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post-Thanksgiving debrief

Pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink and take a moment to consider what you loved about last week and what you weren't so fond of. Yes, I know you just finished cleaning up and there are still leftovers in the refrigerator. I understand that the last thing you want to contemplate is how to roast the turkey next year, but, like childbirth, you will utterly forget the pain of this year by next November. This will make you believe that brining a turkey in a lot of salt is good idea – it's not – and that you can have too many kinds of cranberries – you can't, we had three...and five people.

Here's my recap of food and associated activities, in no particular order.

In my ideal world, I would have gone shopping for almost everything on Sunday and then stopped in a store late Wed to pick up a few fresh produce and the inevitable forgotten items. In my mind, it is the only sane way to shop before Thanksgiving. Foolishly expecting that most people would have the same idea, and knowing that I can hit the stores while the rest of you are at work, I decided to forgo my preferred shopping schedule and slide my store time in the middle. Apparently, the same epiphany hit a whole lot of us; enough of us to totally screw up the epiphany thing. This explains why I spent almost half of Tuesday doing an hour's worth of shopping.

At least once I had an eggnog latte in hand, the day went from purely frustrating to marginally amusing. If I could just have gotten one with a shot of brandy, all would have been perfect. Well, nearly so. Some days, theStupid is flown in express. One flight arrives the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. To wit:

  • Note to the guy in the SUV at Costco That is not an electric car, and parking in the single spot so designated does not make it so. Looking smug about it does not make you more attractive.
  • Note to woman in the electric car at Costco Yelling at an empty SUV that is parked in 'your space' will not help. Also, attempting to screech away in disgust, while no doubt understandable, is, when done in an electric car, sort of...cute. Adorable, even.

I was fortunate enough to have theKid come down and be my sous chef on Wednesday. Handy that. It was a total win-win: I got to teach her a few techniques, she did a lot of work, and we got to babble while we worked. I think a sous chef who teleports in for the last 24 hours of prep should be a new family tradition.

We roasted a 19 pound bird and it came out with both a moist breast and cooked dark meat; I guess that means the method is a keeper. Simple, too. The turkey was brined in apple cider with ~3/4 cup ea of salt and sugar, bay, rosemary, sage, and chunks of orange peel for 24 hours in a sweater-sized Ziploc bag in an ice chest. Then it was put, breast down, in the roasting pan and dried, uncovered overnight in the refrigerator. Popped it in a hot (450) oven which was immediately turned down to 325, roast until mostly done. Flip and finish. This was a piece of cake. The thermometer was in at the wrong angle so it was useless and yet the bird still came out just right. Ha! Take that thermometer-industrial complex!

About the aforementioned cranberries three ways: there were traditional cooked berries, raw chopped relish with fresh oranges, and spice-warmed chutney. The only thing that would have made this better for J, whose favorite bit of Thanksgiving is cranberries, is if I'd pulled the pureed traditional cooked berries out of the fridge to make it four kinds.

Tana Butler's spicy roasted herb nuts totally rock. Everyone left with a small bag of them to take home. Or so they say. My guess is that at least some of them were eaten on the drive home. Probably most. Maybe all. Or maybe I am projecting based on how fast mine disappeared...err, or perhaps I have said too much. Um, moving along.

Kevin's Feta-stuffed peppers were also quite tasty. We made the filling and stuffed it into small sweet pepper halves on Wednesday so it just took a few minutes in the oven to create melty, cheesy goodness.

If one must make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, and apparently one must, one should put roasted garlic in it. Truly.

One last handy tip: If you think that you will have leftovers, ask guests to bring their own containers, and a cooler if it is a long trip. I also sent each of our dinner guests home with a gallon of Lattin's cider to drink along with their turkey sandwiches.

Others around the blogosphere are looking back at the big meal too.

How about you? Did you make something new and wonderful? Discover the secret to a stress-free holiday? Do share. 

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