23 November 2007

Thanksgiving Past

Yesterday, we traveled (10 minutes) over the (tiny) river and through the (suburban) woods to Miss M.'s paternal grandparents' house, for a lovely meal:

  • turkey
  • gravy
  • tuscan kale sauteed with olive oil and garlic
  • mashed potatoes
  • stuffing
  • cauliflower braised in red wine*
  • salad with feta and grapefruit
  • steamed carrots
  • cranberry orange relish
  • cornbread
  • rolls
  • pumpkin pie
  • cranberry tart

And now the turkey carcass is aboiling for stock, and so the house smells divine.

Growing up, we always had Thanksgiving at my paternal grandparents' house. The meal was always the same - turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, creamed onions, kale with hazelnuts - and my aunt always brought dessert. There was always a children's table, and one year there were two children's tables because there were so many people. I always liked hanging out in the kitchen, especially hoping for that first slice of breast meat - the one with the biggest piece of crackly brown skin.

After a time, my grandparents relinquished the cooking to one of my uncles, but the celebration remained at their house. So that he'd have everything he wanted for the preparation, my uncle brought with him a bunch of stuff from home, including a couple of containers of stock from his freezer. He merrily cooked along, using the stock to enhance the gravy. Alas, it turned out that the (unmarked) container was fish stock - not chicken or turkey. Fish stock. He swore me to secrecy in the kitchen and proceeded to serve the fishy gravy. I, knowing better, politely declined the gravy at the table. Everyone else ate it, puzzled. To this day, I can't remember if he fessed up that day or not. I've never forgotten it. The moral of the story: label what you put in the freezer!

I can think of other skeletons in the pantry, but they're more along the lines of the year I made creamed fennel for Thanksgiving and no one ate it, or the year it took me seven hours to drive from Boston to New York and my mother's lasagne was ruined and she hasn't made lasagne since. But the fish stock in the gravy - and the hush-hush surrounding it - that takes the cake.

Cauliflower Stained with Red Wine
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Cut the cauliflower into 2-inch chunks. Arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan. Dot with garlic, drizzle with oil and wine, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 450°F for about 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender at the stalk when pierced with a fork. Serve at room temperature. If you're feeling fancy, simmer the pan juices until reduced some and drizzle over the top of the cauliflower. (Adapted from the Campagna cookbook)


S said...

Hey! We had cranberry-orange relish, too! It was divine. There's none left, sigh.

Sounds like a fantastic meal.

Suz said...

That entire menu sounds amazing, although I'm still laughing at the fish gravy.

Girlplustwo said...

i knew you'd have a rocking menu, woman.

glad you had a great day.

painted maypole said...

cauliflower with red wine? wow. sounds too good to be true

Julie Pippert said...

What a menu! I'm jealous.

Sound great and love the description of the trip.

No lasagna...ever?

Using My Words

niobe said...

One Thanksgiving, we lost the yams. We found them in the barn a few days later, slightly worse for the wear, halfway up the stairs to the loft.

Melissa said...

That does sound like an awesome menu! But I too will pass on the fish stock. And to go one's whole life without lasagne, that's just too sad to contemplate.

Katie Zeller said...

OMG, Fish stock in the gravy? And all he got was puzzled looks? You must have a very, very polite family hahaha!

BipolarLawyerCook said...

I have a head of cauliflower in the fridge and an open bottle of red wine in the pantry. Bless you!

Unknown said...

What a fabulous menu! Yum.

MadMad said...

I love this post - it's fun hearing about other people's traditions, skeletons and funny stories! What a great description!

heidi said...

Happy TG, M! You inspired me to post my memory.... xoh