Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from the Conservative Wahoo

It is quiet here in the kitchen this Thanksgiving morning. I sit next to the (gas) fire with two sleeping, black labs at my feet and a rowdy kitten leaping from place to place. The Kitten popped in a few minutes ago requesting a cup of coffee for her bath, which was duly provided. The Kittens are abed. I gaze out the back windows toward the beginnings of the Miles River and see only a dock on one side of the river and a late 18th century Mansion farther downstream. Were I sitting on this spot in 1790, I would have the same view.

We will have a group of twelve today, the standard crowd. The victuals provided are the makings of perditious gluttony. I am in charge of the grilled goose breast appetizer (grilled yesterday, chilling), the goose breast sauce (blackberry currant jam, water, balsamic boiled, reduced), the turkey gravy (I cheat magnificently here, using powdered poultry gravy to which I add goosebits and pan drippings in endgame--to the delight of all), and the turkey (21.84 lbs of fresh bird). I also say the blessing--to which I attempt to bring the twin oratorical virtues of hope and brevity.

The Kitten is the maestro of this orchestra, and I (famous rule-follower) take orders well. She has a Time Phased Force Deployment Document (TPFDD) that lays out when each part of the dinner is to be begun and finished--which allows for the most efficient and effective use of the five burners on the stove, the toaster oven, the microwave, the oven itself, and if necessary--my grill. When she breaks this document out annually, on Thanksgiving Eve to go over it with me, I get tears of pride in my eyes. It is one of the many reasons I love her.

There are two new dishes on this years gustatory bacchanal; a broccoli/cheese/onion casserole and a corn pudding. The star of the meal each year is The Kitten's famous mashed potatoes, which start with my peeling and dicing while watching the Macy's parade. I have been well-trained to leave plenty of skin, which is (I believe) the second most important contribution to the well-earned fame of this dish. The most important is of course, butter, and plenty of it.

After the peeling and dicing, I retrieve the turkey from the basement reefer and let it sit for a bit before massaging it with oil, salt, and pepper. I go back and forth each year between cooking it breast side down and allowing gravity to work its magic on breast moistness, and breast side up to produce the Currier and Ives photo. I think I'm going with breast side up, but this is a game-time decision. The reason I have such wide latitude is that The Kitten does not like turkey that much and so does not care how it is cooked.

After the bird goes into the oven, I shower and dress and then return to assist in the side dishes as necessary. This part of the meal is really where the Kitten's virtuosity comes into play, and I mainly just try to stay out of the way. Each year, she and I have the same discussion--in which I say, "hey, you need to go get dressed, guests will be here soon", and each year she puts me off, such that she is annually dressing while people arrive and I meet them/provide libation and appetizers.

I am semi-famous for my love of Christmas, and haters always point to this sense that it diminishes the importance of Thanksgiving. This is a pernicious lie. Thanksgiving is one of the MOST IMPORTANT events of the Christmas Season, a ritualistic cleansing if you will, in which we offer to God our greatest of thanks for all of the great blessings we enjoy. At least that's how I see it. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from Bryan, Catherine, Hope, Hannah, Baloo, ZuZu, Bagherra, and Miss Moppet. 

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