When I started bringing home the groceries on Monday and Doc saw the bottles of bubbly, white flour, and bags of brown sugar he asked, quite seriously, “Are we even gonna make it to Thanksgiving?”
I am cooking this year. Because I have five gallons of sourdough starter and company coming who loves her cinnamon rolls (Auntie Awesome, that is) I thought that homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls for the morning after Thanksgiving and a couple of massive loaves of homemade bread were in order. And I turned most of that homemade bread into homemade stuffing. So, did everyone else know that not only can you buy bread to tear into pieces to make your homemade stuffing with…(wait for it…) apparently you can also buy bags of pre-cut seasoned bread cubes just for making stuffing with. In some cultures, they even make boxed stuffing. So yes, I must be nuts. But I did it anyway, of course.
I think they look like cinnamon roses.
Then, since there were only going to be five of us I thought I would save myself some trouble and only make one pie: Pumpkin pie. My grandma’s pie, which she learned from her mother-in-law my great-grandmother, after whom I named my oldest daughter. (Yes, the pie is that good.) So OBVIOUSLY I have to make grandma’s/great-grandma’s/Bear’s pumpkin pie. It’s my favorite and the company’s favorite, and the kids love it, and it’s totally traditional. But then Dr. Awesome walked around for a week with an unawesome sad face (seriously) because he wouldn’t be getting his favorite Maple Syrup pie. (We are not Canadian. But sometimes I think we could be.) It’s not hard to make. I have offered to teach him to make it himself several times, in order to help me, you know, with the whole cooking the feast thing. He just sighs a little sigh and lets a little silence sink in for a while and says something like, “It’s OK. I’m sure I’ll like the pumpkin. You should make what you want.” Pregnant silence. “I’ll have it next year, right?” SO OF COURSE I HAD TO MAKE THE DAMN SYRUP PIE.
After pumpkin, I prefer the pecan pie I grew up with. The maple pie tastes a lot like a pecan pie without the pecans. So one year I thought I would compromise, and I added the pecans I like to Doc’s favorite pie. I now call that The Year I Almost Ended My Marriage. Anyway…
Monday I broke out that 5 lb bag of All-Purpose Flour, and I used the WHOLE THING. I haven’t yet settled on a name for my starter, but I am considering whatever it was they called the alien plant monster from Little Shop of Horrors. “FEED ME, SEYMORE!” is what it was screaming. It ate the whole bag, and burped out a bread sponge so massive it had to go in my crock-pot (just for storage) and a roll of cinnamon-sugar-butter-laden sweetness as long as my counter. Dr. A and I watched a PBS documentary called The Pilgrims, and I wasn’t so sure I wanted to celebrate any more.
Tuesday I made that sponge into two massive and majorly delicious loaves of bread. I also broke the news to my mother that I was using sourdough in the stuffing this year, and she paused for a moment of silence while she considered if she ought to disown me. I put the kids to work raking up big piles of leave to re-scatter all over the yard. And I read about five million ways to brine a turkey. Then, Bitsy gave herself a yogurt facial.
Gotta look good for Thanksgiving.
Wednesday was the big prep day. In keeping with the low sugar theme, I made some absolutely rockin’ cranberry sauce using 2/3 cup apple juice, a chopped gala apple, a skinned and chopped Bartlett pear, 8 ounces of cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and finished off with only a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar. (Pictured below before the cranberries were added. I wanted the apples to soften first.)
Then I tasted it, and thought maybe I could have even skipped the brown sugar, it was so good. I’m particularly proud of that sauce because I thought of it all by myself, no Googling involved. The kids were not so convinced.
(I am a good cook, but a lousy photographer. It must be too much like cleaning.)
I then put the kids to work cleaning and tearing homemade sourdough bread into small pieces for stuffing. The turkey got put into brine, and after bedtime (because I am not an idiot) I made two pies, chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, and watched the first half of Salem Witch Trials on Amazon Prime. You know, to be me back in a Thanksgiving mood. Dear God, this year, I am so thankful that I am not a pilgrim, or a Puritan, or a woman living in the 1690s. Amen.
Now it is Thanksgiving, and I have written too much. I have a turkey to baste, and gravy to make, and (a husband to convince) potatoes to mash. HAPPY THANKSGIVING to one and all!