Tuesday, November 23, 2010

[JessFinds] Thanksgiving - Too!

I agree wholeheartedly with Marie about Thanksgiving. It is definitely my favorite holiday too. Unfortunately, this year, I am just not wrapped up in the hearth-and-home of the holiday since this will not be my home in a few weeks. I have boxes everywhere. And packing paper.  And I have a small group of four adults. Two children. I want to thank everyone for the invites, but this year it seems right that we just keep our little group hunkered down.

So... our menu is very basic this year:

(pre-cooked) Smoked Spiral-Cut Country 1/4 Ham and mustards
(pre-cooked) Smoked Country 1/4 Turkey Breast and gravy
My version of my mom's stuffing/dressing
Trashy green bean casserole
Smashed Potatoes (Yukon Golds are the only way to go)
Cranberry sauce
Baked Mac n' Cheese for the Kiddles

Not very impressive, but it will be small and simple in comparison to my gourmet feasts of years past! I drooled over Marie's appetizers. I love putting out chevre with honey and making Nigella Lawson's rosemary, brown sugar and cayenne "hot nuts." 

Sigh. Next year. I will go big. Especially because next year I am going to be 20 minutes from my Aunt. My Aunt who works for Williams Sonoma. (maniacal laughter inserted). So excited.

Brine your bird and then load this Potlatch seasoning on it before roasting.
When I cooked big turkey beasts, I always used William Sonoma's Turkey Gravy Base as backup gravy. It fits right in - you just blend in some of the pan drippings. It is great stuff.

Preacher and I have always hosted fantastic Thanksgivings. We love a crowd. We had a tiny townhome in Alexandria, VA and packed it with 25 people one year. Dinner was on a combo of paper plates and actual plates, people were perched on the stairs ... but it was so much fun.

And there was the Tur-Duc-Hen year. It was delicious (layered with etoufee) but cooking it was a bit traumatizing.

I am old enough now to have firm ideas about Thanksgiving. For example, a bird should ALWAYS be brined before roasted. Otherwise it is just a big chicken. Stuffing should NEVER go inside the bird as it hampers even-roasting and runs the risk of containing uncooked turkey juices (eeeeew). Instead, it is "dressing" and cooked separately, never, ever wet and gloppy.  Real butter is essential on at least this one day of the year. There ain't nuttin' wrong with trashy green bean casserole. And I have even come to accept that sweet potatoes are palatable with that crunchy marshmallow topping. Why not? They are side dishes and side dishes are all about crowd-pleasing. Salad is ridiculous on Thanksgiving unless it is some sort of fruit salad or you are having a Sonoma County type of T-Day. I know that some people might run me out of town for some of my beliefs, but I am master of the Thanksgiving Table in my home and I rule the holiday with conviction!

My mom taught me that Thanksgiving was a time to open your doors to all wayward children. Abundance is to be shared. In a way, it was our own Día de los Muertos - a time to thank all those who came before us and passed on their traditions to us.

Apparently my Great-Grandma H. was a Queen of Thanksgiving. I was never lucky enough to be at her table for the holiday, but my mom continued many of her traditions throughout my childhood.

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