Thursday, November 26, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

On their way back home from an appointment in Bismarck, my dad and stepmom stopped by our house late yesterday afternoon and asked if we had a spare bed for them! We had invited them to our home today for Thanksgiving dinner, so what point would there have been for them to drive home last night, go to bed, get up today, and drive back here again? So we had overnight guests and got to visit with them longer than we expected. And today around noon, Susan's dad brought his mom to our house to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. It was truly a feast, and we took time to express our thankfulness for all our blessings. In all my years, I have never experienced a Thanksgiving at which there was not more than plenty to eat. We have been very fortunate, and we're aware of that and grateful.

Susan's dad, Roger

Susan's grandma, Laura

My stepmom and dad, Beverly and Arlo, with Susan and my daughters: Suzanna, Hillary, and Abigail

Faithful Reader, you want to know all about the food, don't you? Of course you do. I tapped the knowledge of the Interwebs to find out what foods might have been served by the Wampanoag and Pilgrims nearly 400 years ago, and I offered suggestions to Susan (the lead menu developer and cook for today's feast) to add some historical authenticity to our meal. She did what she could (and what she felt like) to work in some of those ideas without totally throwing out the foods that we have become accustomed to having at Thanksgiving. And authentic or not, the food today was delicious and abundant--mission accomplished!

Authentic foods would have included venison, corn, dried berries, grapes, nuts, and goat cheese. Here's how we adapted with our appetizer tray:

  • peppered beef jerky
  • corn nuts
  • dried blueberries, dried cherries, craisins, and golden raisins
  • smokehouse salted almonds
  • garlic and herb goat cheese
  • farmhouse cheese
  • multi-grain and whole-wheat crackers

(The girls really went to town on the appetizer tray. At one point I saw them making little sandwiches: one cracker with goat cheese spread on it for the base, then a chunk of beef jerky, then a slice of farmhouse cheese, and another cracker on top. Followed by a handful of nuts, fruit, and corn, of course.)

Other authentic foods would have included wild fowl, pumpkin, squash, oysters, cranberries, and onions (among other foods available at the time that we just decided not to work into this year's menu). We also chose to include some traditional-to-us foods that were NOT available in 1621: potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, and sugar (they would have had tart cranberries but not sweet cranberry sauce; and they would have served pumpkin as a vegetable but not as a sweet pie). So here was the rest of our meal:

  • butternut squash soup: roasted butternut squash, onion, carrot, celery, olive oil, sweet potato, chicken stock, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and cream
  • roasted turkey: turkey with salt, pepper, fresh thyme, and chunks of onion, garlic, and lemon in the cavity; salt, pepper, fresh thyme, and butter rubbed underneath the skin; and olive oil rubbed all over the outside of the bird
  • stuffed mushrooms: sausage, scallions, parsley, mascarpone and Parmesan cheeses, panko, garlic, olive oil, sherry, salt, and pepper fried and then stuffed into jumbo mushrooms and baked
  • deviled oysters: oysters, crushed crackers, melted butter, chopped hard-boiled eggs, green pepper, onion, Worcestershire sauce, evaporated milk, cayenne pepper, salt, and Dijon mustard baked in a casserole
  • sweet potatoes: whole sweet potatoes baked in the oven and then peeled, chopped, placed in a baking pan, drizzled with caramel sauce, covered with marshmallows, and put under the broiler to toast the marshmallows
  • mashed potatoes with gravy made from the turkey drippings
  • roasted Brussels sprouts: Brussels sprouts trimmed and cut and tossed with peeled pearl onions in olive oil, drizzled with bacon grease, sprinkled with salt and pepper, roasted, and then tossed with crumbled bacon before serving
  • cranberry salad: whole-berry cranberry sauce, crushed pineapple, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, whipped cream, and marshmallows
  • buttered and sugared lefse, made and sold by the ladies at our church
  • wine, sparkling cider, and water
  • for dessert: pumpkin pie, apple pie, homemade whipped cream, and coffee

It was such a delicious meal, and we are all still so-o-o-o full. All our guests have left, and I'm warming up a small plate of leftovers and thinking how fortunate we are to be able to have family over for celebrations such as this, to be able to buy and serve plenty of food to our family, to have adventuresome family members who will eat whatever we serve, and to have the skills to prepare and serve a feast such as the one we enjoyed today ("Thank you, Susan!!").

Oh, by the way, Suzanna made special cookies last night that served as table decorations today and lovely parting gifts that over-stuffed diners could take home to eat at a later time whenever their appetites returned. They were turkeys that she made from sugar cookies and cake decorations:

She placed one cookie on the dessert plate at each place setting at the table. When it was time for pie, she put the cookies in plastic baggies to free the plates for dessert, and each guest left with a turkey cookie to enjoy later!

There's the turkey cookie on the pie plate. Relatives will recognize the lefse plate in the middle of the table. Yum!

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes I do recognize the lefse plate! I will be making lefse to bring to ND with me for Christmas! I can't wait! Sounds like a fun time was had by all!