A Week Of Thanksgiving - Life ... It's Why We Cook. Blog at Allrecipes.com - 290745

Life ... It's Why We Cook.

A Week of Thanksgiving 
Nov. 27, 2012 7:12 pm 
Updated: Dec. 6, 2012 5:45 am

It was a busy week of trying to catch up and, hopefully, get ahead of schedule so that our son could take the weekend off to celebrate Thanksgiving. He is a contractor, specifically trim carpentry, and he had conflicts in his schedule because of a rush job that demanded pieces of his days- just pieces. When I offered my help, he readily accepted. I arrived at his Westerville, OH home late Saturday evening and went straight to bed to get as much sleep as possible.

He and I began the day at a very upscale home that had suffered fire damage. His company had five rooms to reconstruct from the drywall outward. Everything is custom, including the profiles of the millwork. Any mistake would be costly and time consuming. During this work, he was called to the restaurant where he had constructed the inside motif, a southwest theme that leaned heavily to New Mexico.

At this restaurant I met the super nice couple that owned it and who were in the rush of final details before their opening on Wednesday afternoon. I was immediately reminded of the "Restaurant Impossible" rush to completion in each of the episodes. Unlike Robert Irvine, this couple were the nicest and most pleasant people anyone could meet. They handled their people very well and could get the best effort from them just by a quiet voice and serious approach that was all business. It was in this mad rush that I was introduced to their head chef who shared the nice approach to dealing with the help with the same success as his bosses. They gave my son the list of what they wanted done and said they would be adding to it as things happened that weren't in the plans. Around 11:30n PM we able to leave. There were a couple of projects remaining, but we had to wait for the stores to open on Wednesday. We were told they would call when the pieces were there.

My son decided that we would spend Wednesday moving tools and equipment from a storage unit into a space he had just leased for a shop where he would build much of the custom work his customers demanded. That was a grueling job because of the weight, bulky sizes and quantity he had in that unit. At his new space, he would be able to have much of it permanently set up and the rest would be readily available for use. We finished the move around three o'clock and went to his place to prepare for the holiday. We hadn't been there a half hour when the restaurant called for us to complete their jobs.

This time, we were there for only a few hours and we could leave for the holiday.

When we returned my daughter in law had returned from her trip picking up the items that would complete the Thanksgiving menu and my wife had arrived with the parents of my daughter in law.

My son was the chef for Thanksgiving and right at the beginning of the day he barked his one standing order for the day, "Stay outside the kitchen. I don't need help unless I ask for it!" I had no problem with that. I would use the time to play with the granddaughter and the dog as well as enjoy the company of my wife and friends.

The recipe my son picked for the turkey was different from any I had seen. The turkey was 12 lbs of organic goodness. He began the process on Wednesday when he brined the bird in a mix of one cup salt and two gallons of water for six hours and then refrigerated it uncovered over night. (Which turned out to be ten hours.) This was to create a browned crispy skin. He then baked it at 300*, breast down until the thigh temp was 130* and then turned the bird on its back to cook until the thigh temp was 175* and the breast temp was 165*. Then, the bird was to rest for 30 minutes before carving. When the bird came out, it was a dark golden brown. Perfection!

My daughter in law is of Italian descent so something Italian was required. She chose Ravioli. On Wednesday evening, she mad her own pasta and then ran the sheets through her Kitchen Aid Ravioli attachment. She made the filling and sauce from a four generation recipe of her family. I was able to witness the process and found it fascinating.

She, also, prepared stuffing from a family recipe and her mother had brought cranberry salad from home. My wife had brought plenty of home made bread to last the remaining three days of the weekend. Those three items were the centerpices of the feast and were adorned by a veggie plate and fruit tray. Her mother brought a pecan pie and my wife brought a pumpkin cream cheese pie. That was plenty for the seven of us. There was a semi dry Reisling for a drink.

My daughter in law prepared the dining table in a an autumn motif and used fine china, silver tableware and crystal for the service. It was beautiful and elegant.

Those two put on a day to be remembered for a lifetime!

On Friday, while "the girls" were shopping, my son, his father in law and I went to the shop and helped arrange tools and equipment on the shelving. A photograph was taken of each item for insurance records, also. When we left, the floor space had increased dramatically. My son was a happy puppy.

Saturday was a totally kick-back day and Sunday morning the old folks piled into the car and headed back to Michigan.

When I was still growing up, my mother would fix a turkey and a ham for Thanksgiving. Her stuffing was the traditional sage stuffing. I haven't had a thanksgiving like that since I left home to enter The U.S. Air Force. I decided that I would make a meal for my wife from the elements I was missing. Tonight I made the nostalgic entry into my past and baked a ham, traditional dressing and steamed sweet potatoes with dairy butter.

I did step away from traditional dressing, somewhat. The recipe was the same but I baked it in a muffin pan. We had seen the idea on Food Network and liked the thought of each serving having it's own delicious crust.

As the aromas of the ham and stuffing wafted their way through the house, memories of years long gone re-awakened and presented themselves to me. I was alone so I allowed myself to entertain those memories. Unfortunatly, when one entertains memories of the past, all of the past is relived, including those tragic things that marred his life. Joy and sadness bring lost emotions to the surface to be dealt with again. I would do it again. It was an important effort to remember why I am where I am.

It was my second Thanksgiving of 2012.

Mom, dad, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, sister, brother in law,, nephew, mother in law sister in law, cousins and many friends were all there.
Nov. 27, 2012 7:46 pm
You brought tears to my eyes. I'm finding the older I get, the more emotional holidays become. Lots of memories. Thanks for sharing your holiday fun.
Nov. 28, 2012 5:28 am
I'm finding as I get older there are more not here to celebrate the holidays with. It is rather sad but that is life. It is always changing and we should appreciate what we have in the moment. Nice blog and it sounds like you were working for your supper :)
Nov. 28, 2012 6:46 am
Hi, iceemama! If it wasn't for our kids and grandkids, there wouldn't be much cause to celebrate. With them, we are making many memories to tide us over. Emotions are our thermometer that rate our success as human beings; the more laughs and tears the more we cared for those we shared this earth with.
Nov. 28, 2012 6:50 am
Good morning, m'lady Cat! Yeah, it was work- lots of it! But it made me appreciate Thanksgiving even more because I havent been able to spend much time (one on one) with my son since he left home years ago.
Nov. 28, 2012 6:55 am
What a wonderful Thanksgiving. I love the Italian touch-with the homemade ravioli and everyone contributing to the Thanksgiving meal. You made me hungry just reading your blog.
Nov. 28, 2012 7:42 am
Sounds like two wonderful Thanksgiving's to me! Thanks for sharing them, Mike. A few years ago, someone on the "buzz" suggested making stuffing "muffins" and I've been making them that way ever since. They are always a huge hit at my Thanksgiving table. Happy Holidays!
Nov. 28, 2012 8:17 am
Thanks for the memories Mike,i'm Italian,and growing up and adapting to Canada's culture,my mom always had some kind of pasta dish at Holiday time.My sisters and i do the same thing.It's wonderful.
Nov. 28, 2012 10:55 am
This is the first year we went off the traditional, Lela. Her ravioli and sauce was incredibly good. Our son and DIL planned this weeks ago so it went off in an organized fashion.
Nov. 28, 2012 11:27 am
Good afternoon, Mi Being Mi! Those stuffing muffins were very good! I was surprised they took so long to bake, though. As it turns out, that is OK- it just made more of that crust!
Nov. 28, 2012 11:30 am
Hi, manella! I imagine trying to have an Italian culture in a largely Scottish population would be a challenge.
Nov. 28, 2012 11:58 am
Hey mike it was,i grew up in Little Italy,in Edmonton Alberta,live in Nova Scotia now,looking back it wasn't that bad,learning English,now that was a challange.
Nov. 28, 2012 12:11 pm
Oooh, stuffing muffings! How cool! Lovely blog, Mike.
Nov. 28, 2012 1:22 pm
You do get around some, manella! My mother was born in Rocky Mountain House , about three hours from Edmonton. Language can be a problem, but it can be fun, too. I remember many funny things happening when I was unable to speak the language during my military tour in Turkey.
Nov. 28, 2012 1:23 pm
Not just cool, Bibi, but a new twist to the same old recipe! If you like the crust of stuffing, you'll go apey for the stuffing muffins!
Nov. 28, 2012 3:58 pm
mike you have been thru plenty in your own life. but, i like you would probably have a heart-attack before i bowed out on help when needed, especially from family members! you certainly had to work for your dinner. your son, after working his butt off ( with your help,) accomplished very much! yes, holidays are certainly a time to remember that time when all the aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas were still here. the funny things they did..."she forgot her teeth, send him to get them."
Nov. 28, 2012 3:59 pm
Beautiful blog, Mike. And such great memories. Our holidays have changed dramatically also - and I am learning to embrace the new traditions. I know that this was very touching for your son and his family as well. Let's see what Christmas brings! Your son inherited your love of the kitchen, it seems!!!
Nov. 28, 2012 4:23 pm
Hi, Gary! It was a lot of work but, perhaps, this will be a memory of me that he wuld share with his grandchildren.
Nov. 28, 2012 4:29 pm
Thank you, Maggi! He has a natural curiosity regarding tastes that, in his younger years, led to some-shall we say- interesting combinations? Now he seems quite relaxed in the kitchen and is far more careful. Give yer hubby a howdy for me, OK?
Nov. 28, 2012 5:40 pm
Hey mike, sign lanuage works also,you probably had to do that a lot in your travels.That and a smile.Always nice to make new memories.Have a great night.
Nov. 28, 2012 10:27 pm
Shoot, wrote a whole response and it said there was an Error, oh, that must have been when the Stars turned into Pros! Sigh:( Anywho, Loved your blog Mikey!! Memories are Always a double edge sword, we are Blessed!! I tried making the stuffing in the muffins tins and the kids wanted me to go back to casserole style. Thanks for sharing!! Hi to Mrs Mike:)
Nov. 29, 2012 4:20 am
You certainly earned your Thanksgiving dinner! So glad you were able to spend that one-on-one time with your son. Sounds like he's very successful. Your Thanksgiving feasts sound grand. I'll have to try the stuffing muffins. Thank you for sharing!
Nov. 29, 2012 9:35 am
Isn't it bittersweet to see the holidays past and compare them to the here and now. So many are gone and yet new ones have joined us. This really is a time for reflection. We had so much to celebrate this year and I am grateful we were all together. Best to you and yours Mike XO
Nov. 29, 2012 12:51 pm
Too bad they didn't like it, Patty Cakes! You can send what they don't eat to me!
Nov. 29, 2012 12:53 pm
Hi, Magnolia Blossom! I believe he is successful simply because he has customers calling him on the reccomendation of previous customers.
Nov. 29, 2012 12:58 pm
Aloha, mauigirl! Mahalo. My experiences with AR folks have been some of my lifes highlights.
Dec. 1, 2012 5:30 am
Oh Mike, you brought tears to my eyes! For some reason (I think it has to do with this being the first holiday season without my son, since he is now living 1,400 miles away and chose to stay in SD with my sister)this is a very sentimental holiday season for me. It sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, both with your family of now and family of past. :)
Dec. 1, 2012 4:25 pm
This Thanksgiving season still had it's lonely spot, Mother Ann. Our daughter celebrates with her husbands family and that is as it should be because her husbands family is very small. ... When our kids were first gone for the holidays, we had a hard time adjusting but life had a way of working it out for us. I'm sure it will for you, too.
Dec. 3, 2012 7:18 pm
daPita PRO, PERFECT! Last year was rough having Ryan gone but he is here this year and I notice that in some ways he is still gone. He is growing up. Just goes to show we really do need to take the time to play with our kids when they are little :)
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Mike Harvey, daPITA

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About Me
At age 16, I began cooking when my mother was injured in an accident that kept her off her feet for five weeks. At first, my repertoire was fried hot dogs with pork and beans, boiled hot dogs with macaroni and cheese or pizza from a box. After a couple weeks of this, my younger brother was the first to protest and demand variety and my dad was quick to support him. That was my first cooking challenge, learning to plan a meal. About that time, mom returned from the hospital and from her bed, began teaching me things like roast beef, fried chicken, stews and all the sides and trimmings. In 1967, I married and my wife designated herself as the cook and this continued until 1999. It was then that I (voluntarily) began cooking again. At some point, I realized that I was having fun and began searching for recipes that were more challenging and interesting. I found AR and used it's recipes for a long time before registering and later becoming an active member.
My favorite things to cook
Soups. How can I go wrong? They are a great way to use up leftovers and those veggies that are approaching the end of their usefulness. They are always an original recipe. Roasts and steaks are favored, also. Getting the right "doneness" and choosing appropriate sides for a tastey and attractive meal is a continuing and always evolving menu.
My favorite family cooking traditions
If creating impulsive menus and recipes is a tradition then, (I guess) we have a tradition. A new tradition is developing. I have a fruitcake recipe that, I believe, is near perfection. I make it just before Thanksgiving so it is aged enough for the Christmas/ New Year holidays.
My cooking triumphs
Without a doubt, my own recipe for a Reuben Sandwich. It has been a demanded item for many years and I shared it in my AR blog. http://allrecipes.com/Cook/13101603/BlogEntry.aspx?postid=204609
My cooking tragedies
Too many. I have been able to throw them out and have something new before my wife gets home. Most of the time, anyway.
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