Brimming with Gratitude

Long after the turkey has been carved, and the once beautifully set table is reduced to an assortment of cleared platters, some perhaps, with a few remaining helpings…and after the gluttonous feasters have piled into their cars to make the drive home, and final goodbye…

Brimming with Gratitude

Long after the turkey has been carved, and the once beautifully set table is reduced to an assortment of cleared platters, some perhaps, with a few remaining helpings…and after the gluttonous feasters have piled into their cars to make the drive home, and final goodbye kisses and hugs distributed…I always remember that moment of solitude. That quiet moment after a jovial celebration, when the house is silent, the family all of a sudden small, and the kitchen, well, a wreck. You have that wistful feeling in your stomach, wishing the fun could have lasted longer, exhaustion from days of cooking, and satisfaction that it was a memorable time.

You come to the quick realization that there is more work to be done.

Those same post Thanksgiving celebration symptoms hit me today. After a very fine run with Project Food Blog, the party for me ended today. I knew the end would arrive at some point, yet, I admit, there was certainly a moment of sadness when I found out I did not progress to the next challenge. When I decided to participate in the contest, my motivation was never about the prize. I just wanted to see how I could do. I was curious about the challenge. I found myself pouring my heart into each task, and what surprised me the most was how much I grew with each one. The contest challenged me to view my blog differently, and helped me explore unusual ways to share what I love. And, it was fun.

In that moment of solitude, I found myself quite touched and overwhelmed by the thoughtful messages I received from fellow contestants and supporters. I am brimming with gratitude! I just wanted to thank you all so very much for your encouragement these last few weeks, when this space transformed from a sleepy blog to one driven by challenges and competition. It is because of your votes that I progressed as far as I did! I am proud of it, and grateful to you, and especially grateful to my family for dealing with the madness. My husband was as much a part of this as I was — he was my best cheerleader and critic. I have the prize in him and my children. My heart just melted when my little guy said to me, “I will pretend that you won.” Aw, buddy, I already have.

But there’s still work to be done. I’m looking forward to posting and sharing what I love in the way I know best, and I’m looking forward to supporting the remaining Project Food Blog contestants. And when the Thanksgiving turkey is carved next week, the work won’t end there. While we clean up the dishes and the messy kitchen, a rich turkey stock will be bubbling on the stove, some of which will be used for steamy bowlfuls of a comforting Turkey Orzo Soup. The party may be over, but there is still deliciousness ahead.

Turkey Orzo Soup

Serves 4-6

This is a wonderful soup to help you recover from your Thanksgiving feast. Use the turkey carcass to make a lovely stock (recipe below), and any leftover meat you may have from the bird.


For the Turkey Stock

1 roast turkey carcass (remove any stuffing or anything from the cavity)

3 medium carrots

4 stalks celery

1/2 onion, peeled

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon kosher salt



For the Turkey Orzo Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish

1 leek, washed, sliced lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/2 in pieces

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup carrots, diced

2 cups celery, diced

5 cups turkey stock

1-2 cups shredded turkey (dark meat from wings and drumsticks work well)

1 ginger medallion

1 cup orzo

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

juice of 1/2 lemon

scallions, finely sliced, for garnish


Make the Turkey Stock:

In a large stock pot, place the turkey carcass with the ingredients and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for about 3 hours, the meat should be falling off the bones. Strain the stock and store in air tight containers in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Be sure to debone the carcass and reserve the meat for soups, etc.

Make the Turkey Orzo Soup:

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Saute leeks until they start to wilt, add garlic, stir. Add carrots and celery, seasoning a little with salt and pepper. Allow to saute for about 3-4 minutes. Add turkey stock, shredded turkey, and ginger, bring to a boil. Add orzo and allow to simmer until the orzo is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in juice from half a lemon. Garnish with scallions and a drizzle of excellent quality olive oil prior to serving.


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  1. skip to malou

    … i initially signed up but as you know my blogging went into the sidelines the past two months because of what happened to my dad… i missed the whole thing! I saw some of your posts though, and you’ve impressed me… and I was cheering for you(albeit silently)
    Congratulations liren…and i applaud you for making it this far!

  2. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    Liren, you were formidable competition and I was sad to see you won’t be advancing to Round 8. But you certainly have the right attitude about the contest and I am glad to have discovered your blog because I think big things are ahead of you and I can’t wait to read all about them. You’ve got one loyal follower here, contest or not.

    PS: great recipe!

  3. Kath

    Turkey soup made with stock from the roast turkey carcass is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving! Your soup looks fantastic!

    I was sorry to see you didn’t make it to #8, but Project Food Blog has made me more aware of your blog, and I look forward to seeing more.

  4. Asha@FSK

    Congrats Liren, for making it this far. I agree with you, it was a great experience being part of the contest and being spurred to create themed posts… :)

  5. Jean

    Liren, you should definitely be proud of your work at PFB. You did a fantastic job–you consistently tackled the challenges with strength and style. Was happy to be cheering you on. Looking forward to what you share with us from here. :-)

  6. sippitysup

    This post makes me want to cry a little because through the sadness I feel your joy too. That’s what life is all about. GREG

  7. Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }

    Liren – You should be very proud of how far you progressed with the contest. I understand the moment of disappointment, but the moments of growth certainly out weigh any other thoughts. This particular party may be over, but many more parties to enjoy. You did an amazing job and I look forward to your upcoming posts!! :-)

  8. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking

    “what surprised me the most was how much I grew with each one. The contest challenged me to view my blog differently, and helped me explore unusual ways to share what I love. And, it was fun.”

    This is EXACTLY how I feel too — perfectly characterized! I had you pegged as one of the final 3 for sure, Liren, and I’m so sorry that you’re not still in. I’m so glad the contest introduced me to your amazing blog, though! <3

  9. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

    Liren, I certainly thought you were a competitive candidate running for top food blogger, the video, recipes and posts were incredible! I think it is admirable all that you have accomplished thus far, and there is so much for all of us to look forward to in your future posts. :)

  10. Jacob's Kitchen

    With the chill in the air and pouring rain outside this soup looks absolutely perfect right about now. =) Your blog has always been a place to come for inspiration. Your photos make me want to become a better photographer, and your food makes me want to become a better cook. You are a blogger’s blogger: you give us all something to aspire to. I think you are right that you have poured your heart into these posts and it comes through just as clearly as any of your exquisite photographs. I am glad that you feel good about all that you have accomplished. I, too, am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude, just in time to give thanks with all of the people I care about most in the world. Onward toward our next adventure! =) Cheers!

  11. Joan Nova

    As you may remember, I expressed many of the same sentiments when my time with PFB was over. I loved every second of the time I put into it and, like you, though sorry to see it end, I felt I grew and learned. I continue to watch the challenge with great interest supporting all the talented bloggers. I was certainly surprised that you didn’t move on (It wasn’t because I didn’t vote for you, I did! :).

    …but, hey, we found each other and that’s a good thing!

  12. merry jennifer

    I’ll always be a loyal reader, Liren, regardless of that competition. Your blog has always been a favorite of mine, and I love seeing a new post of yours pop up in my Google Reader list. Hope you have a wonderful – and relaxed! – Thanksgiving. Still hoping we get to meet in real life sometime soon.

  13. norma

    I have been following you since I learned about blogging and I started my own. You are inspiring and when I group up I want to be just like you. :>}. I am sorry not to see you advance to the next because I think you are so talented and you are also a winner to me. Your buddy is a smart young man.

    Oh! By the way soup is wonderful…..

  14. Peggy

    I was definitely cheering for you the entire time Liren! You’ve definitely had some pretty awesome entries and you’ve got a great blog that I love! Really… if you had fun, you’ve already won! And this soup will definitely make use of my leftovers from Thanksgiving! Thanks for sharing!

  15. A Canadian Foodie

    What an insightful and heartfelt reflection about your participation in the contest. The learning and growing is so important and having fun in the process is a gift. Congratulations on your wonderful success for doing so well. You have created a strong following and offer your heart on a plate with every post.

  16. Becky

    I’m sorry that you didn’t make it to Round #8. You were a Top Food Blogger
    in my world. Your recipes, writing, and pics, inspire me to try harder on my blog. Keep on doing what you’re doing, because it works.

  17. Chef Dennis


    you did an outstanding job with the FB Challenge, I was surprised to see you did not advance…..but you did get further than so many others.
    You do such a wonderful job with everything you do, I think you have already won so much, and we are also the winners for the privilege of knowing you!
    Thanks for sharing another delicious creation!

  18. Monet

    My dear friend. You wrote so eloquently…I was truly touched by your post and the words you so graciously shared. You did an amazing job in PFB, and I’m sad to see you not continue. But it seems like it was such a great experience for you, and I was certainly blessed by all the recipes/pictures/videos that you shared. Thank you for continuing to bring such quality writing, photography and recipes to us. I love it here!

  19. Angela@spinachtiger

    Firstly, I subscribed to your blog because of your participation. I am sad and shocked you didn’t make the cut. Videos are very hard to produce and it was also hard to watch all of them. I think maybe they should rethink doing videos at the very end of the line when there are less to view and give adequate time for it.

    I’ll return here again and again. It was nice to meet you at food buzz.

  20. Trish

    Liren, you are a blog rockstar in my book. I believe Jacob said it beautifully, “Your photos make me want to become a better photographer, and your food makes me want to become a better cook.” Thanks for all your fabulous posts!

  21. The Cilantropist

    Liren I couldn’t agree more that pfb has caused amazing growth in so many of our blogs, yours definitely included. You know I loved your blog long before pfb, but I can definitely appreciate your talents even more now, and I was more and more impressed with each post you had! I think that luxury dinner post from the beginning of the competition was when I was truly blown out of the water – incredible! Invite me over next time. ;) Hugs and Happy early Thanksgiving!

  22. RavieNomNoms

    This looks so great! Such a good recipe with Turkey day coming up! I adore orzo too so I will have to try this with some of my turkey leftovers

  23. Tiny Urban Kitchen

    Liren – it was so great meeting you in person at the Foodbuzz Festival. You did a FANTASTIC job in this competition. I totally agree with your sentiments regarding why you entered the contest and what surprised you along the way. I think that’s really the spirit of this competition – to stretch and grow us in ways that we never thought were possible. Great job! You’ve gained a new follower here. :)

  24. Liren

    Thank you all so, so much! I’m at a loss for words – but am just so humbled and thankful for being able to connect with all of you through this blog. Some of you I was lucky to meet before PFB, some of you I was fortunate to meet because of it. Either way, thank you. Wishing you and yours a most Happy Thanksgiving!

  25. riceandwheat

    Liren, I’m so happy to have found you and your blog through PFB and now, I’ve even met you in person – yay! Your posts are all terrific and I can’t wait to read more, especially now that you’re free from the rules of the contest. :D Have a delicious and wonderful Thanksgiving!

  26. Gitte

    You are a real trooper and your posts are always a real pleasure to read. Sorry you did not advance but you can be so proud of yourself! :)
    I do have a quick question for you about this recipe. When you say Ginger medallion, do you mean a slice of ginger?

    • Liren

      Hi Gitte! Aw, thank you, I’m so glad that you enjoy the posts. I’m definitely happy with how I did with PFB! So, yes, when I say ginger medallion, I do mean a slice of ginger. I just like to cut it crosswise, about an inch oval shape, about 1/4 inch thick. Makes it easy to find if you want to dispose before serving! Enjoy!

    • Liren

      Definitely! It’s just what the tummy needs after a day of Thanksgiving gluttony!

  27. Quay Po Cooks

    You are already a winner! I like your the reason you participated in the competition and stay focus on it till the end of your run. I enjoy reading your posts and thanks for this recipe so now I have a new recipe to try out after Christmas with leftovers.

  28. Brie

    you have so much to be proud of – your writing, photography, and recipes are always impressive and inspiring. i was sad to not see you advance, but i was a reader before, and i’ll continue to read your blog and be influenced by your work. best wishes for the future!

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