Friday, November 27, 2015

thanks-giving...?

So much of the sentimental chatter around Thanksgiving in the US has to do with being with FAMILY, and SHARING....  We have this Norman Rockwell or Currier-and-Ives vision of an extended family clustered around the dining-room table, oohing and ahhing when the huge turkey is brought in on a platter the size of a bistro table, looking more like a plastic prop than something actually edible -- and the last observation tends to be depressingly true, because to make a roast turkey look like that, the breast-meat WILL be horribly overcooked and dry.

Then there's the oh-so-traditional occupation of watching fucking FOOTBALL after the feast.  GRRRRR....  So some stupid twentieth-century display of barbarism became the arbiter of WHEN the feast-of-thanksgiving should begin and end?  To hell with the convenience of the people doing the actual WORK of the day, so that the couch-potatoes and do-nothing guests can enjoy their vicarious-conquest emotion-and-sloth-fest in all its ingloriousness?  ...I don't think i really NEED to turn myself loose in describing my contempt....

From my critique, above, you might think that i'm shockingly un-thankful and anti-traditional, but you'll be missing the nuance of my discussion:  i AM thankful indeed, and i appreciate tradition, even if my view of it is slightly ... uh ... untraditional.  ;-)

I have a great deal to be grateful for, despite or even perhaps because of a frustrated life.  I'm very fortunate in the comfort i'm enjoying in my "old age," and in the support of my husband and daughter.  And anyone who has read my blog for awhile has learned that i'm very keen on history, both "recent" (including about the last three thousand years, but concentrating on the last couple of hundred) and truly ancient history (back to hunter-gatherer times).

So my Thanksgiving Day yesterday was informal and not very traditional, but nevertheless heartfelt.

First, NO TURKEY.  ;-)  I like turkey, though J was never was very fond of it.  In my birth-family, we always had turkey not only for Thanksgiving but for Christmas dinner ... but we never had it at any other time, save in restaurants.  It was therefore an Annual Treat.  After replicating this pattern for over a decade after my marriage, i started thinking that this was not very fair to "the founder of the feast" and our kids -- why make something that everybody didn't really LOVE, just because we usually did it?  In casting about for a worthy replacement, Christmas Dinner became all about a TRUE delicacy, a roast prime rib of BEEEEEEF!

When we started having much smaller Thanksgiving Day assemblies, turkey went out the window too.  We played with goose and various other less-usual meats, and are settling on duck when it's just the two of us.  The recipe for Unsightly But Delicious Duck in Dana Carpender's books is the preparation of choice.  Yesterday's cooked unusually quickly, and totally fell apart before the last stint in the oven, but that did not damage our enjoyment of it one particle!

In beginning the preparation yesterday morning, my general plans started falling apart almost immediately.  I couldn't find the can of pumpkin that i just KNEW was in the pantry!  (In fact, i believed that i had not one but two.)  Okay!  Some of J's outstanding mincemeat filling (with honest-to-god real minced MEAT) was in the freezer from last year;  we got it out to thaw.  Besides, who needs pumpkin when you've got some gorgeous baby Japanese sweet potatoes to bake ... except i didn't ... in choosing the nicest-looking baby sweet potatoes i accidentally picked up garnets instead.  [sigh]  Oh well, i'll bake those tiny little sugar-bombs, taking care not to get them overdone, which is rather disgusting....

Ooh, then i meant to make a loaf of flax-bread, but while sitting down after making a bite of brekkie i noticed what a beautiful day it was, cool and sunny, and i sat down in the new sunroom with a window cracked and the fireplace going, and watched our "traditional" annual viewing of "Miracle on 34th Street" while drinking mimosas....  :-)  The afternoon drifted pleasantly on, and we watched the two Despicable Me films after Mo34S.  I managed to get the duck in the oven at about 3:00, the hour at which we tend to feed the dog.

During the poking around i did, trying to find the canned pumpkin, i came across a leaking can in the pantry (BOO), but also a small can of jellied cranberry sauce, and a carton of cottage cheese in the fridge, which needed using.  When God closes a door He opens a window, right?  ;-)  I added my altered version of pineapple-orange-cottage cheese salad to the menu.  Spent a whole quarter-hour chopping canned mushrooms and cobbling together a whole-food version of green-bean casserole, chilling the cranberries, making the salad, and preparing the sweet potatoes for the oven.  Decided we had enough food and didn't need a composed dessert on top of everything else.

Dinnertime rolled around and we ate side-by-side on trays in the sunroom, watching Shrek.  Thanks to the addition of therapeutic quantities of magnesium in my supplement line-up, i was not stressed by the multiple changes-of-plan in our dinner, but actually enjoyed making changes on the fly!  I had some leftover poultry gravy in the fridge, to which i added the minced cooked liver from the duck and a little more of the collected juices (i nibbled the heart and gizzard away during the course of the afternoon), and it provided the perfect sauce to the already tender and juicy meat.  As predicted, we were quite full after one plate-ful of the dishes i provided, and didn't miss having a formal dessert at all.  I didn't even top off the meal with coffee or port!

Altogether, we enjoyed our untraditional Thanksgiving Day feast, not least because it was NOT the collection of bickering relatives, NOT one group grousing that they worked hours making a meal which people hurried through in 15 minutes so they could be in time to watch the kick-off, NOT bearing with brainless nattering about politics and religion and sentimental BS thanking Jesus for something he had no hand in (Jesus and a few of his followers made some contributions to civilization, but he sure as hell didn't provide the dinner).

No, J and i had an unusual feast of things we don't treat ourselves to very often.  We have leftovers that we actually WANT to eat, not a vista of meal after meal of gradually-degrading junk.  We had a pleasant and cheerful day of comedy and humor and a sense of indulgence even if it wasn't "wicked" by objective standards.  We had a Thanksgiving Day for which we can honestly give thanks.

12 comments:

  1. ...you had a perfect Thanksgiving Day.

    Here in the UK we don't 'do' Thanksgiving Day but so much of what you describe can be Christmas, and occasions like these can be so stressful and they shouldn't be!

    Looking ahead we are not having the traditional Roast Turkey at Christmas we are having Roast Beef and we are looking forward to it ...

    Wishing you a Happy and relaxing weekend ahead.

    All the best Jan

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    1. thanks, Jan! :-) I always see our Thanksgiving as the direct descendent of the English harvest feasts, as described in Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowd" and the end of Austen's "Emma."

      hope you have a pleasant weekend, too!

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  2. I also had a non-traditional Thanksgiving. There were two of usbecause our son was attending his friend's wedding.Yes, a duck was getting ready aging in a refrigerator treated with a salt only. I made marinated carrots in advance and bought frozen lingonberries to use as a garnish. Citruses were ripe in my backyard, and I planed to bake a spansh-style almond cake with added lemon juice and a lemon jeast. But day was so gorgeous that my husband told me - forget about that duck, we will bake it on Saturday, lets go to a National park while people gather around tables. We went to a Baldwin trail http://www.traillink.com/trail/jacksonville-baldwin-rail-trail.aspx, he was bicycling , I rollerskated. I saw a flock of wild turkeys on a Turkey Day. I quickly cooked lamb shnitsels when we came home, cooked bell peppers on a pan and warmed up a cabbage soup which was already made couple days before. Later I baked the almond cake with a lemon.

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    1. :-) sounds great! and there's nothing like enjoying the out-of-doors when there aren't too many people around!

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    2. Galina
      Almond cake with lemon - sounds delicious

      All the best Jan

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    3. Thank you, Jan. It was the modification of a Spanish almond cake http://www.thevintagemixer.com/2013/03/tarta-de-santiago-recipe-a-spanish-almond-cake-from-spain/. However, as usual, I modified it more than using a sugar substitute instead of sugar. I added to an almond meal/yolk mixture some salt, a juice of a half lemon, two Tbs of a cream cheese, 2Tbs of butter , zest of a half lemon and a sugar substitute, and whipped egg whites separately. It was enough for leavening. No almond extract. For my birthday I plan to make a variation of your fruit cake.

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    4. Galina ... many thanks for sharing the recipe idea.
      I'm not sure when your birthday is - but I'm sure you will enjoy your variation on the low carb fruit cake.

      All the best Jan

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    5. In several days I will be 55.

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  3. Happy belated Thanksgiving! I'm glad you had a pleasant day in your beautiful new sun room. I spent Thanksgiving with my best friend, whose family finally realized none of them liked turkey--so we had chicken.

    Back when I ate turkey breast, I brined it overnight on the back porch. It made it tender and moist, and it didn't take hours and hours to cook and dry out.

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    1. You're settling happily into your new digs i hope? :-) I'm sure your Thanksgiving was a delightful get-together with your friends!

      We've tried brining turkeys before, and they ARE more juicy, but i always think they taste more like deli-meat than a real old-fashioned roast. My technique is to roast the bird breast-down, so it self-bastes; it doesn't look as pretty, but it cooks more evenly. :-) When i get the yen for turkey, i often buy just the breast and roast it till just barely done -- it's for an old-fashioned turkey-and-lettuce sandwich that i'm usually jonesing!

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  4. Hi Tess hope everything is well with you just to wish you a Merry Christmas from all at the The Low Carb Diabetic blog

    Regards
    Graham

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    1. Thank you, Graham! I've been ridiculously busy AND out of the country for a lot of this month.... I sure hope you and the rest of the team have had a delightful holiday season! Best regards!

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