When I was a kid there was always at least 3 choices, almost always the same choices, apple, pumpkin and mincemeat. As a kid I ALWAYS chose apple. I’m still not a mincemeat fan, but I have acquired a liking for pumpkin.
So, I’m playing catch up. BUT, I am determined to get ALL of BLOGEMBER accomplished. Today’s prompt is to describe Thanksgiving using your five senses.
- SIGHT – For me Thanksgiving starts with the first sign of Fall. I LOVE the trees changing color as the season begins. The yellows, oranges, reds, and even the brown colors of the leaves and the season get me in the mood for pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, stuffing and turkeys. Ironically, this is the time of year here that the wild turkeys seem to be more obvious along the roadways.
- HEARING – Thanksgiving is hearing a house full of family and friends munching on appetizers, football games on the tv with armchair quarterbacking going on, cooks in the kitchen preparing the turkey and side dishes. Oh and the desserts!
- TASTE -LOL this is almost a redundant category. My mouth waters at the thought of traditional recipes being prepared for Thanksgiving like a juicy turkey, daddy’s cornbread stuffing, glazed carrots, apple pie, green bean casserole, etc…
- SMELL – Smell and taste really go hand in hand. I always have a pot of cinnamon, oranges and cloves simmering for the aroma and the moisture in the air as well as candles in fall “flavors” burning.
- FEEL – This doesn’t have to be a sensory or tactile “feel” for me. Sometimes the “feel” is what is inside – the drive to help those in need; coats and blankets for the homeless or food for the food pantry because I feel empathy or the desire to bake special recipes friends and family. Feel could also relate to the warmth of the a cozy blanket or a roaring fire.
ON THANKSGIVING, IT’S TRADITIONAL FOR MY FAMILY TO… start the day with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while we eat a scrumptious brunch – usually a casserole I prepared the day before while I was prepping the sides, desserts and turkey. I start the gravy base on low and let it simmer.
At some point the football games begin and the aromas start filling the house and senses triggering the mouthwatering desire to eat ourselves into a coma. These days with my health issues dinner is done in stages throughout the entire day. As the family gets farther and farther apart in miles, Thanksgiving gets smaller and smaller, which is actually okay with us.
Whenever possible we watch Miracle on 34th street after dinner to kick off the Holiday season. During the movie I begin the Christmas cards and start planning for Christmas.
The day after we avoid leaving the house like the plague! We do start the Christmas decorating and package wrapping while chomping down on turkey sandwiches with homemade cranberry relish on extra sourdough bread or leftover dressing and gravy.
- My biggest blessing is that I’m cancer free for almost 9 years now. I’ve been thrown a multitude of other health issues to struggle through, but I wake up EVERY single day blessed to try and get past any new issues.
- I’m thankful that despite all the health issues and other road blocks that have been thrown our way I’m able to maintain my positive attitude and outlook.
- I’m thankful for my husband who has stood by my side through EVERYTHING. My health has put us to the test of our wedding vows and through it all he has truly been my knight in shining armor.
- I’m thankful that my family is safe from all the fires that have been raging in California where 95% of them live.
- I’m thankful that the weather looks like it will be beautiful for the drive to the wedding next weekend. 😀
There are sooooo many memories, but one of my favorite memories actually revolves around some not so fun (at the time) events.
This memory has different perceptions on the root cause of the issue, but the end event is what I remember most and cherish. 😀 I was super young so I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things. Thanksgiving was going to be at our house. Lots of prep was going on in our tiny kitchen. The table was set. The appetizers were arranged in the living room. The turkey was basting perfectly. The side dishes were baking and steaming. Desserts were ready. The grandparents, aunts and uncles were all on their way. AND then the unimaginable happened – the garbage disposal backed up! Not your every day back up, but the oozy black sludge kind that won’t go away! The kind that prevents you from using the kitchen sink until a plumber arrives. This was also before cell phones so there was no way to stop the travelers from first arriving at our house. Many were coming from long distances.
My grandparents only lived 3 blocks away. The decision was made to move the day to their house, but ALL the food was at our house. Ultimately, my grandfather brought over their station wagon and laid all the seats flat (one of the better features of an old Chevy tank). My dad put down a blanket and my uncle and I climbed in. All the food was then arranged around us so we could try and stabilize it on the ride over to grams and gramps.
I don’t remember now if anything was too cold or even too warm, but I do remember that in the end we still had a fun Thanksgiving at grams and gramps house with the whole family and there was a HUGE mess to clean up the next day at our house 😀
I came up with a new way to keep my momentum on posting regularly. Here’s my list for the first half of November. I ended up choosing BOLGEMBER because the “ember” part made me think about a burning fire and harvest colors.
This is a tough category because there are SO MANY items, but I’ll narrow it down a bit.
- BEING THANKFUL – I know it sounds cliche, but it truly is one of my favorite things about thanksgiving. For one, it’s a non-religious holiday that is the most inclusive of our culture. If you’re American, it is assumed that you celebrate Thanksgiving. Setting aside time to give thanks for one’s blessings, along with holding feasts to celebrate a harvest, are both practices that long predate the European settlement America. While Thanksgiving as we know it has adapted to fit what we like and shows very little resemblance to the original American Thanksgiving, the reason for it still exists. It is the one holiday that is NOT really commercialized and is only about spending time with family and friends!
- FRIENDS & FAMILY – MEMORIES – When I was a kid, most things were closed on Thanksgiving. You’d find an occasional store open for last minute things like milk, bread and butter to put the finishing touches on your big dinner day, but for the most part EVERYTHING was closed and the day was spent at home with family and friends, eating yourself into comas, playing or watching football…
- FALL SEASON – Since it is primarily a harvest celebration, the timing of the season is GORGEOUS! The reds, oranges, yellows and ultimately browns of the leaves falling and the grasses dying for the season lend their “hands” to the gorgeous display of color.
- AMAZING FOOD – When I was a kid my dad would start the prep days before for the BIG day. He made the most amazing turkey and cornbread stuffing! Over the years I have recreated his stuffing to my own Sourdough Herb version and added my own homemade cranberry relish to replace the canned stuff. Personally, I’m not fond of the canned relish, but my son will eat nothing but! LOL 😀 The desserts used to be traditional pumpkin, apple and mincemeat pies, but I have adapted these also to add some homemade apple bread pudding, “regular” bread pudding (recipe below) and baked pineapple. The gravy is still dad’s recipe minus the giblets. 😀 I see I need to get a few new pictures this year to update my recipes.
- OFFICIAL START OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON – I have to start the day with the Macy’s parade while I’m bustling around the kitchen! It is a tradition I’ve never grown out of. It is also okay to officially start watching Christmas movies, though truth be told I do year round thanks to Hallmark 😀 There are also a handful of Harvest festivals and craft fairs to attend.
I found this fun for all, mixed-media pumpkin project over at Salvage Sister & Mister that uses wooden door frame corner rosettes to create vintage-inspired pumpkins to decorate your home. I fell in love with their simplicity, but still took it a step farther and made them three dimensional by giving them a front and a back and adding a bit more embellishment. They only took about an hour or so to complete my family of four. 😀 even with having to wait for the paint to dry, which was the hardest part! These make a great hostess gifts and look great throughout ALL the fall months, Halloween and Thanksgiving! 😀
- Wooden Rosette Trim Block Molding Pieces – any size you like – I used several sizes to make a Pumpkin “Family”
- Acrylic Paints – dark chocolate (I chose a metallic), 3-4 various orange colors ranging from bright to dark (I chose the medium orange as a metallic)
- Ribbons – assorted scraps of green
- Dollar Store embellishments – I used purple Tule, brown and black bells from door hangers, feathers from a Halloween boa and leaves from some fall flowers
- Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
- Tree Branch from the yard
- Garden Pruning Shears
- Paint the rosettes with a base coat of Dark Chocolate. Let dry.
- Apply a second coat, if necessary.
- Randomly apply Weathered Wood medium with paintbrush. Painting it thicker and randomly will result in a variety of cracks on your finished pumpkins.
- Allow medium to dry completely, about 30 minutes.
- Using a limited amount of strokes, apply a thick coat of orange paint with a very limited number of strokes and do not paint over the same area more than once. As the paint dries it will crackle.
- Large cracks will appear where the medium was put on thick and small cracks will appear where the medium was put on thin.
- Using your glue gun put an even amount of glue on the back of one rosette along the outer edge. Immediately press to the second rosette together.
- Clean off any glue that has oozed out and allow them to dry completely.
- Weigh them down with wood clamps, a brick or large book to press them together securely.
- Cut tree branch into 1” to 1 ½” lengths with pruning shears and then attach to top, the center of each pumpkin with a glue gun. Or use a selection of curled wired wood.
- Gather a variety of green ribbons, trimmed into 6” lengths and then knot in the center.
- Attach at base of pumpkin stem with a glue gun.
- Decorate as desired with spare bits and pieces from your craft room.
The term BLACK FRIDAY appears to have been coined in Philadelphia by the police, where it was originally used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term began around 1966 and was used primarily on the east coast It began to see broader use around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or “in the black.
BACON HERB ROASTED TURKEY
1 pound bacon, chopped
2 sticks butter
1 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup, chopped flat leaf parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed, chopped
3 sprigs fresh tarragon, stems removed, chopped
15 pound turkey, rinsed, drained and innards removed and reserved for gravy
1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
1 large lemon, rested and quartered
1 blood orange, quartered
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh ground Himalayan salt
2 teaspoon fresh ground tricolor pepper
5 large carrots, washed and trimmed
5 stalks celery, washed and scraped
- Pulse together the bacon, shallots, garlic, sherry, green onions, mustard, tarragon, thyme and rosemary until you have a smooth paste.
- Refrigerate until chilled through. I like to make this part on Tuesday so it is well chilled.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Lower oven rack to bottom.
- Arrange carrots and celery on bottom of roaster in a basket weave pattern.
- Place onion, lemon and orange quarters in turkey cavity.
- Tie legs with food grade twine or baking bands.
- Whisk together the lemon zest, avocado oil, salt and pepper.
- Carefully separate skin from the body without tearing or piercing the skin.
- Insert the bacon paste between skin and meat, massaging into an even layer.
- Coat the outside of the turkey with the oil.
- Pat brown sugar over oil.
- Place the turkey in the roaster on top of carrot and celery grid.
- Tent loosely with foil.
- Bake 20-25 minutes per pound or until turkey reaches 150° (in the thigh). Baste ever 20 minutes or so.
- Remove foil and bake uncovered until skin has browned and temperature has risen to 160°. Continue basting every 15 minutes or so. You want the skin to crisp, but NOT dry out.
- Remove turkey from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest 20 minutes or so.
It’s Thanksgiving week! The food prep can be overwhelming at time, but over the years I’ve found ways to make Thursday more enjoyable without breaking my back. I did ALL the shopping this morning and one of the first things I did was ALL the tedious chopping for my stuffing vegetables and gravy vegetables. I did a little research and found out I have been using a combination of several methods for years. Mirepoix from the French is plainly diced vegetables cooked with butter (generally) on a gentle heat without browning until soft and flavorful. You are not trying to caramelize, but blend and sweeten the flavors to use as a base for other foods.
A traditional mirepoix is 2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part carrots. This traditional base is then built and layered upon to enhance flavors for building stocks, soups, stews and sauces.
To make mirepoix: Rinse, trim, and peel vegetables — typically two parts onion to one part carrot and one part celery — then chop them into uniform pieces. The shorter the cooking time of your recipe, the smaller the pieces should be, so that they effectively infuse the foods with flavor.
There are of course different names and combinations of vegetables based on the culture. Similar flavor bases include:
- the Italian soffritto, The Italian version of mirepoix is called soffritto is a base of finely chopped parsley and onion sauted in lard, but most modern cooks substitute olive oil or butter. Garlic, celery, or carrot may also be included. According to the Italian restaurateur Benedetta Vitali, soffritto means “underfried” and describes it as “a preparation of lightly browned minced vegetables, not a dish by itself.”
- the Spanish sofito, There are many different versions of sofrito, but the basics are green and red peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro.
- the Portuguese refogado. Refogado is a Portuguese-style sofrito featuring onion, garlic, saffron, tomato and smoked paprika.
- the German Suppengrün (leeks, carrots, and celeriac), means soup greens in German, and the Dutch equivalent is soepgroente. Soup greens usually come in a bundle and consists of a leek, a carrot, and a piece of celeriac. It may also contain parsley, thyme, celery leaves, rutabaga, parsley root, and onions. The mix depends on regional traditions, as well as individual recipes. The vegetables used are cold-climate roots and bulbs with long shelf lives. Suppengrün act as herbs and impart hearty, strong flavors to the soup or sauce, providing a foil for other strong tasting ingredients such as dried peas and beans or pot roast. Large chunks of vegetables are slow cooked to make flavorful soups and stocks, and are discarded when the vegetables have given up most of their flavor. Finely chopped Suppengrün are browned in fat and used as a basis for a finished sauce. The vegetables may also be cooked long enough until they fall apart, and may become part of the sauce or pureed to form the sauce.
- the Polish włoszczyzna (leeks, carrots, celery root, and parsley root), A typical set of soup greens, known as włoszczyzna, the Polish word for soup vegetables or greens and literally translates to “Italian stuff”, used in Polish cuisine: carrots, parsley root and leaves, leek, and celeriac. Bay leaves and allspice grains are also shown. Queen Bona Sforza, who was Italian and married Polish King Sigismund I the Old in 1518, introduced this concept to Poland. A włoszczyzna may consist of carrots, parsnips or parsley root, celery root or celeriac, leeks, and savoy or white cabbage leaves, and sometimes celery leaves and flat-leaf parsley.
- and here in the U.S. we use the standard mirepoix, the classic and most common French combination of onions, carrots, and celery, typically in a ratio of 2 parts onion to 1 parts each carrot and celery as well as the Cajun and Creole holy trinity that replaces the carrots in the standard mirepoix with bell peppers and sometimes the French duxelles (mushrooms and often onion or shallot and herbs, reduced to a paste).
Though the cooking technique is probably older, the term “mirepoix” dates from the 18th century and is credited to the chef, Charles Pierre Gaston Francois de Levis, duc de Levis Mirepoix who was the field marshall and ambassador and member of the noble family of Levis, lords of Mirepoix.