t-day

i’m postdating this because I CAN.

i finally made pumpkin fondue for thanksgiving, which i’ve been wanting to try for a while now. i heard about it on mpr sometime, probably when gourmet magazine went print defunct, and promptly went to the internet to find it: http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/2008/11/roast-pumpkin-with-cheese-fondue

i thought it was mediocre. others really liked it. i didn’t get any post-cooked pics, but i did have the wherewithall to take some before pics!

cheese fondue

upcoming thanksgiving

no catvember today! tomorrow is thanksgiving, so i am baking and cooking like a fiend. perhaps tomorrow catvember will resume, or else i will post pictures of my food! OR…i might not post at all. we’ll see what happens!

my other goal for the month of november, which was to get at least 50,000 words in on my devils syrup book, is not going well 🙁

thanksgivings of yore

this is what i sent in for rochester women’s magazine and got published. 

When daylight saving gives us an extra hour of sleep on a Saturday night, and the days suddenly grow so short that I wonder why it’s 9:30 p.m., look at the clock, and realize it’s still 5 p.m., I know it’s time for the holidays. I’m not one to want Christmas to come right after Halloween, and I enjoy the time it takes to move from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s. But Thanksgiving isn’t what it used to be, for some reason.

When I was young, my family went to my aunt Kathleen & uncle George’s house for the day, along with their kids, my aunt Colette, and uncle Squire. My mom was “famous,” I guess you could say, for her pumpkin pie, and this is the dish we would bring to the Thanksgiving spread. Although I loved the food and the people at the time, looking back, it was really the night before Thanksgiving that was especially endearing.

For the four pies that would ultimately come from the oven, my mom would start prepping right after supper, pulling out cans of pumpkin puree and evaporated milk. She mixed the ingredients in the large stainless steel pot we owned, the only thing big enough to hold all the ingredients. There was a real science to the spices, taste-testing for the right combination after each dash here, teaspoon there. Some years we had pies that tasted heavily of cloves; other years, nutmeg sparkled on our tongues.

After the filling was perfected, it was time for the crust, which was the best part for us kids, and the worst part for my mom. My siblings and I would gather around as we watched her crumble flour, salt, and Crisco between her fingers, then add water until the dough stuck together. We helped get the pie plates ready, which I never remember her buying and that she still uses, by swirling Crisco on the bottom and sides with a napkin, making circular patterns until we were told to stop.

Meanwhile, my uncle Squire always came to our house the night before Thanksgiving to make his contribution to the dinner: cranberry-orange sauce. Because he was a bachelor and didn’t have much of a need for kitchen gadgets, he didn’t own a blender, a necessary accouterment for making cranberry-orange sauce. My dad, of course, was in the kitchen as well, inputting commentary when necessary and generally making fun of my mom and uncle. So there we were in the kitchen, my mom, dad, Squire, and one, two, three, or four kids.

Our countertops were old and not the best for large-area food preparation, so my mom used a piece of laminate, which was a remnant of countertop cut for a sink (something I realized much later in life). After my dad pulled it from its cubbyhole and placed it on the kitchen, my mom prepared for the most difficult part of piemaking: rolling the dough. After cursing her dough and yelling at us to watch out while she flipped the crust from the surface to the plate, my mom let us have the leftover pieces to mash together and play with. After begging to cook our mini-pie creations, mom made us toss our dough in the trash.

But the best was yet to come: It was time to slip the pies into the oven. Baking four pies took time – two batches of prep and hour-long baking for four pies – and of course, small children had to go to sleep to prepare for the next day’s festivities. We were tucked into bed while the pies baked, the smell wafting up the stairs and into the bedroom where we would be lulled to sleep by the scent of pumpkin and spices. It was the best night’s sleep of the year.

why i like thanksgiving

i pulled up FB this morning while i was lying in bed and happened across a post from my friend megan who said who doesn’t like thanksgiving? a holiday that revolves around food and shopping! to which she got a ton of responses from people who don’t like thanksgiving.

good grief (as megan so aptly commented).

response 1: i don’t like the food.

rebuttal: you HAVE FOOD. some people aren’t so lucky.

response 2: i have too many places to go.

rebuttal: you have people who like you and want to see you. some people aren’t so lucky.

response 3: native americans.

rebuttal: i did a quick google search on this. there are many american indians who celebrate t-day. there are many who don’t but get together with family and friends for a big meal. 

so, i posted “I LOVE THANKSGIVING!!!!!!…” first, then wrote a whole post about why i like and am thankful for thanksgiving. i figured it would be a nice blog post, and it would give you a break on the cats (….well, on second thought, no one is getting sick of the kitties…)

why i am thankful for and like thanksgiving: 

  1. i have the day off because i am lucky to have a job not in retail. 
  2. i get to cook a huge meal, and i love to cook AND i love to eat. i indulge that day because it’s one day a year. 
  3. i get to see my family that day. if i weren’t on awesome terms with my fam, i’d most likely get together with friends. 
  4. WE HAVE FUN!!! it’s AWESOME!!! my mom might drive me nuts a little, but overall, spending time with family is one of my favorite things, if not favorite. 
  5. this is just the beginning of a 4-day weekend. 4 whole days off work to goof around! once again thankful for my job. i might get a couple runs in there too, but it’s relaxing. 
  6. my sister Jane MacArthur and i go shopping on black friday because why not?? it’s fun to laugh at the early birders, and when we do go, the crowds have died down enough to be tolerable. 
  7. LEFTOVERS. dressing is great, pie is great, turkey is great, GRAVY. nomnomnom. 
  8. have i mentioned pie yet? i really like pie. it deserves a number of its own. 
  9. check out this huffpo article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/do-american-indians… he’s american indian who doesn’t celebrate thanksgiving for the historical reasons, “But I do take advantage of the holiday and get together with family and friends to share a large meal without once thinking of the Thanksgiving in 1621.” doesn’t this describe most of us? how many of us actually think of the historical reasons when we greet our friends and family and settle in for a big meal? i’m not trying to demean the historical aspect, i’m just thinking it might be time for a shift in the meaning of the holiday.
  10. 10. when my family was poor as dirt, we would deliver thanksgiving meals to families who signed up for free food through our church. although we were poor and probably couldn’t put together a t-day feast of our own, we still had family to spend t-day with and still had food on our plates. i am always thankful that i have had family to spend time with and who will support me through tough times.

turkey!!!

a very nice thing about only having to cook for yourself is that i could take pictures of the food as it was cooking without worrying about getting in someone’s way or holding up any process but my own. woo!

centerpiece

centerpiece

 

new kitty at the time ralph.

new kitty at the time ralph.

my turkey recipe is long and messy. even thought i have it almost memorized, i tape it to the microwave above the stove and it makes it easy to read and find.

my turkey recipe is long and messy. even thought i have it almost memorized, i tape it to the microwave above the stove and it makes it easy to read and find.

out of the brine and into the roasting pan!

out of the brine and into the roasting pan!

this all gets shoved up the turkey's butt. mmmm. see how having a rosemary plant pays for itself?

this all gets shoved up the turkey’s butt. mmmm. see how having a rosemary plant pays for itself?

all trussed up and nowhere to go. expect the oven.

all trussed up and nowhere to go. expect the oven.

mushroom porn. 1 lb. of mushies. i got crimini and oyster mushrooms this year.

mushroom porn. 1 lb. of mushies. i got crimini and oyster mushrooms this year.

and why not use a whole stick of butter in the mashed potatoes?

and why not use a whole stick of butter in the mashed potatoes?

EASY rolls. buy frozen loaves of bread, thaw two loaves, then cut into 10 pieces. roll into oblong shapes and place in a row down a 9x13. let rise and bake for 1/2 hour at 350. take out and brush with butter. so yummy!

EASY rolls. buy frozen loaves of bread, thaw two loaves, then cut into 10 pieces. roll into oblong shapes and place in a row down a 9×13. let rise and bake for 1/2 hour at 350. take out and brush with butter. so yummy!

green beans added to mushies. also includes shallots and porcinis and lots of butter. thanksgiving: brought to you by butter.

green beans added to mushies. also includes shallots and porcinis and lots of butter. thanksgiving: brought to you by butter.

gravy! i had 3 pints leftover. also includes butter. ha.

gravy! i had 3 pints leftover. also includes butter. ha.

and the piéce de resistance, finally out of the over. i am brining my turkey every year.

and the piéce de resistance, finally out of the over. i am brining my turkey every year.

nano update

after a 6,000 word streak last sunday, thanksgiving came and i sat at 23,000 words for three days.

i thought maybe it was hopeless, winning this nanowrimo thing.

i still don’t know if i’ll make it, but today i put in 7,000 words so far and i’m not done. plus, there’s one more day of the weekend left.  i’m sitting at 30,100 words right now. i figure if i can make it to 33,000 tonight, and put in another 10,000 words tomorrow, i’ll only need to write 1400 words a day until friday, and i can hit 50,000. i might make it yet. i’ll just be at my computer, drinking tea or diet sunkist lemonade, listening to the last two tracks of PotC III over and over.

wish me luck.

actually, wish me luck that i don’t run out of a plot. that seems to be the overwhelming issue at hand. flyin’ by the seat of my pants, i am.

anticipatory hostess

this year i’m hosting thanksgiving. some may be wondering what was i thinking, and how on earth can you do thanksgiving, you’re only 28.

that isn’t too young. after going to kathleen and george’s for thanksgiving for so many years, and watching their children not host thanksgiving, even after k&g were well into their 60s (or so i assume, kathleen never lets on about her age – she’s still 25), i think it’s not right to make my parents have to host every holiday.

now, that doesn’t mean i’m gonna give up christmas quite yet :).

but a couple years ago i figured i could do thanksgiving. thanksgiving isn’t bad. enter bad circumstances where my living spaces weren’t the greatest, and that was pushed back a couple years to the current year.

and i’m prepared. i have all the seating accoutrement, eating accoutrement, and foodstuffs. nate and i went grocery shopping last night and bought turkey and other crap we need for the impending thursday. he is not enthused, let me tell you. he is very concerned about cramped kitchen quarters, but i told him he could just stay out of the kitchen and not worry about it (this is not to say that he will not be in the kitchen the night before, helping prepare stuff then).

anyway, i’m ready to go. charlie arrives tuesday night, melissa is showing up wednesday afternoon, and everyone else is coming thursday (and my grandma, who only has a 2-mile drive, i think is pretty excited about this).

so, i will be posting pictures after the big day, and i will make sure to call liz on t-day while she is stuck in indiana. i suppose we can all be thankful for indiana too.

and amidst planning and shopping, i am only at 17,000 words, a mere 13,000 behind. UGH. i don’t think i’ll be winning nanowrimo. poo.