The very first Thanksgiving dinner I attempted did not go according to plan. Oh, I didn’t burn down the kitchen or give my family salmonella or anything dramatic like that, but I mistook cayenne pepper for paprika, which in Missouri is frowned upon, and all of the side dishes were ready a good three hours before the turkey, which didn’t come out of the oven until about 9 p.m.
By the time of last year’s meal, though, I was an old pro at the dinner thing. I had the cranberry sauce with orange peel and Cointreau gelling in the fridge the night before, the turkey was trussed and stuffed with aromatics by 10 a.m., and I even found time to whip up a batch of caramel apple French toast for my in-laws for breakfast. I do not mess around when it comes to holidays that celebrate food.
This Thanksgiving, I’m more excited than usual because it will be the inaugural Thanksgiving meal cooked in my in-laws’ completely remodeled kitchen. My mother-in-law and I get along remarkably well, due largely in part to the fact that we don’t step on each other’s toes. Sewing, baking, gift-wrapping, gardening, reupholstering large pieces of furniture: My mother-in-law is a whiz at these things, and I gladly let her do them. I will never even try to duplicate her luscious apple pie or sew my own curtains. But cooking is my biggest passion (well, right after grammar), so on Thanksgiving, she turns her kitchen over to me. The old kitchen was nice, but her redone kitchen is open and airy with fancy countertops and cabinets, and I can’t wait to concoct a holiday feast there.
After watching all of the thought and work that my in-laws put into their kitchen remodel, I have even more respect for the homeowners whose kitchens we’re featuring in this issue. All of these kitchens are very different, but I now know there was no decision concerning kitchen décor that was made lightly. The same, I am sure, is true of the bathrooms we’re showcasing. Each bathroom is luxurious, full of marble and designer fixtures and special touches. I know it’s a month for being thankful for what we have, but I must admit to having a touch of bathtub envy!
One thing for which I am most assuredly thankful, though, is the fact that I’m now in a climate in which it is completely appropriate to do a “garden” issue in November. The Metairie Club Gardens home of Heather and Bruce Burglass was built so that each room would have a wonderful view of the outside, highlighting their courtyard and gardens, which stay lush and green year-round.
More traditionally seasonal is our preview of the homes on the Preservation Resource Center’s 33rd Annual Holiday Home Tour. The houses aren’t yet festively decorated, but they’re still grand old New Orleans homes worthy of being celebrated, and we were too excited about this partnership to hold back until December. The tour has been a holiday tradition for decades, and we’re honored to play a role.
That’s the best thing about the holidays, the continuity that traditions bring, whether it’s going on the Holiday Home Tour or breaking out the good china. So many things can change year to year, and we have learned that all too well here in New Orleans over the past few years. Nevertheless, we are a city that clings to tradition, and I am as guilty of that as anyone. Hanging on to those rituals and customs makes the transition to new things and new spaces and huge unknowns a little easier. My in-laws might have a new kitchen, and my husband and I might be in New Orleans now, and my daughter might be on my hip while I’m mashing up sweet potatoes. But I will be cooking the same things I cook every year, and my mother-in-law will be making her famous apple pie.
On Nov. 5 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Botanical Garden’s Garden Study Center, Anne Baker, who runs an urban farm in Gentilly, will present Edible Organic Gardens for Fall: What, When, & How as part of the Botanical Garden Education Series. The cost of the program is $10. For more information, call 483-9473 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. As part of its Decorative Arts & Design Series, Longue Vue House & Gardens will present Historic to Haute: The Art of Decorating with Fabrics on Nov. 19 in a morning session from 10 a.m. to noon and an afternoon session from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The sessions are free and open to the public, but seating is limited. For information
or reservations, call 488-5488, extension 320, or e-mail email@example.com.