Tis the season… to go partying! Last night, we attended Anne’s seasonal social gathering for teachers at the Southtown Pub. No kids allowed. It was too loud and was difficult to hold a conversation. We didn’t stay very long. Tonight, we attend Smokin’ Joe’s Christmas cookie party. As prep I made gingerbread men to share. One of them ended up with a hot foot. The excuse for this party is to make more cookies, but for me the social aspects are the main draw. It will be good to see some of my former co-workers again and catch-up on office gossip. Every year, more and more of the attendees are retired, like me. Making such gossip increasingly rare and harder to come by.
Our holiday travel plans continue to gel. Anne and I will be driving ourselves to Ann Arbor. The boys are both flying into Detroit, which will entail multiple trips to the airport. Pickups and weather could cause some scheduling jiggle.
I continue planning and booking (as openings appear) our summer road trip. I’ve got us heading west through Denver and Vegas to Monterey. Currently, I’m working my way north along the coast, with eventual plans for San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Then I’ll be looking at working our way east again. The big question that is yet to be decided is whether or not we first return home or go directly to the cabin. We’ll want the bikes there this year and getting them up there without first swinging home again would require some travel gymnastics, but would not be impossible to workout. I hope.
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.
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.
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.
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.