The Final Countdown
The Thanksgiving countdown is offically on! I was the first customer at Whole Foods this morning, literally waiting for the doors to open, what a dork. Luckily, it’s pretty hard to stand out as a nerd at Whole Foods, so I whipped out my list, pushed up my glasses, shoved my frizzy hair back, and hit the aisles. I picked up flowers, and steaks for tomorrow night (my in-laws Dot & John arrive tomorrow and we’re having dinner here at the hacienda), and various and sundry items I forgot on Friday’s big shop as well as a few, er, extras. Like a couple of jars of vacuum-packed chestnuts, which actually weren’t completely unplanned for – I had tried and failed to find them last week. So…score! That’s what I love about the simple savory stuffing recipe I follow – you can keep it really basic, or you can toss in all sorts of lovelies depending upon the tolerance of the crowd you’re feeding (and what you can put your hands on). Neither John nor the kids really eat stuffing, but the rest of my family and John’s parents are foodies, so I feel comfortable innovating freely. This year it’s chestnuts, baby, as well as a bit of Italian sausage, a few leeks, and shitake mushrooms, in addition to the button mushrooms, garlic, onion, and Parmesan cheese that usually go in. In past years I’ve added proscuitto and toasted pine nuts. My dream is to add freshly shaved truffles…mmm… It will never come true (cost is beyond prohibitive), but it’s nice to imagine.
Anyhow, back here on Earth, I arranged the flowers, thought through the table setting (I have a special place in my heart – and on my table – for asymmetrical Haviland Limoges china patterns), and drained the pickled vegetables (they definitely need their olive oil/salt finish – I’m finding them overly vinegary as is; also, I don’t like the way the green beans turned out – too tough – but the red peppers, carrots, and fennel are delicious). Soon I’ll be peeling potatoes, getting ready for tomorrow’s big mashed potatoes-stuffing-gravy push. The turkey goes into its brine tomorrow as well. Somewhere in there I’m getting my nails done, going to a pilates class, and taking Nathan for a haircut appointment. And as I mentioned above, Dot & John arrive, and I’m making us all dinner. So it will be a busy day.
Wednesday the turkey comes out of the brine for a rinse and to dry (uncovered) overnight in the fridge. I’ll also set the table (we’re eating out Wednesday night) and lay my serving-ware on the sideboard. Before we head out for dinner, Rudy Maxa and Ana Scofield are stopping by for a holiday cocktail and to meet John’s parents.
And then it’ll be Thursday, the big day, just like that. My aunts Marge & Mary, uncles Jim & Bruce, and cousins Kim & Craig are all coming, as well as my mom, Cooper & Bowen, and our friend Harry Cunliffe. Weather looks promising – I hope to pull off a pre-meal walk around the ‘hood! – so I’m anticipating a lovely day. Stay tuned…