Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I had hoped to do a Thanksgiving post yesterday but Jordan came down with a fever and a bad cough. For whatever reason, his transplant team insisted we take him to the ER to be examined, and get a rule out for pneumonia. He went to a local hospital around 6:00 pm and was home by 9:00 pm. His lungs look clear and the diagnosis is that he has some bug. He's better today, and the fever is under control with Tylenol, so I'm calmer.

This year's Thanksgiving turned out to be more successful than I hoped. Armed with my legal-pad sized prep list, the tasks were easily managed, the meal came together surprisingly well, and I was really happy with the new recipes I can add to the ever-growing collection.

I'm going to have to recommend the list system for others out there. I know it sounds retentive. But, when it comes to keeping things calm, breaking tasks down into manageable parts makes life so much easier. I wish I could take credit for this system. I learned of it after reading something Ina Garten ("Barefoot Contessa) once wrote about her parties.

Like other famous hosts, she recommends being as calm as possible before guests get there (have a drink! I thought about this, but we were eating pretty early. The last thing this dinner needed was one sloshed chef.) But for her, that meant writing down everything that needed to be done up to the minute the guests arrived, including the times to do each thing, and laying it sequentially on paper. I've done that with other events I've hosted (birthday parties), and it makes such a difference. Particularly with my kids running around all day - I knew each day what needed to get done, and I could plan things according to nap, school, or bedtime schedules. On Thanksgiving day, I was actually pretty calm - for me anyway.

I took advantage of recipes that could be made ahead of time - spinach, stuffed shells, cranberry sauce, turkey stock, pies...

and tried out new recipes that could be reheated conveniently at the serving table - crock pot mashed potatoes.

And I enlisted some help:

The turkey was a big hit. Suvir Saran's recipe was awesome. I had to make adjustments with the timing, but his recipe for tamarind glaze and the brining mixture was so good!

The glaze caramelized the turkey, and the spices brought out a sweet and tanginess to the meat. The gravy I made from the pan drippings was really good.

His recipe for the cornbread stuffing was popular - seeing as there was nothing left for me the next day. And the big hit with everyone was the creamed spinach with parsnips. I know it sounds weird. And to be honest, I couldn't even remember what a parsnip tasted like when I found the recipe. But the picture looked really good. And it called for half and half. I figured that would make anything worthwhile.

Even Martha's pate brisee pumpkin pie worked out. My initial dismay at the recipe didn't matter so much in the end. Everyone ate it. I had a slice that day and it was gone the next.

I tried to get creative and keep the kids occupied at the table for awhile.
Knowing the real food wouldn't do it for them, I turned to the Internet. Behold - Oreo turkeys. This is what they are supposed to look like.

And here's what mine looked like.

Jeff called them my little turkey vultures.

But the kids were happy.

In fact, Jordan was the first one to the table.

So, I'd say that between all the food ...

And the family ...

And the day after Thanksgiving ginormous breakfast (aren't we awful?) .... (Thanks Helene and Michael for putting this together!)

It was a pretty good year! One of my favorite moments happened the day after Thanksgiving. Luckily, Monkey Sr. was able to record it for posterity. Here, Jordan and Mina climbed up on a chair together and shared munchkin sprinkles, while the rest of us watched in awe.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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