Are tedious. I learned this last night. Last night, as I was peeling them for the stuffing that is at this very moment in the oven inside our turkey.
Jamie has written about our Thanksgiving dinner. Although somewhat smugly. Ahem…
Indeed, I have been loathe to go against the food experts and cook my stuffing inside my turkey. The recipe we’re using, however, makes it easy to cook it inside the turkey, to maximize the flavor, and yet easily remove said stuffing for continued cooking to temperature after the bird is removed. Indeed, compromise.
I don’t know about the green bean casserole happening today. I’ve been doing all the cooking this year, as Jamie has come down with one whopper of a cold and has been laid out since yesterday. I’m hoping against hope that I’m not visited by the same bug. Fingers crossed.
But yes, the chestnuts. I’ve never peeled chestnuts. Everything I read, pre-peeling, seemed to indicate that it was indeed a laborious, hit-or-miss kind of thing with, very often, crumbled, rather than nice, whole, nut meats.
I decided to try the 1896 recipe that I found on About.com. It worked beautifully. No crumbled nuts.
It’s still not easy though, prying the shells off the suckers; imagine hot splinters shoved under your fingernails over and over and over again and you’ll get the gist. My thumbs are achin’.
I’m sure the chestnuts will be delicious in the stuffing. I’ll enjoy it immensely and keep it as a fond memory as I’ve no intention of ever peeling chestnuts again.
The cranberry salad. This is an anticipated treat in my family usually prepared by my Aunt Marcia, and since she’s not here to prepare it for us… While I’m not at liberty to share the recipe, I can assure you, and Jamie, that there are no oysters or chives to be found. It’s delicious. It better be ’cause I did make a hell of a lot of it, although not the 18 pounds Jamie has indicated. By the time we finish it up though, it might just seem that way.
So last night, after I finished mutilating my thumbs, I took a needed break from the kitchen and headed outside.
Oh it was lovely. It was about 11PM. It was misty, very misty, with the light of the street lamps diffused in a beautifully cinematic way. I headed down our block to a little garden area notable only as it offers a break between buildings and an unobstructed view out over the park.
And there I stood looking out into the night sky. Alone with my thoughts. And it was one of those beautiful nights, so quiet, full of anticipation, “holiday nights”; everyone is inside preparing or sleeping, dreaming of tomorrow.
And then it rained. But not rain. I was standing under a wonderful old tree whose leaves had all gone yellow. A lifetime ago, I’d have been able to tell you what kind of tree it is, but it’s one of the many things that I’ve forgotten over the years; funny how that goes. At any rate, there I was, in that gauzy mist-light in an amazing drizzle of yellow leaves. I must have stood there a good 10 minutes marveling at it all, the leaves gently falling all around me.
I love magical moments like that. That’s what is brilliant about life; you never know when those kind of things will happen. You just have to stop and be amazed when they do.
And then I went back inside and continued cooking… until about 2AM. Whatever, I’m a late-night person. Always have been. I’ve been totally acting against my nature with my current job that requires me to get up at 6AM; I can do it, but really I’m not meant to, and by the end of the week, I’m worn out from it. But I digress…
So today, I’ve been taking it slow; Jamie’s still feeling like crap, though less so than yesterday. We were going to put off Thanksgiving until tomorrow but I didn’t want the turkey to sit in the brine that long. So I’ve meandered in the kitchen today, really all that was left to cook was the pumpkin cheesecake – had batter left over, made cupcakes, yummy! – and finishing off the stuffing for the turkey. Everything else was done last night.
Except for the imported, organic green bean casserole (see Jamie’s piece for that one). We’ll make that tomorrow.
For now, the comforting aroma of roasted turkey wafts enticingly ’round the house. It’s almost time to pop the sucker out of the oven to rest while its companion dishes fill the oven void to warm up to dinner temperature.
And on that note, it’s time to baste!