Thanksgiving in our house or apartment is never same old, same old. That’s not to say I don’t serve some of the more traditional dishes associated with this tradition-bound holiday; But we always have some twist to the event and this year at the last minute we added another guest. It went like this….
Driving past the street where our friends Joe and Michael live, I realize that Michael must be here and Joe is in Australia, so who is Michael having dinner with?? He could be in The City with friends or he could be hosting, but I’m going to check. I sent a text with inquiry and he wrote back stating he already shopped for all the food but he could come by for dessert. Putting two and two together and coming out with ONE, I realized he certainly must not have guests. Eating alone on Thanksgiving??!!! I wouldn’t hear of it, so I sent a strong invitation to join us. Back comes the response how he loves to cook; Back goes my reply, OK, you love to cook, so do I – so cook already and you bring some here. That did it.
I thought maybe Michael could bring some stuffing or a dessert but no, he was planning on bringing a lot more even though I protested that there were only 5 of us and actually he and our friend Murray really don’t eat much. I want to say they eat like birds but I think both of them are going to read this, so I’m not saying it.
The day dawned bright and clear following a horrible chilly and rainy Wednesday. Wendy had arrived the day before and so the three of us started the morning with a broccoli and onion frittata and fresh fruit salad. I put some aside for Murray who would be arriving around 11am. So far so good. I took the soup and mashed potatoes out of the refrigerator, got the stuffing out of the refrigerator next door. Oh I didn’t explain that I didn’t have enough room in my refrigerator for all the food so we stashed a lot of stuff in my neighbor’s refrigerator – very convenient actually. Now we had to tackle moving furniture in the living room so we could open up the dropleaf table to accomodate the five of us. You know in a normal house and by that I mean the kind you grow up in, not a beach cottage, this is an easy enough task. But not here! First everything behind the couch has to go upstairs out of sight, everything on the table has to go upstairs and out of sight. Then in order to get the two chairs that ARE upstairs and have to come downstairs to go around the dining room table, one has to remove two cat carriers, the laundry bag, the empty travel food bags, a blanket and two suitcases!!
Once Murray arrived and was fed, he took off for the beach to capture some beautiful shots of dogs running happily in the sand, peoples strolling the boardwalk (clearly guests and not hosts) and sea gulls swooping around. I began to prepare and put together some of the remaining dishes. The only problem occurred when he who shall not be named, wanted to change the dinner time! He, who was sitting in a chair reading the New York Times! Really? Really??
Once I banned everyone from the kitchen and said to please leave me alone because I know what I’m doing and I have to do some things in certain order and trust me it will all get done. This IS a really important factor because have you ever made Thanksgiving dinner on a 20″ stove? Ha! The burners are so close together and don’t even talk to me about the oven size! Once the turkey breast ( I opted out of the 12 lb bird I had in my shopping cart because I decided the bone to meat ratio wasn’t so good) goes in the oven, that’s the only thing that can go in the oven.
Sautéed the Crimini mushrooms for the String Bean and Shallot dish, mixed the previously sautéed Baby Bella mushrooms into the herb stuffing and put it in a casserole. But before that can go in to warm up, I have to roast my pears. The night before my friend, Elinor, posted a photo of her perfectly golden and caramelized pears on Facebook. I set mine in oven and went about doing some one of the hundred things that need to be done before dinner. Pretty soon I begin to smell the strong scent of burnt sugar. Uh huh, the bottoms of the pears were burning and sticking to the tin foil. I pulled them out and immediately the smoke alarm on the second floor went off! The first floor alarm had already been dismantled because it goes off if the oven door opens at any temperature!! Alas my pears were not golden brown but rather pale tan on top and almost black on the bottom.
We are in the living room and Michael arrives, shopping bag and wine in hand. He knows I said we had enough dessert but what the heck, he had already bought the Triple Berry pie. We sat in the living room sipping Cider Bellini’s which were quite good and pretty to look at also. I served my Sweet Potato Chipolte soup and we warmed ourselves up on alcohol and Chipolte pepper.
Time for dinner: While the turkey rested, I alternately heated up Michael’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Caramelized Carrots, Cornbread Stuffing with Cranberries and homemade gravy. The Triple Berry pie had been delegated to the back porch (my other refrigerator). Peter carved the Turkey Breast just the way the video at Wegman’s showed how and it was oh so juicy – I seasoned the cavity with salt and pepper and brushed the entire breast with a combination of Wegman’s Basting Oil, snipped fresh Rosemary, minced Garlic and a couple of strips of Lemon Zest, which I had heated up on the stove.
Sweet Potato Chipolte Soup
Roasted Turkey Breast
Herbed Mashed Potatoes
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
String Beans Shallots and Mushroom
Herb Stuffing with Baby Bello Mushrooms
Cornbread Stuffing with Cranberries
Cranberry Ginger Sauce
Baked Rolls (2 varieties)
Turkey Gravy (from Wegman’s)
Roasted Pear, Arugula, Pomengranate Salad
Apple Crumb Pie
Triple Berry Pie
The table doesn’t look so elegant, but you have to remember we are at the cottage which has a 1950’s kitchen, so we are eating off of Melmac, and serving dishes are what you can find in the right size. Some of the food couldn’t fit on the dinner table so the kitchen table was employed too.
Here we are sitting at the table, halfway through the meal, Joe called from Australia (OMG, growing up I never imagined a phone call from Australia, using a cell phone and on speaker!!).
This year we all gave thanks for each other at the table. When you spend Thanksgiving with your family of the present, there’s never any unfinished business to rehash. There’s no sibling rivalry, there’s no parental pressure or inquisition. Just friends who came together this day to give thanks and celebrate with good food. And in this case A LOT of good food.