Sunday, November 30, 2008


Nothing like music to inspire a return to blogging. I just rediscovered (e)nabler's delightful mix...aptly titled Buffet. It includes the Pinkberry anthem, the Gummi Bear song, an exuberant tune about banana chips, and a whole variety of foodie music in languages I don't understand. On my third listen this morning, it suddenly occurred to me that it's time to get back to this writing thing. What better way to start than with Thanksgiving.

I sit here typing with only my right hand on account of an injury. No cuts, but rather, an oddly hurting thumb that feels best when immobile. It took me a little while to pinpoint the source of my injury, but after carefully reviewing my Thursday morning kitchen maneuvers, I concluded that it was the squash. I halved many butternut squashes for roasting that day, but seem to have used some non-ergonomic knife technique that really isn't a technique at all and will never be repeated. Ever. Next year I'm cutting the squash in half before splitting them lengthwise.

Despite the fact that I nearly smoked the squash in the oven, it turned out pretty tasty. The cookie sheet was covered in dark, very caramelized (burned) juices when I finally remembered to rescue the squash from the inferno. Even with its unpromising beginnings, the squash did get 1/10th of the votes for Best Dish. But the true winner was the stuffing, which handily won this year's Best Dish with a simple majority. It was fluffier than in previous years, and just somehow better. Chef said that it was the same recipe he always used. Unfortunately, I was not there to witness the stuffing being prepared, so I'll never know.

New additions this year were soup and salad. I don't think we've ever seen such dishes at our Thanksgiving table before. I'd call them a welcome change, but not maverick. Beets tossed in a simple dressing provided a light note in an otherwise cream and carb-heavy meal. And speaking of cream, the cauliflower gratin required vast amounts. Somehow I miscalculated the time Westside and I had left to complete the gratin and salad, so our final (only) hour of cooking was a whirlwind of activity and mess. I'm usually one to clean up while cooking, but there really wasn't time. It pained me a little to see my kitchen so messy.

As in previous years, the discussion about cranberry sauce became very tense. It was a good year for Ocean Spray, but a tougher one for the homemade cranberry-orange sauce. Several guests described this year's vintage as "very tart" which almost got them uninvited to subsequent meals mid-supper. I want to be very clear that I neither tasted not commented on the cranberry-orange concoction. It's just not my thing, whereas I fully support can-shaped sauce.

Where I did not hold back was in the tasting of all six desserts that graced the buffet. While the pie to person ratio dipped ever so slightly to under half a pie per person, Baker added two non-pie items in the form of chocolate fudge and pumpkin cookies. Officially, buttered pecan pie has overtaken cranberry nut pudding as my favorite Thanksgiving dessert, but I'm lucky enough that Baker spoiled us with both. With home made pie crust. And an apple pie and chocolate cream pie too.

I was slumped over on the couch at the end of the evening. A very happy Thanksgiving.


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