Its less than two weeks until Thanksgiving day and I'm currently more obsessed with making fish gratin than planning my Thanksgiving menu. I did just return from Iceland and I can't help but attempt to make things that I tasted there while they are still fresh in my memory - the major problem being - the fish in Seattle is not the fish of Iceland. So while the potatoes boil on the stove for yet another disappointing experiment it is time to get down to business and think about the traditional americana meal - otherwise known as Thanksgiving.
Last year I did a cajun spice dry brined turkey wrapped in a bacon grease soaked cheesecloth shroud. I took no "after" pictures, probably because of that wine you see sitting next to the bird, but this is a really good "before" shot. This year, 2015, Food & Wine published my fat soaked turkey shroud idea as a "mad genious tip"except their tip says to use melted butter. I say use bacon grease, you have got to cook bacon in the morning anyway for other things right? Why not soak some cheesecloth and wrap a turkey in it? Anyway I am madly torn on what to do to top my cajun spiced turkey other than just repeating it - declaring I have reach turkey recipe perfection.
This is a photo of the fireplace at my childhood home in 2012, the last time I was home for the holidays. I didn't know at the time that it would be the last time I was "home" for the holidays. My parents sold the house this summer and are currently enjoying retirement without a mortgage and visiting their grandchild and my sister in South Carolina. I'm from Northern Minnesota and currently my entire family lives in the South, my niece has a southern accent, it is kind of weird. But I'm dealing, and officially realize that my Thanksgiving in Seattle is no longer some form of play Thanksgiving where I am fiddling with a theme, but my Thanksgiving with my related and adopted family here where I currently call home, because there is no longer some greater concept of a permanent home to go to.
My partner is currently in Minnesota confronting his own concept of home as his mother ends her battle with cancer and his family home is no longer warmed by her presence. I hope he will be back in Seattle by Thanksgiving, but at times like this wants and desires are complicated things and we just have to let them be what they are. Meanwhile, I'm obsessing over the type of turkey to cook.
If there is not a road to home and happiness through the tongue and the stomach of humans then there is no hope. Taste and smell are the most memorable senses, smell in particular, but taste also brings up many a memory. There is a reason why people are very attached to their holiday meal plans. For me, this year will be about reinventing what is traditional for me - I will serve traditional ingredients with a healthy west coast creative twist such as a collard green salad with sweet potatoes, pan-fried organic brussel sprouts, mashed purple potatoes with garlic, carmelized root vegetables and green beans with mushrooms (otherwise known as green bean cassarole).
I have a can of jellied cranberry in the pantry but it will be served with a bed of pomegranite as a decorative irony (if Evan is back he will probably eat it). Writing this post I've decided to create my own dry brine recipe including the favorite spices of Paprika Angel - lavender, sweet paprika, coriander, curry leaf, my very own sage and bay leaf and others that make sense for a bacon grease shrouded bird. I will also make seafoam salad in honor of traditional twentieth century Minnesotan womanly ingenuity - the art of taking multiple processed food items and turning them into something new. Mine will feature fresh pears and fresh organic goat cheese instead of miracle whip however (just wait for the recipe).
I will not reinvent Thanksgiving, or myself, but I look forward to the gathering of friends and loved ones where I can exercise my power of bringing people together over food and enjoy the moment in gratitude. We shall all make a home for ourselves in the moment, and find therein the joy of connectedness with our fellow humans that make this holiday not about the food, but about how we spend it with the people around us.