Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gathering Traditions

Thanksgiving isn't a particular day; it's the day when your loved ones gather.

Years ago, when I lived in western New York and my pal Wenirs and her family lived a mere six hour drive away in Michigan, we developed a strong tradition of spending holidays together and it was rare that we missed a Thanksgiving. One year, it snowed and sleeted so hard that we simply couldn't make the drive, slogging sadly to the local Wegmans market to buy a small turkey to eat with just the two of us. Most years, however, either they would drive east or we would drive west, usually on Thanksgiving day to avoid the traffic, and we'd celebrate the holiday the next day.

Since I moved to California, our Thanksgivings together have been far fewer, but this year I managed to snag Wenirs' son Mark for a second Thanksgiving dinner on the Saturday after. He drove up from LA and while he was sleeping off his long drive, I put a second turkey on the rotisserie and set a table filled with family traditions.

The table itself was a gift from our friends Irene and Guy. The china originated with my great-grandmother; the silver was a wedding gift from my parents; the water glasses came from my mother's best friend (and Wenirs' mother), Bobbie, for my sister, who sent them to me. The wine glasses were a wedding gift from
My Beloved's brother Ted. On the plate, in addition to the traditional turkey, are our good friend Jack's mashed potatoes as well as wild rice and black olives in honor of Wenirs who always served those at her Thanksgiving table. The squash is a new recipe to me this year but one that was such a hit that it will become traditional from now on.

Thanksgiving isn't a particular day; it's the day when your loved ones gather, whether in person or in spirit.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.We had all our kids home with additional boy and girl friends.Good times.

Sunday, November 29, 2009  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

The whole thing looks wonderful. *sigh*

Sunday, November 29, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, glad you had the best kind - family all around!

Morgan, I thought so, too. All those memories and connections...

Monday, November 30, 2009  
Blogger Rev. Biggles said...

Uh, yeah. Um, there's no gravy. What happened?

Biggles

Monday, November 30, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Biggles, I think the problem was that you and Cookiecrumb were both spoken for on Thanksgiving. I don't know how to make gravy.

Monday, November 30, 2009  
Blogger Rev. Biggles said...

Gah! That doesn't sound right. Well, tell you what. A friend of mine sent me a free 5 quart KitchenAid mixer and figure I'll learn how to use it this coming year. Howabout we kinda pair up, you learn gravy and I'll learn some baking action?

Biggles

Tuesday, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Rev, okay, Cookiecrumb says I can make good gravy if I roast necks and backs - but, then what do I do? I know you add some flour or other thickener, then water or milk or something? I need teaching.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Biggles: She told me she don't LIKE gravy! Leave her alone.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, I'm not a huge fan of gravy, but then I haven't tasted yours or Biggles' so I can't say definitively, can I? :-) I'm willing to learn so I can get compliments on my good gravy, even if I don't use it myself.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I'm going to give you the one paragraph gravy recipe.
Roast turkey backs, skin side up (I'm skipping the necks next time), in a pan with sides. (A roasting pan, d'oh.) 350 for an hour should do it.
Remove backs and simmer them gently in a pot with not a lot of water, plus bay leaf, celery, onion and carrot, until you get a tasty stock. An hour, say.
Depending on how much fat you get in the roasting pan, you might have to pour some off. Too much is just gross. You should also have brown, gooey bits in there (my backs were juicy; got a lot of brown goo). Stir it all up with a whisk.
Add flour in an amount equivalent to the remaining fat in the pan, and cook (over two burners) gently, stirring, to make a roux. Just a minute or two.
Now, take a stiff drink, because here's the Bravado Moment: Strain the stock and start whisking it into the roux. Go fast! Be bold. Just do it. You will not get lumps. Keep it over heat, let it thicken, and judge whether you want to add more stock. Stir, watch for thickness, adjust, adjust.
Salt and pepper, and you're done, baby!
Let's have a gravy party.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, that sounds reasonably easy but how many backs? And roughly how much does it make? Thank you! I won't wait a whole year to try it.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I know. How many? We used three, and we got enough gravy for about four days of eating (the two of us). If you're hankering to get your gravy on, let me know and we'll have a gravy play-date. Biggles can come, too, but he'll be all alpha male and try to win.
You can make the gravy the day before you want to eat it.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009  
Blogger Rev. Biggles said...

I'm not Alpha, just a pain in the arse, is all.

Gravy party!

Understood, if gravy isn't done well or it's been sitting around for a while, it ain't worth eating. In fact, it can really ruin any meal.

I generally make gravy/sauce when I've roasted a hunk of meat. Chicken does really well because it leaves so much fat and goodies behind. Once you've removed the meat, put the roaster over a burner and put on medium or so. The general thought is to use no more than 2 TBS of fat in the pan. I make gravy out of everything in the pan.

Heat the fat up, add minced shallot if'n you please to. Sprinkle in some flour as you whisk it. The fat will get soaked up by the flour, you want a nice wet paste. Then gently start whisking in your stock until it's a consistency that you like. Simmer it for about 5 minutes or so. You need to cook the flour, otherwise it'll be gritty, you want goodness. Squeeze the juice from half a fresh lemon, s&p to taste. There are so many ways to make sauce it's staggering, this is a simple one you can do any night of the week without giving it a second thought.

xo, Biggles

Thursday, December 03, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, generous of you to give me the lesson and the proportions! Thanks! I'll ask at the store for turkey backs and see what I can do.

Biggles, how can you say you're a pain when you so nicely outlined how to make scrumptious gravy? I often roast a chicken so next time I'll try making gravy and see if I like it.

Friday, December 04, 2009  

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