Friday, November 20, 2009

Here, Turkey, Turkey....

Counting down to the big day. Not stressed, not especially organized either. I decided about twenty years ago that these big holidays had to be fun, and if they became an ordeal, then I wasn't participating. Bring on the finger-licking, the pretty table, the oopsis and triumphs - but don't expect me to get stressed! I'm not the headless one running around here - that is the fate of the poor turkey!

Thanksgiving is at my house this year. Praying for temperatures in the mid-seventies so we can eat outside in the Sala Fresca. Also praying that the roadwork crew take a break and cut the dust and noise. last year we were all up at the cabin but work and kid schedules this year made it more practical to stay in town. The usual crew will be here - a great mix of family, old friends, new strays, and in the case of my youngest son - girlfriend of the season. His sister and I have bets on how long the Thanksgiving girl will last. Seems that he brings one to a family gathering and the relationship fizzles within weeks! he's being mysterious this year, not confirming that he's bringing anyone.

As of today the count is 16 adults plus assorted kids. At this stage of the game I say "what the heck," and tell everyone to plan on food for 20. That's what I love about this holiday - stretching the table, the turkey and my heart. Thanksgiving is an inclusive event - doors should be opened.

A group of us composed of family and old friends have been taking it in turn for years now to host the holiday dinner. Things work out really well no matter who does the planning. If you are short of ideas, check out our reader contributed TG favorites. My daughter not only assigned dishes but printed out recipes for everyone on her turn. I have a more let the chips fall approach with very loosely worded guidelines. It will come together. I know I'm in charge of turkey. I co-opted Jim and Chris to do a repeat of their fabulous smoked turkey too. I ordered an artisanal apple-smoked ham (exorbitant price so it had better be good.) Personal trainer, Gene, who is also a good friend, got assigned stuffings; daughter, Lisa is the dessert queen; youngest son is the master of mashed potatoes - although he blew it one year when he added horseradish. I know others are bringing a sweet potato dish, soup, appetisers. I'm doing all the greenies. I'm sneaking in brussel sprouts in a recipe from the Minimalist - shredded, flash fried with bacon and fresh figs, drizzled with balsamic. As a tribute to the last issue of Gourmet, I'll follow their turkey recipe and some side suggestions. Have also printed out Chef Nassar's fool-proof gravy recipe for the lucky soul who'll be assigned to that task.

We'll miss the Ethiopian crew this year - Ben and Annie are hosting Thanksgiving in Addis Ababa. They tell me they have one American couple and ten British as guests. We've been trading recipes and plans so as to feel connected. Our plan this year is breakfast at my daughter's house - her newly renovated kitchen will make its family debut- followed by cooking at my house. Noise, chaos, good wine, good friends, family. What more could one give thanks for.


  1. How do you stay so calm - I get into a twist weeks ahead of time. I'm always convinced I'll drop the turkey, burn the pies, cry in the kitchen. I've been doing this for twenty years, you'd think I'd make it easy on myself. My Mom did everything - I guess I feel that I have to do the same.

  2. You don't have to do everything. Delegate, delegate! it's the most liberating feeling in the world. And if the turkey is too dry,there are lumps in the gravy, and someone forgets the jello salad - give thanks anyway for all the efforts made. It's not too late for you to call family and tell them that you need help.

  3. Stress -me? No! My brother just called to say his new wife doesn't "feel like it" they had volunteered to show off new house and host this year- apparently a major argument with my brother has precipitated this and she has decided that she doesn't like anyone in our family - second marriage by the way - all of 7 months. Guess who has the turkey duty now. Oh well. No stress, say yes to the turkey. It's giving a whole new meaning to pot luck.


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