24.11.10

Guest blogger Small but Charming


I adore Jane's blog, she is a florist from Virgina, USA. A real life American on this blog - we are international now. I asked her to blog about Thanksgiving, what's not to love about eating turkey with loved ones? Do you have questions about this American tradition? Leave a comment and ask away, I'll start. As I write this I can hear crashing and banging coming from upstairs.The Hound is busy chasing our resident butterfly. It has been living in the bedroom for about 3 months, it seems quite happy.

Big thanks to Miss Pickering for inviting me to tell all about Thanksgiving, every American's favorite holiday. No gifts are required, the day revolves around food. Cooking food, serving food, eating food and cleaning up after ingesting copious amounts of food. With a few football games thrown in for good measure, the inevitable family squabble and some tears.

We prepare turkeys, big birds, often stuffed with savory bread concoctions, and basted with butter. There are mashed potatoes (more butter), sweet potatoes often served candied and topped with miniature marshmallows, perhaps a casserole of canned green beans mixed with cream of mushroom soup and topped with a can of fried onion rings.

I wish I was making this all up just to amuse Miss P., but alas, tis the truth.

But this is blogland and we cook beautifully on these posts and entertain effortlessly. So let me tell you how it's done at our house.

We buy our bird at our local farmers market, from a breeder with impeccable credentials. On Wednesday morning, before a mad day in the flower shop we place the bird in a very large container and submerge it in a brine. After 100 hours of work we come home and painstakingly wash the bird salt free. Then we cut it in half ( not as easy as I make it sound) and place in in a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, finely chopped shallots, red peppers, handfuls of parsley, salt and pepper and finely diced celery.

The bird goes into the refrigerator and we go to bed. Next morning I down several lattes, wake up my partner, take dog for walk and start cooking. We peel 5 to 10 pounds of little Yukon gold potatoes for mashed potatoes, cut up 2 heads of red cabbage for said partner's family dish of braised red cabbage. This is cooked with onions, bacon, apples, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, caraway seed, allspice and bay leaves and sugar.

The turkey halves are placed in oven and cooked for about 3 to 4 hours, the house smells heavenly. And yes, one half is draped in bacon, a la Germany.

An aside, dogs like turkey too, even, or especially, ones from Labrador.

One friend brings brussel sprouts roasted with bacon and onions and sweetened with a touch of raisins. She also brings a cranberry bread pudding that makes grown men cry. Another brings a traditional cranberry sauce. If you can't cook you bring wine. Everyone helps with the clean up.

Then we bring out a pie or two, pumpkin and pecan being favorites, the bread pudding, many pots of coffee and tea and reflect on why the table is called the groaning board. We don't reflect too deeply.

What makes this dinner truly American is the melting pot of guests at the table and background of the dishes we serve. The turkey is a recipe gleaned from my Bolivian coworkers. The cabbage dish is from my partner's German family. The cranberry is a uniquely American fruit. And potatoes, well they're global.

The guests are also global, German, Indian, American, Ethiopian and who knows what other countries will represent. All are welcome. Just please don't stay till midnight this year. It's a holiday meal, not a house party.

Miss Pickering has an open invitation, is not required to do dishes and may stay up as late as she likes.

12 comments:

Miss Pickering said...

Dear Jane

Marshmallows? WTF?

Love Miss P.

Becca said...

Miss P, I was thinking the exact same thing. Marshmallows?

And Brine? Isn't that what tinned hot dogs come in?

Do you also have beef? I like beef at Christmas?

Is it wrong I am already thinking about breakfast?

Anonymous said...

And for us lazy Americans, we order the whole meal from Whole Foods =)

rachel said...

Can we come too? I'd help with the dishes, honest!

Dogs from Labrador, no matter how remote the original link, do like turkey, true. But then dogs from Labrador like everything. EVERYthing.

webb said...

Miss P, it's so nice to meet you, altho I see your often at Jane's blog and comments.

Marshmallows are a completely American sweet. Totally made of sugar and chemicals (as best I can tell) they are half the height of a wine cork and half again as fat. When placed on top of the sweet potato casserole they melt and toast to a yummy brown - to die for. Our real tradition is to spear them with a stick or long fork and to brown them over a bonfire.

Brine in this recipe is salty water. Many great cooks take this extra step to making a moist tasty bird. Others, like my lazy self, just take it out of the package, wash it thoroughly and pay dry. Then on with the roasting. From Jane's description, she soaks in the salty brine and then cooks it with more flavorful herbs and good tasting things.

Think I will drop in uninvited at her house tomorrow!

Yes, Becca, you can have roast beef, but we are all recreating what the history books tell us the Pilgrims did in the 1600 when they invited the Indians (Native Americans, as we now say) over to dinner to give thanks for living thru the first hard year. Apparently the beef weren't here then, but the turkeys were!

Karen said...

For us even lazier Americans, we go to the cafeteria. . .

Belinda @ Wild Acre said...

Jane your feast sounds delish! The Lab will be beside herself!x

Marie said...

Jane - what about explaining how many people eat Thanksgiving dinner at like, 3 or 4 in the afternoon?

Why IS that?

Happy Thanksgiving :-)

the gardeners cottage said...

hello miss pickering,

i am a follower of jane and her dogs and german girl and whoever/whatever else she talks about. in short i love her and i'd follow her anywhere. so here i am.

jane you are a wonderful writer. i love the day you have planned and wish i had half your energy. of course my dinner will be a lot different than yours but the spirit will be the same with an extra helping of tolerance!

now i'm off to explore this pickering woman's blog.

~janet

flwrjane said...

Hi, it's me. Wow this is quite a bit of excitement to come home to!

Marshmallows, who the hell knows why.
I don't use them for this dish, I don't "candy" an already sweet dish like sweet potatoes.

Roast beef, for Christmas, exactly.

Did I not extend an invitation to all of you? forgive my manners. Tomorrow, we're putting an extra table or two up now, you might need to bring your own plate though.

Miss P., I love you this was so much fun to do. And now you get to meet all my rowdy friends.

Semi Expat said...

Of course marshmallows - always at an American thanksgiving!! Love the post.. x

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

I loved reading this. Sharing Thanksgiving recipes is also very American, at least with the Americans I know. I've never seen the turkey halved or draped in bacon. Fancy!