To Brine or Not to Brine? Plight of the Long-Distance Bird
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Left to my own devices, at my desk with the solitary pleasure of blogging, my concentration drifts . . . to food. Beautiful, seductive food. On this: our Week of Feasting, I find myself fixating on The Bird. To brine or not to brine? I’m thinking exuberant Vegetables in wild abundance, sauced and complemented: fresh greens or beans? Contemplating plates of Potatoes, mashed or roasted? My mind, as if cramming for an exam, is stuffed with ingredients, a recipe surveillance, a shopping list, garlic to mince, rosemary and thyme to chop, cornbread to bake, cranberries to relish, cream to whip, and on it goes.
There was a time when Thanksgiving was simple. My task was to polish silver and fill candy dishes (remember candy dishes?) All matters of menu and its prep were my mother’s domain.
There was a time when Thanksgiving was a given. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, sibs, children under wing - relatively speaking, we lived in one place and sat down to one meal. Together.
No more. Thanksgiving is now a day we navigate long distance and share in a gentle negotiation between cities, scattered to the wind, answering the calls of newlywed and extended families, and welcoming their invitations. We pack. We load cars. We fly. We cook as guests in kitchens not our own, all in a merry collaboration of effort and expense. And even so, we miss that ease of true homecoming, getting together.
Our iPads and cell phones will come to dinner with us this Thursday. For his first Thanksgiving, we will greet our grandchild on an Apple. From my nephew’s kitchen in Evanston we will google-chat with both our sons and their wives and new in-laws, enjoying a Thanksgiving poolside in Palm Beach, Florida. From Sarasota, my sister will join us “Up North” -- a first Thanksgiving without her beloved husband, Rick. From Dallas, cousins will jetset in on Thanksgiving morning, carrying bags of groceries from Whole Foods around the corner.
Best Pumpkin Bread Pudding Ever! "The Last Thing You Need"
Like a trifle but not as rich. Like a souffle, but heavier.
Like a pie prepared in a Bundt cake pan.
And so, the dance before the dinner begins. And what a fuss we make. And what pleasure in the prep. (Starting with a shot of bourbon at noon is highly recommended.) No doubt, there are too many cooks giving hand in the kitchen. There are cats jumping on counters. There are spatters and spills to mop up all day. And when all is said and done, simmered, stirred and served up on steaming platters and pretty dishes, sliced, spooned, tasted and lapped up to the last impossible bite. . .there’s the discovery of so much more in the dinner than the food.
What we’ve done in all the fuss and muss, chatter and chaos, we’ve done for love. And this is our thanks.
(Cook well and be well.)
(Gotta share: latest shots of my delicious grandson, Mason. Will miss him (along with his parents, aunt and uncle) at our table this year, but Hanukkah latke-making and Christmas cookie-baking ... just around the corner. )
Thanks for dropping by.