Happy Thanksgiving

Like many of you, I have been cooking all day in preparation for tomorrow.  I should have been cleaning, too, but I’m having foot issues and have to sit down for periods of rest in between cooking sessions, so I’m doing the best I can here.  I’m hoping to do a little late night cleaning now….just before bed…and finish up in the morning.  Our guests won’t arrive till 4:00 pm, so I really have time.  I just hate to be cleaning on the holiday itself.  There’s already enough to do and I will end up totally wiped out by day’s end, as always.

Back to the cooking fun!  I made whole berry cranberry sauce, which I discovered only in recent years is totally easy, but impresses people no end.  It IS good.  I don’t even like whole berry sauce in a can, but I like my own.  I did that in between two pies–pumpkin and apple.  Let me say that I have beautiful brand new ceramic pie plates that I was dying to show off.  It makes the pies look so wonderful.  One of the dishes came with its own recipes for crust and pies.  I used the crust recipe for both of my pies.  I’ll let you know how they taste after the big dinner tomorrow, but they have cream cheese and baking powder in them, neither of which I’ve ever seen in pie crust before.  They should taste wonderful. 

The pumpkin pie was made from pumpkin that I cooked myself last month from local pumpkins.  I’ve made one “test pie” with this pumpkin and it was fine, so I’m not worried about how it will taste. The apple pie, however, called for macerating the apples in a mixture of lemon juice, white and brown sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg, and then letting the juices drain off for half an hour.  You then use those juices and butter, cook it down till it is caramelized and put it back on the apples that been very lightly coated in cornstarch.  It sure smelled good!  And I think it looks great, though certainly not up to Martha Stewart standards.  I don’t think my family will give a flying fig, do you?

You can see by the 2nd photo that it’s not as dark as it appears in the first one, but you can also see I wasn’t being modest about it being not perfect.  It smells like caramel apples, so I’m looking forward to eating it tomorrow. With whipped cream, of course.

I also have made my dressing, which is one from Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten.)  It’s got lots of onions, celery, apples and rosemary, parsley and sage.  The recipe didn’t call for sage, but I can’t imagine turkey dressing without it, so in it went.  It smells wonderful and it is already in its baking dish in the fridge.

I made gravy today,  trying out a new recipe from Barefoot Contessa that doesn’t require me to wait for the turkey to be done.  Anything I can do a day ahead gets automatic high ratings from me, unless it just isn’t good at all.

This one uses butter and cooked onions (the fat from the butter replacing the fat from the pan drippings) and chicken broth for the liquid.  It also uses a teensy bit of brandy (or cognac, which I didn’t have in the house) and the options of white wine (I didn’t use it) and heavy cream (I did.)  It came out wonderful, though slightly salty for my taste–probably my fault, as I eyeballed instead of measuring.  I have to dilute it a bit anyway, when I reheat it for the dinner, by adding some more broth.  I’m sure it will be fine when I’ve done that, since my broth is low sodium.  I had gravy sauce mix in packets as a “Plan B,” just in case it didn’t turn out well, or if I need more than what I’ve made.  I could have bought gravy in a jar….I’ve done it more than once…but I really wanted to be as homemade as possible this year.

Let me just say that my reason for using jarred gravy on some occasions has nothing to do with being lazy.  Mostly it has to do with the fact that I’m not consistantly good at making gravies.  I’m totally underconfident about it, as I’ve had mixed results through the years, and I’d rather not worry about at the last minute, when I’m tyring to get the dinner on the table and enjoy my guests at the same time.  So when I saw Ina Garten making this one the day before, the little light bulb when off in my head and said, “Oh!  Now why didn’t I think of that?”   I think my days of jarred gravies are over, along with worrying about it at the last second.  Amen.

Tomorrow I still have to do the turkey, a veggie casserole that we all love, sweet potatoes done in the crockpot (with apples, nuts and raisins) and bisquits.  Julee is cooking the white potatoes, mashed with the skins on and some cream and sour cream added (maybe some cheddar, too.)  I think that just about covers it.  Would you believe I’m only cooking for six people?   

Wishing everyone safe travels, and a totally wonderful day, filled with the company of loved ones and lots of good food.  I hope you all have as many blessings to be thankful for as I do.

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