November 26, 2006
Thanksgiving has come and gone once again. This, as many of you know, is my favorite holiday of the year (despite its highly hyped and PR manufactured back story). Having flown the proverbial coop at an early age, thanksgiving is utterly devoid of family connotation or familial holiday obligation. It has always been a grand day with great friends to eat like we’re bovine blessed and to open the house to anyone and everyone for unusual combinations of people (1994 was a standout year with roommates’ parents and lovers, neighbors, exes, the postal delivery woman, my oldest high school friends, crushes, new acquaintances and total strangers, beat poets and culture skeptics, meat eaters and vegans, all packed into brick laid 603 Dewey Ave).
This year I started cooking on Wednesday after Jim and I returned from a last chance morning trip down to Boulder to collect, among other things, a deep fry turkey pot (this would be our second year deep frying the bird), a food mill, Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally hot sauce, terribly out of season corn on the cob (I can’t even imagine from where those puppies were trucked in), chestnuts, a couple extra wine glasses, an industrial grade turkey injector, and-the main event-a fresh twenty pound Colorado tom turkey (the Wild Oats meat minder slid the beast over the counter to Jim, who caught the slippery bastard just as it was about to take its leave across the floor-he can handle just about anything difficult to wrangle with astounding dexterity and grace). By three the kitchen was wrecked and the next night’s dinner was progressing in pans of caramelized onion and sherried mushrooms, simmering cranberries and hot cream. White bread slices were laid out to dry on every available surface of the room and Stella was having a heart attack trying to convince me that it was perfectly acceptable to give her the tom’s innards (speaking of which, have you ever looked inside the carcass of a large bird?!? It’s like something out of Alien). Eventually we broke out the six inch long stainless steel perforated hypodermic needle to inject the turkey with a mixture of softened butter, maple syrup, garlic and hot sauce. It looked like an instrument of grievous torture, but it was effective and in the end there was nearly a pound of butter in that bird (recently Boulder was named the number one healthiest city in America. Needless to say, I live in Nederland and our town didn’t even rank).
Thursday morning broke with a clear eastern sky and stark autumn sunshine. As the inevitable clouds gathered over the Indian Peaks, I baked corn pudding and Hillary’s grandmother’s stuffing and caught up on the phone with far off friends. My mother left a message stating that she was going to the all you can eat chinese buffet at two and didn’t expect to be home before eight, if I wanted to call her back (my mother approaches “All You Can Eat” with an Olympic seriousness and paces herself accordingly) (one day I’ll write about my mother’s mode of cooking which more often than not simultaneously included ketchup, miso, white Zinfandel, cornstarch, and bean soup mix). At two, Jim slowly lowered the turkey in the hot oil and we began the 50 minute sizzle and pop count down (last year we had six inches of solid ice on the driveway where we did the turkey and hot oil melted deep down into the permafrost. For weeks afterwards we found daily signs and footprints of critters who had come during the night to lick and chip away at the turkey oil flavored ice). Have you ever read instructions on how to deep fry a turkey? They all begin with the following warning: “This could burn your house down and cause severe bodily damage, including burning you beyond recognition. The turkey cook MUST be sober.” I kid you not.
The afternoon/evening was a beautiful mix of people including my in-laws and old friends (Jen recounted her five minute Indonesian scuba certification class-given completely in Bahasa-and being dragged by the foot down to the sea floor by the guide who mistook her total terror for unyielding buoyancy). By midnight I had no voice left and the cold I had been hopefully ignoring took over for good. I took leave for bed with the house a beautiful mess. It was another fantastic thanksgiving. I hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful day!
Posted by bethamsel at 12:44 AM