Thanksgiving is a week and a half away. It’s my favorite holiday (1). Maybe some of you obsess over it, but my worry is usually confined to getting the bird bought or thawed. I had to jump start my focus this year as we’re headed to Santa Fe Wednesday morning, not to return till 1 AM the following Wednesday, Thanksgiving less than 24 hours in the distance. We’d visited this charming southwestern town many times when Kathy’s brother Bob lived there. Now that he’s in Oregon with his sweetie, we can wander “The City Different” without his interference. Joining us from little Nathrop Colorado, just up the Santa Fe trail, will be June. She’s widow of Sam, my dear friend whose untimely death was the subject of some early posts (2,3). June’s a spitfire with whom we are completely sympatico. Her love of Santa Fe came from many years living in nearby Los Alamos and working with Sam at the “top secret lab” there. Between the three of us, we can get into all sorts of trouble.
But I don’t want it to interfere with Thanksgiving! So, in the next couple days, I must make up the menu and begin the necessary preparations.
First off, the bird. For just Kathy and me, a turkey is just too big. But not a duck! I’ve got a killer duck à ’l’orange recipe and a duck in the freezer! That puppy goes into the garage fridge to thaw before we go.
And you can’t have a Thanksgiving bird without stuffing! Granted, Mr. duck doesn’t have near the cavity of Mr. turkey, so you can’t cram too many chunks of bread in there and expect much. So you have to break some culinary semantic rules and prepare the stuffing ex avian. Can it still be stuffing when all it’s been stuffed into is a pot? I guess General Foods showed the way when they introduced Stove Top Stuffing™ in 1972, saying yes, you can do this America. Well, I’ve got some cornbread frozen away, to be joined by what’s left of my Zingerman’s sourdough batard. And if it’s in a crock pot, it’s gotta be easy peasy.
Then the sides:
Garlic mashed potatoes. Got the necessary turnips at the farmers’ market Saturday morning.
“Better brussels sprouts”. Remarkable what some chicken stock and garlic can do. Got the nice tight little sprouts Saturday.
Yes, that’s the recipe card I’ve used to decades. Maybe it’s just enough to jog my memory. It was easy enough to make a new (legible) one using my usual format, so here ya go.
Red cabbage. A stable at big dinners as I was growing up. Germans and Dutch both seemed to like it. In the 90s, I came across a recipe from some Austrian hotel. Worked great with large crowds. I bought a couple red cabbages each about the size of a softball and will try to scale down.
I’ve come across another red cabbage recipe which I might use if we don’t make it out to Therese’s today (see below). I have all the ingredients.
Rutabaga. Don’t know if these will make the final cut, but I bought one half the size of my head and am eager to do something with it. If I had a trebuchet, it would make a suitable projectile. I could rummage through all those recipes from my mom, grandma, and Aunt Dorie, but I recall not liking this vegetable too much when they made it. Maybe it was my little boy’s palate, but the fun of root-uh-beggies stopped after you’d said their name a few times. I found some interesting recipes on Google. I might try this one. I’ve got a little chunk of gruyere and some cheddar. And it looks like something I can make in advance.
Roasted carrots. I have some nice ones from the market, and this is a simple dish if I decide I need even more sides. I like being able to use up some pignoles (pine nuts). I bought way to much for another recipe. The recipe calls for cashews, but who wants to nut-pick?
That duck calls for some nice pinot to wash it down. Fortunately, we still have a few in our cellar. They seem to disappear fast.
Am I forgetting something? Dessert! I leave the baking to my sweetheart, who curiously has lost her taste for things sweet over the past several years. I blame it on her flirtation with the keto diet, but who knows? Flowers, but no candy, please. She still likes fruit and has found an interesting way to treat it to bring out the juices, which usually calls for a pile of sugar (4). The secret ingredient? Balsamic vinegar. She made some dandy strawberry shortcake with it, first time summer before last. And she’s found it works for pies. So, if we get out to Therese’s, it’ll be apple, if not, we’ve got a pile of frozen peaches.
So, I mentioned Therese twice. Here’s what she’s about, at least as regards our Thanksgiving. Besides being a great and sassy procedures room nurse (where I met her), she and her husband Mike have become friends of ours. Besides their day jobs, they own and operate Alber Orchards, out in Manchester, about 20 miles southwest from here (5). You’ll find a great variety of apples, cider (regular and leaded), donuts (of course), and other knickknacks all served up by cheerful well-scrubbed kids from the local high school. And yes, you can even get a drink. The got their license to serve their homemade hard cider this year. It’s called a cidery. Like a brew-pub only with hard cider. When I was a medical student in London, cider was the cheap drink you chose at the pub if you couldn’t afford beer. I always could. Worth the extra 10p. There are fun outdoor activities like mazes and hayrides. Worth a trip. See ‘em before the snow flies.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for your endurance. It’s helped me to get this written down so I can plan what I can do to prepare before we push off for the Land of Enchantment Wednesday.
I’ve only got two things left to say. First, what’s the best thing about having duck for Thanksgiving? You get to make duck soup!
Maybe Groucho, Chico, and Harpo won’t be stopping by 1611 Harbal, but you can! We’ll have plenty of food, and, as you may know, Everybody Eats When They Come to My House (6).
1. Ike B. My favorite holiday. WordPress 11/27/20. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/11/27/my-favorite-holiday/
2. Ike B. Goodbye Sam. WordPress 1/12/20. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/01/12/goodbye-sam/
3. Ike B. See Sam. WordPress. 1/14/20. https://theviewfromharbal.com/ 2020/01/14/see-sam/
4. Ike B. it’s the berries. WordPress 6/19/21. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/06/19/its-the-berries/
5. Alber Orchard & Cider Mill. https://www.alberorchard.com/
6. TheRetroKidsShow. “Everybody Eats When They Come To My House”- Segment #40. YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvkCEEj4I2s