I had every intention of posting my Thanksgiving menu at least a day or two before, but, alas, meal prep and some unforeseen family events overshadowed the last couple of days and got the better of me. I’m pretty organized and had a manageable to-do list. But… my brother-in-law had a sore throat and stayed home and our nephew and his family, who usually split TG with our family and his wife’s, ended up visiting with her family in town for the holiday. And then there was the Nor’easter, and it snowed and snowed on Wednesday and luckily, we were left with a scant 3 or 4 inches of snow. Despite it all, I forged ahead and continued with the original menu. For the six of us who remained, we feasted!
Category Archives: Holidays
I’ve been talking a lot lately, more than usual, which can be a lot on a good day. And it’s mostly about my lah-dee-dah, unhurried approach to my favorite food holiday. It’s less than 10 days away, and I really don’t know why I haven’t stepped it up. I’m hoping that all the blah-blah I keep spewing will strike a nerve and I’ll spring into action.
Just how far behind am I? Um, a bit. I still need to finish the menu, set the timeline, write the shopping lists, and get the final headcount. I can’t finish the menu until I’m done fiddling around with some recipes. And I can’t write the timeline and the shopping lists until… I finish the menu! Now, my mom thinks I’m not really in the weeds – yet. “You’ll get back on track. It’s not as bad as you think.” Ah, the power of positive thinking. Always believe your mom.
Ahhh, chopped liver. Not for everyone’s palate, to be sure, but if you’re among those who like it, the good news is that it’s far simpler to make than you might think.
My chopped liver memories go back to my early teens. I’d smell the chicken livers sautéing in our Long Island kitchen and would beg mom to help. I’d seen her use what I thought was the coolest kitchen contraption I’d ever seen: a meat grinder. This was a go-to tool in many old-time Jewish kitchens, because it was the preferred way (remember, we weren’t spoiled with food processors yet) to grind everything from chicken livers to beef and lamb.
I love giving gifts, and I especially love picking out gifts for people who love to cook. So I’ve come up with a list of my would-love-to-get-my-hands-on gems. Take a look at my choices and then hurry out to the stores as soon as humanly possible. I’m telling you, if you’re buying for a cook, you can’t go wrong with any of these items.
I’m a big believer in tradition, especially when it comes to holidays. I also believe there’s nothing wrong with updating a classic. Brisket was the time-honored Passover meal when I grew up, and I watched my mom make it every year. A beautiful brisket nestled in a hearty sauce of crushed tomatoes dotted with the classic carrots, onions, and celery, and some red wine added in the last half hour to beef up the flavor of the sauce. I love that recipe (and it was something I could make with three toddlers at my feet), and that was our dinner on the first night of Passover.
Hello, again, and Happy New Year. From my lack of posts, it appears that Thanksgiving really took its toll on me. I took some time off to handle non-blog business, and as all bloggers hope, I thought I’d be able to eke out time to write a post or two. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But I’m back now, so thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you all enjoyed a lovely holiday season.
We rang in 2014 with a cozy dinner – and my husband and I cooked together. Not something we do often (he likes to stay out of the way, but is the first in line for tasting!). However, over the years he’s learned some skills, and was a very good sous chef last night. Here’s what he did to make this dinner come together: he prepped and made the mustard-shallot vinaigrette for the string beans, peeled the shrimp for the appetizer, minced the garlic and zested and juiced a lemon for the herb crust on the rack of lamb. But his biggest job of all? Stirring the mushroom risotto. Of course, ever the lawyer, he asked questions. “Do you really have to stand here just stirring?” “Can you stir too much? I’d hate to over-stir this.” And there were others I’ll leave out of this post. Despite the mild line of questioning, he stirred and added stock, and stirred some more, until the risotto was done. As you’ll see, it was cooked just right! (Thanks, honey.)
After days of chopping and peeling and cooking and freezing, Thanksgiving finally arrived, and all the preparations gave way to thawing and warming and roasting and serving. As our family was coming in during the day, the appetizers made their entrance, just the ticket to keep everyone sufficiently satiated until dinner. The onion dip with cracked pepper was heated to almost bubbly, we took the chill off the eggplant and white bean puree, and the creamy herb dip punched up raw veggies.
It’s been a busy – and productive – week since my Thanksgiving post last week. Since then, my nice, neat dining room with some stacked dishes and serving pieces has turned into Thanksgiving Supply Central. We’ve added wine, a large coffee maker, paper goods, and food from the first trip to the grocery store.
On the cooking side, I’ve finished making the squash soup (and froze 2 large batches) and I made one sweet potato torte (see recipe below) and froze it yesterday as a test. I’ve never frozen the torte before, but thought if I could make it early, it would free up precious oven time on Thursday. I’m going to thaw it tomorrow and if holds its consistency after it’s warmed up, my experiment will have worked, which means I’ll make the other one this weekend and freeze that one, too.
My kids say that if you know nothing else about me, you know I’m fanatical about Thanksgiving. From the time I could pull up a chair next to the stove where my mom was cooking, I’ve been totally enchanted with the pomp and circumstance of this one day. Food, family, football. Did I say food?
Growing up, the production of putting on Thanksgiving was a fascinating home movie for me. I watched mom’s every move – planning the menu at the kitchen table; making a grocery list; pulling out the good dishes, the good silver, the tablecloth. I went food shopping with her, and helped with whatever I could handle. She prepared the food the day before and the day of. It was a traditional menu (turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows, green bean casserole, etc.), and although she doesn’t consider herself a gourmet cook, her food was absolutely delicious and the holiday table looked beautiful.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness….”*
This well-known beginning of the Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities struck a chord with me recently. A chord that ran directly to my cooking. The words aptly describe me in the kitchen: my learning process, my passion, my frustration, the good and not-so-good and the fearless and the uncertain. The quote popped into my head while I was making a grocery list for our family’s Rosh Hashanah dinner.