A strange holiday to spend without family and relatives. Starting our own traditions as a little nuclear family, I suppose. A necessary step into empty space. It is nice but it still feels strange, embarking on a whole future life of such events. Wondering which actions will coalesce into hallowed family tradition. For instance, yesterday morning, Thanksgiving morning, found me over at Nate's house with our hands under the skin of another gorgeous turkey from Polyface farms, rubbing it with a pancetta-sage-butter-garlic rub (the same rub as last year- we couldn't help it- it was the best turkey any of us had ever had), and I laughed and said! "here we are again!" And in the spirit of that continuity, I pulled out the beautiful blue dress that Sava had just barely grown into last year (a present from the ever-lovely Susan Danis) and wore at last year's dinner, and it fit her perfectly, if a little short, and we gathered a group of friends around the same dining table as she excitedly chased Nate's basketball around the wide open wood floors of his loft.
It had been a wonderful morning of cooking: totally quiet house as Sava and Jamba took a nap (he had let me sleep in, oh joy of joys) and I bustled around dreaming up dishes to make. I played no music but just happily puttered in silence surrounded by billowing waves of smells: garlic and onions and burbling cream and roasting beets and chestnuts and almonds. I made a beet salad in an orange dressing sauce, with fresh chard and spinach from the garden. Oh! That was part of the loveliness. The day before, while I was finally getting the garden ready for winter (stealing bags of leaves from the neighbor's curbs to create a layer of mulch on the garden bed, then spreading the entire contents of our haphazard (but remarkably successful) compost pile over the entire thing) I found an unexpected late-fall harvest of beets and... parsnips!! What I thought were overgrown and tasteless celery stalks were actually the heads of two humongous parsnips. I was so happy-- i didn't think any of them had made it. So I made parsnip creme sauce, compliments of the Chop House recipe book (I am not allowed to give out the recipe, but I can report that it was delicious)
So part of the joy of yesterday's cooking was folding in the last fruits of the harvest into the feast. And I think that is what I would like to take into my future Thanksgivings. For me, the important things will be to be concentrate on the celebration of the harvest of local food (preferably from our own backyard), and secondly to make sure that the turkey we are getting is from a sustainable, humane farm. I noted how joyful it felt, to be preparing a turkey without any of the usual feelings of guilt conmingled with the gratitude. It was an honorable feast.
What are your budding or hallowed traditions?
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