Tuesday, 22 November 2011
The Varieties of Thanksgivings
It really is the nicest of our holidays, isn't it. It is quiet as opposed to noisy (Independence Day). There are no gifts to obsess over (Christmas) unless bringing dessert counts. And you don't have to stand outside freezing your butt off waiting for THE moment (New Year).
Family and food are the centerpieces of Thanksgiving and I have always liked the preparation. Some years, living far from relatives, I held the dinner at my place for other lost or stranded souls. We always had a good time. From the late 1980s until about five years ago when I left New York, I always spent Thanksgiving with friends in rural Pennsylvania – a huge family – most years there were 30 or more people for dinner covering four generations.
This year, as last, my brother and his wife are coming to dinner for the second Thanksgiving in a row. After a lifetime living on separate coasts, we are creating some new family rituals.
President Barack Obama will not be the only person pardoning a turkey. I've settled on a leg of lamb this time and readying the dinner has been underway for several days.
On Monday, I took my knives to Carl, the man who sharpens them at Wizer's market two or three times a year and I hard boiled the eggs for the chopped chicken liver I'll make on Wednesday.
Today, I'll do the last-minute shopping including fresh crab (the season is just beginning here) for a dip, fresh mint for the sauce and fresh rosemary for the lamb.
Tomorrow it gets busier. First, I'll prepare the marinade and set the lamb in it for 24 hours. Then there are the crab dip and the chopped liver to make so the flavors have a day to blend. I can also cook the pureed, minted peas so I need only to heat them on Thursday – they, too, will benefit from a night in the fridge.
I'll go through my checklist to see that I really do have the Brussels sprouts, potatoes, carrots, wine and anything else I want to go with the lamb. Then I'll shop for what's missing and write out a cooking/preparation schedule for Thursday.
Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, I will polish the silver, choose the necessary serving dishes and set the table. That part always pleases me.
There isn't much to do on Thanksgiving Day except follow the prep schedule so everything is ready at about the same time. Plus – watch the Macy's parade on television although now that I'm on the west coast that happens earlier in the morning than it does for east coast people.
Many years ago, in the 1970s, I was assigned by the TV show I worked for to produce some live interviews at the parade starting point near the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West. I recall that the morning was cold, rainy and miserable and that the most famous celebrity I could find was Big Bird.
And yes, I actually carried on a conversation with him – or is it her? I've definitely moved up in the world since then.
Tell us about your Thanksgiving – now or in the past.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Alone at Last!