Thanksgiving

ImageIt started simply enough: the other half felt the need to bake. For me, well, I’m no baker and the urge to do so is akin to washing my car or preparing receipts for tax purposes. I’ll do it but only begrudgingly. But like many things I’m fully prepared to participate in the end result, and in this case it was a pie of monstrous proportions.

I’m not quite sure of his thought process as I wasn’t in the kitchen when he found the recipe, but I know it involved tons of pecans, a spring form pan and the new oven. I was a bit relieved that I wasn’t around as anyone knows to mess with a Texan’s Pecan Pie is clearly not the smartest thing to do (even if said Texan lives in California.)  It’s not quite sacrilege — but it’s pretty damn close.

"So this pie I’m baking, I found a recipe online and I’m not sure how it’s going to come out," my big red-headed angel tells me.

"You’re a baker, I’m sure it’ll be just fine," I respond.

"I don’t know about that, it’s kind of a different sort of Pecan Pie."

Different sort of pecan pie. Different sort of pecan pie. DIFFERENT SORT OF PECAN PIE. DIFFERENT SORT OF PECAN PIE! Are you getting that, folks? As those words floated around the kitchen they took their sweet little time worming their way into my brain. A what type of what pie? Did I really hear you correctly? Would you like to grab an enchilada while you’re at it and poke me in the eye? How about hitting me over the head with a rib bone from Tyler, Texas? Come on, I’m all yours, just do it! You already started.

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stuffing.herb .10.sm Stuffing is never my department. My mom has always made the stuffing (another one of my dad’s favorites) and she ALWAYS stuffs it in the bird.

I must admit, I have never made stuffing before making this recipe. I made it last year as a test, prior to Thanksgiving, and it was so good that Eli ate half the pan.

Regardless if it is Thanksgiving or 90* outside, if I ask Eli what he wants for dinner, his answer always has stuffing in the sentence.

Last year marked a new tradition; our holiday menu isn’t complete without this dish.

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peterrabbitplateThere are ten of us for dinner this year, ranging in age from 2 ½ to 91. My granddaughter, who is clearly her mother’s daughter in terms of her young culinary interests, feasts solely on (in this order) pumpkin pie and cranberries. At least two other guests besides the two pescatarians opt for salmon. Five traditionalists dine on turkey and sweet potatoes. Everyone except the two-year-old has several helpings of green bean casserole, that holdover from the fifties that is about as healthy as—but even more delicious than—Twinkies. I have a large and lovely glass of the wine selected by my daughter-in-law and contemplate the table.

The plates are Fiesta, in shades—in homage to the season—of yellow, orange, and green, to mirror the last leaves on the maple tree outside the window. I have been careful, however, to make sure that my mother’s setting is pink. My granddaughter has a plate that features Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her that it used to be her Uncle Ted’s favorite plate. The water glasses—an anniversary gift—are from Spain; the wine glasses are from a set my husband and I bought for a housewarming party for our first home.

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spaceturkey.jpgIt was an angela thing and it all started when she sent me a link along with a two word email that said “interesting, huh?”. 

My god, so much has happened since then.

The birds have long been roasted to a golden hue and feasted upon while the carcass has been turned into a rich stock tucked away in my freezer.  But at the risk of whatever reputation I might have it is both my pleasure and responsibility to present to you the saga of an inside-out very misunderstood version of the much more familiar and accepted turducken - the ducurkey.  Or as we like to call it, The Space Shuttle Turkey.

Let me continue on by reminding you that I’m an excitable kinda gal.  It doesn’t take much to get me up and on a bandwagon and so I was all about the space shuttle turkey.  Because why can’t the Thanksgiving turkey have a little fun?

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thanksgiving tableDon't feel sorry for us. We prefer it this way. My husband and I are both transplants. He's from Chicago. I'm from Massachusetts. Not Boston. Yes, there is a state beyond the Beantown borders. We have both lived in Los Angeles for over 20-years, longer than either of us lived in our home states. We think that makes us honorary Californians, but am not sure these days that's something to brag about. At least we still have the best weather, great wine and the option to go from surfing to skiing in the same day. Well, not for us in particular, but it's still a cool thing to be able to say.

Neither of us has blood relatives here. We are what we like to call "child-free." However, we do have family. Friends who mean just as much because we've shared each other's lives for the past 20 years. Kids we've watched grow up who call us Aunt and Uncle, which is a role we can handle. Some years they take us in, allowing us to bask in the glow of the holidays without all the strum and drang that would accompany actually spending time with our own parents and siblings. Even when there's drama, since it has nothing to do with us, it's more amusing than annoying and certainly never affects our ability to put away more than our caloric share of the meal.

We are in demand because we bring good wine, eat everything - if you're not cooking you can't complain about other people's holiday traditions - and don't expect to be entertained. We are boring, which is just what those who are dealing with family want at the holiday table. We are the Thanksgiving equivalent of the bomb-squad, the guests whose mere presence diffuses the tension for another day. It's much harder to fight in front of guests. God forbid there's a scene at the table. How embarrassing would that be?

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