Friday, November 29, 2013

The Thanksgiving Carol

The title of this post is based on a comment made by a friend of my son - the friend is a Marine currently based in Okinawa and he was telling about his Thanksgiving Day. Tucked in at the end of his comments was the line "...and I listened to the one Thanksgiving Carol".

Do you know what he means?

We decided to have a quiet Thanksgiving Day at home with just the three of us. Although we regard having turkey for the "feast" as a given we are not averse to trying new recipes and methods.

In an effort not to feel overly stuffed we decided to break up the meal. And we kept it more casual and ate at the kitchen table.

Soon after noon we sat down to Butternut Squash soup followed by a small mandarin and some bread (see it reappear later). Once that was cleared we needed to get serious about the main event of the turkey. Given that we were only three people a 7.7lb turkey breast was waiting in the fridge. Checking the notation on the wrapping revealed that the "estimated cooking time" was 2 1/2 to 3 hours but since there was also one of those nifty little plastic doodads that pop up when the bird is cooked I thought that sliding the turkey into the oven at 1pm should produce a main course around 4 or 4.30pm. But, by golly, when I peeked in the oven only 90 minutes later that tender timer had already popped. H'mm, what to do?

Speed up everything else was the answer. Besides, the turkey could sit a bit; after all there was nowhere else to be! With two people working in the kitchen we got the mashed potato, the stuffing, the gravy, the roast vegetables and the from-scratch green bean casserole prepared. The molded cranberry sauce had been made the night before.
 And, according to schedule we sat down to our main course around 4.15pm.
 You know what followed; yes, lot's of dishes and careful stowing of leftovers of everything. Do you know where this is going?
 By 7pm or so it was time for the dessert course. On offer were: a very fine apple pie (above),
 a new recipe I renamed Thanksgiving bread (I was following a recipe called Cranberry, Orange, Coconut bread but since I also added in pecans that name was becoming way too long),
and a browned butter pecan pie. True to expectation, the pecan pie is very sweet but with a dollop of sour cream to counteract that it was just fine despite the way it oozed all over the plate.

And tonight for dinner? Why we got to do it all over again!

And in case you're still wondering about what the Thanksgiving Carol comment was all about...Have you sat down and really listened to the lyrics for the Arlo Guthrie song "Alice's Restaurant"?

Yep, a Thanksgiving meal that just couldn't be beat.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Falling towards Winter

Yes, it has been a while since I found anything to post about. But I was away from home and while I was gone leaves that were green when I left had changed color and fallen off by the time I returned only two weeks later.
This photo, taken November 14, provided my inspiration for a blog post I was going to title "Flying South for the Winter" - but I never did get the posting done.
 In mid October there were a lot of leaves down already but yet, as you see, some bushes still defiantly green.
 Before I left the country on October 23 I thought I should take down this tomato plant for the season. As you can see it was still loaded with tomatoes; I have saved a few to try and harvest the seeds because I don't know what this plant was (it was purchased with a label that clearly did not belong to it). The sweet potato was from a so-called ornamental sweet potato plant I had in a planter on the deck this year. There were two such plants but only one developed a tuber.
By November 7 there was quite the variety of color out front. In the foregound the butterfly bush was still holding on to leaves while behind it the viburnum was a rich Fall red and the ornamental plum tree had a spectacular orange coloration.
 A high shot of the back garden shows trees in varying stages of their Fall wardrobes...and lots of raking needed.
 Around the 20th of October I decided I better harvest the butternut squash that had been the big surprise of the garden year in the front garden bed where I had newly planted shrubs. This one plant grew out of the load of compost I applied before the shrubs were put in. With no other fertilizer or special care you can see the plant really produced good sized squash so it must have been an ideal spot.
 For dinner on November 20 I cut into the first squash and it tasted delicious served alongside pork tenderloin with gravy, gnocchi, broccoli and cauliflower and a pineapple ginger salsa.
 This is not quite as pretty as the August view of the caryopteris but it does have a certain charm don't you think?
 On November 21st I looked out and saw how the sun was slanting through the treed area and wanted to try to capture the moment. As I dashed outside with my camera I grabbed a vase of flowers that are also fading and past their best but they did give a pop of color to the scene.
This morning I could see that this one bush was still holding on to a late display of Fall red although most everything else has let go of the leaves now. And with the temperature today not rising above freezing for the first time this season I'm thinking I have almost seen the last of the color in my garden.
I'll close out with this sunset view from October 8 and hope that it will not be quite so long before inspiration for a new set of photos and thoughts to share with you occurs to me.