My brother was unable to make it home for Thanksgiving this year, so this photo-, cinema-, and orthographic recounting of the day’s triumphs and failures is dedicated to him. Until Christmas, hermano.
There were ingredients. And they were beautiful. Multi-grain and country loaves from Seven Stars Bakery; butternut squash from Allen’s Farm in Westport, MA; honey from Farmacy Herbs. This was my first year prepping in collaboration with my mom. I felt so...adult.
In The Beginning...
And The Ingredients Became Digestible (well, most of them)...
1) Homemade stuffing made with diced apples, onion, rosemary, local honey, kosher salt and pepper. Oh, and lots of butter. My one gripe: I didn’t have any fresh rosemary on hand to use in this dish, like I did when I made this dish for Friendsgiving last week (to much approbation). I substituted this dried rosemary/garlic blend instead and I wasn’t cray-cray about the results. Neither were my relatives. It made the stuffing taste...empty? Lesson learned.
2) Butternut squash with local honey, nutmeg, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and my secret ingredient: cayenne pepper. This was a hit, with a kick.
3) Hummus from scratch (chick peas, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, tahini). Another hit.
4) Sigur Rós, which I introduced to my mom and we spent the whole day enjoying. If five years ago you had told me that one day I would be listening to Icelandic post-rock in my mother’s kitchen while we cooked Thanksgiving dinner together, well, I just may have believed you. But, nonetheless, it was pretty smashing to mellow, create, and confect with mom.
My mom took care of the rest of the spread (her juiciest turkey to date, thanks to a new tip about how to slice; spinach casserole, a personal fav; plain stuffing for my dad because he won't eat anything remotely exotic/creative; creamed corn; and pumpkin mousse from her culinary bible: Cooking Light magazine (this is not to be confused with her actual bible, which is a King James)). Clearly she bore the brunt of the work. But we had fun, and my participation in the preparation precluded me from cleaning up
afterwards (sorry Dad!) (sorry NY Times Style Guide!).
afterwards (sorry Dad!) (sorry NY Times Style Guide!).
And The Matriarchs Said Funny Things...
Favorite quote of the day, from my mom, in all seriousness, recounting a recent guest on the Oprah show: "Jeremy, you know who I'm talking about – that gay guy who works in fashion?" I'm sorry mom, you'll have to be more specific.
Runner up, from my 84-year old, 13-year widowed, one-lunged grandmother, on oxygen: “Tom Selleck can put his boots under my bed any day.” My mother concurred. This was before grandma dipped her nose and breathing tube in whipped cream.
And In The Second Hour We Took Some Family Shots...
And Grandma Said, “Let Us Play Oh Hell”...
Oh Hell is a card game that my family began playing at holidays years ago when all of the cousins, aunts, uncles, et al. still gathered in one large celebratory cohort, before everyone found their own families, kids, balls-and-chain. But luckily, somehow, over the years, with the attrition of families from the holidays (and perhaps on account of it), my immediate family has adopted this as our game: playing not only at the holidays, but at practically every other convergence of four or more in our house.
I won’t bore with a rundown of the rules of Oh Hell. That’s what the interweb is for. The one thing I will say is that there exist myriad methods to keeping score. We use a variation of the “Exact scoring with penalty” method. Dad won the game, with his usual apoplectic fits when someone inadvertently made him miss his bid by playing what he viewed as an idiotic, or misinformed, move. This is what the holidays was missing: conflict! Also per usual, this game has the uncanny and totally predictable ability to: elicit the more feisty side of my grandmother (I’ve only ever heard her swear during Oh Hell); provoke my mother and father into petty, but adorable, arguments about whose deal it is, how much someone had bid earlier, and what experimental dinner recipes from earlier in the evening should be burned; and call forth a riotous and bellowing laugh from Aunt Donna, usually at her own expense (as a consequence of her Oh Hell-naïveté).
Conspicuously absent from this Thanksgiving session was my brother’s uncanny ability to recite the probability of what cards remained in the deck, how many of each suit were most likely to be out, and the enigmatic “poker” speak that usually peppers his side conversations with my father. These conversations include, but are not limited to, the following abstruse phrases:
“What was on the river?”
“On the flop...”
“On the button...”
“Just around the riverbend!”
Okay, so the last one is from Disney’s Pocahontas, but half of the time I think they’re discussing white water rafting, or some type of water sport, and not poker. Intolerable as it is, I kind of missed it this year. Looking forward to a Christmas when everyone’s together again.
And They Saw Everything Jeremy Had Recorded...
And in the spirit of Christmas, here’s a little video I (partially secretly) filmed and threw together for Brandon, illustrating just what everyone really thinks about his missing Thanksgiving and its repercussions for our Christmas menu:
And the video we sent him on Thanksgiving Day, which began as my trying to take a photo, but recording video by mistake and then deciding to turn it into an intra-coastal holiday greeting for Brandon:
The photo discussed in the above video can be viewed here. Let's just say he lost a bet. And stuck out his gut. We miss you, kid.
And That Was Thanksgiving Day.