it has been a reeeeallly long time since i posted an aifaf! initially, it was because it physically hurt too much to sit here and write them just after i had back surgery, but then the weeks kept going by and i got further and further behind and they just take so damn long to write—it got overwhelming. we are still going on them, and i’m still documenting them with little blue, but between me being poor and wanting to stick close to home in case my cancercat needs me, many of them have been on the smaller, cheaper, less spectacular side. and with everything else that’s going on, i just haven’t had the time to post them. but i figured i had to make an exception for thanksgiving.
thanksgiving has been a really big deal for me ever since i started making it myself. each year i make an entirely new menu—the turkey is always the same, but every side is made for the first time that day, which can be risky, but generally works out well. i usually start planning in august, dragging out my stack of thanksgiving-themed cooking magazines and my trusty clipboard, bookmarking at least 60 different recipes and having to be talked down into like 9 or so, considering it’s just me and sean of the house here to eat it all, with leftovers to greg, of course…
sometimes maggie gets involved in the process
but this year, i just wasn’t feeling it—too exhausted and stressed out to be enthusiastic about the process, too worried about money to do anything too fancy. i didn’t finalize my menu until thanksgiving WEEK!
but, it’s thanksgiving, so a girl’s gotta rally, and even though it was much less spectacular than the thanksgivings of happier years, it was not a total disaster. lackluster, but not a disaster. i pared down the menu from 41 to 9 recipes (plus turkey), and for the first time ever (i think), there was neither sage nor butternut squash on my shopping list. it may as well not even have been thanksgiving!
there were problems right from the start—there was not one single unfrozen turkey in any of the stores in my neighborhood. i later spoke with someone who lives in a more suburban region than i do, and they said the same thing—only frozen turkeys exist now. i mean, except from the butcher, but i went that route one year and it was like 75 dollars and didn’t taste any better than a regular (unfrozen) turkey.
so i was using a frozen turkey for the first time ever, and it was a measly 16 pounds because i entrusted the turkey-hunt to sean after i struck out at a number of places and he volunteered to be my turkey-hunter. i must confess, i was kind of
disappointed bitchy when he came home with a frozen, 16-pound turkey.
but after that, there was one triumph for me. i went to the place where they sell suspiciously cheap produce, and i got all this:
bunch of cilantro
bag of oranges
bag of sweet potatoes
jar of coriander
2 bunches of celery
this was followed by the opposite of a triumph when i went to the supermarket and discovered that cardamom is $15.99 for a tiny jar. that’s stupid. so i did my googling, and internet said i could use half-cinnamon, half-nutmeg as a substitution. so i did. because fuck that.
by now you are no doubt anxious for me to stop talking and show you some damn pictures already, so here:
mushroom brioche stuffing
crispy garlic mashed potatoes
green beans and bacon
parmesan carrot ribbons
roasted turnips with maple and cardamom (or, more precisely—roasted turnips with maple and half-cinnamon, half-nutmeg)
roasted brussels sprouts with cranberries
roasted parsnips and apples
roasted balsamic sweet potatoes
it was all fine—the turkey was a little dry, but not disgusting or anything.
however, one of the things i realized too late* was that having this many recipes that involved roasting took time away from turkey-roasting. usually, i will start some dishes the day before, since i’m already brining the turkey on the tuesday, so i might as well get some other stuff out of the way, but this year, i did it all on the day. i cooked for 13 hours, and the MOMENT i finished, maggie threw up everywhere and became lethargic and sad, which made me sad, and i lost my appetite completely and ended up eating ice cream and wine for thanksgiving.
other things i learned:
1) a “generous pinch” of red pepper flakes might overpower the dish, no matter what the recipe calls for
2) coriander pods should not be purchased by someone who does not own a spice grinder, and the workaround of toasting the damn things and then using the mortar and pestle to grind them results in disgusting burnt-tasting chunks of yuck that do not make it into the recipe, a recipe already compromised by not having cardamom.
3) thanksgiving will be better next year.
it pretty much has to be.
thanksgiving archives, from more successful years:
2015 – https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/410072-adventures-in-thanksgiving-2015?chapter=1
2014 – https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/372804-adventures-in-food-and-fun-xii?chapter=13
2013 – https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/352280-adventures-in-food-and-fun-x?chapter=2
2012 – https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/311748-adventures-in-food-and-fun-vi?chapter=17
2011 – https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/278356-adventures-in-food-and-fun-iii?chapter=13
2010 (included w/ 2015)