We hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year on Saturday, for logistical reasons. I actually quite liked this, because it gave me extra prep time without having to take a vacation day (since I rather used a lot of vacation time this summer . . . ). The net effect is more relaxing.
So on Thursday, we cleaned and cooked, admiring our spacious new fridge (delivered Wednesday) all the while: it's the same volume as the old one, but much more efficiently arranged. Then we had some very nice steaks with caramelized sugar (online recipe). We also discovered that omitting the onions leads to the leftover sauce more or less instantly solidifying on the serving plate. It was impressive and amused me inordinately: I giggled all through the lengthy process of prying the candy off the plate with my fingers and a thin-bladed knife.
Then we had Thanksgiving on Saturday.
- Shrimp cocktail (from Chad's grandmother)
- Stuffed mushroom caps (from my mom)
- Brined turkey
- Mormon funeral potatoes (classic, minus the onions)
- Crescent rolls
- Steamed asparagus
- Asparagus wrapped in bacon and pan-fried
- Steamed broccoli
- Frozen butternut squash (with nutmeg, cinammon, brown sugar; forgot the butter)
- Mashed sweet potatoes (for/from Chad's family)
- Homemade cranberry relish
- Canned cranberry sauce
- Gravy from a jar (I have the ambition to try making it from scratch next year)
- Apple pie (from Chad's mom)
- Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting (from my mom)
Cranberry relish recipe (improvised from several online variants):
- 12 oz. bag cranberries, washed and picked over to remove soft ones
- 1 orange
- 1 apple
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- dash cloves
- dash cinammon
- Pick over cranberries & remove soft ones.
- Zest the orange, set aside.
- Peel orange and apple. Core apple. Cut both into chunks.
- Pulse orange and apple in food processor with metal blade until coarsely blended. [On the theory that chopping up an orange by hand was likely to be less than useful.)
- Plunk everything but the spices into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Simmer gently, adding the spices. [Out of concern for burning the spices; this was planned before I added the water to the recipe at the last minute.]
- Cook until all the berries burst and the fruit is soft.
- Store in fridge [for up to a week?], but bring to room temperature before serving.
This seems to have been well-received, but I don't like it myself so I can't really judge. Next year, I will use my Calphalon everyday pan, never mind that recipes suggest saucepans—that's what wide flat pans with gently-sloping sides are good for, after all. I will also heat and burst the berries first, by themselves, because some of them took forever and I was worried about overcooking the relish. Then I'll dump in the rest of the fruit and the sugar, and see if I need additional water to dissolve the sugar and spices.
- Making the brine with a small amount of stock and then diluting with the rest of the stock & water on the day of is much easier to manage.
- If the turkey seems to be cooking much faster than it seems like it should, the probe thermometer is probably not far enough in. In other words, the instructions on the roasting bag are reliable (3 hours for 20 pounds).
- Cold stuffing & funeral potatoes take more like 30 minutes at 350 F than 20 to heat up, at least when in the oven with each other and Mom's mushroom caps.
- Steamed veggies and other things would do better if they're timed for after the appetizers, not before, assuming the guests would be okay with a gap.
- A to-do list is really a good idea.
- And it should include the ice cream that's going to accompany the desserts.
- Find one of those little tiny cans of cranberry sauce next time.
- Crescent rolls really do take 1/2 the time in the toaster oven. Don't panic.
- Cleaning up and putting away leftovers as you go = win. Especially when you are so short on counter space that you're using the dog's crate as an additional flat surface.
- Doing the final clean-up immediately after the guests leave = being able to collapse for the rest of the night with a clear conscience.
- And most significantly: Get a really big solid metal roasting pan for the turkey and carve it inside that. Or over the sink, very carefully. Otherwise the tin foil pan will get punctured in the carving and all that juice will drip down both sides of the counter, sending the dog into ecstasy and leaking down into the basement. (I tipped the cookie sheet under the roasting pan into the dog's bowl and saw a good half-inch of liquid accumulate—and that was the least of it.) Afterwards, Chad pulled out the stove, looked at the mess, and went straight for the shop-vac.
Chad's blog has pictures of Emmy's joy.
And a selection of links (11 this time):
- Making Light: Vial of Life :: "What it is: an info sheet for your friendly local EMTs to use if they come to your house and find you lying on the floor, unable to answer questions"
- veejane: What to Do When You Can't Win An Argument
- huzzlewhat: Watching a kerfluffle bud and bloom :: "We had a simple, basic rule for conducting arguments in our house when I was growing up. . . . That rule was: we had to be able to rephrase the other person's argument in terms that were acceptable to them."
- In Media Res » Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video :: "We have the featured vid, 'Both Sides Now' (1980), literally thanks to Gene Roddenberry . . . . While of an earlier era both stylistically and technologically, “Both Sides Now” is the grandmother of fannish vids."
- kidcyclone: How to Be A Topp Fledgling (With apologies to Molesworth) :: Spike: "So you are freshly rizzen a creature of the night a child of darkness etc etc etc. ... You cast aside yor burial suit (2 6/8 Grunnig's Best Funeral Outfitters) and stride forth to embrace hem hem yor Sire, the one who has given you unlife."
- Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates :: Best Amazon reviews *ever*. (And you can get the content for free at http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1418/ .)
- Cute Overload! -- little bunny primly eating carrot
- A List Apart: Articles: How to Size Text in CSS
- lj_nifty: LJ Thread Unfolder w/ Unfold All, for all layouts (greasemonkey) :: Update to original "unfold all." Still some bugs, and I'll wait until I can choose between "unfold thread" and "unfold all," because the "all" implementation is really slow, but appears to be an improvement on the original, and it *does* work in Opera.
- Bloglines - Post to Del.icio.us – Userscripts.org
- Nokia N810: unboxing and first impressions :: mixed review, but does say that it works with an external keyboard, which would be one of my biggest concerns down the road.
Finally, does anyone have any good anti-static tips? My new winter coat generates so much static that my earphones crackle when the wire rests against it. And I hate the smell of Static Guard.