Hey, Anna-Liza here.
Finally. (Sorry, Lyda. I’ll try not to do that again. But I think I’ve said that before, haven’t I?)
Okay, so yesterday was Thanksgiving. I have a whole meditative post in my head about all that we have to be grateful for, but I haven’t actually written it yet, so that’s something you can be grateful for, anyway. But I don’t promise I won’t sneak a little in. (If you think you have nothing to be grateful for, go whine in a corner. I have no patience for you).
First, for those of you who live elsewhere (Lyda), here’s a taste of Rocky Mountain fall weather. Monday this week we had highs in the 70s (Fahrenheit, in case anyone outside the U.S. ever reads this), sunny and warm. Tuesday was in the 50s and dropping. It snowed (3 or 4 inches) Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday, with highs in the 20s. Or teens. Our office closed early (3 p.m.) which was very nice as we didn’t have to drive home on frozen roads. It had stopped snowing by then, but was very, very cold. Thanksgiving Day had highs in the 20s again, and it should break above freezing tomorrow.
Next week, who knows? It might be up in the 60s again, it might snow, it might be sunny but freezing. Ah, November in Colorado.
We had a very mellow Thanksgiving, my favorite kind. We drove nowhere, and the Knitting Sprite and her boyfriend were our only visitors. Her boyfriend went to his folks’ place first for dinner, then came and hung out with us for a while, so it was just the Knitting Sprite most of the day. We did do a little knitting, and talked about it more, but we were cooking mostly. She was working on a pretty basketweave stitch scarf, and I am literally an inch and a half away from finishing my cabled socks. See the cuff in the photo? That now looks like the other sock, minus the decreases for the toe.
I did a traditional turkey dinner with trimmings–mashed potatoes, baked garnet yams, in-the-bird stuffing, casseroled stuffing (is that when it becomes dressing? Hm.), green-bean casserole (yes, with the cream of mushroom soup and the french-fried onions), lots and lots of gravy, and KSprite’s contribution was stir-fried kale with shallots. Okay, so not down-to-the minutiae traditional, but as traditional as we get.
Baked yams? Oh yeah, baby. Get the garnet yams, scrub them, poke holes in them with a fork, put ’em on a cookie sheet and bake with the turkey for the last hour or so. The cookie sheet is because they tend to leak juice a bit. Yummy, and no marshmallows are harmed in the making of this dish.
I roasted the turkey breast-side down and then (with Darlin’ K’s help) turned it over onto its back for the last hour of cooking. I did stuff it (against the recommendation of the linked recipe) with my traditional stuffing which includes pecans. The upside-down roasting keeps the breast meat from drying out while getting the dark meat cooked enough. Turning it over means the breast skin gets browned.
The first time I cooked it this way, I tried turning it over myself. I ended up dropping it, and it slid back and tipped the oven rack up, then ended up down in the bottom of the oven at the very back, with all the drippings spilled everywhere, and smoke you would not believe! And it wasn’t done cooking yet, so I couldn’t turn off the oven (unless I wanted to throw away a fourteen pound turkey with stuffing and have PBJ for the main Thanksgiving dish). We opened the doors and windows and prayed all our neighbors were visiting relatives. No fire trucks showed up, so it was okay. And the turkey tasted fine. The gravy was only okay, since I didn’t have much in the way of drippings to use for it.
This year went much better. And the moral of the story is, roasting turkeys are both hot and slippery, so get help when you want to turn them over.
Non-traditional turkey roasting and yam-baking aside, I’m very traditional when it comes to dessert. Pumpkin pie, back-of-the-can recipe, with real whipped cream from my mixing bowl, not a spray can. You can keep your pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin chiffon pie, and all that artsy-fartsy mess. And I’ll eat Cool Whip™ when it’s served me, but I won’t have it in my house. (Have you read the ingredients? Geez).
This year, the kids and Darlin’ K did the pies on Wednesday night. I laid out the crust for them, DK did most of the ingredient-adding, and the boys did the stirring. Mr. R. cracked and added the eggs without mishap. They both enjoyed destroying “pumpkin island” in the last stages of mixing. They had a good time, I got to go to knit night, and the pies turned out great!
(Note that I did not say I “made” the crust. My crust is pretty much not quite as good as Pillsbury’s, so I save myself the time and mess and get it from the refrigerated case at my grocer’s. What? Cool Whip™ is a completely different thing. And whipping cream is nothing like the job of making pie crust or from-scratch cream of mushroom soup. Shut up).
When it was time for dessert, all I had to do was whip the cream. I add a little vanilla to mine, and whip it ’til it’s good and stiff (I know what you’re thinking, stop it. We’re talking about Thanksgiving here). That way, any leftovers will keep in the fridge overnight and still be good and stiff (stop it, I said!), maybe even for two days. If you’re wimpy about your whipping, the cream will revert to runny status fairly quickly.
I’ll be blatant with the gratitude rather than sneaking it in. Feel free to skip if you want (you ungrateful beast).
My Beloved Creator, I thank You for my family, my friends (in particular Lyda, my long-term BFF and partner in crime–please make her healing process easy and fast), my home and my neighborhood, my lovely new job, knitting and books, my beautiful life in general, the awareness that I have much to be grateful for even when life isn’t much fun, and the fact that I didn’t set anything on fire or burn out my hand mixer when I made Thanksgiving dinner.
Oh, and wine. The Carneros Fleur Pinot Noir (2006) was especially good. I’ll have to get that again.