Food, Glorious Food
I don’t write about food all that much; I generally leave that to my husband while I stick to writing about what I know best: my kids, social anxiety, general awkwardness, neuroses, my crazy family, New Orleans, and stuff I read on Facebook.
But right now, we are coming up on my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, and my husband opted to write about crepes for his weekly blog, which means I have the stage to talk Thanksgiving menus with everyone!
Tim McNally already discussed wines in his blog, so I’m not broaching that topic (except to say that I am strongly pro-wine), but I do have lots and lots of thoughts about what I want to make and eat this Thanksgiving.
Breakfast can get overlooked on Thanksgiving, but I like to feed my kids a big meal in the morning to keep them from whining at me until the big meal is ready. I have made this caramel apple French toast casserole (I leave out the raisins because they are Satan’s candy, as far as I’m concerned, and I do not allow them in my home) for the past several years, and it’s been a big hit – I make it the night before with the same dried bread I use for stuffing; the only tricky part is finding space in the jampacked fridge to store it overnight.
I like to do a soup course before the meal. It’s almost always overkill because Robert and I tend to get overexcited and make way too many side dishes as it is, but I really like starting the meal with soup. Over the years, I’ve made a chilled carrot and ginger and a very rich oyster and artichoke, but for the past few years, I’ve settled on a pumpkin and black bean soup, which is sort of sweet and sort of Tex-Mexy and is not too heavy to interfere with dinner.
I don’t do anything special to the turkey. Since I made my first turkey in 2003, I’ve tried brining it and basting it and stuffing it with aromatics and rubbing compound butters under the skin – and now I really don’t do a damn thing to it beyond drizzling it with melted butter and sprinkling it with salt and pepper. It always tastes good to me.
Stuffing/dressing: I have made oyster dressing before, but I think I did it wrong because it was fine but not amazing by any means. I only ever made it once. I like to make a boring traditional celery-sage-onion stuffing.
Mashed potatoes: I don’t use a recipe for these, but I do use at least a full stick of butter.
Sweet potatoes: Another full stick of butter goes into these, along with a splash of heavy cream and a healthy glug of bourbon.
Cranberry conserve: I have made a cranberry-orange relish for the past 10 years, but I saw a recipe for cranberry conserve on Barefoot Contessa that I am considering for this year. It looks a lot like the one I already make except that it uses lemon in addition to orange and also adds Granny smith apples (and raisins, but see above).
Brussels sprouts: We’ve made these all kinds of ways, but I think my favorite was roasted with bacon and shallots and then topped with lemon and Parmesan.
I always make a sour cherry pie, but this year, I will probably add pumpkin pie, too, because it’s Ruby’s favorite. Both real whipped cream and vanilla ice cream are musts here.
The Next Day
Maybe even more than I love cooking for Thanksgiving, I love making gumbo from the turkey carcass the next day. I have used this recipe for as long as I can remember (I leave out the shrimp because they are Satan’s crustacean, as far as I’m concerned, and I do not allow them in my home).
I am sure there will be a few other additions to our holiday table as inspiration strikes – my mom always makes fresh bread; and my husband makes amazing salads and these really delicious creamed turnips; and even Ruby has a recipe that she wants to help me try, a copycat version of Panera’s mac and cheese. I also am curious about mirliton casserole; it sounds delicious except that I cannot find a single recipe that doesn’t pair it with shrimp. If you have a shrimp-free one – or any other recipes you’d like to share – I’d love to read it in the comments or in an email.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!