Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ravings of a Mad Woman or (Thanksgiving. Is it becoming a lost art?)

Turkeys on Lopez Island
     I like Thanksgiving. My kids like Thanksgiving. It means many things to us. Its a time to share our home with friends and extended family. It's a time to have a lot of people that we care about all in the same place at the same time and to reconnect with old memories and traditions. A time for playing games, watching the Macy's parade in your PJ's and dressing up in something special but comfortable. It's a time to pig out on traditional dishes like cranberries, yams and pumpkin pie (and of course turkey) and the one time of the year where you can wear black olives on all your fingers at once eating them one at a time without anyone yelling at you and being thankful for the freedom to do so. And we all look forward to it.
     So I am getting ready to cook a feast for 14 (maybe more) people this Thanksgiving. It is the first time in 5 years that I have hosted a gathering and I am really looking forward to it. I use to host it every year when I lived closer to my sister and my parents were still alive. So I am cooking, cleaning, and just plain polishing up the house for the big event. I have some people that will be staying the whole weekend and some that have to go home that night. But I am going to have a house full. I just got home from shopping in town for the things I know I can't get here on the island. Most of them are things like new plates because I got rid of my old plates when I moved. They were old and marked up and I knew I would want something else. An area rug, new coffee pot, (mine was ancient and ugly), a new lamp shade, etc. Like I said. Stuff I knew I couldn't get on the island.
     The feast will be filled with the traditional dishes. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, two veggies, corn pudding, fresh baked rolls, fruit salad, cranberry relish and/or sauce, yams, and an assortment of appetizers, relishes, pies and desserts. All made from scratch and fresh. Oh ya, the Turkey too. All 22 pounds of him.
     I went to a grocery store the other day and walked by a display of seasonal fare. Standing there and looking at it I realized most everything that a lot of people buy for Thanksgiving is out of a box or can. Of all the meals you can cook in a year this one shouldn't come out of a can. Standing there and looking at it I realized that the whole meal could possibly be made in an hour or less depending on what you did for a bird. Where's the fun in that! There was stove top stuffing, Potato buds, gravy mix, yams in a can with the obligatory marshmallow cream to go on top. Canned cranberry sauce, brown and serve rolls. And don't forget that "traditional" dish that advertising has brain washed most everyone into believing is mandatory. GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE! Thanks so much Campbells! YUCK! This is my pet peeve of the season. Since when did the pilgrims even see a green bean let alone cream of mushroom soup and onion rings. At the risk of sounding like Charlie Brown I have to have a rant here.
     We the people of the United States already have very few food customs. Why do we let corporations take away what we do have? Throw away those cans of green beans. Grab a bag of real cranberries, throw some sugar and a little orange zest on them and cook them for a few minutes until they resemble the real thing. Do we still own a potato peeler? Toss the marshmallow cream and roast a few yams in the oven with a little olive oil and garlic. Guaranteed to taste better than anything out of a can. And a turkey? Someone told me the other day that they had a tofurkey for Thanksgiving one year. (Turkey shaped tofu) Apparently it was very disappointing.
 I  bought a Foster Farms fresh turkey at Costco. I really wanted a heritage bird this year but the man was afraid I would turn it into a pet before we had a chance to butcher it. (yes I was going to grow my own). I have wanted to raise my own turkey ever since I saw the wild turkeys on Lopez Island wandering through our field. I think they are magnificent. Anyway I wasn't going to get a turkey off island because I didn't want to haul it home but I have never seen a Foster Farms turkey before and I like to support companies that use more humane  ways to raise and slaughter animals. If you can't find or can't afford a heritage bird from a local farmer Foster Farms is the next best thing. They have local plants that an acquaintance of mine has actually toured and given her stamp of approval and that's saying something. So much for this commercial.
     Something else just recently was brought to my attention that threatens the very fabric of our life style. (OK so I am a drama queen.). A friend of mine has a child in basket ball this year and they have practice on Thanksgiving! Is nothing sacred? Are we teaching our kids that being thankful for all that we have is unimportant? That family time can take a back seat to sports? Good grief! And when I told one of my own kids about it she tried to explain to me that her school basketball team also has practice that day and it is because they have to have so many hours of practice in before they get to play a real game. (or something equally as stupid). Fortunately my friend shares my feelings about the sanctity of certain days and she is blowing off the practice but I really think we are losing something important in our culture.

Clone of a cinnabon, unbaked 
     Some one always ask me for a recipe and here is one of my recent favorites. I made these cinnamon rolls and put them in the freezer to take out for breakfast during Thanksgiving weekend. (I also made a few for a test run this morning) You can find this recipe at

Ready for freezing
It is a bread machine recipe however I did it in my mix master instead because my bread machine couldn't handle the stiffer dough. Then I let it rise in a greased bowl just like bread. After rising I followed the directions for rolling it out, rising, and baking adding raisins and pecans. For make
ahead Thanksgiving fare I placed the sliced raw rolls on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and froze them. Then I placed them in zip lock bags and put them back in the freezer for later use. To use them take out the night before the morning you want to bake them. Place them in a greased baking pan loosely covered with plastic wrap.Let them rise in a warm spot overnight and bake in the morning. Adding frosting should be optional since they are just as good without it. Yum!

So Thanksgiving also kicks off the Christmas season. My next blog will have pictures of the coup and more recipes and maybe pictures of the silkies wearing little coats.(This weather does not agree with them.) If anyone has a question about this recipe or any other just drop me a line. I will try to answer your question. Have a fun filled Thanksgiving.

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