Thanksgiving

cautionmen.jpgIt’s been our Thanksgiving tradition for twenty years. The men do the cooking. The women get the day off.

I am not a cook. I am a chopstick in a world of forks. I look at my hands and see ten thumbs. And most of the other guys have culinary skills no better than mine. In fact, one guy thought the TV on the kitchen counter was a microwave and tried to put his dish in it.

Yet, somehow, each year, the meal turns out spectacular. 

The tradition began in 1987 when breakups and other untimely events left four of us with no choice but to make Thanksgiving dinner ourselves.

The result could only be described as a miracle. When the Red Sea parts, you don’t ask how. You just keep walking. And when we got to the other side, we decided to tempt fate and do it again.

When friends heard about our plans for a sequel, they had a knee-jerk reaction usually reserved for lemmings. They wanted in. That’s when the original four chefs, “the founding fathers”, as we’re now known, came up with a set of rules.
 

Read more ...

funny-thanksgiving-clipart-4.jpg10. Brine the bird. It’s easy to do and can metamorphose your turkey from tasteless and dry to juicy and scrumptious.  For an 18-20 pound bird, line very large (about 16-quart) bowl with two 30-gallon plastic bags, one inside the other. Rinse turkey inside and out. Place turkey in plastic-lined bowl. Combine 7 quarts water, 2 cups coarse salt, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup mild molasses, 1 bunch thyme, and 1/2 bunch sage in large bowl or pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Mix in ice cubes. Pour brine over turkey in plastic bags. Gather tops of bags together, eliminating air space above brine; seal bags. Refrigerate turkey in brine 18 to 20 hours. But WAIT! Whatever you do, don’t brine a Kosher bird for he has already been brined and will become too salty if you do it again.

9. If your husband, father, brother, uncle or neighbor wants to fry the turkey, let him. Nothing makes a man happier than to wrestle a turkey into submission via hot oil. I couldn’t care less if the bird was fried or roasted as long as the turkey tastes good and stays moist. If it keeps them out of the kitchen for a while, they should absolutely be encouraged to fry, fry, fry.

Read more ...

bestpumpkinpie2There are tons of pumpkin pie recipes, and in November all of the food shows and magazines are filled with both classic and innovative recipes. I think I’ve tried all of them – most started with canned pumpkin, and then the ingredients vary - some use heavy cream, others swear by evaporated milk, some are heavily spiced with cinnamon and cloves.

I love pumpkin pie, but have never found what I would call the BEST pumpkin pie until recently. I was watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen (the leader in test perfected recipes) called “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving”. The ingredients and the method were quite original and I couldn’t wait to try it.

There are a few extra steps, but well worth it. If you don’t want to make your own crust, you can use a Pillsbury Ready Made crust. Feel free to alter the amount of cinnamon (I used Penzey's Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon Click here for Penzey's), but the fresh ginger is key to the pie’s flavor.

Read more ...

From the International Herald Tribune

wine550.jpgSuppose I told you that with your turkey, your stuffing, your cranberry sauce, and all the delicious side dishes that will grace your holiday table, one wine and one wine only would match up. Unless you pick that one wine you face the specter of horrible embarrassment. Sound ridiculous? Well, of course it is. Yet more people than I care to think about feel exactly this way when selecting Thanksgiving wines.

Choosing the wine for any occasion is well known as an exercise in agony. Thanksgiving, for some reason, fills people with an extra dimension of dread. Perhaps it's the idea of performing for one's loving family, always so ready to heap scorn for your benefit. Or maybe there's secret pleasure in being squashed in the paralyzing spotlight, dancing, as Tom Lehrer once put it, to "The Masochism Tango."

If the prospect of shame and disgrace is a welcome part of your holiday ritual, by all means enjoy the feeling. But I would be remiss not to point out that it's all so unnecessary! Picking a wine should never be an occasion for self-flagellation, and at Thanksgiving least of all. The meal itself is typically a riot of contrasts - the savory stuffing, the sweetness of yams, the blank slate of the turkey - and wide open to individual eccentricities like marshmallows, almond slivers and the like. The wine selection task couldn't be simpler: versatility and plenitude.

Read article...

turkey.jpgAh, so it begins. 

From my cousin:
“Well, so far, there will be about thirty of us.  We should talk about the menu and see what we want everyone to bring. We’ll need two turkeys. Kevin says he wants to deep fry one.”

This, from my cousin Leland in Kansas where we will meet for Thanksgiving.  I will happily fly to Tulsa from Los Angeles, then drive on cruise control 120 miles to the small town of Parsons for Thanksgiving dinner at his big blue Victorian home with a host of cousins, grandchildren, stray local teen-agers and two uncles well into their 80s. (One will bring a cream pie and the other, green jello.) 

Once we settle where the out-of-towners sleep we will find ourselves smack in this small town of 13,000 in the middle of the country, the grocery shopping dependent on a Wal Mart just outside the city limits where there is never a shortage of iceberg lettuce, year round.  (A side note: I felt slapped down, yet hopeful to discover a small plastic container of basil buried among the radishes when last there.) 

Read more ...