thanksgiving, RI residents should be thinking about how to harness our positive energy to improve the state.

As I sit writing this column on the first cold and blustery day of the fall season, I listen outside as the whipping wind howls, the crows caw loudly and the day, save the weather, is ironically quiet. All I can think of is “Winnie the Pooh and Blustery Day”. I am pretty certain somewhere in my attic rests a precious copy of the tale. I love Pooh and his friends and it was only later in life that I discovered the brilliance of A.A. Milne.

I was probably in college before it dawned on me those wonderful characters were people I actually knew...okay, so I was not so fast on the uptake! On this Thanksgiving Day we have much for which to be grateful, but at the same, it will take guts to move our state toward better times.

In so many ways our beloved Rhode Island resembles the 100-Acre Wood. Oh yes, we have our Poohs, Piglets, Owls, Christopher Robins, and we have our buoyant Tiggers too, but it is those gloomy Eeyores that get lots of press. I am here to say on this Thanksgiving Day, it is our gratitude and spirit that will deliver good things and—the Eeyores be damned—the glass is half full. In spite of our collective troubles, the time is now to seize upon our rebellious beginnings to pull us up from our woes. Rhode Island possesses a rich history. It is chock full of attitude, rebellion, innovation, and pioneering, all accompanied by a truly terrific accent. And, only with guts and creativity we will be that again. I know we are in a bit of a slump but, the collective spirit of RI is a gift for which we give thanks.

The time is now to seize that force and move toward improving our economy, our politics, and our future. I find that in day-to-day of life, naysayers have an easy job. They write things off with little stress, usually saying that we can’t or shouldn’t do something, and moving on. And that attitude lacks the guts to face our issues. Let us channel that inner Tigger. There are some boldly striped examples of Tigger’s pluckiness, as RI faces issues with grit and determination. For it is the optimists, the dreamers, and the doers who get things moving ahead and in the end we all benefit.

Guts and Glory

Homelessness is a big problem here and across the country but right here in RI, there is hope in the efforts put forth by Housing First Rhode Island. They are one of the first Housing First initiatives in the country and are providing a national model. The program works by providing housing placement and support to RI’s homeless across the state. The glass is half full, as initiatives like this address the growing problem of homelessness.

Graduation rates have remained a long-standing RI problem, plagued by plummeting levels in the urban core. Pawtucket and Central Falls’s rates have risen dramatically, as the transformation model and head-on programs are tackling the issues. According to RI Kids Count Data, things are looking up and that glass is half full.

Helping our seniors age in place and offsetting financial cuts is a problem faced by many families. Farm Fresh RI is doing so much for our farmers and in turn to keep healthy whole foods on the tables of seniors. This grassroots innovative approach reaps what it sows, and it works! That glass is half full of whole milk produced by RI dairy cows.

As the war in Afghanistan winds down, so many of our sons and daughters are serving far from home and always from loved ones. A concerted mission called Operation Holiday Cheer is an all hands on deck push from Blue Star Mothers, Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, and folks in our state who are doers is underway to make certain our troops will have a small piece of RI to treasure this holiday season. This is another example of hope at work in RI.

What better way to herald the work being done in RI than to mention Health Source RI. The work being done to enforce and give access to the Affordable Care Act is remarkable. The website is working well (registering over 12,000 unique visitors in its first week, the waiting room is full of folks seeking access to good health insurance coverage and they are now looking for bigger and better office space. Another fantastic RI model, yes the glass is half full as America and RI move to migrate all into the Affordable Health Care Act.

Tiggers or Eeyores

We have national models in place, we have innovative thinkers, we have motivated politicians, we have the dreamers and the doers. The secret will be to harness all that positive energy and put the wheels in motion to do big things to think outside the box. We can do it. It was General George S Patton who said, “Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way.” It was a rallying cry of America’s fighting General and really, we should take his advice. We have much to do to make RI better. It will only happen with leaders who are not risk averse and people ready to serve. I am certain Patton was a Tigger, albeit with an edge and a sidearm. It is time to put the Eeyores to pasture and find the good and work toward it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, may we count our blessings and each of us help to make them multiply!  

 

Related Slideshow: 12 Fall Recipes With Classic Rhode Island Ingredients

Bring the flavors of Rhode Island into your own kitchen with these great recipes for football days, and every day. Use these specific Rhode Island food products if you have them, or substitute with your own local ingredients.

Prev Next

Johnnycakes

Roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes

with Kenyon’s Johnny Cake Corn Meal

Our local specialty, johnnycakes (or jonnycakes, or johnny cakes, whichever way you spell them) isn’t just for breakfast, though we can’t deny they’re pretty terrific slathered with butter and local maple syrup.  Why not go savory? Serve these Italian-inspired mini cornmeal cakes for an appetizer or halftime snack, with beer or cocktails.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Fritters

Baked clam and corn cake “fritters”

with Iggy’s Chopped Clams, Kenyon’s Clam & Fritter Mix, and Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce

Even though summer’s gone, you can enjoy the taste of the beach in your kitchen year-round. Make these packed-with-clams fritters with canned chopped clams and frozen corn, Kenyon’s Clam Cake & Fritter Mix and a splash of zingy hot sauce.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Nachos

Slow cooker sweet coffee flank steak nachos

with Dave’s All-Natural Coffee Syrup

We know what you’re thinking: my goodness, these look great, but what about the caffeine? We have the answer! Dave’s All-Natural Decaf Coffee Syrup, made right here in Rhode Island, is perfect in the slow cooker. These unusual nachos will wake up your taste buds and delight your friends.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Meatball sandwiches

Rhode Island weiner spice meatball sandwiches (slow cooker)

with Olneyville NY System spice mix

Imagine our glee when we first discovered Olneyville NY System’s “secret” spice mix, packaged and sold in our local supermarket! In Rhode Island Recipes, we made appetizer meatballs dunked in salsa. Here, we used the slow cooker to make turkey meatballs, and topped them with onions and mustard.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Apple cider coffee pork

Sweet and sassy slow cooker apple cider coffee pork

with Dave’s All-Natural Coffee Syrup

Easy enough for every day, fancy enough for company, this pork loin cooks low and slow in your Crock Pot. Coffee syrup is the magic ingredient.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Pulled chicken roll-ups

Slow cooker coffee-chipotle pulled chicken roll-ups

with Dave’s All Natural Coffee Syrup and Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce

There’s a lot of Rhode Island goodness wrapped up in these sandwiches! You can make the chicken ahead (get your kids to help with the “pulling”), then stuff it together with your favorite cole slaw, or sliced apples, or avocado. Pack these roll-ups for tailgating or lunch on the go.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Pot roast stew

Slow cooker root vegetable and beer pot roast stew

with Wicked Natural Caramel Mustard and Newport Storm beer

A cook-all-day recipe, this beef stew combines meat and potatoes, root vegetables and beer. Start this in the morning with just a few minutes of prep, and it will be ready when your pick-up football game ends in the afternoon.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Vegetable lasagna

Triple-herb vegetable lasagna

with patty pan squash and carrots, with Mayor’s Own Marinara Sauce and Narragansett Creamery cheeses

Wednesday might be Prince Spaghetti Day, but any day can be lasagna day. This veggie lasagna, packed with herbs and vegetables and our great local cheeses, uses Buddy Cianci’s marinara sauce, which we love because it’s all-natural. Substitute your own homemade sauce, if you prefer. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs family-friendly pasta dish that won’t weigh you down.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Linguini

with vegetables topped with romaine and feta, with Narragansett Creamery Salty Feta

If pasta is a staple in your kitchen, try this dish of pasta topped with salad. Think of it as your entire meal in one bowl! You can use any vegetables of the season, and a good, fresh feta cheese to add some tang.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

White clam chowder

Quick and easy white clam chowder

with Iggy’s clams

White, red, or clear -- where you come from probably determines your loyalty to one chowder or another. So what's a girl who was born in Manhattan (the home of red chowder), lived for decades in Boston (white chowder), and now spends most of her time in Rhode Island (clear chowder) to do? She’d create her own chowder, the quick and easy kind. I'm partial to white chowders, made with the addition of milk or cream. To enjoy this chowder year-round, we've used canned clams (our local favorites, from Iggy's, the clams we used in Rhode Island Recipes), and bottled clam juice.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

Maple syrup doughnuts

Maple syrup whole wheat doughnuts

with Chepachet Farms maple syrup

In Apple Valley, where one half of the Rhode Island Recipes team lives, you can smell cider doughnuts baking as you drive from one pick-your-own farm to the next. These baked doughnuts, with apple cider and maple syrup, might just be the best you’ve ever tasted.

Find the recipe here.

Prev Next

RI Hot chocolate

Rhode Island Hot Chocolate

with faux fluff, with Dave’s, Autocrat or Eclipse coffee syrup

After a day of raking leaves, nothing tastes better than hot chocolate. Kick yours up a bit with some (decaf) coffee syrup and homemade marshmallow fluff. Is it healthy? Well, no, not really. But it’s good for the soul.

Find the recipe here.

 
 

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