Text: “How was your fantastic food holiday”
Message: “I’ve been waiting for your post.”
Question: “So, what’d you eat on Thanksgiving?”
It might be just the American thing to do: ask about that holiday where we gorge ourselves and delight and laugh at the fullness we feel, let alone and sometimes separate from the satiation that is ubiquitous throughout homes warmed by ovens cooking turkey at 350 for 3-6 hours. Or, it might be the fact that I think about, talk about, write about, take pictures of food twentyfourseven. Whatever.
To answer those questions: My fantastic food holiday was splendid. It was wonderful and full of family (not all of my family, unfortunately, since we’re all spread out across the country trying to take over, but of course!) and friends and going to the grocery store and stocking up, and writing down lists and trying to time the cooking procedures just right and working well with Nancy in the kitchen and the oven not working the night before and making ice cream that might not be ice cream rather just frozen milk fats surrounding brandy… it was ridiculous.
Thanksgiving is such a strange holiday for me. It’s one of those days that I feel drawn to the home so that I can really flex my culinary muscles – it’s a day that centers around my passion, so why wouldn’t I love every second of it? I get to go to the grocery store, fight through the hoards of people in line for a turkey, go to the wine shop to pick out a nice red to couple well with those few sides that people may or may not focus on, then come home, blast the oven, turn on the open flame, and zone out to the sizzling, whispering, steaming food in front of me.
It’s also the holiday that I feel most comfortable being away from home, strangely enough. In the past 8 years, I’ve spent 4 of them abroad or away from the home. It’s a nice challenge, it’s a nice reminder of home, when it’s so far away.
But this year. THIS year. This YEAR! I’m home. I’m on the path to turning my kitchen official. I’m making money so that I can splurge on that nice cheese to make the squash casserole just that much deeper, that much better. This year was great.
On the menu, dear readers all anxiously awaiting:
Turkey Prepared according to Saveur’s recommendation (including letting the bird sit in the refrigerator for two days, to “dry out” the skin to create oh-so-moist meat)
Grandma Slappin’ Good Stuffing (non-vegetarian, folks)
Homemade, not-so-bitter Cranberry Sauce
Butternut Squash Bake (or casserole, whatever nomenclature you prefer)
Mashed Potatoes (mmm Half n’ Half abound!)
Not Slimey, Not Bitter, Not disgusting Collard Greens
Brussels Sprouts cooked in a Wok. Who knew?
Gravy (please pass the water glass, it’s that good)
No Biscuits… sad face emoticon
Rye Whiskey Ice Cream
Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
Spicy Pumpkin Pie
Since the Recipes would take up another four pages, let me choose some of the favorites:
It’s a secret, how annoying.
Collard Greens (that won’t make you run to the garbage)
In order of appearance
6 Strips of bacon
Cook these strips, cut in half, for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat
Olive Oil – a splash(ish)
2 big ol’ handfuls of Collards (they’ll cook down)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (enough so that you can see it on the collards)
1 package of chestnuts
1 White (or red) onion, chopped (or diced, whatever floats your life-vest)
Add all of this to the bacon, and let it cook together, over medium-low heat, for about 45 minutes. It won’t get too soggy, I promise (there’s no real liquid in there, remember)
Add a couple swigs of maple syrup 10 minutes before you’re done cooking the greens. More if you like them sweet, less if you like them not as sweet.
Total, the flame should be kissing the bottom of your cast iron (or other pan) for about an hour and five to an hour and ten minutes.
If you let them cool, and save some for tomorrow, then they’ll be even sweeter and more tender. Just sayin, they go quite nicely on a “next day sandwich.”