Axe-ceptable Losses

Team Axe-ceptable Losses

They brought in a ringer from Boston. I hear he’s wicked smaht! And they then went on to win the whole tournament. Dan and Dave cleaned up at the Carcosa Club in tony Williamsburg yesterday, playing Warhammer 40K. The boyz were planning this rendezvous over Thanksgiving. I’m glad everything turned out so well for them. 40k is a fun game to play, but it’s even more acceptable to win!

Closer to home, what ya got cooking? For breakfast, my go to dish—avocado toast was augmented this week, by an early seasonal present from Monsieur C. Like an X-Man, he put the X-mas back into Christmas with some of his tasty, homemade, smoked and oven-roasted San Marzano tomatoes. They were served as a side, like bacon, only they’re better for you.

For dinner, I crock-potted some beef stew. Which we’ll be having it for dinner all week-long. This will clear the boards nicely for my annual foray into cookie making for Smokin’ Joe’s holiday cookie party. Last year, I mimicked Mr. C’s gift and made visions of sugar plums dance in their heads. C had included a recipe for them and they turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself. I could reprise them or the filo fruit cups that were featured earlier this week, but I’m thinking that I’ll make gingerbread men, with emoji expressions instead.

Opt-Outside

5 Sides in 1

It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. A combination of cranberries, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes and biscuits. The fridge is now full of plastic boxes, but I still had to make a morning grocery run, for things that we forgot or ran out of.

That was the extent of our Black Friday shopping. Just west of us is the heart of commerce in the form of Galleria and its sprawling ancillary strip-malls that for the next month are a no-go zone.

Instead, we opted-out, outside that is and celebrated Bird instead of Black Friday. Dave accompanied up to the Riverlands, which he had never visited before. We didn’t see too many birds, a few swans and one Bald eagle. We drove down to Ted Jones State Park and showed him the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. It is always impressive to see the ’93 high water mark. For lunch, we headed over to Alton and dined at My Just Desserts, where you always order your pie first. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Surtout de Table (Table Centerpiece), Pierre-Philippe Thomire, 1810

On this day it is a common enough meme to post a photo of one’s spread. These groaning board shots say less about giving thanks than of the day’s gluttony. In this spirit of one-upmanship, I must admit that I’ve been guilty of this practice too. Not for redemption, but to go one better, I offer this pic of a centerpiece at the Cooper Hewitt née the Carnegie Mansion. It was once a wedding gift from Napoleon Bonaparte. Now top that if you can!

Today’s menu began with my go to breakfast dish, avocado toast, leavened with a pound of bacon. We got the bird in the oven before noon, if not before kickoff. Our geriatric gas stove, with its finicky electronic ignition is on for the duration. Its ignition only works when the stove is cold. Once lit, it must remain so, or we have to wait until it goes cold again.

In addition to turkey, dinner’s menu includes Anne’s “Basque” dressing and gravy. Our experiment for today is a bit of a portmanteau, five Thanksgiving sides in one pan. The fab five are sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and to keep the other four separated, an intricate levee system of biscuits. To get these five to cook well together, we first nuked the potatoes, and froze the cranberries and beans. It should be interesting.

Rounding out our cuisine is a pomegranate salad sans romaine. Anne scratch made a pumpkin, pecan and ginger pie yesterday. It is almost time to breakout the champagne and hors d’oeuvres and get this feast underway. This post should be published at about the same time that the turkey is ready to pop. I hope that everything turns out alright. I hope that your Thanksgiving is a good one too. 

Too Many Cooks

Almost Turkey Time

Two is not Too Many Cooks, at least in our kitchen. Anne and I spent the better part of the day in that room working well together. I would sort of spell myself with the occasional run to the grocery store, where every revisit was met with even more shopper than last time. It there was too much of anything, it was too many shoppers at Schnucks. Today, other than being chief dish and bottle washer, my main accomplishment was seeding the pomegranates, two, which was too many, but once the one we bought went bad and we ended up with none. One Christmas past, Anne and I made a little movie about seeding our pomegranate called Persephone’s Pomegranate, an allusion to the cycle of the seasons. Today’s photo is also a bit of a throwback, from almost ten years ago. I was bicycling along the Riverfront Trail and spied a flock of turkeys. They were down by the Mississippi River, while I was up on top of the levee. It has never been published before and has been Photoshopped in honor of the bird.

Out on the Town

Manhattan at Night

The high holidays draw nigh. The NPR Morning Edition host signed off today with a holiday wish. Meaning, Thanksgiving is less than a week away. How did it sneak up on me, while I wasn’t paying any attention? Oh yeah, I wasn’t paying any attention. Closer to home, Dan flies in tomorrow. Dave will follow him on Tuesday and we’ll be a whole family again.

This so-called cooking holiday will hardly be a holiday from the kitchen at all. It usually entails an all-day cooking event. To that end, feeding the hungry masses, I reenacted my regular Saturday morning ritual of fixing breakfast. I went with my current go-to, avocado toast. It has evolved over time to its current higher plane. Almost lost are its original Kaldi’s roots, almost, but not quite. I still use Siracha Mayo as garnish. It’s really pretty simple, which works for me. One avocado, lemon and I’ve added a small tomato. Seasoned to taste and mixed all together into a green paste. I’ve long since dispensed with toast and have since converted to toaster naan. Today, I added Atlantic smoked salmon, with capers. It was a rousing success, if I do say so myself and was met with rave reviews. I think that I’ll be revisiting this dish on Thursday morning.

I got to say that since I have retired, I have become a better cook, not to crow all about it. Caw! Caw! Caw! I know, get some new material. Thanksgiving though is a team effort. It’s just too much for one person to handle and too much to accomplish in just one day. It seems too much for only one meal, but then you are forgetting about leftovers, which could last a week or at least the weekend. 

Speaking of eating, which this post seems to be all about, we went out last night. Originally, I wanted to go to Peno Soul Food, a new southern Italian pizzeria but it was slammed. The other Italian place across the street was a definite no-go, because at noon, it had a huge honey-dipper truck, sucking something out of it.

We ended up at Avenue and shared a few small plates for dinner: pumpkin ravioli, mushroom ragout and spinach salad. This left plenty of room for dessert and we doubled-down, with apples for Olivia, a signature puff pastry filled with pine nut pastry cream, topped with honey-roasted apples, served with apple sorbet and a lemon tart with fruit. We both liked the tart the best.

Also dining was a nuclear family. Mom and dad separated bro and sis, but that was hardly necessary, because both children were enraptured by each their own movie playing notebooks, accompanied with bulky headphones. Sis had pink ones. It was bad enough to see the two enraptured in the lead-up, but they continued their mesmerizing pleasures after the food was served and throughout the meal and I thought that iPhones at the table were bad enough. Of which I am guilty of using, but I feel really, really bad about it.