Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Report

Hi, everyone! Sorry I haven’t been very good at posting this month—I’ve been pretty busy with “real life” and haven’t had much time for reporting or reflection. And honestly, I haven’t been extraordinarily inspired by much—the pretty autumn leaves are all dry, brown, and on the ground, and the skies have been gloomy overall. Today’s an exception—bright and sunny—and there’s a pleasant buzz as cars of well-fed shoppers cruise up and down Broadway beneath our windows.

Now, on to the subject of this post: The appetizers I made for yesterday’s Thanksgiving get-together. Sue and I joined my parents at my cousin’s house north of Centertown (that’s west of Jeff City, in northern Moniteau County). David, my cousin, and his wife Wendy hosted Thanksgiving again this year, and Wendy, as usual, did a lovely, lovely job with the turkey (22 pounds!) and all the fixin’s. You know . . . mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, the traditional green bean casserole, that delicious ground cranberry relish with the oranges, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and so on.

My mom brought the sweet potato casserole—some recipe she has that’s out of this world, with brown sugar, marshmallows, and crunchy whole pecan nutmeats on top. I usually don’t go for sweet potatoes that have been doctored up with “more sweets,” but this dish is an exception. I had to indulge in seconds, even if I do “know better.”

Another thing I have to mention is, indeed, the dressing, which to me is a big deal. David makes it using our grandmother’s recipe. He enjoyed it at his family’s Thanksgivings growing up in Cheyenne, just as I enjoyed it with my folks (and with Grandma) here in Missouri. The recipe—and especially the flavors—are a very tangible connection to our grandma and to our decades of family Thanksgiving memories.

The dressing is made with cubed bread, apples, celery, and raisins. The raisins get all pudgy and soft in the process, and the entire dish takes on a character that is far more than the sum of its parts. Oh, purrrrrr.

As we dined, Wendy mentioned that she’d suggested that this year, maybe David should use craisins instead of raisins. Maybe that would be a delicious twist on an old favorite! . . . As soon as she related this, I barked, “No! No way! Can’t mess with perfection!” We all laughed as she explained that David had responded the same way!

My contribution to the shindig was to bring the appetizers—that’s what Wendy told me to bring. And wow, that didn’t seem like very much to contribute, considering that she and David were basically doing everything else. So I decided to “fly with it,” to give it some extra effort and creativity than the usual veggies an’ crackers plus a sauce to dip them in.

. . . And that will be the subject of my next post.

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