Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Family Tradition

The menu has not altered for over thirty years. Set in stone. Unchangeable.
Stuffing (Sausage/Onion/Celery, nothing fancy)
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
White Shoe Peg Corn
Brussel Sprouts
Creamed Onions
Sweet Potatoes
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (I know, right? It is the only time we ever eat them!)
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie

We've already started cooking. Sib#2 is in charge of pie. Thank God because my attempts at crust are more like shoe leather than pastry. I do the sweet potatoes and the cranberry sauce at home and bring it with me.

For years I labored under the impression that I didn't like sweet potatoes because I'd only had them coated in brown sugar and marshmallows. I had an epiphany about ten or so years ago and came up with this recipe:

Take about five pounds of sweet potatoes, wash, prick with fork. Fill a big ole pot with water and let them boil until fork tender. Dump them in an ice bath and the skins will slough right off. Put peeled potatoes back in pot and mash in two sticks of butter and two cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Add sour cream to desired consistency. Salt and pepper too. Place in greased 9 x 13 backing dish. (This can be done several days ahead, at this point cover and refrigerate.) Bake uncovered in a 350 oven for thirty to forty minutes.

My cranberry sauce is pretty awesome too if I do say so myself! I take three bags of cranberries, wash them and pick out any that are going soft. I zest five large juice oranges and set the zest aside. I juice the oranges and add more OJ if necessary to bring the liquid to two cups. Combine the berries and juice with two cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for ten minutes. Add the zest the last five minutes. I'm telling you people, good stuff.

Today my mother will take all the yucky turkey parts you don't eat and simmer them in chicken broth with carrots, onion, celery and a bay leaf or two. We'll use that stock for the stuffing and the gravy. Tonight we'll make the stuffing and the vinaigrette for the brussel sprouts.

First thing tomorrow the bird will get stuffed, coated in butter and put in the oven. We'll peel five pounds of potatoes. We'll make cream sauce for the onions. The brussel sprouts will get blanched, coated in vinaigrette, covered with grated Parmesan cheese and broiled.

Make the gravy, mash the potatoes, heat everything through and we're ready to eat. I'll be pouring Pinot Noir and a very nice German Riesling.

I love standing elbow to elbow in the kitchen with my mother and my sisters. Cooking, drinking wine, laughing. I have a lot to be thankful for.

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