Saturday, November 28, 2009

The day after the day after

Now that the turkey haze has faded some I thought I'd share how my first totally solo Thanksgiving went.

As a child my bi-polar (and possibly other mental issues) step-father always made Thanksgiving. For many years he was a pilot and flew at night. He spent his days watch Graham Kerr and other chefs on TV (it was rather limited back then) and used his skills to try new recipes at home. That was the best part of him. We owned authentic Chinese bamboo steamers, woks, every pan imaginable with which we made 8 kinds of seafood jambalaya, from scratch crepes flambe, won tons filled with shrimp and chicken, Cornish game hens, and lots of really good pies.

Thanksgiving was from scratch. Delicious rolls brushed with melted butter and honey, an apple pie for Grandpa, a "cherries jubilee" pie for me made by Grandma, two pumpkin pies, cherry pie, and some sort of cream pie. There were all the usual accoutrements but only one thing came from a can - the cranberry jelly because that's how we liked it. I fondly remember the ridged can indentations on the jelly popping out one by one with the splooch as it landed on the fancy china.

This year there was no cranberry, canned or homemade. The kids and I have a mild allergy to cranberries. I didn't really miss them though if you had asked me in previous years what my favorite part was I would have told you that stuffing with cranberries was the highlight. There was still stuffing though.

Two loaves of "regular" bread (using Bette Hagman's 4 bean flour mix which only includes one bean flour but 3 other flours for a total of 4, tapioca, corn starch, and sorghum) and a pan of corn bread plus sauteed portabella mushrooms, onion, and celery with homemade stock, sage, and bits of butter for the top made our stuffing this year. It was a lot of work and not exactly like when I was a child but it was delicious and a wonderful new experience.

There were green beans but not the traditional mixed with a can of condensed soup and topped with canned dried onions (why do people keep making that dish? no one eats it) but my new version which will be kept and done not only at Thanksgiving. Bacon cooked until crispy and then onions and mushrooms sauteed together and tossed with the beans. Even my green bean disliking boy enjoyed these.

The turkeys of my childhood were massive affairs roasted for hours on end and basted every half hour. Mine was brined and roasted only 2 hours with butter above and below the skin and stuffed with lemons and herbs. Next time I'll brine longer and with more salt but it still was enjoyable. Next time I'll also follow my own intuition instead of waiting for the do-hicky to pop out.

The pies turned out better than any pies I've ever made before though they weren't perfect which leads me to want to try again and perfect them. The gluten free crust on the pumpkin pie was really good. Tender and light tasting. I'd really like to make a mock graham crust for next year as it is my preference for pumpkin pie. The wheat cherry pie crust was good too. The filling wasn't quite right because I bought black cherries as they were out of tart cherries. I adjusted the sugar so it wasn't too sweet but black cherries have a faint perfume like flavor which is great in a candle.

There were mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli with cheese sauce, currant wine, and apple cider. The table was set with handmade placemats and napkins and an array of candles. It was a nice meal topped off with some couch lounging. We had a lovely day and I'm so glad we chose to spend it at home with just the 5 of us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Check baby, check baby, 1, 2, 3

Bread for dressing, check
Cornbread for dressing, check
Dressing precooked, check
Bacon for green beans, check
Big pumpkin pie, check
Mini pumpkin pies, check
Pumpkin bread, check
Turkey brining, check
Gravy, check

Still to do tonight:
Cherry pie, crust and filling
Clean it everything up!

Tomorrow's list:
Precook mashed potatoes
Sautee onions and portabella mushrooms for green beans
Steam broccoli
Cheese sauce for broccoli
Decide if I want to make sweet potatoes or not (as I'll likely be the only one to eat them)
Decide if I've got time to make rolls
Stuff and bake the turkey (lemon, rosemary, and thyme) then reheat precooks while it rests
Find the tablecloth
Reclean every damn thing
Find the candles
Clean the main rooms so I can feel like I can sit down and enjoy it all

But for now I'm going to sit on my ass while the pumpkin dishes bake and ignore the fact that I'm covered in flour!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Status updates you won't see


thinks gluten-free baking is not for the feint of heart
feels guilty for letting her kids watch the racist movie Aristocats
knows that it's not her fault but still feels bad
wishes she'd handled that better
has "The Ugly Bug Ball" stuck in her head
likes lumpy oatmeal

Can you see me now?

Hey, hope that you all made it. The list is short for the protection of my family (those that don't know what that means should probably keep it that way, it's easier!). Lately, I've been hesitant to post anything of significance for fear of how the information would be used but at last I think I can be open.

I'm working on trust right now. I've always been a really open person and trusting of most anyone. I would sometimes ignore my own instincts and keep plowing ahead in my relationship with someone but that has come back to bite me again and again. I don't want to grow bitter nor jaded but clearly I need better balance.

Lately, I've been making a conscious effort to repair the damage that has been done to me. I'm choosing only quality people with whom to spend my time, people that improve that make me want to improve upon myself not those that bring me down.

I've got a great pool of people that I can spend time with and get to know even better. I feel terrible that some were ignored, or nearly so, in recent years while I wasted time with some who did not make me feel like a better person or want to be a better person. For that I am sorry. I think I've learned a long and painful lesson.