Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

This year was my first time in charge of the Thanksgiving feast. I think it turned out rather nicely. We had a small gathering - my brother, his very pregant wife, her parents, and myself, so of course I cooked enough food for about a dozen or so people. With all said and done, everything came out nicely and I was able to put every dish on the table that I had anticipated.
I tried to get as much local food as possible. The bird came from Adams Turkey Farm in Westford, most of the produce came from Mazza's farm in Colchester, and the wine that we never got around to opening came from Boyden Valley winery in Cambridge. I am trying not to sound smug about this, but I do think it is important to purchase as much locally produced food as possible.
On a slightly humorous note, my geeky self made a spreadsheet of all of the ingredients that I would need. Hey, I was on hold at work for over 45 minutes with a computer in front of me. I started writing a quick shopping list and then as time went by, I got fancy. The spreadsheet actually helped tremendously, since I was taking everything down to my brother's place in Montpelier. It made the shopping quicker too, as I had sorted it by department.
I started prepping the meal around 8 on Thanksgiving morning, and by 9 the turkey was ready to go in the oven. I did not brine the turkey, which was recommended to me by several people. Instead, I loosened the skin and applied a rub of butter, pepper, and other spices. I put a little extra on the outside of the skin as well. Jenny has a set of silicone basting brushes that are wonderful and are going on my Christmas list.
With that done, I started working on the giblet gravey. This actually wasn't nearly as complicated as the recipe made it sound. I had anticipated this being the most difficult of the meal components, as it had a lot of ingredients, quite a few steps, and I had never made giblet gravey before. It turns out the only real difficult part was the chopping of the vegetables, and that was more tedious then anything else. My knife skills still leave a lot to be desired.
On another note, truffle oil smells awful when it's in the bottle. I put in slightly less than the recipe called for (1 teaspoon, instead of 1.5 teaspoons) because I was afraid this stuff would ruin the gravey. It ended up with a very subtle truffle flavor. In retrospect, I should have put in the entire amount, but I thought it was best to err on the side of caution in this case. So, was the truffle oil worth the expense? No, not really. It did lend a nice flavor, but I don't think it would have been missed if it wasn't there.
The veggies came out nice. I ended up doing the brussel sprouts as well as peas and onions at my brother's request. The peas were the only vegetable that I wasn't able to buy fresh. I had to use a bag of frozen peas, because there aren't a lot of fresh peas in Vermont in late November, but James won't eat many vegetables to begin with and I didn't want to deny his one request. Jenny helped me out by peeling the potatoes (both the regular and the sweet) and fetching me dishes as I needed them. She also made a last minute run to the grocery store in the morning for some forgotten items, including the bag of peas my organized self forgot to grab out of the freezer while packing up all of the groceries. And, on top of everything else, she made me breakfast. Thanks, Jen!
The meal itself wasn't difficult to cook. It was mostly chopping of vegetables and stirring of pots. I did take a couple of short cuts, though. The cranberry sauce came from a can. You know, the kind that holds the shape of the can after it's out. I love that stuff. The stuffing came from a mix, but I doctored it up with some vegetables and herbs. It was pretty good, for stuffing. I've never been a huge stuffing fan.
One thing I did notice - for someone who isn't a fan of onions, I put an awful lot of them in this meal.
Jen's father brought rolls and an assortment of pies, so I was let off the hook, baking wise. I didn't get to sample all 4 pies, as I had intended (no more room in the belly!), but the coconut cream was absolutely delicious.

For your viewing pleasure, here's some food pictures of our meal.

Jenny looks on as James learns the fine art of carving a turkey

Here's the spread. The table wasn't big enough to hold all of the food!

Here's hoping that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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