If you've seen this Snickers ad campaign, you know what I'm talking about.
Today, D got our photos from Thanksgiving onto a server, so I was able to download all of them in minimal time. Hooray for online storage space! The shots he took during our morning of cooking were intermittent as we had our hands quite full, but here are some highlights from our culinary adventures.
We brined and roasted our turkey according to this recipe, which we tested last year with nice results. This year's bird worked out well too -- the breast meat was juicy, and the legs and thighs were tender to the point of pulling away from the body at the joints. If prepping a turkey were less messy, I'd cook one way more often. Note the operative word if -- when I was butterflying the bird for roasting, I managed to cover the front of the dishwasher with raw meat juices (we don't have a lot of space in our kitchen, so when food messes reach the edge of the counter, as they often do, they plunge off to wreak havoc on whatever surfaces are below). I was also not tall enough to apply sufficient force to the breast bone in order to crack the turkey open, so I had to get up on a chair to put all my weight into it. Oddly reminiscent of CPR training! I think it took about five or six compressions to do the job -- and then a lot of paper towels and soap to get rid of the fluids that squirted everywhere. Yum, yum. Good thing D had us eat breakfast before going at all the cooking -- he got up early to make bran muffins and cornbread, which powered us through.
Once everything was cleaned up, we were in good shape for the rest of the food prep. I have to say that even with four cooks in our tiny kitchen, we did an incredible job of not running into one another. My best friend from college and his longtime girlfriend came up from Portland to spend Wednesday night and most of Thursday with us for the holiday, and they brought an entire cooler of ingredients for the dishes they planned to make. So wonderful to have people I love living nearby again! (They moved to Oregon a little over a year ago and are the same friends we visited in May.) The occasions for seeing such friends have been otherwise infrequent since our own move west -- most of our group from school stayed in New York and Massachusetts.
We made Brie en croûte with dried cherries, honey, pecans, and rosemary as an appetizer, served with croccantini from a local grocery, then for side dishes to accompany the turkey, we prepared cranberry relish; pan gravy; oven-roasted new potatoes with pearled onions, rosemary, and paprika; and green beans sautéed with fresh garlic. Matt and Gaby made sausage stuffing, oven-roasted apples and root vegetables (sweet potatoes, parsnips, and beets), and an Elizabethan pot pie that contained Jerusalem artichokes, hard-boiled eggs, grapes, and dates with a drizzling of heavy cream. Quite an amazing spread once we were done! Add to that the whole-wheat loaf that D baked the night before, as well as several bottles of wine, and it was a true feast. I think we were all a bit stunned that everything turned out so well. "Did we do that?" Matt said once the table was set.
We were quite full by the time we finished our main course(s), so we went for a walk around the neighborhood. Then we had a round of cards to liven us up, and D and I baked our mini molten chocolate cakes. Half of them -- the ones that were made with powdered Splenda -- turned out beautifully. The other two did not want to solidify on the outside and remained more like bread pudding. I'm guessing it's because we didn't have confectioner's sugar (we substituted the granular stuff, which didn't grind well with our mortar and pestle). In any case, the cakes still tasted fine, and they went really nicely with the loganberry dessert wine our friends brought -- Vinotaboo, which is made in Oregon. A pomegranate was a good palate cleanser that finished off the day.
After a few more rounds of cards, we decided to take Matt and Gaby to D's office, where we played foosball (another favorite activity we haven't had since college). And then we had to say our goodbyes since I had my flight at the crack of dawn and they had a three-hour drive back home so they could be at work the next day. I was sad to see them go so soon -- but there's always January. I think another reunion is very much in order.
So that, in large part, was Thanksgiving '08 chez nous! Now go eat something. I know I'm hungry again after thinking about all that food.
13 hours ago