What's Cooking Behind The Shades - Thanksgiving
Nov. 25, 2009 4:34 pm
Updated: Dec. 3, 2009 10:53 am
The leaves have fallen from the trees, the Halloween Pumpkins on our front porch look like they were carved by Salvador Dali and all the stores have jumped the Christmas gun. It's that time of year again. It's Thanksgiving.
Growing up Thanksgiving meant a rotation between my grandmother's apartment (and a thermostat set to roast), my aunt's home in Connecticut or our home in New Jersey. It was traditional in every way. There was the turkey, stuffing and boatloads of gravy. There were sides of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans and though no one ever really ate them, creamed pearl onions. There was some cranberry salad (only the adults ate that stuff and with a dollop of mayonnaise too- say what ?) and there were parker house rolls. For dessert there was apple pie, pumpkin pie and my older brother's birthday cake. There were never any surprises and we all went home at the end of the day in food coma.
Over the years the venues have changed and so have the tastes of those gathered around the Thanksgiving table. The traditional items have never left the menu but they have been joined by other new traditions. My wife can't imagine a Thanksgiving without our whipped butternut squash and it now travels with us every year no matter where we are going. A bag of a couple of dozen mini corn muffins have also become a must have along with a large loaf of our pumpkin bread. Every year though we like to shake things up a little and try something new. This year, thanks to my flying on a Wednesday which meant I had more time than usual to study the various food & dining sections from newspapers all over the country, I decided to make Balsamic Pearl Onions and Tomato Corn Chili Chutney. Having sampled both before packing them away, I have to say that I am excited about sneaking them onto little dishes and into some open spots on my parent's table.
Now our big challenge this year really isn't much of a challenge at all in that once again we are in charge of roasting the turkey even though we live an hour away. The turkey is a 22lb monster and I am thinking that he will need a good 4 hours unstuffed. That means that we will throw him in the oven here, with his chest plate of bacon, for just about 3 hours. Then we will pull him out and wrap the roasting pan in first a trashbag and then a couple of blankets before tossing him in back of the Explorer and racing off like a NASCAR driver with checkered flag in sight. An hour later we will unwrap "The Bird" and stuff him into a waiting oven for a quick browning/warming session before letting him rest again before carving. This method has actually turned the driest frozen craptastic free grocery store turkey into the juiciest of morsels. I can pat myself on the back now for my past accomplishments but I know I will get nervous with each red light we encounter on the drive down. Watch this space for an update on how I did this year as I won't hesitate to blow my own horn or trumpet my greatest failures.
So sit back tomorrow with a large plate of grub and a goblet of wine or cider. Think about about times gone by and the feasts that were had. Tell a story from high school that will embarass your sister and one about yourself from college that will shock your parents. Watch football until you don't know who is playing in which game. Most of all, enjoy the day and be thankful for those around you. You can also be thankful for the bag of leftovers that Grandma shoves in your hand as you get ready to leave.
So that's What's Cooking Behind The Shades today. Come back again next time when we discuss what worked, what failed and what the hell was that stuff that Aunt Joy brought.