Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Big Feast

It has been my practice to leave work early on the day before Thanksgiving,  so I was dismayed to learn that this year I'm on call which means I have to stay at work until at least 5:00pm.

In the face of this calamity, I am planning the shit out of this Thanksgiving.  I made the cranberry sauce on Saturday and the pie crusts on Sunday.  I ordered the turkey last Friday, and picked it up on my way home from work yesterday.  (If you're local, I hope you didn't see me staggering down Monticello Ave, clutching a 20 pound turkey to my chest.)  Last night I cleaned the turkey and stuffed it with lint-free towels, as my mother taught me, to soak up the excess blood.  I also made the stuffing and cooked and pureed the giblets for the dogs' Thanksgiving treat.  They LOVE giblet gravy on their dog food. Seamus will finish the desserts for me on Wednesday while I'm at work.  I'm in better shape now than I was last year on Wednesday night, when I went to bed weeping because there was still so much to do.

As for recipes, I've departed a little from our usual and am trying a few new recipes I've found on blogs and pinterest. (Linked below in the menu list.) The cranberry sauce is Graceful Fitness' kickin' cranberry sauce.  I'm not usually motivated to make our Thanksgiving food healthier, but it does bother me a little to drown fresh cranberries in white sugar.  This recipe is sweetened with dried dates plush fresh apple and pear and flavored with fresh ginger.  The sauce turned out pretty tart, so I added about two tablespoons of maple syrup.  I considered, then rejected the kale gratin from this month's Country Living.  (Beware recipes published in decorating magazines; they are often terrible.) I'm going to make broccoli-mandarin salad from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

I don't do anything special to our turkey--just slap a bunch of butter on it and perhaps push some whole garlic cloves under the skin.  We also like ordinary bread stuffing that is devoid of wild rice or chestnuts or prunes or any of the other things that some people like to use.

I have always made Tasha Tudor's rolls for special occasions, but this year I'm trying the buttermilk potato rolls from Mel's Kitchen Cafe because they seem less fussy and I love potato bread.  Pumpkin pie from my great-grandmother's recipe is a must, but I always add an alternate dessert.  This year it's a Guinness chocolate cheesecake from a recipe I found on pinterest.  The blogger is unknown to me, so this is risky.  I've read the recipe and I think it will be OK.  I've seen some blogger recipes with such half-assed proportions that there is no way they've been tested thoroughly.  And frankly, if you're getting paid or sponsored to create a recipe, you owe it to your readers to measure your ingredients exactly and test the recipe carefully before publishing.

Our menu

Cranberry Sauce
Yam Gratin with chipotle cream (from The New York Times Cookbook)
Broccoli salad with mandarin oranges
Fluffy buttermilk potato rolls

Pumpkin Pie
Guinness chocolate cheesecake

What's on your Thanksgiving menu this year?


  1. Lucy! Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular?

    One year I tried a famous-at-the-time internet Black Turkey recipe that involved making a paste using egg yolks and flour to cover the turkey. The instructions also insisted that one had to booze it up making some horrible drink using egg whites. It was the worst turkey I've ever had, and I felt queasy before dinner even began.

    One year I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner that involved instant mashed potatoes. Blech. The hostess actually preferred them to the real thing.

  2. I'm in charge of oyster stew and that's it. I've cooked the whole thing the last few years, so I am grateful my cousin's in-laws decided to host us all this year.

  3. I serve dinner at a normal dinner time so I have all day to cook. That really helps. I'm having a pared down dinner because we're only having 4 people: turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad and pumpkin pie. That's as pared down as I could get it without leaving out a vital favorite.

  4. Awesome menu planning! I am SO GRATEFUL for the cranberry sauce recipe. I don't eat sugar and I love cranberry sauce, so I was all set to miss out. It looks amazing. I bookmarked to make it! Thank you!!!

    1. Glad to hear it! I hope you like it. I love cranberries too, so the tartness doesn't bother me. BTW, I used 8 dates--the recipe says to use 6-10 depending on your taste.

  5. I am in awe of your kitchen prowess. I do not have your skill.
    We do pot luck at my MIL's and I have to bring cheesecakes (made by my award-winning neighbor) and cheese (made by the award-winning cheesemaker up the road). And beer. Also award-winning;)

    1. It definitely makes sense to outsource if you can. Is it the New Glaurus beer? I wanted to bring some home with me from Wisconsin, but I missed the opportunity.

  6. I was once invited to Thanksgiving by a former boyfriend (and his family) where the menu featured a packaged turkey breast, instant potatoes, boxed stuffing, gravy mix, and peas. Dessert was Safeway pumpkin pie with ReddiWhip and instant coffee, which firmly cemented my suspicion that this boyfriend was destined for the scrap heap. Sorry, Steve.

    1. LOL, that sounds like a sit-com party. Gosh, can you imagine all the awful holiday meals you would have had to eat if you had stuck with that guy?

  7. My menu included an exhausting 14 items, although I helped myself by making several things ahead of time. Next year I will serve fewer dishes, and I will make the stuffing ahead of time. My brother ended up making the mashed potatoes which was a godsend because they were delicious (whereas if I had made them they would have been awful). He also brought 3 of the 5 pies.