Wow, this year has just flown by. I can’t believe it’s November already. Time to start thinking toward the holidays! This year, I’m ready for colder weather and the fun and excitement of the holiday season. Summer and fall were nice, but I’m getting into a winter mood. And yes, I’ll likely regret saying that in the middle of January every time I have to go outdoors. But right now, I’ll embrace it.
First up, Thanksgiving. Of course we’ll be hosting it again this year. Unlike in year’s past where I’ve done something “unusual” for our main course (remember last year’s wood smoked pheasant?) this year we’re going with a straight traditional dinner. While I’d love to do the pheasant again since it was so amazing, we’re going to have a bit of bigger crowd this year, so that prices us out of it. Since the baby is here, it seems we’re the popular Thanksgiving spot! So we’re looking at seven of us for sure, and possibly ten. With that in mind, a twenty pound turkey is what we’ll be having for our centerpiece. To go with it, I’m going to make mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, bread stuffing, a few stuffed sweet potatoes (found those on Pinterest – ingenious if you only have a few people that like them) and some kind of green vegetable. Not sure on that one yet – maybe sauteed kale with garlic and bacon, or wine braised Swiss chard. Or steamed broccoli. While I love brussels sprouts, it seems I’m really the only one. They weren’t exactly flying out of the bowl the last time I served them. And this year, I’d like to bake up some kind of home made roll. I confess I usually just put packaged croissants out… but I’ve been working with bread a lot more this year, so home made rolls should show up on the table. I’m also going to be baking my own bread for the stuffing – I’m going to do a mix of white bread and rye the weekend before, and let them go stale naturally. Mixed in with a well caramelized mirepoix, plenty of chicken stock and fresh herbs, it should be amazing. And for dessert, I’m making pie of course. Pumpkin, chocolate icebox, and maybe even a shoofly.
For my table, I’m keeping it simple again this year. We’ll have to rearrange the house a little bit to accommodate the crowd. We currently have our sofa in the middle of the room, acting a divider between our living room and dining room space. We’ll have to move it against the interior wall so that we can have the table down the center of the room. We’ll also have to add a long folding table to our dining table, which only seats four. With that small adjustment, we’ll have plenty of space. And I may have to borrow a large tablecloth from my mother in law though, since mine only fit our dining table. For the table, this year year I’m going with a dozen or two fresh gourds if I can find them at a good price. And I’ll use my regular Blue Willow place settings, as well as short tumblers for the wine. I really like tumblers instead of stemmed wine glasses at “formal” dinners – it just makes everything seem more warm and friendly – there are no worries about knocking over your glass or pretensions of wine snobbery. I also plan to turn our chest freezer into a buffet sideboard by throwing a tablecloth over it and added a centerpiece. I’ll be glad to have the extra space this year.
So, I’ve got to make a shopping list and write out this year’s prep schedule. I can do a lot of it the day before since I’m not working, which will be great. And start watching the sales to stock up on ingredients!