We had a great Thanksgiving. Here we are left to right, MaryMomBeeba, JohnDadZayde, Nathan, Auntie Leigh aka Ryan’s sister, Jonathan, Ryan, Sam and Sarah. Everyone helped in the preparation and I think the dinner came out as one of the best in recent memory. Although we made all of the old favorites there were some new twists.
John is always the designated meatman. This year we bought a kosher turkey from Trader Joe’s. John took out the backbone and the keelbone and butterflied it. He put an herb butter under the skin. Then he iced down the breasts for about an hour before cooking. The turkey sat atop a mound of stuffing. The twelve pound turkey took about 2 hours to cook and came out crackling brown and delicious. Everyone thought it was the best turkey we had ever had. Even dark meat eaters were oohing and aahing over the breast meat. It was a real success.
The stuffing was less of a success. Being under the bird it came out mushy and greasy. We remedied this by putting in a frying pan to crisp it up.
Jon made a new take on green bean casserole. He used whole fresh haricot vert, sauteed mushrooms and a delicious sauce. Being a traditionalist, he topped the whole thing with fried onions.
Ryan made her great cranberry relish and also two pies, a traditional pumpkin and a cranberry/apple pie. Ryan’s crust is so good, flaky and tender. I loved the addition of cranberries to the apple pie. They cut the sweetness with their tartness.
Sarah made chipotle/maple sweet potato casserole. This is based on a dish that John and I had Bobby Flay’s restaurant in Las Vegas. It is so delicious with the smoky hotness of the chipotles playing against the sweetness of the sweet potato and the richness of the the cream.
Sarah is standing here next to my twisted paper pilgrims made many years ago. They are so skinny! Obviously they never came to Thanksgiving dinner at our house!
Well, here it is almost Thanksgiving again. I have rutabagas in my refrigerator awaiting the axe. I love how the kitchen smells when the Thanksgiving dishes are cooked. It certainly proves how much memory is wrapped up in the aroma of the kitchen.
As usual we have so many “must have,” traditional dishes that we have to set up a separate table for food. We are trying a new technique on the bird this year, though. For the past few years we’ve been deconstructing the turkey and boning out and stuffing the thighs. Then we start the thighs ahead of the breast so that everything comes out perfectly cooked at the same time – so much work and so much mess!
So this year we have bought a kosher turkey which means we don’t have to brine it. Then we are going to butterfly it by taking out the backbone. Finally we are going to pack ice around the breasts for an hour before we roast it so that they will cook a little more slowly. Hopefully this will mean a shorter cooking time with everything getting done simultaneously. We’ll also put the stuffing under it so that it can soak some of the turkey goodness.
Jon and Ryan are making a green veg plus cranberry sauce and dessert. Sarah is making chipotle sweet potatoes a la Bobby Flay. We are in charge of turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, rutabagas and Death by Broccoli. No rolls this year! And maybe pie instead of Indian pudding. Gasp! what a break with tradition.
The first time John and I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, it was just the two of us. Now we are up to eight. Undoubtedly, though, it will take until Nathan and Sam are teenage boys not to have a ton of leftovers. It will be fun to have them at the table this year. Sam has begun feeding himself . Hmmm… maybe I do need rolls.
We have just had the BEST time vacationing with Jonathan at our place in St. George. What a gift it was to spend this time with him. It’s not an opportunity that many parents have. Ryan and the kids were off to visit her folks in Michigan and Jon came with us.
The weather in St. George was spectacular all week. Highs around 70 and lows around 50. Among the many things we did were to eat out a little but mostly to cook at home. We decided to have a different cuisine each night and covered American, Mexican, Italian, Thai, French and Indian. Most were pretty successful. It was a lot of fun.
We also played a lot of tennis – clinic, lesson, and just hitting around. Jonathan is really improving! He is, in fact, way better than me and if he gets a little less wild, he’ll soon be beating John.
The guys also played golf three times where Jonathan was better than John much to his (Jon’s) glee. We also played ping pong where he also whipped us. It’s a good thing we are such good sports (not)!
On Wednesday we went to Zion National Park and hiked the Watchman Trail. The trail is little used and we had it almost to ourselves. It was somewhat uphill on the way out and Jonathan was quite a bit faster than John and I. We stopped and pretended to be admiring the view or a rock or something so we could catch our breath. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place.
After hiking we went for lunch at Oscar’s Cafe (of course). Jon and John had Oscar’s famous phish tacos. Jonathan pronounced it the second restaurant serving edible food in the St. George area, quite an honor. His favorite, though, is the Mongolian BBQ at the Zion Shops.
We started our way home on Friday. Jon had a gig with Boyz Nite Out in Yerington, NV so we got to take the desolate route through Nevada. We started out in rain, then snow and then sunny skies. No trip up the Extraterrestrial Highway is complete without a stop at the Little A Le Inn in Rachel, NV. Bordering Area 51, it’s the perfect place for aliens and us to stop.
And here he is singing with Boyz Nite Out. He’s wearing the hat. We were amazed that he could just step in and sing bass with them. He did a great job and the whole show was very entertaining. Yerington has done a beautiful renovation job on their old elementary school and uses the venue for community events and concerts. Although the demographic at the concert was mostly older folks, it was totally sold out and the crowd really enjoyed it.
All in all it was a wonderful trip. Many thanks to Ryan and Jon for making it possible.