Thursday, November 27, 2014

Slicing Away at the Holidays

Midnight: Thanksgiving has begun

No matter how many times I remark upon it in October, Thanksgiving always slips up on me. On October 15, I'm sure I can get it all done, and then suddenly Thanksgiving is a week away, the menu is random notes on post-its, no shopping has been done, no cleaning, and I'm thinking, Wait a minute, how did this happen? Every single year.

I continue to believe that despite having a writing career and another career that, combined, make weeks go by in which tiles have come up in the bathroom floor and I haven't noticed, I should be able to display a gift of organization and time-conjuring for which I have hitherto shown absolutely no talent whatsoever. 

Which brings me to last week. 

My husband and I doubled down, and decided on a "bridge too far" menu. We had an excuse after all. Our friend Mariann is a vegetarian, and comes to stay the weekend with us every year. She's inspired us to eat much better, so we want to give her terrific dishes at Thanksgiving, not just the same old "sides" while we eat turkey. This year, we'd outdo ourselves with a half dozen new recipes. Yes, right, new. As in never tried before, and so are guaranteed to 1) fail; or 2) provoke locked-jaw remarks because somebody didn't read the part where it said the dish had to be marinated for 6 hours; or 3) both. 

However, David decided the way to avoid this was to test the new recipes last week. On Friday, it was the potatoes au gratin. Layers of thinly sliced potatoes and onions, drenched in a sauce of cream, rosemary, thyme, sage, and grated Gruyere. Topped with grated Parmesan and baked till bubbly and crispy brown on top. 

I was upstairs in my office that evening, working the other career -- financial editing -- slicing away on some unbaked prose: "Clearly, for the one-year period two years before the observation years, the HPA experiences vary for all three periods."  (In my line of work, when they start with "clearly", get the red pencil out.)

Then from the foot of the stairs, I hear, "Honey, where are the Band-aids?"

And so we ended up in the urgent care clinic where we were seen by a rather dishy-looking doctor in a garnet turban and a nurse who called us in by asking the waiting room chipperly, "So, who's bleeding?" 

The Suspect


What do you do when an important digit is out of commission for days? 

You ratchet back (we do not use the phrase "cut back" around here these days). 

We decided on far fewer dishes, and recipes we'd done before. Recipes that either take little time to prepare or can be made up to the point of baking/roasting or adding the dressing the day before.

Stuffing with wild mushrooms (finished product below; it will be reheated today); cauliflower roasted and dusted with cumin and paprika; a spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and blue cheese. 

I made cranberry sauce (shown here at 9am Wednesday morning, simmering for 10 mins with sugar, before cooling and being folded around orange slices and zest). It's so easy. Raises a person's confidence when there's still all that cleaning and table-setting to do. If you make cranberry sauce from scratch, just make sure the oranges are sweet. Save the bitterness for your relatives. 

Uh, yeah, we are doing the potatoes au gratin, too. Hey, it was creamy sauce with cheese. You understood that part, right?

And the assailant was released from custody yesterday as part of a work-release program due to extenuating circumstances (the finger guard had been ignored). 

So, I'm headed to bed.  With visions of store-bought pecan pie dancing in my head. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sheila York & David Nighbert
Copyright 2014


  1. And a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your household, Sheila! Thelma in Manhattan

  2. Thanks so much. And you too. I see you were up at 4am. Are you cooking the feast already?

  3. Yum. For my part I'm trying to make the meal as Thanksgiving-ordinary as possible, given that son Charles and his kids have meat-and-potatoes tastes and son John and his dairy and gluten-intolerant sweetie don't arrive until tomorrow. Cranberry sauce has to come out of a can and wiggle. That sort of thing. Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Much to be thankful for.

  4. Until I was in my 20s, I didn't know cranberry sauce came any other way. I'm not exaggerating. I didn't know folks actually made it themselves. It's hard to imagine that I had never once come in contact with homemade. But I hadn't. David always had a knack for cooking, but no kitchen in his previous acting-tour life. So in my 30s, I began to cook.