Started with another experiment with cranberries. Although I've always preferred canned jellied cranberry sauce, I decided to make some homemade this year -- something I hadn't done in about three decades. So I went to my favorite food sites, passed up Emeril's mess with Port wine and a bunch of spices, and opted for the Whole Foods recipe -- simpler in flavor and just what I was looking for. Just boil some water, orange juice, and sugar; add a bag of berries; cook ten minutes; add grated orange rind; then cool and chill. It was pretty cool watching those beautiful berries pop and burst while I was stirring them, then seeing the mixture kind of congeal into a nice jar of preserves (well, two jelly jars) that my daughter said was great on toast the next day. Anyhow, surprisingly, it was a big hit at Thanksgiving dinner.
Having learned a couple of decades ago -- the year I decided to make a gourmet chestnut stuffing for the turkey -- that the family does not like me to mess with our standard menu, I also had the canned cranberry sauce on the table. And, not surprisingly, nine-year-old grandson Grant said he still liked that better. As to the stuffing, I still make my mother's version, which consists of half Pepperidge cornbread stuffing mix and half Pepperidge herbed cubed mix (made according to package directions) , with a lot of chopped onion, celery, parsley. I rarely use processed foods, but that's one I do swear by.
My other experiment was to try a decorative edge on the pumpkin pie (and I can't beat the Libby's canned pumpkin label recipe there), by cutting little leaves with cookie cutters, and arranging them along the crust, which I'd trimmed to the edge of the pie plate. It was just okay, but it seems that if I'd pointed the leaves more inward than outward, they wouldn't have curled over the side of the plate. So this was only half successful. And, okay, I have to admit that this is once more of the few instances where I use a manufactured product: store-bought piecrust. Even though I make my own tart and cobbler crusts, it's just so easy to make pumpkin pie like this when there's so much else to do.
Rounding out the usual fare were mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, a scalloped squash and green bean casserole, and lots and lots of wonderful, rich, brown gravy made from the tons of drippings produced by the big 20-pound bird. (Poor guy looks a little disreputable in the photo; daughter photographed him from the side where we'd wiggled the leg for doneness. The expensive new instant digital thermometer didn't work at all; the bird would have dried out to nothing if I'd gone by that.) Leftovers galore for everybody this year, thanks to Costco's early selling-out of the smaller birds.
For the table, I kept it simple: small white pumpkins and some odd-looking little ears of dried corn from Publix with a fall garland I found in a closet. And I used wicker chargers instead of a tablecloth this year. Getting gravy and berry stains out of a cloth is becoming a bore -- as is ironing a large cloth. Lazy with napkins, too. They are of no-iron fabric, folded in a leaf shape.
Is is just me, or is it impossible with blogger to place photos where you want them?