Thursday, November 22, 2007
A Fearless Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a holiday that strikes fear in the hearts of seasoned cooks and novice kitchen-pilgrims alike. Much like the knot of anxiety that must have tied up the stomachs of our forefathers and the Native Americans as they sat down to the original feast, awakening to a day filled with chopping and carving can be downright scary.
Good thing I'm fearless. Now, this isn't your typical eat-and-be-judged fearless post. Not only did I have a teammate in the kitchen who's fearless in her own right (Ross' mom, Connie, flew in from Pittsburgh to keep us company - not to mention cook the turkey), there were no judgments at this meal (befitting a time of thanks and good vibes).
She even came bearing gifts! Check out this Christmas tree plate - the light on the knife actually lights up!
We awoke to beautiful snow flurries and...NO COFFEE IN THE HOUSE. So I strapped on my Uggs and schlepped to Dollop to get a pound. I completely forgot that it was a holiday, but luckily they were open till noon (they obviously know their clientele).
I got a pound of Indian coffee, in honor of the book Eat, Pray, Love, which Connie is reading, and which I read recently and am totally obessed with. I suggest reading it immediately. This is a great micro-roaster, Metropolis, that's pretty easy to find in the independent coffeeshops around town. A cup of this got the day started off energetically.
Since there were only three of us sitting down to this feast, we kept the menu small, but focused on making each dish great. We had turkey (of course), gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, whipped and baked butternut squash (you might remember that recipe from the pomegranate-scallops post I did awhile back), rolls, and green bean casserole (one of our family traditions, and my little bro's favorite). For dessert, we had Beulah's Famous Banana Pudding (and I don't use the word "famous" lightly) and pumpkin pie (we may be only three people, but one dessert does not a Thanksgiving feast make).
GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE (WILL'S FAVORITE)
1 1/2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into pieces
1 can gream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. milk
salt and pepper
French fried crispy onions
Boil the green beans for about 8-10 minutes, until they're still bright green but beginning to get tender, then drain. In a baking dish, mix the green beans with the soup and the milk. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then top with the onions. I baked mine in a 325 degree oven (because the turkey was already in there at that temp) for about an hour. The green beans for really tender, but using fresh green beans instead of canned really brightened up the flavor.
WHIPPED AND BAKED SQUASH
Check out my old post for the squash recipe. This one was slightly modified because I started with whole (not pre-cut) butternut squash, and added the sugar, etc. after they were cooked. Then I spread the mixture into a baking dish and baked it for about an hour (again, at 325 because it shared the oven with the turkey).
Connie manned this one on her own. She made a roux, using about 4 T. butter and a few T. of flour. She added the pan drippings (the little brown bits from the bottom of the turkey roasting pan and the juice) and some chicken broth to the roux, and reduced it until it was deliciously cravy-like (it took about 20 minutes).
We just used a regular old bag of stuffing, with chicken broth, and Connie added some fresh onions and celery. We stuffed it in the turkey (that was truly a team effort), and when we took it out, we put it in the oven to get it extra hot.
OK, so that's not a picture of OUR actual turkey. Somehow, I managed NOT to snap the most important picture of the evening, so this one found on the world wide web will have to do. By the time I got my camera over to the bird, Ross was busy carving away like a maniac.
Hmmm, this picture reminds me of something....
OUR LITTLE PLYMOUTH ROCK
THE FINAL PLATE:
AND FOR THE ENCORE(S):
On an impulse, we bought this eggnog with the brandy already in it. At $6 a bottle, it was a deal. We haven't cracked it open yet (we had wine with dinner), but I'll let you know how it goes.
All in all, it was a great day, filled with warmth in the kitchen, great phone talks with everyone in my family, who I missed very much, and thoughts of gratitude for all the wonderful blessings in all our lives. And now we all have leftover turkey sandwiches and Black Friday to look forward to!
Thanks for reading! Hope you're all full and happy.