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good food, good friends, giving thanks


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, which is probably common for people who love to cook. It’s a giant stage on which we do a soliloquy, expressing ourselves with burnished birds and burbling pies and happy bellies.

This year, I’m particularly aware of the “thanks” part, and wish to focus on the “giving.” Too late, I’m afraid, a friend and I looked for a family for whom we might cook. No one has chimed in yet, but we’re prepared to jump on it, should we get a call today. (Hello, Children’s Hospital? Knollwood? I left your social workers a message.)

In the meantime, as I do most years, the plans are underway for a ridiculous amount of cooking. Naturally, like many of you, I will cook all the foods I’ve made every single year, with one new recipe, for fun, and because this essay was so poignant.

There is no holiday that takes better advantage of my Practical Pantry, with pie fillings, condiments, pickles and charcuterie at the ready. But there’s another aspect rarely discussed – I rely on the pantry for the cook-a-thon days. It takes four days or so to prep for turkey day and yet, on those days, there is nothing for dinner. Thank heavens for Mrs. W’s Frozen Dinners. We’ve feasted on eggplant parm, and gnocchi with butternut squash and shiitake, and lentil soup for the last few days.

As usual, there will be no actual big dinner on Thursday. I’m just too darn tired from all the cooking. Our big event is the Dead Poultry Society, our annual Friday-After-Thanksgiving party, where our friends are encouraged to bring their leftovers, as well as their friends and family, to chow down on the best part of the holiday — that fantastic leftover sandwich! We’ll be collecting non-perishable foods for the Capitol Area Food Bank, too, as this is a time of year when so many go hungry. Please be generous this season and donate food to your local food bank.

What fabulous foods will be on your table this year? Here’s what I’ve got planned (with links, when possible.)

Pork Belly Rillettes with Arancello and Thyme
Smoked Trout and Horseradish Creme
Gravlax and Mustard Sauce
Chopped Liver
Celeriac Remoulade

Two Roast Turkeys (one heritage, one Broad Breasted Red)
Smoked Turkey Breast (can’t decide… this recipe? or barbeque?)
What we call stuffing
Chorizo Corn Pones
Chanterelle Gravy
Giblet Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Tofu Casserole
Butternut Spinach Gratin
Sweet Potatoes Anna
Braised and Creamed Cippolini Onions
Eisbein
Cranberry Sauce

(Sandwich fixin’s)
Challah
Sliced Cheeses
Homemade Spicy Pimento Cheese
Pickles
Condiments

Pear pistachio cake
Sour cherry pie(s)
Chocolate Tart
Butterscotch Pudding
Schlag

7 thoughts on “good food, good friends, giving thanks”

  1. Cathy, I just printed out the pumpkin bread pudding recipe from your recent article in “Garden and Gun” and now see more tempting recipes here! I am so focused on that bread pudding that I will have to squirrel the others away for future cooking adventures. Your menu looks wonderful and the Dead Poultry Society (!) sounds like the best type of gathering. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving–what a wonderful (and ambitious!) meal plan! We spread our celebrations out this year, so now that Thursday’s ham has been enjoyed as leftovers, with the bone frozen for future soup, I can get ready for Tuesday’s turkey and trimmings. Poet and didn’t know it.

    Thanks!

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