While we attempted to thaw the allegedly "fresh" -- "not frozen" -- turkeys for the roasting pan on Wednesday, Baby took it upon himself to inspect the table setting.
The Thanksgiving table was a triumph, but the turkeys were turkeys. Billed as "fresh," they were in fact partially frozen and took a lot longer to get ready for cooking than we had been led to believe by the good folks of the Butcher Shop at Hannaford's in York Village. That afforded a "new-bride moment" of Thanksgiving panic for this seasoned cook. We had planned to have a back-up sandwich turkey already roasted and in the fridge by the time the second bird went into the oven Thursday morning, but because of thawing issues, we ended up having to cook the sandwich turkey Thursday afternoon after the festive meal, when we were already deeply into our cups and in a tryptophan haze. And yet it was not a problem.
Susan demonstrates her method of preparing cracker crumbs for baked haddock. Forget about plastic bags and rolling pins. You just crumble the crackers with your fingers. No muss, no fuss, no doggy odor.
"We two form a multitude," sister Susan wrote on her high school photograph for us way back when. The weird sisters imail daily and consult early and often about all matters great and small regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As we gathered "round about the cauldron" in Goomp's kitchen yesterday to add the final "eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog" to the groaning board that would become the memorableThanksgiving Feast 2005, the old wives' tales of all the cooks of all the generations flowed through our conversation.
Continuing his inspection, the Babe pirouettes en pointe, balancing with his fluffy tail, as he stops to smell the roses of the gorgeous centerpiece prepared for us by the folks at Washington Park Florist.
Satisfied with his findings, the Babe exits stage right.
Grabbing gobs of herbed butter, we hand basted the turkey under the skin (inset). No more basting the turkey with a brush or dropper every half hour during 3-4 hours of cooking (our turkeys were 14+ pounds each).
It's better than basting every half hour. Turn your turkey into a self-baster by loosening the skin over breast and thighs with your hand and then putting in a generous amount of sage-infused butter at room temperature under the skin.
Our dear departed mother added the heavy-duty foil hammock into the family lore of turkey management. The two long pieces folded over themselves twice allow you to lift the bird effortlessly from the roasting rack (left) onto the platter for resting prior to carving.
Apple and Sausage Stuffing nestles between rows of orange slices with accents of rosemary.
Our own favorite stuffing combines chopped garlic and onions and crumbled sweet sausage sauteed in butter, chopped apples, Pepperidge Farm and/or Arnold's bread crumbs of various sorts, chicken broth and cider. Family legend has it that godson/nephew Matthew's beloved, Regan, came to Thanksgiving at our table during their courtship days a vegetarian and left a meat eater after tasting our dressing.
After the turkey is lifted onto the platter to rest, we pour the pan juices into a Pyrex measuring cup and put it into the freezer for 15 minutes or so to separate out the fat. Spoon off most of the fat, return juices to the pan and cook over medium heat, whisking in flour to make a roux. Then whisk in chicken broth to make a smooth, velvety sauce. We chopped liver and cooked it in wine for 10 minutes, crushed it and added that for extra flavor and texture.
Gravy is a uniter, not a divider. It was the Wall Street Journal in its fun "An MBA Thanksgiving" article last week, that said what we all know:
A so-so gravy versus a blow-away gravy can make all the difference in your product perception.
"We give thanks for this family circle."
Tiny checks out the turkey stockpot.
The bones and pickings thereoff went into a stockpot with water and boiled down for a few hours to make a fab stock. Lots of good turkey bits for stew fell off the bones when we poured off the liquid through a sieve. There was a wishbone in there too. Tiny gave her paw of approval to the proceedings as she helped herself.
The day after Thanksgiving -- this morning -- dawn brought the steely blues of late fall to Eastern Point across the river as we packed up the leftovers and headed back to the city.
Update: Modulator's Friday Ark now boarding. All things bright and beautiful, many cute and furry.