November 21, 2012 Ramblings of a Baker...
Thanksgiving is upon us early this year. Lovely. Our "normal" is change. (Normal is only a dryer setting, anyway)
Back in 1997, our transmission dropped out of our minivan on the road to grandmother's house, and we limped back home. I dashed to the store, and we did our own Thanksgiving feast here at home. That was a challenge.
I am thankful none of my sons are deployed this year. Those were sober Thanksgiving past.
And I am thankful for the good weather. Windows open. Trees turning gold and orange.
But, I have always found Thanksgiving to be a bit much. Getting food on the table hot, fresh, ready and juggling oven time, thawing time, and not poison anyone...getting leftovers frantically back into the frig. The wreckage. The delicious leftovers. Easily microwaveable.
How did my grandmothers do it? Both put on spreads that would be fit for a king! And without the conveniences of close grocery stores. The prep work...killing the actual bird, removal of feathers---something I have never had to do in my life. Our turkeys come nicely shrink wrapped. Sure, a few slimy quills sometimes need pulled out. And sanitizing the sink is of major importance. But, I remember how nothing was wasted. Neck and gibblets simmered on a back burner to make the gravy. Gravy. None of us need it anymore.
We were ready to drive to where the grandkids are--half of them, anyway, and give their poor parents a break, but plans change. They got a much better offer. And I was suspicious that our youngest, 25 year old electrician had big plans for when we were gone. Sure enough, he asked when we'd be leaving, and when he found out we were not, confessed hours of work he had put in planning the electrical change out of the circuit breaker boxes. Yikes. Bob has been wanting to do this since we moved in....thirty years ago...but it slipped down the list of priorities. Our house was a fire in the making. The kitchen is wired such that three things at once trip a fuse. (this adds to the challenge of cooking Thanksgiving feasts)
So, I do not always feel very Thankful on Thanksgiving---no excuse this year. Even with the added challenge to cook just so much that we do not have a lot of leftovers, as power will be out most of Friday when Ben changes out the electrical box---and his boss comes inspect on Saturday.
I made bread yesterday. It was eighty degrees---best for bread rising. I need to use up this jar of yeast, and Bob loves fresh bread. Kind of a trial run for rolls...maybe.
Today, the pies are in the oven. And by pies, I mean pumpkin pie custard. I don't like crusts. I don't do crusts. My crusts turn out like cardboard. And I am suspicious of weird ingreds in store bought pie crusts. I am thankful for small pyrex dishes... But, what possessed me to buy the big can?
I have an iron skillet of water at the bottom of the oven on the lowest rack. this seems to be helping keep the pie custardy. Smells good. My fav is lots of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg-- and I used acutal canned milk like you are suppose to according to the recipe. The flan of the pumpkin world. Tastes pretty good. The little pyrex bowls cook faster...and give the cook a chance to taste test safely.
Ham was outrageously priced at Tom Thumb this year. Yikes. I passed on ham. Ben likes ham, however, so if he comes over, I may need to dash to Cracker Barrel for a few servings. Cracker Barrel has the best cornbread dressing, too. I still have dressing in the freezer ready to go---and seeing as how I am the only one that eats it...when I used up the peso jar.
Good thing little ears were not around to hear grannie curse at the can opener. I had everything laid out, ready to go, spices in a little bowl and everything. The can opener balked at the huge can of pumpkin. Seriously? Curse words were heard. I think it was the angle. I was sitting down because I can no longer stand for long periods of time. When I stood up, the can opener worked fine. It is hard to find a reliable, good quality can opener. Guess I am going to have to find a Pampered chef or something. Good grief.
Next, the turkey wrestling. Just a "fresh" turkey breast so that we can use it up by Friday. ha.
I will slip it into the oven when the pies are done. cook it in a plastic-for-oven bag. Keep it moist, hopefully. And we will start celebrating tonight. Yip. Saving the mashed potatoes for tomorrow. The cream cheese, whipping cream, butter are ready. And the frozen asparagus.
I like this way better. Stretching it out a little instead of being stressed out about the pans, and oven time. Bob complains of me stuffing him, anyway.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am so thankful God gives me neat ideas. And He has blessed me with such good memories. Thanksgivings with my grandparents, parents, boys--as babies and growing up. And now they have babies of their own. Grandbabies are the best. But, making our house safer with electric upgrades is part of making this a safer place when they visit.
I am thankful we don't have to pack or impose on anyone this year. And I am thankful for the luxury of time to play with recipes and please my husband.
1pm...pies out, turkey in. sink santitizing. hot water, then bleach.
note to self: when wiping the water spills from the oven door, use a paper towel next year. one white dishrag ruined. oh, well. I can knit another. I had "cleaned the oven" weeks ago, but neglected to wipe it down with a wet paper towel. The clean setting on the oven merely turns spills to smoke and ash. Lots and lots of smoke---have to wait for a day when you can open the windows comfortably...and sit outside a while.
Make memories! You are making them whether you think you are or not. Like a movie in my head---the tremendous spread my grandmothers did. Did we thank them? Did they know? Thank you, Grandma James. Thank you, Nannie. I miss you.
update #2 almost 7pm. Dishes are washed. David Barton talked about how the original feast was a three day affair...looks like we are doing that! Fresh baked bread and sweet potatoes on Tuesday night, turkey, sweet potatoes, celery raw, pumpkin pie with whipped cream on Wednesday night with Ben! and tomorrow---we shall dine upon the rest of the turkey, and I shall make mashed potatoes with cream cheese, and asparagus, and more pumpkin pie with whipped cream. What fun! Easier on the old tummies to stretch it out over three days. ha. Ben said thank you. Ben loves home cooked meals. I hope and pray God give him a wife that loves to cook, but mostly, a godly woman who reads and studies her Bible every day.
Bob and Ben are off to purchase the electrical supplies for Friday's project. yay.
Bob called home tonight and asked, has Ben called yet? Bob is really getting into this project. I hope and pray it is a time of bonding with father and son. I hope Ben does not regret it. He kinda likes to work alone and then suprise us. I was planning on leaving a project out on the counter...funny.
Thank you, Lord for a wonderful feast. The turkey was moist even though I set it going at 1pm and kept adjusting the temp from 350 to 300. The plastic oven bag and then putting a lid on it helped with an easy clean up and kept it moist.
Ben also noted that when folks ask what ya doing for Thanksgiving, that every year has been different. We have so much to be grateful for. Thank you, Lord for healthy sons home from Afghanistan. Please get us ready for eternity with You. In Jesus Name. Amen.