Friday, November 25, 2005

A Day of Thanksgiving

IMG_4637

This year we were blessed with a full house of family and friends at Thanksgiving. Several weeks ago we invited our friends Edie, Jeff and their son Ko as well as Judy, Charlie and their daughter Lindsay. Plans soon changed for Edie, who after "taking a year off" was suddenly faced with a pile of relatives from another side of her family. Meanwhile, Judy's other daughter, son-in-law and grandson had returned to Africa so they were feeling a bit lonely in their house (see JUDY'S HOUSE entry to this blog in May 2005). I also invited Margaret, a retired English librarian friend of a deceased writer friend of mine, with whom I became reacquainted in the All Saints' Church knitting group. (Margaret used to be the librarian in Jaffrey and my mother bought my first piano from her years ago--a lovely Art Deco style black Steinway.)

As luck would have it, Edie called the night before Thanksgiving and asked if they could all come after all--including her parents. We were delighted! [One good thing about inclement weather at the holidays is that invited guests who have to drive often decide to 'stay put' as was the case with Edie's relatives this year--a "good thing" for us!] As Temple and I had just set the table we were reluctant to take it apart and add another leaf, so we decided to have a second table in the kitchen where the children could sit with Aunt Cynthia. (That was a moderate success-later on Henry said, "I want to have another Thanksgiving tomorrow and sit in the dining room!" but I'm thinking he was just overtired.) I made the easy call of a buffet meal served from the same china serving dishes that would have graced the table--I just didn't want to have two sets of serving dishes to wash! So everything went out on the granite island (I knew there was a reason we added an extra island workspace in our house--we have used it so many times for serving meals), including the 25 pound free range fresh turkey from which Judy and Jeff artfully sliced after we covered it with fresh herbs from Edie's solarium.

IMG_4643

My own family is scattered this year--both brothers got together in Texas, which was wonderful, where they celebrated with my sister-in-law's family. My mother is recovering from an illness and had dinner at her new house for her husband's children. I was glad to be home and share the day with an extended group of friends. We were honored in their presence here and were glad they could christen our new adjoining parlor! (We blasted open two parlors into one on the west side of our house and couldn't be more pleased with the results.)

IMG_4661

Our menu was traditional: roast turkey (I slow roast it) with stuffing loaded with hot sausages, green apples and cranberry; mashed potatoes (thanks to Edie & Jeff--a huge vat!); butternut squash; baby peas; creamed onions (thank you, Judy!); gravy. We also had four kinds of cranberry sauce: 2 varieties of "canberry" as we call it; Judy's cranberry orange relish; and "Henry's Jam".

Henry asked me mid-morning if he could make jam for the turkey: "It's really easy, Mumma. You just take fruit and a cup of sugar and water and it's done in ten minutes...we made it at school." I was half listening to him at the time and said, "We'll that's nice Hen, we'll make 'Turkey Jam' some other time..." And then I realized: he was talking about the easy, foolproof, incredibly delicious recipe for cranberry sauce on the side of the fresh cranberry bags. So, we had a quick lull in the morning and within ten minutes Henry had the 'jam' simmering on the stove already beginning to thicken. Here it is:

HENRY's FOOLPROOF "TURKEY JAM"

- 1 bag fresh cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- freshly-grated orange rind

Mix sugar and water and stir over heat. Bring to a boil. Add berries and bring to another low boil. Add orange rind and turn down to a simmer for ten minutes until berries pop and mixture thickens. Take off stove. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve cold. Makes about 3 cups and way better, and more colorful, than "canberry" (which, can't be replaced on the holiday table, either--it's just nice to have some homemade alternatives!).

The trick of putting on a foolproof Thanksgiving dinner is to be organized. I finalized the menu on the weekend (which doesn't change much!), did our grocery shopping on Monday (and on route to Shaw's we stopped at Tenney Farms in Antrim and ordered a centerpiece, 4 gallons of their delectable unpasteurized cider AND checked on our pie order with the Black Dog Bakery who sells pies there: pumpkin, apple and cherry), and set our table the night before and organized serving dishes and implements. I am not a good pie crust maker so I left that to the experts. Temple, my husband, knows me too well and suggested we pick up some Parker House rolls at the Kernel Bakery when we dropped by for coffee on Wednesday. That was a good call--my intention was to make homemade rolls as I usually do but I just didn't seem to have time this year. Perhaps it is because I opted to make four loaves of cranberry nut bread and Mrs. Hrone's Pumpkin Bread, a childhood favorite (2 loaves were reserved for the freezer). Another good tip: have house cleaned and organized by Monday--one less thing to do on Wednesday or Thursday! (And, I have to thank Carmen, Paulette and Sue for that--they keep us clean AND sane after they work their magic here every other week--this year I happened to nab them for the Monday of Thanksgiving week.)

With the tables done the night before and the turkey in the oven by 10am (a bit late, I admit), there was time for other things like four loaves of quick bread and Henry's Jam...also, I generally plan dinner for "around 3pm" (depending on the turkey timing) and this makes things less stressful. Having friends bring things like wine, desserts, and side dishes, is also nice.

But here was the best part of the day: it was the spirit, laughter and good fellowship that we shared. It was the happy voices coming from the dining room, the children playing outside in the first snow of the season, the fun and frolic around dish-doing in the kitchen later on. Before the meal we stood around the table and held hands--I started to say something to welcome everyone but I couldn't speak. I could only shed some tears for the joy that was in my heart. Fortunately, Judy had asked earlier if she could do the blessing. I was happy to have her say it. Bringing us altogether in a circle, many of us strangers to each other, many of us friends and relations, it made me realize how many blessings there are in our lives and in our home and in each other.

Of all of the holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. And this is a house that was made for Thanksgiving.

IMG_4639

13 comments:

Paul Adams said...

Hey C herine, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have a Pet names site. It pretty much covers Pet names related subjects.
Come and check it out if you get time :-)
Best regards!

Paul Adams said...

Hi C herine!I like your blog! Keep up the
good work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!
If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:
pet shop boys go west
It pretty much covers pet shop boys go west related content.
Best regards!

Paul Adams said...

Hi C herine! You have a great blog over here!
Please accept my compliments and wishes for your happiness and success!
If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:
premium pet food
It covers premium pet food related contents.
Have a great day!

Paul Adams said...

I was searching blogs,and I found your site.Please C herine
accept my congratulations for your excellent work!
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
pet containment system
It pretty much covers pet containment system related issues.
Have a good day!

architectural photography said...

Hi C herine, your blog is excellent. As I was surfing around today looking for detailed info on life photography still I somehow ended up on your page. As your A Day of Thanksgiving is not exactly related to my search, I am certainly glad I stopped by. Oh well, back to surfing and I am sure I will find what I am looking for, and should you ever need information about life photography still, then stop by for a look. Thanks for the post.

Joe Berenguer said...

Congratulations for your excellent blog ON pet collars!Keep up the good work!
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
pet collars
I send you my warm regards and wish you continued success.
All the best! :-)

Joe Berenguer said...

Hi C herine!I like your blog! Keep up the
good work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!
If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:
innotek pet containment
It pretty much covers innotek pet containment related content.
Best regards!

Joe Berenguer said...

I just came across your blog and wanted to
drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with
the information you have posted here.I have a
Pet Feeder site. It offers Pet Feeder related stuff.
Come and check it out if you get time :-)
Best success!

wine cooling system said...

Hi C herine. I was looking for california wine tours related information and came across your site. Very good reading! I have a california wine tours site. You'll find everything about wine, gift baskets, Napa Valley wine tours, and how to keep your wine properly chilled until it's ready to drink. Check it out when you can :)

James Baker said...

I was just searching blogs,and I found your site! I like it!
Please accept my compliments and wishes for your happiness and success.
If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:
pet dogs
It pretty much covers pet dogs related stuff.
All the best!

Anonymous said...

Catherine -- this is a REAL comment. I wanted to tell you that my children were relegated to the foot of the table at Thanksgiving (not by me), far away from the grownups, and they were also incensed. I think all kids like to hear the grownup talk -- and certainly bigger kids like to be part of the talk. Hugh always fusses at dinners with another family if I put the man on my right and the woman on his right and all the children in the middle -- he says it's a recipe for a riot. Since I always shuffle the table so my kids can't get out of hand I hadn't realized that they prefer it, too, like Henry. Ivy

N. said...

This is also a REAL comment from me (don't know why you keep getting blasted with those spammers!) - it looks you had a lovely Thanksgiving in a beautiful home surrounded by dear friends and family. It seems that you had a perfect day!

dog trainer denver said...

Meandering thru the blogs has lead me to yours, thank you for the interesting read.

Fellow blogger,

dog trainer denver