Food & friendship on my favorite holiday
Being from New England, I was indoctrinated with the story of “the first Thanksgiving,” the one when Pilgrims and their Indian friends broke bread together in 1621 in the newcomers’ gratitude for making it through a year in the New World with the help of the original inhabitants. No matter that Thanksgiving didn’t exactly happen that way and, in fact, did not become a national holiday until 1863, when President Lincoln somehow managed to turn his attention away from the Civil War long enough to sign the holiday into law. Historical facts aside, I buy into the Pilgrims and Indian story because I want to.
Time to eat!
Preparing Thanksgiving dinner was the first holiday meal I relieved my late mother of, and I have prepared a lot of Thanksgiving dinners since. To me, it has always been a sitdown dinner and is my favorite holiday. Since moving to Colorado in 1988, the most poeple we’ve ever had at the table was 20. The fewest was eight — and that was this year.
A number of regulars from years past of moved away, and some (including my son) just couldn’t make it this time. We’ve fallen into a Thanksgiving rhythm, that includes wine and hors d’oeuvre in the living room, followed by soup, turkey-plus and dessert in the dining room. During a good Nouveau Beaujolais year, Joseph Drouhin’s wines what we drink. are what we drank. And here’s what we ate:
Cold shrimp three ways
Two cheese & crackers
Reed’s Prosciutto rolls “with love”
I originally had place settings for 12 but only eight soup plates for my Royal Doulton Rochelle bone china. I bought four more of this vintage pattern from Replacements.com
, so now, I always make soup for a sitdown holiday dinner to amortize the cost.
- Brilliant green Florentine soup made with fresh spinach, shallots, vegetable stock and spices — and swirled with heavy cream just before serving.
The turkey was a bit of a surprise. I bought a fresh natural Diestel turkey (not organic, but free range and natural) from Whole Foods. Turned out that the neck and gizzards in the cavity were frozen. Since poultry can’t freeze from the inside, either Diestel put one over on Whole, Whole Foods put one over on me — or both. It was a fine turkey, but I do resent paying fresh prices for a previously frozen product. I need to talk to the folks at Whole Foods. (Saturday note: I did check with Whole Foods, and they told me that only the inside of cavity is “shell frozen,” but that it is otherwise a fresh, never-frozen bird. The giblets freeze from being in that cavity. Good to know!)
This turkey , fresh out of the cardboard box. It was supposed to be fresh, but the gizzards and neck in the cavities were frozen.
Previously frozen or not, the 2011 bird was a flavorful beauty.
To accompany the bird, I made “Awesome Sasuage, Apple and Cranbery Stuffing,” rich dark gravy, fresh cranberry sauce, carrots and mashed potatoes too, plus Laura’s maple-laced sweet potatoes. I found the stuffing recipe on the Internet. It has been online for a number of years, but all the comments were favorable. I too was happy with it. The “Brussels Sprouts and Wheat Berry Slaw with Smoked Paprika Dressing” is from the current issue of Sunset.
- Carved turkey (white meat, dark meat, skin), with fresh cranberry sauce showing in the lower lefthand corner.
Brussels sprouts slaw -- a fine fresh and nutritious spin on this much maligned crucidiferous vegetable.
My friend and neighbor Vivian is an extraordinary baker. She always prepares the desserts — and this time, because we were only eight and not the customary 14 to 16, she made just two.
Pumpkin tart, made with pumpkin that Viivan baked and pureed.
Apple and cranberry tart.
Th-th-that’s all folks!
Dishes and silverware washed and ready to be put away until next time.