The observance of Thanksgiving Day — as a function — has become general of late years. The Thankfulness is not so general. This is natural. Two-thirds of the nation have always had hard luck and a hard time during the year, and this has a calming effect upon their enthusiasm.
Mark Twain, Following the Equator
Thanksgiving, our most national holiday, will come and go this week. For the past month, we have been inundated by all things Thanksgiving: turkey recipes, tips for prepping, stuffing, cooking, cleaning up, and what to do with leftovers. Last week, the New York Times Food section ran an article celebrating Thanksgiving by publishing 50 Thanksgiving recipes, one for each state of the union.
As for me, I want nothing new. I like my mother’s tried and true turkey, cranberry sauce and gravy. This year, we are looking forward to giving thanks at the diner around the corner from the Popeyes as we await the arrival of the third little Popeye. I am bringing desserts and will report on their success (or not) next week.
Every year, it seems that food writers “discover” brined turkey. I admit to being no friend of the brine. Dry white meat has never offended me, and I see no cause for complaint — that’s why God created gravy. In my experience, people who carry on about dry white meat usually serve raw white meat and delude themselves that it is “moist” (uch, I hate that word; it makes my knees lock). However, I decided to try a recipe for brined turkey breast that ran in the New York Times recently, because the copious amounts of garlic in the recipe sang to me. It was pretty good, but no better than (translation: not as good as) just a simple roasted turkey breast. Worth the effort? No. Decidedly not. And, I never thought I would say this, but there was way too much garlic. This from someone who does not scrub her hands after chopping garlic, but enjoys sniffing her own finger tips for hours, if not days, to come.
If you like brussels sprouts on your Thanksgiving table, here’s my latest obsession: coat 2 pounds of brussels sprouts thoroughly with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Roast the brussels sprouts in a 350° oven for at least 30 minutes or until they look caramelized on the outside and are soft and creamy on the inside. Serve warm with a nice sprinkle of blue cheese crumble. The sharp bite of the blue cheese against the sweet creaminess of the brussels sprouts is simply soul-satisfying. I have taken to eating this cold for lunch. Just be careful not to overdo the amount of blue cheese or it will tip the balance between cream and snap. P.S. Feta would do very nicely, I’ll bet.
Finally, I have a few tricks to share. They may save time and aggravation in preparing your big feast. If not, they are sure to come in handy at other times for breading, squeezing lemons, seeding peppers, and measuring honey.
For breading, just remember the month of February, or the formula FEB: Flour, Egg, Bread crumbs. And don’t over-flour!
The order of ingredients in the photo above is backwards, because my stove is to the left, and I usually work from right to left. But the principle remains the same. <g>
Squeezing lemons: How many of these gadgets do you have in your kitchen?
I’ve dragged out the electrical juicer, used a reamer, squeezed lemon halves with my hands (juice dripping down my arm), and then there’s that big yellow squeezer schmitchik for which I no longer have sufficient upper body strength to lift much less squeeze. Bear in mind, by the way, that a zested citrus at room temperature will give you the most juice with the least effort. Slice off the ends of the lemon; roll the lemon on the counter top and cut it in half. Save the zest for baking.
But here’s the trick. Watch as Mr. Darcy demonstrates: Hold each half with a pair of tongs like this:
And squeeze, using a sieve to catch the seeds.
Slice open and flatten slightly with a knife:
Holding one end of the pepper, and with a knife facing away from you, draw the
knife through the seeds and the ribs, eliminating both with one knife swipe.
And for my finale, measuring honey. The trick is to oil the spoon or the cup lightly with a neutral oil spray, add the honey, and kerplop! No more scooping with your finger.
Want to see it again?
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It means food and family, and going home. As we give thanks for everyone and everything we hold precious, let’s remember that in this country, 1 child in 30 is homeless, and 1 child in 5 goes hungry. This is a disgrace. Please support your local food bank, organizations such as Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry and donate generously at Thanksgiving — and all year long. Happy Thanksgiving!