Ah, Thanksgiving. That means… cooking. A lot of cooking. I rather enjoy it, provided I am organized (ha!) and spread the work over several days. I’m putting this here because it is easy for me to access regardless whichever computer I’m on, and it is useful to have a record for future years:
Tuesday: make cornbread and sourdough croutons for stuffing. (Normally, the dried bread would be processed until fine, but I am thinking that I want to try for a little more texture. I love the tang that sourdough adds.) It is important to use the cornbread recipe on the Quaker corn meal box — other recipes tend to result in a sweet, soft cornbread, and the Rocket Scientist will complain. The cornbread has to be gritty, and not sweet. Check to make sure we have ingredients for everything. Shop as necessary, including going to four different Safeways until I find the one that carries Bell’s Poultry Seasoning, which is the only acceptable poultry seasoning since it has been used in the Rocket Scientist’s family since time immemorial. (It’s also the best.) Go to BevMo because I have to have a Gewurtztraminer to drink with the turkey, and there wasn’t any at Safeway. Remember to call Hobee’s to order coffeecake. Argue with other members of family about what type of pies we’re going to have. Decide on pumpkin and key lime, even though only one member of the family really likes pumpkin, and promise the disappointed Railfan that I will make chocolate pie at Christmas. Wonder with vague resentment when I’ll get to have pecan pie on a holiday.
[Edited to add: the brand-spanking new Safeway near me, which a coworker who is also a Safeway checker told me is the largest in Northern California, had both Bell’s and Gewürztraminer! Hurrah for one-stop shopping. I nonetheless just realized I forgot to get crystallized ginger for the top of the key-lime pie. Better now than on Thursday. Still haven’t made the cornbread, though.]
Wednesday morning: prepare brine for turkey, after agonizing over which of twenty brine recipes I found on the web I should use. Decide that you really can’t go to wrong with Alton Brown. Obsess over how we’re going to fit everything in the refrigerator. Decide which poor sap is going to have to play fridge Tetris. Figure that as long as it’s not me, it’s all good.
Wednesday midday: brine 20 lb. fresh hen turkey, stick back in fridge after removing refrigerator shelves. Figure out if there is anything that can be frozen to make room. Make cranberry sauce, being careful not to add so much chipotle this time, since last time you made it, it was er.. a bit on the spicy side. By a lot. Roast and skin sweet potatoes. Put sweet potatoes in Ziploc, mushing them so you can somehow fit them in the fridge. Take all the veggies that you need for the stuffing out of the fridge so you’ll have somewhere to put the container of cranberry sauce. Pick up coffeecake.
Wednesday evening: chop celery, red pepper, and onions for stuffing. Sweat veggies until soft in a stick of butter. Set aside in Ziploc bag, which can be molded to fit around the cranberry sauce in the fridge. Crumble cornbread, combine crumbled cornbread and sourdough croutons with Bell’s poultry seasoning in a large bowl. Make key lime and pumpkin pies. Coin toss with Rocket Scientist over who has to get up to get the turkey in the oven. Lose. Remind myself that if I cook the turkey, I won’t have to put up the leftover turkey. Doesn’t help.
Thursday 6:30 am: Get up. Drink two cups of strong coffee. Combine bread mixture and sautéed veggies with other stuffing ingredients. Retrieve turkey from brine, rinse off. Put shelves back in fridge. Put in three bottles of Martinelli’s and one of Gewurtztraminer in the fridge to cool. Stuff turkey, ignoring the voice of Alton Brown yelling in your head that “Stuffing is eeeevil!.” Place extra stuffing in dish so the vegetarians will have something to eat. Get bird in oven, after placing olive-oil soaked cheesecloth on breast (turkey’s, not mine). Baste at twenty minute intervals, or whenever I actually remember to do it.
Thursday 9:00 am: warm up coffeecake and make scrambled eggs. Get everyone up for breakfast. Or at least tell everyone that I’m having breakfast, by God, and if they decide to sleep in I’m not making breakfast for them later. Drink more coffee.
Thursday 10:30 am: peel and section tangerines and cut grapes for fruit salad. Swear loudly as I realize I forgot to buy miniature marshmallows for the salad, even though I got the big ones for the sweet potato soufflé.
Thursday 11:00 am: furtively slink into the closest Safeway, hoping against hope that they won’t be out of stock of the mini-marshmallows. They are. Try to decide whether I could simply cut up large ones. Sigh deeply. Go to a larger Safeway.
Thursday, noon: having returned from the marshmallow hunt, sit down to watch parade or football game, whichever, since the Rocket Scientist needs the kitchen to make the sweet potatoes. Half are covered with marshmallows, half with pecans since marshmallows are not vegetarian, unlike one-third of our household. Wonder whether I should sneak some of the bourbon being put in the soufflé. Fall asleep on couch. Wake up and try to remember whether we were having regular mashed potatoes, as well as sweet, decide screw it, and fall back asleep.
Thursday 1 pm: Wake up and nag designated son to set table. Decide it’s late enough that I need to finish making fruit salad. Notice that Rocket Scientist has cut up turkey. Get food on the table.
Thursday 2 pm: Say grace. Everyone says something they are thankful for. Think — but don’t say — that I’m really thankful all the cooking is done. Drink a couple of glasses of Gewurtztraminer but don’t eat a lot because, quite frankly, by this time the sight of all this food makes me feel vaguely nauseated. Watch everyone eat — especially the Red-Headed Menace, who eats an enormous number of rolls, sweet potatoes (the side with no marshmallows, because he’s a vegetarian), and fruit salad, and a little dressing, because he is a runner in training and needs to consume some insanely large number of calories. Everyone else eats more moderately, but not by all that much.
Thursday 3 pm: everyone decides they have really had enough. Suggestions of dessert are met with groans. The people responsible for putting up the leftovers (not me, since I got up early) go to work; everyone else naps to sleep off all the fat and tryptophan they have consumed.
Thursday 5 pm: everyone decides they’re ready for pie. Pie is consumed, with some whining by people who wanted a pie I did not make.
Thursday evening: Board games and leftovers. Hopefully Trivial Pursuit, but probably not. More likely Apples to Apples, since it requires next to no thought and all of our brain cells are oxygen deprived because the need to digest way too much food.
Friday morning: turkey omelettes. And pie.
Friday lunch: wonderful turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce sandwiches (the entire reason for the holiday as far as I am concerned). And pie.
And so on….
And only a month until I do it all again at Christmas.