Sunday, November 23, 2008

Home stretch

Ever since my first experience of a Thanksgiving Dinner, 1964 just six weeks after I got off the boat, I've been in love with this holiday. My first stop in the country was Newport, RI and on the boat over I met a nurse who lived in Providence. She invited me to join her family at Thanksgiving. They had a big, rambling house on a tree lined street, it was crisp, frosty day,the house was full of cousins, grandmothers, distant relatives and me, a total stranger. I don't think I ever felt more welcome anyplace in my life.
I was introduced to that strangest of strange TG accompaniments - the cranberry jello that had a green layer and a white layer (cream cheese maybe?), a sweet potato souffle topped with marshmallows and, of course, pumpkin pie. Over the years, with in-laws in the Midwest, I was treated to many versions of Thanksgiving favorites and still, today, my favorite from that era is the green beans in cream of mushroom soup topped with crispy onion rings ...all coming from cans!
More than anything, I love the spirit of sharing and welcome that comes with Thanksgiving. I didn't host my own Thanksgiving until 1981 when we moved to Tucson and that day it was so warm that we set tables out on the patio for dinner. Subsequent Tucson thanksgivings have been outdoors. This year we'll be at the cabin up north and in the spirit of this holiday, will be joined by new and old friends and family to share memories and good food.
Armed with stacks of cookbooks and magazines , we've jointly created a balanced menu that includes old favorites (roasted root vegetables) and new takes on everything from Brussels sprouts (slivered, steamed and tossed with nutmeg and brown butter) to trifle. The children will have their tasks, a sought after one being to create turkey rolls (bread rolls twisted and shaped like very abstract turkeys...I think the idea came from a long-ago Sunset magazine recipe), playing with the dough is cathartic for all ages. Given that we'll be up in the mountains there will be a log fire burning and, according to the forecast, a touch of snow. No matter what the weather, it will be warm with friendship and family. What has changed is the incorporation of a more global approach to food and recipes,and the inclusion of Southwest influences -
check out Tamalada party . I'll post the details in our Tucson pages.
Thank you all for the de-stressing hints you've sent in...there's room for more.

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