Once the Halloween candy is cleared from our house, and the pumpkins begin their race towards rot (a sprint this year – 80 degrees today? what the what?!), the most wonderful time of the year begins. Yes, I’m one of those people – those cheery ones who get excited by Christmas decorations in Target and the first kooky fragrance commercials airing on television.
But all in good time. Our jam in this house is Thanksgiving. Do you have any “Thanksgiving people” in your life? You will know them by the glimmer in their eyes as you mention the holiday, the solid nod of their head when you mention stuffing recipes, the easy way they will engage in a minutes-long discussion of the merits of whole vs. jelly cranberry sauce. No proselytizing about the best recipes; Thanksgiving people know this is a pluralistic holiday. There are many ways to Thanksgiving bliss.
A friend and I stood at the park the other day, rocking our babies’ strollers back and forth, talking at length about the relative amounts of sage we use in our Thanksgiving feasts. I had found a fellow Thanksgiving person; thank goodness.
And in the spirit of ramping up towards our favorite day for feasting, I’m dedicating Thursdays this month to all things Thanksgiving.
Two years ago, I took my Thanksgiving prep to the next level. Brine purchased? Yes. Turkey ordered from the local butcher? Oh yeah. But then, one step further, to what I considered my most responsible Thanksgiving decision ever: I pre-measured my dessert ingredients.
Entertaining veterans will likely roll their eyes here and sigh, utterly bemused and a little exhausted. She measured her ingredients? Well, of course! But to me, this was a revelation. I could pre-prepare and make everything easier on myself the day of Thanksgiving. With the flour and sugar and everything else already measured, put into labeled plastic containers, and set aside with printed recipe resting underneath, I essentially made an assembly line of dessert production, and people, hear me on this: I felt like I won Thanksgiving.
But before any of that can happen – before the measuring and the staging – there’s the menu-planning, and that is the most fun of all.
Amanda and I sat down a couple weeks ago, Gus sleeping nearby, and we discussed the Thanksgiving menu. Our hushed tones gave the whole business a sanctity – say it soft and it sounds like praying – and indeed, Thanksgiving dishes tend to have a holy, untouchable quality to them. The choices here aren’t small; you’re not just planning dinner. You’re staking your claim, your identity, in this holiday, and when we mess with these choices, we mess with the stuff of childhood. Stuffing or dressing? Marshmallows or pecans? And dear God, what kind of pie? Make them all! Make them all, I say!
We agreed on our usual turkey brined with Williams-Sonoma’s Autumn Fruits Turkey Brine, with my mom’s sausage stuffing. Amanda has to make her zesty deviled eggs or I will pitch a fit. I insist on making Pumpkin Pie Spectacular from Southern Living, because it’s ridiculous and too decadent and delicious. (I’m breastfeeding, so I basically get to eat what I want, right?) And we talked about green beans or salad – something healthy-ish.
And then this showed up in our mailbox.
Sigh. Our menu may be about to get a lot longer.
Tell me what you’re planning to make – or what dish it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without. And next Thursday, we’ll talk about all the ways to next-level our Thanksgiving preparations, so that the day of, you can really enjoy scones-parade-dog show-Best In Show-new PBS version of Anne of Green Gables. (Just me? Okay.)