Thanksgiving!Or, as we should perhaps call it, Turkey Day! (because we should give thanks all the time, right? Oh, maybe I'll withdraw that opinion, because there's Valentine's Day too, which, yes, is a holiday greatly inflated by the consumer industry blah blah blah, still - it's nice that there's a day devoted to love. And we should love everyday too...so Thanksgiving it is.)
I cooked a LOT this year, for the very first time. I, of course, like to cook and all, I just don't do it too often. Hopefully, that's changing. (the only thing that 'hopefully' stands for in that instance is my 'hope' that I'll get off my tired bum at the end of the day and actually cook something...) In the past, I've taken care of one or two dishes, but I'd never been responsible for the turkey. Or for anything very important, for that matter. I've made lots of pumpkin pies, but I don't count that. This time, I did the turkey, sweet potato casserole, cornbread, AND pie. It was lots of fun!
I'll get back to cooking in a minute. The first thing that I learned this holiday, prior to the turkey-making, was how to play chess. T and I are learning together. Now it's all we do.
(note the grocery bags in the background, having yet to be unloaded...)
I was very excited. Although we were only 5, somehow a 12-lb turkey was purchased. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
I got the idea for what I'd do from a combination of a few recipes on www.allrecipes.com, good old common sense, and the amazing vegan chef and friend B, who has not always been a vegan and dug up some great tips for me out of the foggy pre-vegan memory. Here he is, being kind enough to help me with the brining (was it kindness or the fact that he didn't want me to touch his salt container with my gross turkeyed hands? we'll never know...)
Because T doesn't eat gluten, I searched for some gluten-free recipes for things like cornbread and pumpkin pie. I was 1 for 2 - the cornbread was awful. BUT, the pie was great! The crust, not having regular flour, didn't stick together the way it should so I decided to do mini pies in a cupcake pan rather than gambling with a full-sized pie crust:
They turned out amazingly well! Beautiful, perfectly browned and delicious. I think they'll be making a reappearance before long.
Finally, the time came. After a day of cooking, chess, and general foolery, dinner was ready! I was also the only girl in attendance, so I represented the whole gender (you can bet I was under some how's-the-turkey-gonna-taste pressure!) The friend who we were visiting has a balcony that overlooks the Pacific, so the boys moved the table outside as I got ready. I came out to a bare dining room and a lovely table under the sunset:
Gorgeousness. They even did a great job with setting the table, for boys :)
So, we all sat, and after lots of pictures were taken (I could've sworn B's tripod was going to fall off the wall of the balcony to the mountain below, but all ended up fine in the end) we sat down to eat. There was amazing butternut squash soup, delicious vegan stuffing, green bean casserole, wine - of course, marinaded brussel sprouts, plus everything I'd made, and I'm sure I'm forgetting even more. We passed around the serving dishes, and I heard echoes of kudos on the turkey. (I was SO nervous!) Finally I got some, and tried it...and....it was AWESOME. Yay! Moist and flavorful (oh yes, I used bacon. That's right, bacon. Everwhere. Can't go wrong with that.) I think I've found my permanent turkey recipe.
I finished before the boys (snacking while cooking all day made me the one with the smallest appetite) and hung out on the hammock nearby on the balcony, gazing up at my much-missed-in-LA stars -
Eventually T came over and joined me, as well as thankfully keeping me warm (if you know me, you know that I don't generate my own body heat)
yes, those are snowmen on my socks. I can at least wear snow if I can't see it, ever.
The next morning, we woke up at 4am for Black Friday shopping! T was infinitely less excited than I was, but he was an amazing sport about it, as always.
I love Black Friday. I usually only shop for a few hours, am back in bed by 11am, and spend maybe, a THIRD of what I would on Cmas presents otherwise. It's amazing. The crowds don't bother me because I am ready. It's like my own personal Running of the Bulls. (any more than once a year, I would never. Just sayin.)
But sadly, this time the sales were not so great. We ended up only buying a few things, and heading back down toward home just as the sun was coming up. Made for oh-so-gorgeous views though:
Once we arrived back in Santa Monica, we went to the omelette parlor for breakfast. This, unfortunately, was where we ran out of steam. Terry did about 1.7 seconds before me.
Back home, back to sleep, to wake up at noon, refreshed and ready for a great long weekend!
I can't complain. Even though it's Monday. One down, two to go. Bring on Christmas!