Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gobble gobble...

Thanksgiving thoughts from the Greenhabilitator...

Is anyone else feeling the STRESS already this holiday season? It's been a long week, with an even longer one coming up. The kids are out of school, but the husband still has to work, so I get to work at home, fulfill my mom duties, plan and shop for Thanksgiving, clean the house, try to keep the kids from tearing it apart. Please promise you'll visit me in the loony bin!

In an attempt to kill two birds with one stone (no turkey pun intended there) and because I don't have anything else deep and insightful to tell you about this week, I thought I'd share some of my Turkey Day plans.

I've come to the decision this year that Thanksgiving isn't about trying to replicate what we did during my childhood (then failing at it and being grumpy that Thanksgiving just isn't what it used to be), but to make the best memories for my family today. To do that, I'm really trying to incorporate things that everyone likes.

First things first: Dessert

It's arguably the most important part of the Thanksgiving meal.

Most of the people coming to dinner aren't, well.....let's say....traditionalists. For example, my mother-in-law, who lives with us, came home from the store today with a bag of potato flakes and asked if we could "just have these for Thanksgiving dinner" instead of making real mashed potatoes. I tried to keep a straight face.

None of my husband's family likes pumpkin pie. Actually, they don't eat anything orange...or green. You see what I'm up against here. They'd much rather stop and get a chocolate pudding pie from Denny's. Gag.

On the other hand, it's just not Thanksgiving for my mom without pumpkin pie. I prefer pecan, but appreciate the tradition of pumpkin. A few weeks ago I made pumpkin puree from scratch and froze it so I'm planning to try either a pumpkin cream cheese pie, or pumpkin cheesecake a la Martha Stewart. (Photo from Martha's site.)

Turkey

I've heard so much this year about brining a turkey that I had to see what it's all about. According to Martha (BTW - I totally had a dream the other night that she came to Thanksgiving dinner.), "Soaking a turkey overnight in a solution of salt and water ensures moist results. When you add aromatics to the brine, the resulting roast is also infused with a subtle character all its own. Follow our instructions to prepare a perfect brined turkey for your next feast."

In keeping with Jess' post last month about Saving the Brick & Morters, I decided to stop into this sweet little kitchen store in town yesterday. I had 15 minutes before I had to be at school for the kids Thanksgiving luncheon, so I thought I'd take a look around. When I saw the "Gourmet Gobbler Kit" I knew it was fate that my bird should be brined this year. And so it shall be with a spiced brine blend, then seasoned with smoky peppercorn and herb rub.

Sides

My MIL is vegetarian, but not an actual fan of veggies, so that leaves a lot of pasta and starches. Lucky for me she loves my great grandma's pineapple souffle, as do I, so I get to keep that tradition alive. Score! Here's the recipe. Keep in mind that there is nothing healthy, organic, or local about it, but you can switch some of grandma's ingredients for organic.

Great Grandma Boggs' Pineapple Souffle
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Grease an 8" casserole
  • Tear up 5 slices of white bread into small pieces and put it in the casserole dish
  • Cream together 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup sugar
  • Beat 4 large eggs then mix thoroughly into the butter and sugar
  • Add 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • Pour this mixture onto the bread cubes, mix gently
  • Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes
If you use organic sugar, butter and bread (and I'm thinking you can use wheat instead of white) it's not all that bad. But good luck finding local pineapple. Last time I checked that wasn't really a popular crop here in Colorado. But man is it gooooood!

Although I think my mom and I are the only ones who eat sweet potatoes, I'm planning to make some (in a small amount) anyway. There's just no way that I can resist Nikki's Sweet Potatoes from 101 Cookbooks made with coconut milk, toasted coconut, macadamias, and freshly grated ginger. Again, not a locavore's dish with the coconut and macadamias (am I losing my street cred here?).

We'll also have some local green beans that I canned a few months ago, bread, mashed potatoes, gravy...all that typical stuff.

Accessories

I found a really pretty, fall-colored table runner at Goodwill last year that will go nicely with my second-hand china. I think I'll enlist the kids in some child labor next week and have them make beaded napkin rings. It should keep them occupied for about 3 minutes while I work. And I thought this was a cute idea from the Elmer's Glue Crew website.
They're made from holiday catalogs and we can alter it to be a place card, or glue a magnet on the back and let everyone take one home with pictures of the kids in them.

Wow, well I'm feeling much more organized now. Thanks! We might just have to change this to the Green Therapy Booth.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with good company, laughter, love and some delicious food.

8 comments:

Green Bean said...

I'm just starting to get organized. Thankfully (stress-wise) our celebration will be very small. Still everyone has their own things they like/dislike/whatever. We'll go low key, try out a few new recipes. Thanks for sharing your plans.

LJ said...

Sadly, my whole Thanksgiving this year is pretty much toasted. In laws wanna have their own dinner at their home that I can't attend because of allergies to their 500 cats. MIL can't make it down here for dinner, but will be here for Black Friday which I detest. Hubby hates holidays......./sigh

greeen sheeep said...

Ha! I have a bird in the oven as I type this. We are celebrating at home early this year. Then I get to gorge two more times before this month is over. I can whole-heartedly attest to the wonder of the brine. It involves a little extra prep and mess, but is totally worth it. I am preparing a whole Martha Thanksgiving feast. In addition to the Stewart-ness of it all, I strived for a 100 mile meal. Talk about stress! Didn't do too bad... other the one orange I needed for my cranberry relish. Much like Colorado, those tropical fruits do not grow in Wisconsin either. Alas...

Good luck with your meal. I am sure dessert will be delicious!

Elizabeth B said...

My MIL is vegetarian, but not an actual fan of veggies

My brain keeps getting this far and then choking. A vegetarian who doesn't--adda--wibba--

.....

(Sorry, that was the sound of one brain flailing.)

In conclusion: O_o

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

We're having Thanksgiving at our house this year for the first time, so I put in an order for a free range turkey. But since I'm a vegetarian, I've never cooked a turkey before. We'll see how it goes...Thanks for showing us a little glimpse of your Thanksgiving dinner. Sounds great!

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Ooh, Green Sheep, it sounds like you and I make the same cranberry relish...is that the one where you throw a bag of cranberries and one hacked up orange into the food processor and chop it up? I love it...

We're also having a low-stress, cook at home, immediate-family-only thanksgiving this year, which is something really huge to be thankful for. I haven't organized yet, and tomorrow I'll assemble the shopping list and make room for the bird in the fridge, but it's nice to know I'll be cooking for a really forgiving audience who won't care if the rug is vacuumed or if I forget the potatoes. I use the turkey recipe from The Silver Palate's "New Classics" cookbook; it has more than a cup of port wine in the stuffing and poured over the bird to baste it...it's lovely. I have to work on Thanksgiving morning (how much does THAT stink!) (Tis the fate of the professional church organist), so I'll do as much as I can the day before...

I don't know if I'm up for the brining this year...but who knows, maybe you'll inspire me! Good luck to everyone!

Jenn the Greenmom said...

...oops, that's "The New Basics." Sorry!

Jessica Nichols said...

This whole post cracked me up. Did you survive Monday? I did, but it's going to be a long two more days until hubby is off work. At least I'm not cooking much besides sweet potatoes. Or beets. My MIL cannot decide which I'm making and if it's sweet potatoes, are they candied or straight? Questions questions. Glad my post inspired you to shop local and you found a brining kit! :)

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