22 November 2021

Gobbling - and Hobbling (with Ina's help) - to Gratitude

It's that time of the year!  Only ten days until Thanksgiving, so it's time to actually put together a menu.  And now this drafting of the menu has been begun and rebegun and finally dragged to four days before the big day.  Which is pretty typical of life right now.  We are hobbling.  

This will be the sixteenth Thanksgiving since we've been married, and I've loved hosting a gathering each year.  I cannot believed I deigned to hostess thanksgiving when I was 22, but I did.  I wonder at all the family - and friends - who came over those first years.  But then again I don't. I mean - why not go to the idealists house with dust bunnies in the corner and fancy china on the table.  It has to at least be amusing.  

We love having thanksgiving.  We love going all out - beyond all that is reasonable - and without any distractions.  Christmas is the best, but it is so big.  Thanksgiving is about one thing - relishing in that over which we get to give thanks to God.  

I have new china I bought for a steal from a family friend this summer.  A whole big set with lots of pieces.  I have fancy linen, embroidered napkins I brought home from Greve, Italy, the most charming town in the history of christendom, nestled in the midst of Tuscany.  I have a brand new niece who is coming to sit in the infant seat in the corner.  Despite the hobbling, we are going all out.  Because we worship a God who went all out.  We bear his image, and we get to create and celebrate and give thanks.  

Also connected to our excess is that Thanksgiving is very much my service to the extended family, at least in the celebratory category.  At Christmas, I have too many children to be of much use to the rest of the world.  I'm not big on birthdays.  This is my yearly magnum opus.  And so, it is excessive by design.  

Here are the menus from previous years:  

We're feeding 14 (but one of them will be ten days old), so we're preparing for 42 or so.  We like a good 3 to 1 ratio on turkey day.  Everyone gets a tray of leftovers to go home with, and we Forsters have a weekend full of them, and we will spread them around to others a bit.  

Pick Up Food:
I'll make Spicy Rosemary Cashews and Kristi's Spiced Pecans, which are our two favorite nut recipes.  I'll also probably have out some meats and cheeses and fruits.  Carrie, my stepmother, is bringing something to add to the spread.  I want it all to be decent and room temp and graze-able.  I'm making a fall/spiced sangria and then will have out other fixings for grown ups.  

We love soup at Thanksgiving.  Gives us a moment to pause together.  I'm writing a little liturgy for our family for this year, and I'm excited to use the soup moment to do some reflecting together - and then let everyone sort of leisurely make plates.  I'll hop up as everyone's finishing soup and yank all the things from the "keep warm" oven and throw them on my bar.  It sounds frantic, but it's not - it's much less frantic than doing that with 12 people standing around  me asking if they can help.  They cannot help.  (I'm a notoriously bad in-the-moment delegator).  But thank you.  

So, this year, I'm using an old favorite of  mine.  It's an asparagus soup with herbed goat cheese.  It's really good jazz.  And it's light - which is the only real challenge.  You need to find a fall-appropriate soup that is not at all approaching an entree soup. I thought long and hard about french onion, but I didn't want to be fooling with toasting the bread at the sit down moment.  

The Bird:
This is so exciting!  Collins's buddy Levi (who is also the son of dear friends) has been farming turkeys!  They are being harvested today and tomorrow.  I will put one in the brine on Tuesday night, and then Paul will grill it on Thursday.  We've gone to grilling the turkey.  This tradition developed due to the idiocy of my then 20-something baby brother, who is now much more a grown up and so we can laugh and love him for his causing us to grill a turkey last minute.  


Southern Cornbread Dressing - Mama is making my grandmother's recipe that we use every year.  Usually I do it.  Frankly, I'm thankful she volunteered.  

Sweet Potato Casserole:  Again, Mama!  Her two jobs are the two sides we cannot do without.  I'm so grateful, too, because I still do both of them exactly the way she did them when I was growing up.  So, I know she's bringing what I like.  ;) 

All of the other sides this year are Ina Garten.  Look - she's just good at her job, and I think she's particularly adept at sides.  Most are from Modern Comfort Food, her latest book that my cooking club has been going through, thus making me want to make it all for thanksgiving.  

Celery Root & Cauliflower Puree:  Y'all.  My friend Jessica did this at my cooking club recently. Y'all.  I think it may be the best savory side I've ever tasted.  Like ever.  It is dairy-rich and has a crunchy brussels sprouts topping.  Y'all.  

Roasted Broccolini with Cheddar:  This is just roasted broccolini, sprinkled with good cheddar cheese at the end.  This will be our healthiest side, I imagine.  Except maybe the carrots?  

Charred Carrots:  also Modern Comfort Food.  Cooked under a broiler and dressed with a little balsamic and orange.  Should be yummy.  

Roasted Butternut Squash with Brown Butter & Sage:  You guessed it.  Ina from MCF.  My friend Lauren made this recently, and we were licking the pan.  

Cheddar and Scallion Creamed Corn:  We had it last year.  We loved it.  How could you not.  

Ina's Spinach Gratin.  Not from Modern Comfort Food!  

On the Table:  

Gravy:  Another Ina. Recipe here. 
Cranberry Sauce:  Theme, much?  Recipe here.

Molded Honey Butter & Salted Butter.  My dog ate my butter mold this fall.  Paul bought me two new ones.  So, I'm going to let the dog eat these two and see if I get four in return.  

Eason Family Pickles 

Breadbasket:  I put my stepmother in charge this year.  She's so good at bread, and whatever she brings will be perfection.  And also done in excess.  

Amish Jarred Spiced Peaches:  (We like these tacky canned peaches from the 50s and we just can't stop liking them.  And by we, I mean me.  And the urchins, who have bad taste.  So, basically, the story is that we're tacky and we don't care.  We used to just buy the cans of spiced peaches from Kroger.  But, they became hard to find.  Simultaneously, our little local grocery store started carrying these amish, small batch ones.  Now it feels a little less tacky.  But not much.) 

Dessert Cart:

Pecan Pie:  Ada Bee 

Something yummy from stepmother.  If I know her, a cheesecake.  

Applesauce Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting 

Flourless Chocolate Torte with Amaretto Cream (not Ina!) 

I don't feel well.  Due to this forsaken arthritis, my daily pain level ranges from a 3 to an 8.  I am actually limping on some days.  There is languishing and real suffering.  

But really who gives a flip.  

We are abundantly blessed.  We have so much thanking God to do.  Always.  I am grateful for a week that I can focus on raining down absurdity on my people - with my people - and turning our faces to the absurdly generous Creator.  

No comments:

Post a Comment