Wednesday, November 22, 2006

London Bridge is falling down.

I am not sure what it is about this time of year, but it brings out my ailments. Last weekend it was a mysterious and previously unsuffered stomach ailment (thank heavens for the PP, willing to venture out to the Kangaroo Mart circa 2 a.m. in search of meds) followed the next day by Super Sinus Headache. What a mostest hostess I made. This weekend it's the one-two punch of the shoulder on my right side and my right calf. And no, this is not the shoulder that bothered me last month, although my massage therapist points out that it continues to be a disaster, just more quietly now. No, this is the other shoulder, which I injured last night--are you ready for this?--erasing a white board. Yes friends, I have reached the point in life where I cannot risk such a task without hurting myself. Then thanks to Jacques Monod sleeping around my legs during the night, and my trying to move around her, I awoke suddenly (c. 3:30 a.m.) with a killer calf cramp. Curses!

But that has not slowed down the Thanksgiving dinner preparations, no no no. I have had the wine purchased for several days now (and not drunk any of it, thank you very much.) I got a fresh free-range drug-free turkey from the poultry students, picking it up on Monday. Trips to the state farmers market and various groceries got all the ingredients I could think of. Those who know me well know that several forgotten items will reveal their identities tomorrow, just in time for Substitutions R Us.

Now's just the cooking. So far the cranberries are done (and the PP found some of the freshest cranberries I have seen this side of a Maine bog at the Marché Frais today), the giblet stock is made, the sausage (fresh Italian variety--yummy) for the stuffing is cooked, the pomegranate seeds are removed from their membrane home (for serving as aperitivo in the prosecco, just to insure that all my guests have to spend half the year in this part of the world), the beautiful bread for the stuffing is drying, and I just remembered I need to get the white wine chillin (like Bob Dylan, natch).

And that is about all that can be done until tomorrow, when I'll chop vegetables to roast with rosemary and olive oil, get the bird ready for its final suntan, peel the potatoes (and not put the peels down the disposal this year) for mashing, and make the stuffing. Other guests are bringing dessert and appetizers, which means that as far as I can tell, things are under control.


All to say, we are well on our way to a Thanksgiving dinner that can't be beat. I hope you are, too. Here are some good reminders from the Gurgling Cod:
The LA Times has a detailed story on the definitively best way to cook a turkey. This bird seems to bring out a lot of this kind of thing, suggesting perhaps that the turkey is not, inherently, delicious. News flash: it does not matter.* Poach the damn thing in Proseco, put it in a hammock lined with George Foreman grills, or go sous vide, as your tradition and preference move you. I said it before, but it bears repeating -- the excellent thing about this holiday, and the reason why today so many of us will be cooling our heels in Mpls, Atlanta, Detroit , Charlotte, Denver, or Pittsburgh airports, pondering the second 20oz draft, while keeping an ear cocked for any information on the status of the flight home -- is that it is about the asses in the seats around the table, not what's on the table. If you are giving thanks for your $15/lb-studied-Sanskrit-at-Wesleyan-heritage-turkey, or that you'll be able to watch the Lions, Cowboys, and the Bayou Classic on a plasma screen TV, you are missing the point. Count yourself blessed for the people at your table, raise a glass to those who are not, and pour out a bottle or two of the nouveau for those irredeemably absent. It is, if you do it correctly, a holiday about hanging out with people you love, eating food, and watching football on television. With attorneys in Santa suits already revving their Harleys for the inevitable toys-for-tots rides that a sheen of altruism on the naked consumerism of the Christmas season, I encourage you to spend this weekend focused on gluttony and sloth, and leave the greed until December.

I'll be feeling grateful for my family and friends who can be here and also for those of you who are too far away to break bread together. To you, I raise a glass to say (with feeling), Come on in it's around the back, just a half a mile from the railroad track....

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