Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Tale of Two Turkeys (Photo Essay)

Like most of us, I've done a bit of thinking this week about being thankful- as in how to communicate exactly what I'm thankful for or get near communicating even a small percentage of that list.

Then I started looking at pictures from the last week and, keeping in theme, the story unfolds in kitchens.

I have a family I love who support me, humor me and make every place we are feel like home. And by family, I mean the kinds both born and made, as showcased by my two Thanksgivings this week- one on Sunday in Chicago and hosted by Jaimeson and I then one in Memphis hosted by my parents. I present "A Tale of Two Turkeys:"

Starters
Wicked Park: Beef and Chicken Empanadas with chimichurri sauce from Tango Sur presented by Mols and Jai. If you live in Chicago, you really need to have been to Tango Sur by now. Mols lives absurdly close by so it's a little easier for her but it's quite possibly the best deal meal in town. BYOB, incredible Argentine everything. I can't even tell you how thrilled I was to see these little guys. YUM- and try the spinach when you go. Also a curried cheese ball with Triscuits. Cause I'm classy like that and it's mom's recipe (see below).Shady Creek: My neighbors the G's make this famous crab dip. Even though Mrs. G claims to have used all light products to make it this year, look at that. Nothing about that says light. It only says " Shove as much of me in your mouth as you can and think about it tomorrow." Also we have some Momma TKTC creations. Namely a log of goat cheese covered in both red pepper and raspberry preserves and served with rosemary crackers. Also- biggest piece of Gruyere I've ever seen.

Obviously wine is served in both instances. In large, seemingly self-reproductive quantities.
Ambiance
Wicked Park: Said wine and lovely flowers from Lex. What you can't see but what definitely fits here is my apartment. I'm not a clean freak. I make stacks. I have dust bunnies. I have piles. Jaimeson? While entirely too patient with my chaos, turns out he's a clean machine. I know this because in the hours leading up to company coming over I caught him vacuuming under the couch cushions and bleaching out the shower. The place looked amazing. I can guarantee that it's not had that kind of thorough loving in just over a year. So yes, we had beautiful flowers and candles and a tablecloth but tidiness was the defining factor.

Shady Creek: My mom's tablescapes (as Sandra Lee would call them) put me to shame. The end.

The Girls
Wicked Park: Molly was taking this picture but is included in this mix. Lisa, Lex and Me. Me in my new favorite dress even though it doesn't photograph all that well. Hard to tell the level of awesome from here when it comes to the dress..not the girls. They are very obviously awesome. The dress was found at Store B Vintage on Milwaukee, I have worn it no less than four times this week.

Shady Creek: These three plus a few others do Happy Hour at Betty and RJ's every weeknight. They are a little adorable and Betty (center) gave Momma TKTC (right) and Mrs. G (left) the sweaters they're wearing for their birthdays last week. Girlfriends are always a necessity.
Cute Co-Chef Moment
Wicked Park: Not only was Jaimeson the resident voice of clean reason, he also commandeered the taking out of trash, the carving of the turkey AND pie. That's why he gets the big wing back chair at the dinner table. That and he was willing to lift it, a heavily weighted qualifier.

Shady Creek: My Dad is in charge of the turkey and the stuffing. Oh and my dad's stuffing is one of the top 5 best-tasting things I get to have every year. Not exaggerating. It's insane. The smell of the stuffing has lured people out of comas. If you are sweet and don't get in the way too much, he will grace you with a bite from the bird at midday and then give you and your damn cat a small bite of turkey after it's just been carved. My mom is in charge of all other feast coordination. She earns her bites this way as well as for just being so darn cute.

The aforementioned two turkeys. I didn't get to the one I made until it had already been harvested but I have to say...pretty happy with my efforts and seriously impressed with my "little oven that could." Most of the credit goes to the wine, butter and fleur de sel though. And beautiful carving and turkey lifting by Jaimeson, of course.

Turkey-Masters/ Cat Ruiners
Wicked Park: Jaimeson went to town on that bird so that I could have a clean carcass as a soup-starter. In the process he also completely ruined HoneyCat. I mean, seriously, was life that bad before she knew what turkey was? I was watching you two, J. "One for me, one for you, two for guests..." She now sits in front of the fridge expecting gravy on her kibble. I'm hoping we can teach her to like carrots like Winston (click through...trust me).

Shady Creek: My dad tries to ruin Gracie (family cat) but instead just ruins us because Gracie is overly discerning. The stuffing sticking to the bottom of the pan once the bird comes out of the oven? Manna from Yahweh.
The Spread
Shady Creek: That's Mom and RJ (the prime minister of neighborhood happy hour and an adopted grandparent). The spread for Memphis was a beautiful set of basics like turkey, stuffing, mashed Yukons and sweet potatoes (Yes, those sweet potatoes) and then came the plus-ups. Like jello salad- a personal favorite of mine with strawberry jello and cream cheese and strawberries and bananas.

There are some that don't understand the role jello salad at the feast and I'm here to tell you that people who ask too many questions are missing out on more than just delicious fruit salad. Mrs. G also brought green bean bundles (green beans in a sweet sauce and wrapped in bacon) while Betty made crescent rolls from scratch. I think my mom blames Betty for my compulsion to make as much as humanly possible from scratch, pie crusts in particular. She's probably right.

Wicked Park: We also took on the standards. I had my Dad on the line at 7:30 AM to make sure I hadn't missed any steps with stuffing or turkey and based on the response, I don't think we did. We had the basics- again with the sweet potatoes- and our own upgrades.
Molly and Jai, in addition to those ridiculously good empanadas, came bearing green bean casserole and Jaimeson made Greek salad with his homemade dressing (diced tomatoes, olives, cucumbers red onion and FETA). It is stupid good, as things containing that much FETAstic Greek goodness are wont to be.

The Feast
Wicked Park: Role Call! Mols, Jai, D (J's brother), Dave, Elle Michelle (post-Twilight), Lex, Jaimeson and myself.

Shady Creek: Role Call! Mom, Dad, Brother, TKTC, Kari G, Mr. G, Mrs. G, Danny G, Betty and RJ. Although if you look back to Wicked Park, Elle was raised alongside Danny G and myself and would have been in for at least wine had Cleveland not STOLEN them.

Pie People
Wicked Park: There's Dave (EpiChem from his blogging days) at work over his whipped cream. That pumpkin pie was merciless. D (J's brother) finished his piece standing up. He did not so much as sit down before returning for a second piece. I think Dave may have used Smitten's recipe but I'll need to confirm that prior to linking. I can confirm that it was made from a pumpkin that was roasted and then scooped. Wow.

We also conned people into finishing Jaimeson's birthday cake from Friday. Barefoot Contessa Chocolate Cake (my absolute favorite cake to make) paired with the cream cheese frosting I've usually reserved for Molly's cake. It was a sugar debacle. People running around with mountains of homemade whipped cream on wide wedges of pumpkin pie along with slabs of cake and frosting stuck to their chins. Crazy times.

Shady Creek: Betty, the High Priestess of Shady Creek Happy Hour, made TWO pies. Apple and Pumpkin both with crusts from scratch. Betty's to the point where she makes crust without even needing to think about it. I'm there with some things (sweet potatoes) but still get a little jittery before rolling pie dough. I'll get there though- she assures me of that. And I'm assured because when Betty left people had claimed to be too full for pie and after some rather athletic board games, there was not so much as a shred in either pie dish.

After-Party in the Hotel Lobby/ Game Faces
Wicked Park: Scratch the lobby, let's just move everyone to the living room. All guests were compelled to bring wine and let me tell you now that we got through the bulk of it. People arrived at 5pm and the last guests did not head home till close tot 12:30am. I love that- when people lose track of time at a party...it's a good sign.

Although, then I start thinking about how we entertained them for that long. We watched the Palin Turkey Debacle at the dinner table. We showed guests Jaimeson's "favorite photo" and then played everyone a particular voicemail from J's phone...

It seems I have a new problem of calling Jaimeson in my sleep (totally sober, about an hour before I really wake up). A minute and a half of singing and growling with no real words. I sound like Nell. I was red-faced at the end of it and buried myself in pie to avoid. It was a very very fun night though and Lex even manage to do dishes, something she is very sneaky about that I fight her on but then later really really appreciate. We also became obsessed with the leftover whipped cream. That would be Dave with a mouthful above and Elle Michelle "helping."

Shady Creek: The first thing we did after feasting was turn on Hellboy II: The Golden Army. So consistent with the kinds of things we're all into and a nice "quiet" way to digest. Then the quiet leaves. Seriously- it left and it did not return till 3am. "WHY" you must be thinking. Well Trivial Pursuit + Pictionary + Molly, Jai & Mols' brother Alec+ long-standing competitive streaks= MELEE.

Danny and I have been going against each other over cardboard surfaces since early college. He and my brother are not a team you really want to face when it comes to trivia and I was wishing I could add a particularly worldly Greek to Kari and I's roster. Alright, so I missed him a lot many times this week but particularly when my honor was at stake. We lost Trivially but upon adding Michael G, a resident artist and 4th quarter entrant, to our Pictionary Team...we MORE than held our own. Alec and Danny are loud. Molly and I laugh a LOT. Thank God for ear plugs upstairs.

Thanks all around, actually.
Molly and Danny disputing the ref (Jai) while Brother and Mike look on and Alec prepares for our next move. This is serious, people.

1 comment:

nicoleantoinette said...

Something about your writing and your life always make me feel warm and positive.

I had two Thanksgivings this year too, very similar to yours!