Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Today was the day I made my turkey. For the actual Thanksgiving Day I am on for banana cream pie. What can I say? It is an odd year.
The turkey was a ridiculous idea. It was just Cedar and I and there were a million other things to do--like put up pictures, unpack those last three stubborn boxes in our office, shower, and prepare otherwise for a certain wee Christmas gathering just two days after Thanksgiving. I even knew since Cedar was helping and this was my very first turkey (and had no idea what I was doing) all the trimmings would definitely not get done at the same time. But I had bought this beautiful heritage turkey from the farm down the road, and I had this itch to create an equally beautiful menu to accompany it. Today.
It was the Rancho Gordo newsletter that did it. Steve Sando sends these emails every so often out that reliably contain a recipe or two utilizing one or more of their products. This time, he encouraged his subscribers to put a dish of beans on the turkey table. He told us how (a little onion, celery, and carrot, a topping of breadcrumbs, a smattering of butter nubs, baked until bubbly) and then he gave a nice little wild rice stuffing recipe with ground beef and green peppers. It was all very simple. Nearly ho-hum actually. But I know better than to think going au natual is plain. The idea of beans on the table did not inspire me at first, but then I remembered a Thanksgiving issue of the Martha Stewart Living magazine. One article featured a family in East Texas with a lavender farm. Their meal was a little southwest and also a little lavender. Of course, it was gorgeous, but more than that, the food looked delicious. There was enough tradition to make me comfortable and enough newness to feel fresh.
And then I saw the menu of my dreams:
Roasted Heritage Turkey
Wild Rice Stuffing with Peppers and Sausage
Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes
Simple Cassoulet with Olive Oil
Braised Kale with pearl onions
Against all whispers of practicality I went for it. I made the turkey and the dinner, and it was good. I actually have not yet even started the Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes or the Persimmon Flan, but it is on my list for tomorrow. And the truth is that despite my delight in the larger menu, the meal was round and full with what I did get done.
At four thirty this evening though, I realized I should feed someone besides just Cedar. I don't get to see my in-laws this holiday so I called them up and asked them over. And it is a good thing. They helped me cook up the remaining bits, carve the bird, clean my kitchen, eat the feast, wash my dishes, and put it all away. I would still be cooking if they hadn't come. I swear, of course, that it did not occur to me just how far behind I really was until they walked into my kitchen.
The results? Fabulous. The flavors really worked well together. There are little bits to tweak for next time but the point is, there will definitely be a next time.
If perchance I end up cooking it for another random pre-thanksgiving treat, I will probably try a little something from my archives. I can offer you other bits and pieces I am sure will serve me in the future:
Fruited Lentil Salad, either normal fall version or with persimmons and red pomegranates substituted
Warm Sprouted Grain Salad with Squash
Kamut Dinner Rolls that worked well
Persimmon Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce, if I can convince the family
Chocolate-Pumpkin Marble Cake with Pistachio Butter, if the former doesn't work out
But there are some others out there have some fabulous ideas too:
How to love and be loved at Thanksgiving and how to cook a turkey
A little something to sip in the afternoon whilst we finish the cooking and baking
Another cranberry sauce...this time with quince!
Something for the morning of or the day after--in case we're bored
Hope all goes well for your gatherings. Thank deeply. Thank widely. Thank thoroughly all around.