Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Report

Okay, I have written and re-written, and edited and deleted and cut and pasted and I just am not happy with the way my post-Thanksgiving post is going. But this will just have to do...

I guess this is what happens when you take (nearly) a week off for a major Holiday. It was nice, but now there is so much to get caught up on, I'm just feeling so far behind!

It has taken quite some time, but I think I've gotten my house back together. Our gathering wasn't a rollicking, foundation-rocking, black-out-inducing Thanksgiving bash, requiring hired hands and a Haz-Mat team to clean up afterwards, but it did flatten me for a few days (incidentally, my fancy, comp'ny dishes--though clean--are still sitting in tidy stacks on the dining room table and I still haven't put the pie plates away yet).

Feast-wise, everything was a triumphant success, especially the turkey! The Viking usually spearheads that endeavor, but, this year, I took over, having decided to use my stove to full advantage and cook the turkey the Chambers way. Having never done it before, I was wary (and The Viking and Lenny were downright skeptical), but let me tell you, I will never cook a turkey any other way!

In addition to being absolutely delectable, it was the easiest thing in the world to prepare! WHY don't they make stoves/ovens like this anymore? Wait, I bet it's because they're not as easy to keep clean. But still, what's a little elbow grease and upkeep when you've got the world's meanest cooking machine at your disposal? Wanna see her again? Sure you do:

Marvelous. Simply marvelous. All I had to do was start with a fresh bird ordered from my favorite Amish/Mennonite market, dry salt it (valuable life lesson learned: wear rubber gloves when dry salting, OUCH!), leaving it to wallow in the fridge overnight, rinse and dry it well the next morning, sprinkle inside and out with fresh salt and pepper, rub the skin with some oil, nestle it in the roasting pan, uncovered, in a wee bath of half a cup of water, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees for 10 minutes.

And here comes the best part: 45 minutes after sliding the turkey in the oven, I came back into the kitchen and turned off the gas. That's right, TURNED IT OFF. And crossed my fingers.

I was a little uneasy as our precious main entree cooked away on retained heat in dark secret for three hours while we wiped dishes, peeled potatoes, braised sprouts, dusted shelves, ironed table linens and set the table. But when the moment of truth arrived, lo! and behold! we found ourselves with the most perfect Norman Rockwellesque turkey I've ever seen! Moist, tender, juicy, flavorful, with a perfectly brown and crispy skin, that bird was pure poultry heaven! And with gravy pronounced, "Phenomenal," by Lenny, who lives with Grand Mistress of the Kitchen Lobelia and doesn't give culinary compliments lightly.

So, do I have photos? No, I do not. My family would have brained me with the potato masher if I had suggested we cease for a moment so I could take a picture of the turkey. That's just how they do. Besides, don't you think that's enough about the turkey? I mean, honestly...

The only other things notable about our Feast are, in no particular order:

  • Lobelia's complete and utter abandonment of all decency and decorum in using my step-back spatula to write a colorful word in the whipped cream atop my chocolate cream pie. It was a very descriptive word, one that suggested what other brown substance the chocolate in the pie resembled. Redheaded Snippet now thinks Lobelia is the Bad Ass Aunt, sorry Daria. I think, perhaps, Lobelia has a bit of a fixation. There was a, "poo," cake incident last year that I made mention of in my old blog:

  • "Lobelia brought her chocolate cake which was divine. She frosted it with
    homemade fudge frosting that looked exactly like poo, so she delighted us all by
    writing the word, "poo" on top of it. So, after dinner, we all retired to the
    drawing room, to view the photos from the trip abroad, enjoying our coffee and
    luscious chocolate cake with "poo" scrawled across the top. Hee!"--June 2007

  • Lenny, Lobelia, Redheaded Snippet and The Viking's kitchen brawl that resulted in the breaking of our computer desk's keyboard drawer and the bruising of poor, little Redheaded Snippet's tender neck. I don't know what was wrong with Lobelia that day, but I hear she was the instigator and ring leader. Apparently, she was able to talk Redheaded Snippet into IMing all her friends at once (by means of an, "I bet you can't IM all them at once," dare) and then enlisted the men to immobilize Snippet while she, Lobelia, then sent all kinds of absurd, random, and, no doubt embarrassing, messages to Snippet's friends, making them think they came from Snippet. I honestly don't know what Lobelia could write (other than words having to do with poo) that would seem more absurd or random to anyone who knows Snippet well, but it seems Snippet was desperate enough to stop her that she took a flying leap across the room and landed on the keyboard, thus breaking the drawer. I was in the other room, but I hear it was awesome.

  • Mom brought her International Students with her as promised. There were three of them, not two, and they were from Taiwan and China. Things were the slightest bit stiff as Taiwan and China are not the friendliest of neighbors, and EGOD is quite the bigot. The two girls from Taiwan loved Man-Cub, seemed only a few years older than 13-year-old Snippet, despite their 24 years, and were very nice and giggly. The woman from China seemed watchful and suspicious, which could not have been helped by the fact that my mother grilled her on politics, religion, atheism and communism the entire time she was there. The poor woman did not seem to be offended, in fact, she enjoyed talking with Mom so much, they're getting together for coffee again next week, but she did seem a little uncertain. Thankfully, EGOD likes to put on a very dramatic martyr pose and refuse to speak to anyone when she's offended by someone of another race or color being in close proximity so dinner was the best we've ever had with her! Her only crime was dismissing the women with a wave of her hand upon being introduced to them with a, "Yeah, yeah, Ching, Chang, Chung..." and shuffling off to her seat. Fortunately, Mom had previously warned the women about her, telling them she's old, crazy, and often nasty.

  • On Black Friday, Redheaded Snippet and I done lost our minds and met Mom for shopping at 6:30 in the morning. We didn't witness any scuffles or stampedes, nor did we come away with any breath-taking good deals, but I did manage to score quite a few things I've been needing for a while (a watch, two pairs of pants, comfy slippers, a new coat, and a coat and mad bomber hat for Man-Cub).

    After a much-needed nap, we set out for an evening in Philly with Lenny and Lobelia. We did this two years ago on Black Friday and decided to make it an annual event. We take the train into the city, we go out for a fabulous dinner (Vietnamese again this year), then we walk to the Wanamaker building to see the Dickens Christmas Carol display and the famous light show. Then we walk to our newest favorite place on earth, Naked Chocolate for dessert!

    Heavens above, if you like chocolate, or are wild about it (like I might be), this is where you will go when you die if you're very, very good. Metaphorically speaking. Please don't send me messages about blasphemy and doctrine! You know how the French, in their luxurious and decadent heyday, enjoyed drinking chocolate as a special treat (or even for breakfast as the case may be)? They even had chocolate pots like this one:

    Or this cute little Dutch model:

    And fancy china chocolate sets like this one:

    Well, the stuff I had the pleasure of sampling Friday night is the kind of stuff Marie Antoinette herself would delight in! In a flash I could see myself sitting on a pouf, serving steaming, little cups of sinfully exquisite chocolaty goodness in one of those delicate china chocolate sets. This was no Swiss Miss, let me tell you!
    It was, however, the perfect way to cap the evening.

    The rest of the weekend was spent in rest and relaxation, at least for me and the children. The Viking buzzed around the entire time fixing, painting, tightening and weatherproofing things. He's unstoppable so I just don't try anymore. But I now have a finished coat cupboard, a mounted paper towel holder and slightly warmer rooms in the house!

    I guess that about wraps up my Thanksgiving report. I've still got some turkey stock to turn into soup for dinner tonight so we'll still be enjoying the fruits of our labor, but in all other ways we have turned our weary eyes toward Christmas!

    We won't be decorating for another few days yet (probably this weekend) and we still haven't settled the when-to-put-up-the-tree question (an annual debate), but we've been playing Christmas music with loud and wild abandon ever since Black Friday and have even bought a few gifts. But most of our to-do list still lies unfinished.

    Including the town's Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony which is this evening and for which The Viking and I are singing. We've done it the past 2-3 years and we always do the same songs, but we still need to brush up on intros and the right keys and the like. And I've got to have dinner ready before we go to set up at 6:00 so I'd better fly.


    Lisa said...

    I haven't even read to the bottom of your post yet, but had to stop and say THANK YOU for posting how to cook a turkey in the Chambers. I'm so close to installing my new (to me) Chambers -- I just have to repaint the beadboard in my kitchen first to match -- and then -- WATCH OUT! Turkey here I come!!!! :-)

    Leila said...

    I bet if they really wanted to, they -- and you know very well who THEY are -- could make a stove like the Chambers AND make it easy to clean, now that they are so smart and all.

    But they don't, because in their evil glee they like it when your motherboard goes dead and it costs as much to replace it as to buy a new stove.

    I did outwith them with my extended warranty, but had I not, I would be pretty darn mad. Not that this is about me. It's about THEM.

    I have a suggestion that will probably make you want to reach out across the internets to strangle me: why don't you do ANOTHER turkey the Chambers way and take pictures of THAT one?? You really should. It would be the way jealous people like me could torture themselves. Ourselves.

    You sing at your town lighting ceremony? That's amazing! What do you sing?