Chef's Corner

#Thanksgiving2017: The Leaves Will Keep On Falling

Some facts about writing this post:

  • The long weekend has passed. Hence, #latepost
  • It took several moments of procrastination before finally writing down this post. Some activities included: brushing up on French, checking my Instagram, and watching a couple of episodes of The Good Place (highly recommended!)
  • The original idea is to write one big list of people who I want to thank. I scratched that idea because it’s another opportunity to dive into the procrastination sinkhole.

Despite the first point, I still want to wish you, dear reader, a Happy Thanksgiving! If you’d rather skip the storytelling and see the recipes of my #ChefJoaquinPaolo menu, scroll down below!

I just stayed in for the long weekend. I used the time to re-charge, get some laughs from a famous Filipino Youtube vlogger, go crazy in my kitchen, and finish a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. I even went astray from my personal project of avoiding gluten by downing some Belgian wheat beers.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have three takeaway points from my little moments of reflection:

This is my 7th Thanksgiving since I moved to Canada. This is one of the three occasions where I “look back” on time (the other is my birthday and New Year’s Eve). Just like the past years,  I had a mix of good and bad moments — challenges, chances, choices, and changes. What was so different about this year? Forgive me for painting an emotional picture on your minds. I looked out the window and saw the leaves being blown all over the place.

I guess that’s one of the constants in life. Whether we have something to be thankful for or not, the leaves will keep on falling.

I’m one of those people who like to research something before getting started. If you watch The Good Place, I empathize with Chidi — I consider all options to the point of paralyzing myself into doing some action. I decided to not spend the weekend playing NBA 2K17 or read online articles. I wanted to continue my jigsaw puzzle (which was 1/4 accomplished). I wanted to do a little bit and leave it off for next week.

I ended up finishing the whole thing! What did this activity teach me? That I am amazing and could finish 3/4 of a puzzle on a long weekend? Absolutely not. The little successes are not found on over-thinking. It’s in the act of getting started.

At dinner, we made a video call to my brother and his family in Michigan and to my sister and her family in the Philippines. Why am I grateful for this moment? This activity does not happen only in Thanksgiving. Almost every night, I get the chance to see the cute smiles of my nephews and niece. I’m grateful for these simple joys — no holiday required!

On y va!!

We didn’t have turkey this year. We purchased some good quality steaks from Costco. I steamed some frozen vegetables, cooked scalloped potatoes for a side dish, and baked a blueberry crumble for dessert. Recipes for scalloped potatoes and blueberry crumble are below:

Scalloped Potatoes:
You will need:

  • 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
  • 3/4 pitcher of milk (or 1 liter) — depends on how much sauce you want
  • 3 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 large Russet potatoes, sliced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • (optional) bacon bits


  1. Set the temperature of the stove top in medium-high heat.
  2. Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees.
  3. On a medium-sized pot, melt the butter. Once it is melted, add the flour. Mix together.
  4. Add the milk to the pot. Lower the temperature to avoid burning at the bottom of the pan. Cover until it starts to boil. About 10 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to the mixture. Mix well.
  6. The mixture should now have a bechamel sauce texture. Add 1 cup of cheese. Mix again and set aside.
  7. Peel the potatoes. Chop them into thin circular slices.
  8. Spread the sauce at the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or glass baking dish just enough to cover.
  9. Add the sliced potatoes until the bottom is covered
  10. Spread the minced onion on top of the sliced potatoes.
  11. Repeat the process (except the onions) — add the sauce and add potato slices until there are no more potato slices left.
  12. Spread bacon bits (optional) and the remaining cheese on top
  13. Cover with foil. Bake in 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
  14. Broil for 15 minutes to get that golden brown color on top.


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