Thanksgiving Feast 2013
As a food fanatic, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday…..well, Christmas ranks right up there too. But Thanksgiving means I get to spend at least 2 days of doing nothing but cooking, and 2-3 days afterwards of feasting and lounging around. What a wonderful time of year! And this year it was even more meaningful because it was Sadie’s and my first Thanksgiving together as husband and wife. To celebrate, we had her entire family over to our house for a Bald Gourmet duet of gourmet deliciousness. I’m so blessed and grateful to have Sadie and her family in my life. Thanks to the welcoming arms of Sadie’s family, this year’s Thanksgiving was one of the best I’ve ever had. I only wish that my own family lived a little closer so they could have enjoyed the day with us as well. Such is life. Now, without further ado, here’s how The Bald Gourmet does Thanksgiving:
How to Set a Great Thanksgiving Table
This is really Sadie’s department, but my taste is in harmony with hers. Our square table seats 8, which happened to be the exact number of people we were serving. Our high square table is nice, but a longer rectangular table would have been just as good. Sadie found a nice fall pre-made centerpiece on sale a couple weeks ago, and her mom made a great fall colored table runner to match it. We used wine glasses for drinks, one for sparkling cider, and a second for water at each plate. We used Sadie’s mother’s fine silver and gold flatware, and my extra-large charger sized white porcelain plates. But the real kicker that Sadie came up with were little white pumpkins painted with each dinner guests name on them to act as place holders for our seating arrangement. There were so adorable and oddly classy!
Sharing Thanksgiving Gratitude
Sadie’s family has a wonderful tradition of passing a “gratitude” turkey around the table prior to eating. The concept is that each person shares what they are most thankful for this year as they are handed the gratitude turkey. It’s a wonderful tradition, and really is what Thanksgiving is all about. Each of us seemed to be the most grateful for family and friends. There really weren’t any mentions of jobs, cars, houses, money, or other material things. There were just teary expressions of thankfulness for those that we love. I’m so grateful for my own family. My parents are wonderful people that raised me well, taught me good values and faith in God, how to work, and how to love. My siblings have always shown open arms of love for their little brother. And my dear friends have sacrificed so much for me during my times of need, and have been huge pillars of light to keep me on clean paths. I’m grateful for each and every one of these good people in my life. But this year, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for Sadie and her kindness and love, as well as her wonderful family who has welcomed me into their fold with such love and kindness. I’m am so blessed to have these two families in my life.
After we all expressed our thanks, I asked Sadie’s dad to offer a prayer and blessing on the food. If you don’t do this in your family on Thanksgiving, I encourage you to do so next year, as it completes the circle of thankfulness and helps bring everyone closer together.
A Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
About 10-years ago, I was watching Food Network and Wolfgang Puck was cooking Thanksgiving. He made a beautiful brined turkey and pan gravy that I just had to try. That year, I made it for Thanksgiving, and it has remained my “bird of choice” ever since, despite my continual experimentation with other recipes and concepts. Knowing just how good his brined bird is, there was little doubt that it would be what I served this year for Sadie and her family. It was a huge hit!
Wolfgang’s brine is a bit pricey to make, but Thanksgiving only comes around once a year so why not go for it? Besides, you can brine chickens or pork chops in it afterwards if you’d like. The brine makes the bird succulently moist, and the spices and strong flavors in it season every ounce of meat on the bones. So so delicious! Here’s the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wolfgang-puck/brined-roast-turkey-with-pan-gravy-recipe/index.html.
We all love turkey leftovers, so Sadie’s parents made a turkey as well. But rather than a whole roasted turkey, Sadie’s mom made a boned and rolled turkey that their family loves. It is a recipe from Martha Stewart, and it is fantastic! Moist, browned, and flavorful, with a tasty meat stuffing inside. I recommend it. Here’s the recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/318250/boned-rolled-and-tied-turkey.
Exceptional Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be, well, Thanksgiving dinner if not for all the wonderful high calorie sides to pair with the turkey. We stuck with the most traditional this year, but made sure each was as delectable as it could be. Saide’s sister-in-law, Violet, made some amazing super soft rolls.
Sadie made her awesome thin-sliced Brussels sprouts with bacon, an apple and sausage stuffing, and her fantastic sweet potato dish.
I made a terrific fresh green bean casserole I found online at http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/11/18/classic-green-bean-casserole-recipe/ that I used some wild hedgehog mushrooms in, as well as my famous fluffy mashed potatoes.
We also enjoyed some French cheeses, an assortment of pickles, and some home-made cranberry sauce. Everything was beautiful served family style. The smells were intoxicating and we couldn’t hardly wait to dive in!
Best Thanksgiving Pies
True to Thanksgiving form, we ate until we were in pain and then retired to the couches and floor. After several hours of recovery, it was time to dive into our spectacular holiday pies and desserts. Sadie and I worked hard on these pies, spending nearly 4 hours the previous night baking them. Each was exquisite, and I cannot recommend them highly enough.
The Salted Apple Caramel Pie came from Saveur magazine, and was about the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted. Crunchy, sweet, and full of great warm spices. It’s caramel sauce was perfect and even kept its consistency!
The Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie was very tasty, had a silky texture, and gave me the opportunity to break out the blow touch to harden a sugar topping. Awesome! The recipe came from bon appétit Magazine http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bruleed-bourbon-maple-pumpkin-pie. We used my regular Perfect Pie Crust instead of the chocolate crust they suggested, because we thought it sounded better.
The Quince Pie was unique and DELICIOUS! We made it just like a basic apple pie but with twice the cinnamon and nutmeg to hold up against the strong quince flavor. It was one of the best pies I’ve ever had. I’m now going to have to find a local quince source. We got these from my uncle Mike back in my home town on our last mushroom trip visit in Washington.
Sadie’s sister, Markie, wanted to contribute a Harry Potter inspired trifle dessert to the mix. Her choice was a pound cake, cream, and lemon curd masterpiece which was over the top tasty. Here’s the recipe: http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/533841.
All in all, it was a wonderful day with wonderful food and wonderful new family. I love Thanksgiving, and I love all the things that make it great. Thank you for reading.
The Bald Gourmet shares his day of Thanksgiving of 2013.
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