On this day after the day after Thanksgiving, I've been sitting benumbed at my desk, still lethargic from repeated doses of turkey-feasting tryptophan, watching my favorite member of the Original Red Hat Society hang upside-down and eat.
No, it isn't one of the middle-age neighbor ladies acting out while on a pumpkin pie suger high. I'm talking woodpeckers…pileated woodpeckers; females. Big ol' silly looking birds who were wearing red hats and feeding with much ado and gusto long before those women who sometimes take it upon themselves to suddenly invade your favorite country café, swiped the headgear idea for their own group. The upside-down hanging ORHS member in my yard is feeding on a suet block.
(Y'know, there is a rather remarkable resemblance…)
Anyway, I just want to write and say we have survived another Thanksgiving. Thanks to preplanning and prep work the day before, I didn't exhaust myself cooking this time around. We managed to forego the heady excitement of a kitchen fire this time, too. And there were no territorial squabbles in the kitchen, not even minor ones during the last hour when space becomes tight and the pace turns near-frantic as the bird comes out of the oven to rest under its foil tent, the dressing goes in, pies are readied, the green beans are stir-fried, potatoes mashed and gravy made. Even the dogs and guests behaved.
The menu: The centerpiece was a 22-lb bird, brined overnight, which I put in the oven at 9:30 a.m. and had ready three hours later. I also made cornbread and oyster dressing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, baked sweet potatoes, steamed brussel's sprouts, sautéd broccoli, green beans with ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds, creamed artichoke hearts, a fruit salad of cooked cranberries with bananas, oranges, pineapple, apple and grapes. Myladylove did pies—one apple, two pumpkin, one mincemeat. Plus we had various relishes, pickles, and cut veggies for munching. And of course, ice cream and whipped cream for pie topping.
I'm not kidding when I say that until we received word about 11 a.m. that Myladylove's son and his girlfriend were on their way, we actually were fixing everything above and figuring it would be just the two of us. And those side dishes were not in small amounts, either, but commensurate with the size of the turkey—based the notion we'd be able to feed, oh, two dozen or so hungry folks should they suddenly appear at the door. Not that such a crowd was possible, considering everyone was out of town except for the one son and his gal.
But to both Myladylove and myself, part of the fun of the Thanksgiving table lies in its abundance…so a refrigerator stuffed to the gills for a week afterwards with leftovers in various bowls and boxes, is all part of the celebration's plan.
That said, I wish we could always set our feast before a crowded table. I'd like to end the day with not a single morsel of leftover food. Such meals are always best shared…the more, the merrier. And there's nothing I'm more thankful for than family and friends. However, some years the logistics just don't work out. And in my case, the huge extended family I grew up in—grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins galore, inlaws and outlaws, and those familiar and welcome faces who surely belonged to some branch of the ancestral tree because they always showed up to eat—well…that joyous, laughing, wonderful throng has been too long gone to their eternal reward. What few third and fourth cousins remain are scattered to the far corners. Nor is the count much better among friends. Alas, I miss them with all my heart, and never more than during the holidays.
But I don't want to end this post on that note because we had a great Thanksgiving. The food was excellent (if I do say so) and the company warm and loved and wonderful. As fine a day as we've enjoyed in a long time. Moon-the-Dog was here to share it, and the son and his lovely lady brought their Jack Russell, Snoopy.
That's my report. Now, the ORHS pileated has just flapped off. I'm feeling something of turkey-and-dressing jones coming on. Myladylove will close her bank branch up in another fifteen minutes, and be home twenty minutes after that. I know she'll want lunch immediately. And she loves Thanksgiving leftovers almost as much as I do.
Soooooo…one must strike fast when opportunity presents. There's just enough time for me to dash to the fridge, snatch a drumstick and a dab of oyster dressing and pop them in the microwave, gobble everything down, and then set about warming up an array of dishes for our leisurely meal together, while pretending like I haven't eaten since breakfast. Remember, mum's the word.
And belatedly, though no less sincerely, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!