Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A thousand years in one piece of silver

And a successful, relaxing and utterly enjoyable Thanksgiving it was! For the first time, Darren and I cooked an entire Thanksgiving feast and spent the rest of the day eating it and enjoying each other's company.

Our menu included, of course, turkey, more specifically a more than 13.5-pound bird I got pretty cheap at Stop & Shop. Those of you who will only buy fresh turkeys, heed the wise words of Alton Brown, who contests frozen birds are actually "fresher" than "fresh" birds, because while fresh (read: unfrozen) birds were killed earlier, frozen birds are flash-frozen, so when they're thawed, it's as if they were killed only a day or two ago, whereas "fresh" birds are killed and then shipped around the country to the grocery store, thereby losing its freshness with each hour it sits in a truck or in a store. Of course, if you buy your turkey from a local farm, that's the freshest you'll get, though you'll certainly pay more for it as opposed to a frozen turkey like I got. Unlike Alton Brown, however, I did not brine my bird, though some of my coworkers did, and they reported resoundingly positive results. The turkey we made came out with a nice crisp skin outside and a moist inside, and though my vegetarianism forbade me from eating any, Darren sure liked it, and he's been feeding off the leftovers ever since!

We also made a vegetarian bread stuffing, with bread taken from a loaf I baked up a couple weeks ago in our breadmaker, cubed it and stored it in the freezer. Combined with caramelized onions, carrots, celery and vegetable stock, it made a great main course for me.

Something I never really had regularly at Thanksgiving (I remember having it a couple times, but not too often) but was key to a perfect turkey-day meal in Darren's eyes was green-bean casserole. Naturally, his favorite part of the dish wasn't the beans baked in cream-of-mushroom soup, rather the crispy fried onions on top. I never used to like them very much, but I found myself eating them right out of the can this time! The dish itself turned out great, and it wasn't long before those leftovers were history.

Rounding out the meal were fresh-baked rolls (the dough made from scratch in the breadmaker) and corn, with from-scratch pumpkin pie for dessert. The rolls were surprisingly addicting, and I even baked up another batch a couple days later, after we'd completely annihilated the first.

Below, the glorious results of our three-hour cooking spree.

A note on the pie: I had put tin foil on the edges of the crust so it wouldn't burn, but some of the foil ended up sinking into the filling as it baked, giving it the look as if someone had scooped some out before serving! No matter — it was delicious anyway.

The roll on the bottom-left was Darren's own creation: a Mickey Mouse roll.

Green bean casserole — a staple at Darren's sister's house (his favorite part has always been the crispy fried onions on top) that never usually made the menu in my family. Thanksgiving holier-than-thous may balk, but I think this is a dish that will be making repeat visits to my Thanksgiving table for years to come.

The feast, showcasing the delightfully cooked turkey, of which I'm especially proud. I may not eat meat, but I'm pretty proud of my ability to cook it!

It wasn't a holiday filled with family and travel, but it sure felt good knowing we didn't have to drive anywhere or pack our bags and sleep in foreign beds in rooms I used to live in but are now practically alien to me. If you've never hosted a Thanksgiving at your own home — whether with family or just a small affair — I suggest you give it a try. You'll be amazed how good it feels to not have to load up the car, drive for hours and sit interminably in holiday traffic.

The rest of the extra-long weekend we could spend at home, enjoying the freedom of no work and the ability to take care of household chores while avoiding the holiday shopping masses at all costs. We even got to the gym on Sunday; it was great to be able to run without reams of people beside you, yukking and sweating up the place. I was actually surprised there weren't more exercisers there, eager to work off the gluttony of the holiday. We later discovered they were holding off until yesterday, Monday, usually the highest-trafficked evening of the week at our gym (and probably at most other gyms, too). I suspect it's because so many people allow themselves to "go wild" over the weekend, and a Monday workout is their way of making up for it. Instead of church, this is their weekly atonement for the sin of gluttony.

So, it's back to work in full force. For me, it's been kind of a relief, because most of the projects I've been involved with are coming to a close. There's always a short lull between the time projects end and new ones start up. Instead of slacking, though, I'm busy tying up loose ends and preparing myself for what lies ahead. I'm excited for the new projects I'll be working on in full force soon, and I'm proud of the work we completed on the ones I just finished.

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At 11:03 AM , Anonymous Elyse said...

Hi again! Your Thanksgiving looks amazing. I'm so glad it turned out well. Mike and I have decided to host a big Thanksgiving at our house next year for our families, so I'll probably be asking you for advice then. And I'm really happy you made green bean casserole. It is probably my favorite dish, besides mashed potatoes, and my brother and I devour it so quickly that you have to get in really early to snag any leftovers!


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