This week's schedule of blogs:
Monday - Thanksgiving Fashion for the Table and Me by Heather
Tuesday - Food by Ann
Wednesday - Thanksgiving by Sheila
Thursday - Thanksgiving by Ann
Friday - Fun by Sheila
November 19, 2012
The house is filled with the aroma of roasting turkey parts, quartered yellow onions, celery ribs, and carrots as I do the first steps in preparing homemade stock. Two things on my must-do list each Thanksgiving: make my own stock to use in gravy and brine at least one of the turkeys. We generally have dueling turkeys -- Tom does one; I do the other. At the end of the meal, an informal vote is taken as to who made the best turkey. Last year, Tom used a dry rub, I did a liquid brine, and we both inserted a mixture of butter and herbs under the skin before roasting the birds -- I think the contest ended in a tie. In addition, for added flavor, we always stuff the birds. My recipe is usually a traditional mix of sauteed fresh mushrooms, onion, celery, sausage, and seasoned bread cubes while his is something more esoteric. And, we always do a batch on the side for those who prefer their stuffing outside the bird.
Here are the roasted turkey parts fresh from an hour in the oven at 450 degrees. I'll use the pan juices to roast the quartered onions and cut celery and carrots for thirty minutes. Using a disposable roasting pan is one way to cut down on the mountains of clean-up ahead of me.
Once the veggies are done roasting, they get added to the turkey parts in a stockpot with four quarts of water, fresh sage leaves, and salt and pepper. This mixture is left to simmer for two hours after which I discard the meat and veggies, and store the savory broth in the freezer until it's needed.
As the stock is simmering, I get the table ready for Thanksgiving dinner. This year, we will have 14 adults (family and friends) and two children, with another two adults joining us for dessert. Long-time friends Rol and Susan always stop by on their way home to say hello and get a bite of Marianne's chocolate pecan pie and Ken's homemade peach cobbler a la mode.
Each person brings something for the feast. In addition to the desserts, people are bringing side dishes and appetizers. Tom and I provide the turkeys, the potatoes and gravy, and the stuffing. Our beverages will include a cocktail upon arrival (one that I saw on the Today Show -- caramel-infused vodka with a shot of espresso to counteract the effects of the turkey, and/or Prosecco with pomegranate juice and fresh pom seeds), a nice Pinot Noir with dinner, and a cup of hot tea (or more wine) with the desserts.
My dining room table seats eight comfortably (well, "comfortably" might be a stretch) so I'm grateful that the forecast is for sunny skies with temps in the low 80s on Thanksgiving Day. I'll put six of the adults at the table on the patio and the two preschoolers at their own little table.
The inside table looks like this:
The 19th century glazed pot, the candlesticks, the hurricane lantern, and the little concrete books are all from my favorite interior/garden store, "On the Veranda" (ontheveranda.net), located in the Arcadia area of the Valley of the Sun. If you ever get the chance, please pay a visit to the store and meet the two lovely ladies who own it. Diane and Sharron are so warm and friendly and their store is a fabulous treasure trove of antiques and other items for your garden and your home. Golden pumpkin candles and a battery-operated string of mercury glass pumpkins from Pottery Barn along with real pumpkins and glass-beaded vines surround the centerpiece. Glittering leaves in fall colors are suspended from the chandelier above the table.
Two burlap runners criss-cross the table and the vintage English Staffordshire plates rest on faux pewter chargers. Real pewter stems and flatware flank each place setting. Pears are used as place cards (cut-out card stock with a gold pin) and they perch on Pottery Barn leaf dishes. A funny aside, my outdoor tablescape below was particularly inviting to the local bird population: the pesky pigeons pecked my perched pear place cards. Perhaps they were pleased with the pear nectar but I wasn't so happy with the pits left by their pecking!
The outside table:
I used a burlap drapery panel as a tablecloth (bought two panels and really thought they would look good on the windows in the family room, but not so much...), then layered a Pottery Barn (jeez, I love that store) autumn-themed runner over it with matching napkins. Going casual here with wicker chargers, white plates, amber stems, mason jars wrapped in twine with orange-striped straws, and for a little bit of elegance, sterling silver flatware.
Now, what to wear? I was going to wear this:
Mustard and grey fox sweater (Nordstrom), grey corduroy pants (Ann Taylor), grey scarf with mustard stars (Target), grey purse (Michael Kors), grey and gold watch (Michael Kors), suede mustard boots (old)
But the forecast for Thanksgiving is warmer than normal, and I will be slaving over a hot stove...so the 'what to wear' question is still out there. It has to be something that's somewhat cool, easy to wear (that means loose enough for waist expansion -- it is Thanksgiving, after all!), and coordinate with comfortable shoes. I must have something...time to shop the closet.
How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along? Share your ideas with me, please -- I'm always on the hunt for tablescape and fashion inspiration!