It seems like I just posted about Thanksgiving in the US not so long ago— going on about having actually cooked a turkey successfully.
I wonder what my grandmother would say if she heard me telling a story about cooking a turkey. This was a woman who would cook 30 whole chickens at a time and made tons (maybe not literally but it sure looked like it!) of pasta salads, potatoes, and gelatin salads for church charity functions. She didn’t do it all alone — Gladys, Mary, and Eunice were right there next to her. They were a great team.
On our Thanksgivings Grandma produced these huge turkeys, cooked to perfection with the crispest skin, the juiciest contents, served with giblet gravy and mashed-to-heavenly- perfection potatoes.
We ate on china with good silver. There was Grandma’s jam for the dinner rolls in crystal bowls; olives, and her sweet pickles and garlic dills in their own cut-glass dishes; butter on plates made for butter to be on. Good food.
There are many people like my Grandma who love to fix big dinners (I assume she did or perhaps in her time it was what one did and she resigned herself to it) and then there are people like me, who get all excited to plan and look for recipes, and drool over the pictures…but really have no tolerance for cooking big meals for a lot (or not so lot) of people. I always bite off more than I can chew. And I want to enjoy preparing a meal for my family. So, this year I went sparse. And they accommodated with the same so we had enough and a few leftovers. But not bagsful that no one wanted.
I told my family I was going to make the turkey, the dinner rolls, the potatoes (I had the source of good gravy so I felt obligated) and the pies. They could bring the rest. They shouldn’t ask me what to bring, I told them. They should bring what they would like to eat with the main course.
My eldest brought an apple pie. My youngest brought stuffing. My son’s family went to my daughter-in-law’s sister’s. My sister-in-law brought cooked carrots and cranberry sauce.
I did have few appetizers of course. A small platter of crudité — carrots, broccoli, celery, grape tomatoes—served with a popular ranch dip. Also Ann’s Onion Dip, featured in another post, served alongside with Ruffles Potato Chips. That dip is great with raw veggies as well.
I made two others with crackers and a topping. One was made of rounds of wheat-and-grain crackers onto which I spooned a generous amount of smoked salmon mousse with chunks of smoked salmon and red onion in it.
This salmon was dry smoked. Over alder or another aromatic wood. Prepared like the native peoples on the West Coast of the US do (Pacific Northwest). It’s dry and flaky! There are many variations of it as well, not to mention the different types of salmon smoked.
This was sock-eye, I believe. I don’t pretend to know the culinary difference between them: texture, taste, look. I don’t even know the biological difference.
I digress. I spread a very full teaspoon onto the middle of these delicious crackers, and topped each with little dill sprigs.
The other was a very delicate cracker, wafer thin, plain. Feels like eating paper. Tastes not much more than that except that they have salt as an ingredient. Onto them I placed a little heap of goat cheese flavored with orange blossom honey and, with utmost care, unsuccessfully spread it out. Between the texture of the goat cheese and the delicacy of the cracker, I had to eat a few that broke in my attempts to keep the crumbles on the crackers by spreading it with a small knife. (Such a sacrifice!)
After I had finished that with eventual success, I then placed a dot of fig jam in the center. The appetizers were happily gobbled up.
Which is a good thing–after they sit around for a while they deny their identity and become very unappetizing.
Most people left before pie was served. I was happy I’d only made one. My youngest daughter and her husband stayed for dessert, but we were left with half a pie anyway.
There are worse things to be left with.
I am so grateful for my family, my ability to make things for them, to nourish them still at times, even though they’re grown with their own families. (For some reason they don’t listen to my advice, so I feed them instead.)
I am grateful for you, for reading this blog and staying with me.
I am grateful for Orange Blossom honey. Really. Besides Tupelo honey, it’s the best!
Thanks for reading! On to Christmas!