Why does Thanksgiving weekend always seem to be the fastest long weekend of the year? And just like last year, we transition PDQ from Thanksgiving to Christmas ’round these parts.
But first, a look at the weekend that was.
Per usual, we hosted Thanksgiving at our house again this year. We started having it here after my mother-in-law died in 2007, and it’s been a work in progress ever since. We’re still new enough to it that we like to try out some new recipes but others are now in permanent rotation.
Last year, we made the switch to deep-frying our turkey. The process begins a couple days before with the making of the brine. Then, the bird takes a good, long bath. This year, DadJovi found a genius way of brining the bird through Alton Brown — a large drink cooler!
It’s the perfect little home for our turkey. It stays nice and cold all night long and I don’t have to try and wedge a bucket o’ brining turkey into my fridge all night. Genius, I tell you.
The night before Thanksgiving I made a new favorite — sweet potato casserole using this recipe from Short Stop. So fracking good. I’ve been eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner since Thanksgiving.
On Wednesday, I also traditionally roast chestnuts for my roasted chestnut and sausage cornbread stuffing, a recipe I’ve adapted from two Food Network recipes. This is my third year making it and I thought I had the roasting of the chestnuts down to a science. Guess not. About 10 minutes into the roasting, I heard two quick explosions in the oven. I quickly pulled them out, and as I started investigating the chestnuts to see if the Xs were deep enough, one exploded in my face. I had chestnut chunks all over the place (and in places one should not have chestnut chunks).
After re-Xing my chestnuts (not a fun process, especially since they were hot), I put them back in the oven. I had lost track of the cooking time during the explosions, so I was trying to guesstimate the remaining time. I guessed wrong. My precious chestnuts, which I braved Whole Foods for on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving were all burned up. And it was 5 p.m. The night before Thanksgiving. We were about to head back to Whole Foods when DadJovi used the chestnuts as an excuse to throw a new recipe in the mix — a new version of mashed potatoes that required a mandolin, a potato ricer and a salad spinner — none of which we had. So instead of WF, we hit Williams-Sonoma to pick up the new kitchen gadgets and the chestnuts. Sadly, the chestnuts were just a tad more expensive that the $4.50 I originally spent on chestnuts. OK, four times as expensive. Ugh.
They tasted nasty on their own but thankfully the finished product was still great. Also in the mix was cornbread, two kinds of sausage, onions, carrots, celery, apples, eggs, heavy cream and chicken stock. It’s the stuff of legends. Sadly, I have no picture of the finished product. Just use your imagination.
Using our new mandolin (which I’ve been wanting forever anyway), we sliced up the potatoes Wednesday night and set them to soak overnight in the fridge in a pot full of water.
I won’t bore you with all the potato steps but here’s the recipe if you’re interested. Honestly? I don’t know that we’ll do it that way again. The potatoes weren’t any more fluffy than usual (although I do dig the ricer and will use that instead of a masher). But cooking them in milk KILLED one of my pots and I have permanent shoulder damage from spending the past four days constantly scrubbing it with steel wool to get the burnt potato gunk out of the bottom. Hey, Alton, you owe me a pot.
The best part of deep-frying is a turkey is that you don’t have to start it until a couple hours before you’re ready to eat. Getting the bird into a pot of heated peanut oil is the tricky part.
Safety first! DadJovi keeps the fire extinguishers nearby for this part. Careful, careful, careful …
Can’t you just smell the deep-fried goodness?
While the dinner cooked, E and I got the table ready for our guests.
Since it’s a holiday, we broke out my late grandmother-in-law’s china and my in-laws’ silver. Now we were just ready for our guests to arrive!
As any host knows, the last hour before eating flies by in a blur. Before I knew it, everyone was lining up to fill their plates full of Thanksgiving goodness. This is the only picture I got of the food before we dug in. Oh well.
Yes, we even had a kids’ table!
The rest of the day was a food coma blur. Mmmm, Thanksgiving.
Friday did not involve any Black Friday shopping for us but it did include our SECOND viewing of this piece of awesomeness …
Eventually I’ll get around to posting about the many ways I love this movie but — spoiler alert — I’m borderline obsessed.
After the movie, we headed to our new favorite tree sellers to pick out our Christmas tree. It’s still a little weird to get a Christmas tree in a parking lot (my whole life, we always cut our own down) and while wearing flip flops and no jackets. But I’m not complaining, though!
And clearly any place is a good place to bust out some ballet.
Friday night, we headed over to our friends’ house in the ‘hood and pooled our leftovers for one big Leftoverpalooza. Thank God they invited us — as we started looking through our leftovers on Friday we came to a shocking realization — we had mistakenly sent home ALL OF THE TURKEY with our guests. We had none left. Nada. Zilch. I’m not going to lie — I may have briefly turned into Ross on that episode of Friends when someone stole is special post-Thanksgiving sandwich (with the moist-maker). It wasn’t pretty. Thankfully our friends didn’t judge when I basically stole all their turkey.
Saturday was Christmas day! We lugged all the decorations (six boxes worth now!) out of the garage and transformed our house into a Christmas wonderland.
This year, I even got E. her own tiny tree for her playroom. Of course she decided to fill it with pink and purple decorations that she picked out.
And yes, she also picked out ballet ornaments. Obsessed.
Going through all our ornaments is almost like Christmas for me. As I wrote about last year, we collect ornaments from all our travels. So unpacking them each year and hanging them up is like looking through a scrapbook.
Ahh, bring on the holidays!
We had one more thing planned for our Thanksmas weekend — checking out the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios.
I didn’t take too many pictures since I’ve already blogged about the lights here and here. Instead, we just spent a lot of time soaking in the show and enjoying the “snow fall” on the Streets of America. One thing that really stuck out to us this year is the canopy on the side street. Maybe we’ve just missed it before but it seemed even more spectacular that unusual.
Good stuff. Happy holidays!
Any cooking disasters (or triumphs!) at your Thanksgiving dinner? And are you a real tree or artificial tree household? And can you tell Alton Brown to buy me a new pot, please?
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