Thanksgiving has always been a pure excuse to cook for us. When we lived in the Boston area we would invite all the friends of ours who didn’t have family to go back to for the holidays (or who didn’t want to visit family, or whose family was too far away) and feed them a ton of food. It was great fun. Since we’ve moved away, it’s a smaller group—my husband and I, usually an old college friend of mine who comes to stay for a week or two, and a friend or two from the Maryland area.
This year, however, it was just the two of us. We weren’t about to let that stop us from cooking, of course, particularly seeing as we have holiday cookbooks to review! The one big change we made, however, was that instead of planning one big feast day, we made the various dishes whenever we felt like it over the long weekend, so we could take things slowly and enjoy ourselves.
Here’s what we made:
Before Thanksgiving day we made cranberry walnut scones, pumpkin pie, and cheddar rolls. These are all things that can be made ahead of time with no problem. All three recipes tasted amazing; the pie recipe had a few logistical errors, but that’ll come out when I review the cookbook soon.
We roasted a turkey, of course. We brined it as we always do—this contributes so much to a juicy, flavorful turkey that I can’t imagine not doing it now. Then we roasted it the Alton Brown way. This means half an hour in a “NASA-hot” oven (ie 500 degrees F), followed by putting a triangular foil ‘hat’ over the breast meat, and a temperature probe in the breast meat (not touching the bone), and reducing the temp to 350. The bird is done when the temperature probe indicates that the breast meat has reached safe temperature, about 165 F.
Why such a complicated method? Well, dark meat and white meat are safe at different temperatures. By the time the dark meat is safe, the white meat is usually overdone and dry. By tenting the white meat with foil, you end up with both types of meat done around the same time. The initial time in the super-hot oven then ensures an evenly, beautifully browned turkey, which you wouldn’t get if you kept the foil on the entire time.
We made a pear salad with chevre and pomegranate that was to-die-for; a four-bean salad with homemade robust Italian dressing; cheesy potatoes in milk; mushroom pancetta stuffing; sweet potato slices (oven-roasted with herbs, olive oil, seasonings, and orange zest—yum!); Mexican camp bread (wide, flat, pan-fried biscuits, essentially); date cupcakes with toffee filling and coconut frosting; green bean & bacon bundles; turkey dripping gravy; and apple & pear chutney.
My favorite dishes: pumpkin pie; cheddar rolls; stuffing; bean salad; sweet potatoes; pear salad; camp bread; cupcakes; chutney. The potatoes were a bit disappointing, and the green beans were overly greasy (at least the first night), but otherwise the rest of the dishes were quite good too. I’ll be able to review a handful of cookbooks quite soon!
Other things I’m working on and hope to make progress on this week: more T-shirt designs; a review of a book called Thirteen; playing some games (have I mentioned that I cannot WAIT until Pirates of the Burning Sea comes out?!); catching up with some blog reading; catching up with some email.
I hope everyone had a yummy weekend!
Yum! Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving!
Yum, I’m coming to your place next year! I’m looking forward to your cookbook reviews. And what a frustrating story about your pumpkin pies, I’m wondering where that recipe was from.
SFC: It was certainly delicious and relaxing! I hope yours went well!
Tara: Hehe! I did miss having people to feed, but timing with things like work for one person and not being able to get a cat sitter for another just didn’t work out.
At least the pies made extra rather than not enough, and the ratios in the filling were still correct such that they tasted good. Could have been worse!
Ours was completely traditional– a carbon copy of last year’s. We enjoyed making it– and it’s true, 9 cups of stuffing is only good for 1.25 meals for 9 people.
Now I debate when to begin holiday cookie baking. It was tempting last night, but they’ll be stale awfully early if I start now. I’m trying to decide if I want to do the 2 rounds of cookies again– it’s a bit draining to do the early and last minute cookie rounds, though I do enjoy having enough to give and still having plates full to take to my Aunt’s.
Scott: I don’t think we’re capable of doing strictly traditional; we like messing around too much. Although I love my pumpkin pie too much to skip it too often!
Ahh, holiday cookie baking. Now that’s fun!!
My stomach! How could you do this? My kidney and stomach are fighting each other now because my stomach is a cannibal. The feat you conjured sounds so delicious, maybe next time you can take some pictures. hehe. I cooked a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the family this year, neither my sister or myself are married yet leaving our mom with Thanksgiving dinner duty for the past 20-30 years, and she threatened us with bodily harm if we didn’t take over this year. Well, my sister is a horrible and whiny cook, so I went ahead and took the kitchen reigns. I have been trying to expand my repertoire from basic bachelor staples like the infamous microwave burrito so I was up to the challenge. And, what a challenge it was! Damn… haha. If it wasn’t for allrecipes.com I would not have pulled it off. Thank you internet. I didn’t do anything crazy fancy like you did, but there’s always next year. I will definitely brine next time, not enough time this year. Rock on. )
Krones: Hehe! If I had a camera I’d definitely take pics. I must be the last person left on earth who hasn’t gotten a digital camera yet—even my old cellphone doesn’t have a camera. Eventually. Of course, then I’ll just keep taking pics of the cats and you all will get sick of seeing ’em. 😉
lol, sounds like you did your mom proud! If you’re trying to expand your kitchen play, then I’d recommend a few books… College Cooking, because it’s simple, quick, and easy stuff that you don’t need much kitchen equipment for. Timing is Everything, because then you’ll know how to cook anything from asparagus to steak. Cookwise, if you think you might really want to get into cooking, because it teaches you the how and why of everything. I’m Just Here for the Food, because it covers the basics in awesome ‘how and why’ detail. If you want to bake then any King Arthur Flour Company cookbook. And of course, it helps to have a copy of the Joy of Cooking around just so you can look up any technique another book doesn’t explain adequately.
Sorry, I didn’t get back to your blog sooner. I’m sure you know, tired, swamped, same ole’ story 🙂
Thank you for the wonderful suggestions. Those reviews were killing me, I’m glad my stomach is full or I’m sure my fingers would be gnawed off, and I couldn’t type this reply. I’m a huge Alton Brown fan, so I see myself picking up that up cookbook before some other ones. I wish my sister was a fan, so I could gift it to her for Christmas, (I still need to find her a gift, but don’t want to get her a book or a movie because she is really slacking on reading/watching stuff I gave her from last year) but before it got away from me for good, I would enjoy it all to myself. haha. I’m strapped for cash this month, sucks. Le’sigh.
Do you have any idea how long Amazon referral ids last when saved to a wish list? I’m guessing 30 days. Normally, I go through virginworlds to buy my Amazon goods, but Brent seems to be doing well with his subscriptions. I may have to spread the pennies around a bit. haha…
Krones: Yeah, holidays are tough on the wallet, aren’t they? We try to keep costs down, but still. And I have such a horrid time finding gifts for people… I’m never sure what to get for them.
No clue at all how long referral ids last, I’m afraid!