Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Thoughts

This will be my first ever Thanksgiving in Richmond, not to mention the first ever Thanksgiving meal made in my own kitchen. And don't get me wrong, I'm comfortable in my own kitchen, but Thanksgiving is such a food-centric holiday that it's been hard not to stress out about it.

Do you know how many ways there are to cook a turkey? There are many, and almost as many ways to prepare the turkey before it even goes into the oven (or fryer, or grill...). It's completely overwhelming, especially if you've never done it before, and that's just the turkey.

I've made my cranberry sauce, and have managed to check off everything on my list up to this point. It seemed as though everything was going fine until this morning.  

I acquired my 20-pounder from Tomten Farm, and it's big and beautiful. Since it's a heritage bird, and they can sometimes be lean, I opted to brine it.

This morning I flipped the bird over, which was not an easy feat, and managed to permeate the indestructible surface of the brining bag. There was salty liquid all over the bottom shelf of the fridge, and the floor, and it was too early for me to do anything except clean it up and shove the entire thing in a Febreze-scented trash bag. Here's hoping we don't have a Febreze-scented Thanksgiving.

If any of you are interested in a nontraditional Thanksgiving meal, this recipe for Asian Beef (courtesy of Lyndsey) gave me something to look forward to earlier this week. The flavors are exotic and mouthwatering. I'd post pictures, but have run out of space in the blog, and am hoping to do a recap later this weekend when I figure everything out. 

And finally, here's a healthy reminder of what this holiday is all about, from an interview with the wise Sam Sifton:

"It is this one meal a year when the nation stops, gathers together in groups of family and friends, and pauses to say thanks, to give thanks—not necessarily to God or country or the farm or whatever, but always to one another, to the fact of the family, or the gathering."

Enjoy it, even if your turkey doesn't give off the aroma you're used to smelling on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Finishing October

It seems incredibly long ago now, but the second half of October was just as sweet as the first. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because of the copious amounts of candy. I love the spirit of imagination and spookiness associated with October 31st, and try to celebrate it as much as I can every year.

I was originally going to make these owl cupcakes for book club (we read The Perks of Being a Wallflower), but the hurricane interfered, so they stood doubled as Halloween cupcakes. The chocolate cake recipe is definitely a keeper, and spreading Nutella over the cupcakes in lieu of frosting is a delicious substitute. My owls had Reeses Pieces eyes and beaks.

Halloween is also meaningful to me because it's my parents' anniversary, and this year we celebrated their milestone with a brandy whipped cream-filled cake made by Sophia. It was just as heavenly as it looks.

For an extra treat, Evan and I took Joe and Gayle to the new Char's, which I can't recommend highly enough. Every single detail was exquisite.

I hope October was just as enjoyable for all of you!