Thursday, November 24, 2011

our Thanksgiving

This was the best Thanksgiving meal I've ever cooked. It wasn't the most elaborate. That will probably always be the year I made curried risotto in little pumpkins. That required using a power drill to hack open the stubborn little pumpkins (thus I learned that jack-o'lantern pumpkins are very different from pumpkins sold for eating), which we cleaned and rubbed with butter and garlic and then baked in stages, as we couldn't fit many in our oven at once. That same Thanksgiving I made celebrity chef Hubert Keller's vegetarian faux caviar, served in eggshells, which meant, before even starting to make the faux caviar, painstakingly blowing out and cleaning eggs. I served those caviar eggs in an egg carton I'd spray-painted chrome. There were also multiple desserts and side dishes, but primarily what I remember is those damn pumpkins.

So why was this one the best? Because it was a wonderful festive meal, but it was effortless to make. Of course, my darling Aga was a big part of it: I used all three ovens. The Aga was the key to the success of the one fussy thing I made, a mustard-onion monkey bread which tends to burn on the top before the bottom is done even if you put tinfoil over the top. Now that I have a fancy European range, I can cook monkey bread in an oven heated only from below, and the result is perfection.

Our menu:

Lantulaatikko (rutabaga pudding)
Tofurky (haters gotta hate, but we love it) with roasted vegetables
Garlic mashed potatoes
Green beans cooked in Ketel One
Monkey bread
Homemade cranberry sauce

Pomegranate margaritas and Martinelli sparkling cider

Cranberry-raisin pie with fresh whipped cream

My only regret? I went to the trouble last year of saving my Tofurky feast box all damn year long and taking it to Burning Man and having it photographed by the Man in all his neon-lit glory. Why did I do that? Because the Tofurky box always has pictures of people who took the box on their vacation, and those pictures are always lame. I thought a Burning Man photo would be sure to make it on the box. AND MY FRIENDS WHO TOOK THE PICTURE NEVER SENT IT TO ME. I love all my Burning Man friends with a passion, adore them, but you cannot rely upon them to send you yer photo of the Tofurky box in front of the Man. And thus we had a bitter moment, the children and I, looking at the dull and annoying pictures of other people taking their Tofurky boxes on their vacations when it should have displayed OUR tofurky box which went to Burning Man. I bitterly drank my pomegranate margarita and turned back to tend the monkey bread as the children ridiculed the pictures which did get on the box.


Claire M. Johnson said...

I have never understood why people didn't make their own cranberry sauce. It's so easy. I cringe in horror when my MIL serves that canned shit.

You know that I have the worst "AGA" envy (although my cooktop and ovens are certainly adequate). But what you cook DOES make a difference!

the Drunken Housewife said...

It's not fair that you, AN ACTUAL CHEF and a person who writes books with chef characters and food in them, doesn't have a fabulous range. I feel like i deserve this Aga because I suffered so long with that heinous, horrendous piece-of-crap Magic Chef, not to mention all the earlier part of my life where I had crappy ELECTRIC STOVES with weak, nasty, inadequate little electric burners. And, unlike most people in SF who have big ol' ranges with 6+ burners, we actually use the capabilities of our Aga regularly.

I only wish everyone who deserved a great range had one. Somehow we should be able to appropriate them from all those houses where they've put in giant double oven, 6 + burner ranges during remodeling but no one knows how to cook.

Claire M. Johnson said...

Being a chef doesn't really count, but love of cooking should be a criteria... I seem to be back in cooking mode these days, although it's limited to endless recipes for pie. You've clearly paid your dues. You lost 30 pounds???? You star, you!