Thanksgiving Food

So turkey day went off pretty well.

The night before we celebrated with one of Albany John’s mates, Sistah, Manhattan Maka, and CVS.

There was much pizza from Red Front in Troy. So delicious. So totally good. I ate 7 slices. The crust is nice and light – very easy to eat. It’s still a little chewy though, but it goes down easily. We got a large 24 cut of pepperoni and a 10 cut of cheese. I am normally not a pepperoni fan, but Red Front does it up right – just enough pepperoni slices, and they are all nicely crisped around the edges. No fatty, limp slices here!
The smaller cheese had more cheese on it though. The pepperoni pizza had less cheese on it – I’m not sure if it’s because it was a 24 slice and they use a little less, or what, but the 10-slice cheese is the way to go for me next time. And we won’t be ordering pizza for 6 hungry peeps, so really, we’ll be all set.

I bitched out early around 2-3 am and went to bed. Silly, I know. That whole sleep thing. Pshh. But I did have to wake up earliest around 7 am. I tried getting up earlier, but was unsuccessful in doing so. The rest of the gang went to bed around 5:30 am after sitting in the kitchen drinking some rum. Aw! I love it when it’s sit-quietly-in-the-kitchen time. Ah well. Next time. Also explains why everyone was still dead asleep as I puttered around the kitchen and stayed that way until about 11 or so.

I made the pecan pie and pineapple upside down cake. I took about an hour long than planned, but mercifully the turkey was a few pounds lighter than I’d planned for, which only put us half an hour behind schedule.

Albany John had made his delicious chili the night before, and the entire house smelled of warm, tasty chili. My sister, who is vegan, seemed to really enjoy it. I am glad, since she would have had some pretty limited options with the rest of the meal.

The turkey was popped in the oven right after the pies came out. It barely fit in the roasting pan, such a big bird it was!

And then hijinx struck! The digital thermometer was reading crazy temps, and long story short – there was some bend in it that was making it read inaccurate temperatures. So we had to make do with the pop-up thingy that was already in the bird (Woo, thanks Cardona’s!). It roasted to a beautiful golden brown color, and Albany John let it rest for about an hour. It was overcooked, but the brine helped it not taste super dry, and the dark meat pieces, well, you couldn’t really tell they were overcooked.

OH MY GOSH. Papa Amherst is so awesome. I pretty much pulled him in the kitchen, and he completely made the creamed boiling onions. Sorry/thank you! And then he and CVS made THE MOST DELICIOUS GRAVY I HAVE EVER EATEN. I even bought cans of turkey broth in case there wasn’t enough, but my goodness – they made so many delicious cups of gravy from the drippins.

Here’s what I’ve learned – Thanksgiving dinner done my way was not as simple as it could have been. Dishes had to be scratched at the last minute. Arms were used to help out. I still have no idea where to really change a baby in my place. I bought WAY too much food and wine, but now I don’t think I’ll need to grocery shop for a while. Total approx spent: $335 (WAY TOO MUCH. I have lots of food left over)


Most of all, I’m thankful for having family that isn’t driven completely nuts by my planning. I tend to think things won’t take as much time as they will. Now I know! I have to say; around 9 am I was getting terribly neurotic about being behind schedule and a wee bit overwhelmed, but thankfully Albany John was up around 8 and helped calm me down.

Mama and Papa Amherst came around noon with Albany John’s Aunt, Cousin, and Cousin’s baby. Mama and Papa brought tables, folding chairs, and 3 delicious desserts. Yum!

Manhattan Maka and Sistah helped me out tons by periodically shouting at me if I needed help. Phew, they know me enough that they really need to get my attention when I start getting wrapped up.

After my in-laws arrived, they were quickly followed by my Mom and sister. My mom brought a gigantic pot of mashed potatoes. They were so creamy and fluffy! I have no clue how she does it, but I certainly cannot. She also brought along a bunch of champagne. OH MY GOSH. She is my mom – all sweet champagne, and it was great to drink them all while everyone was waiting for dinner. It was a while, since I took so long.

After them were my Bro and Margarita (thanks for bringing the cold beers!), and finally Benny who was being a girl and took forever to get dressed. Panda was supposed to come too, but I haven’t heard from him and hope he’s okay.

So yes! Quite the cast of characters, and everyone got along really well.

Here was the final meal:

Baba ganouj
Garlic peanuts
Deviled eggs

Turkey
Chili

Mashed potatoes
Baked potatoes
Sausage dressing
Rolls
Creamed onions
Sunshine salad
Carrot + currant salad
Cranberry sauce

Pecan pie
Lemon meringue pie
Apple pie
Boston Cream pie
Pineapple upside down cake (I overcooked it a little – a bit too dry)
Vanilla bean cheesecake
Pumpkin flan (like bread pudding in texture, but still pumpkiny)

We totally forgot about the green beans in the oven and found them the next morning, shriveled beyond recognition. Dangit. Pretty sure that was it, but now we’ve got lots of food in the fridge. Personally, I thought the turkey tasted great, and I am loving eating all of these leftovers. Maybe next time I have a family event I won’t over-purchase food and I’ll actually stick to a decent time line and not overwhelm myself.

Until then, cheers – here’s to understanding and calming family members!

P.S. I’ve also eaten 90% of the lemon meringue pie and 70% of the pecan pie all by myself over the course of three days. If I become diabetic and wonder why, this is probably a good jumping point.

Pain in the Nitpickery


It’s been brought to my attention (by Albany John) that I am a tad bit nit picky in the run up to Thanksgiving at our place.

Yeah, I’ve been a wee bit of a pain in the ass I guess, at least to how I normally am. Last night I cleaned and decorated for about 5 hours, with some time to cook and do more last minute shopping. It also didn’t help that I got so zoned out while cleaning I was barely articulate to Albany John and Ellsbells when they asked if they could do anything.

Buuuut. I scrubbed baseboards, walls, mopped and cleaned the bathroom, set out the plates and cutlery (hah, it’s not silverware – I’m just thankful that there should be enough for everyone to eat with), decorated the main areas, and did some dishes.

And then I drank two apple ciders and tried to go to sleep, but had some difficulty. My dreams were of trying to go to sleep. Uh, lame.

Today I can’t start most of my prep until later in the evening (so everything is still pretty fresh tomorrow [this is probably me just being neurotic]). So instead of re-vamping my timelines, lists, and other planning tools of nitpickery I made little nametags for everyone to wear, wrap around their glasses, or just toss later.

There’s a lot of internal fighting going on between my inner cheapo, yuppie, and food lover. The cheapo in me is like “Yeah, remember that BUDGET you set? You are so over it. Rein it in, girly!”
Then Yuppie replies “But I need my kalamata olives and goat cheese for my crostini. I just have to have them!”
Cheapo starts rolling her eyes and sleeves.
The Food lover comes in to say “Hey, hey, hey, wait. I know it’s expensive and all, but, I mean… it’s Thanksgiving! There should be lots of tasty foods to eat for everyone. There will be 15 people, Cheapo. Need some variety. And Yuppie, no brie or more big expenditures, since we’re already poppin into the savings accounts.”
Food Lover kind of tempers the two.

At any rate, here’s the food time line I’ve come up with.
Timeline

Weds Night
5:30 PM Make Sunshine Salad
Caramelize sugar for Flan
6:00 make dip, mix batter for flan and cheesecake
6:30 bake flan and cheesecake
7:00
7:30
8:00 Make chili in crock pot
8:30
9:00 Go pick up from Train Station

Thursday

6:00 AM
6:30
7:00 Start making upside down cake and pecan pie
7:30 Bake upside down cake and pecan pie (~50 min ea)
8:00
8:30 Put Turkey in Oven (24# 4-4.5 hr, pull @ 150F to raise to 160F)
9:00 Boil eggs for deviled eggs
9:30
10:00 Make deviled egg filling
10:30
11:00
11:30
12:00 PM Toast bread for crostini, assemble
Make Baba ghanouj
Begin assembling appetizers on plates
12:30 Put potatoes in oven (min 60 min)
Assemble dressing
1:00 Pull Turkey to rest 1 hr
Put diced sweet potatoes in oven (45-60 min)
Put dressing in oven (30-35 min)
Make Creamed Onions
1:30 Bake Rolls
Assemble salad
Make gravy
2:00 Eat/Carve Turkey
2:30

Be #57 on Twitter, get a free Chipotle cap



In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve finally surrendered to Teh Internets and joined Twitter. There’s a sidebar on the right.

I’m at 52 followers now. #57 wins a free Chipotle cap. I’ll mail it to you, and you can Direct Message me your address.

You win internet. You win.

And you can too – so follow me and maybe you’ll get a cap. Or some crappy view into my life.

Pics Soon. Ish. Maybe

I have no idea how I can be surrounded by so much technology and yet keep forgetting to buy a memory card reader so I can actually TAKE THE PICTURES I’ve taken OFF of Albany John’s super-awesome camera.

My lost camera had an awesome USB thing on the memory card, so all I had to do was stick the usb side in a computer, and bam – picture time.

So yeah, this no picture thing is annoying me. Uh, here’s a picture of me wandering River St during a Troy Night Out over the summer. It’s the only picture I have available to upload that isn’t either breaking some kind of copyright law or something I’ve already put up in the past.

SCCC’s Culinary Boot Camp

Check out what the good folks in Schenectady have passed along:


The County of Schenectady, the Chamber of Schenectady County, Mazzone Management, and SCCC have teamed up to offer Schenectady’s first-ever culinary “Boot Camp” in January 2010.

It’s a three-day, two-night cooking class (January 4-6), taught by Christopher Tanner (culinary instructor at SCCC and Chef de Cuisine of the SPAC Patron’s Club). It includes:
· Three days of professional instruction by Certified Executive Chef Christopher Tanner
· Lunch on both days
· Tuscan Wine Dinner – The Glen Sanders Mansion’s chef will prepare a delectable 4 course meal which will be paired with wines from Italy’s Tuscany region. Cooking methods learned during the class will be incorporated. A tour of the facility will also be included.
· $20 restaurant gift certificate, to be used at participating restaurants during Dine-Around Schenectady night on January 5
· Schenectady Community College Culinary Program Chef’s Coat
· 2-night hotel stay in Schenectady (January 4 & 5)
· Motor coach transportation between hotel(s) and Schenectady County Community College

The theme of the Boot Camp is “A Taste of Tuscany”. The cost for the program is $690, inclusive. Participants can also purchase an optional knife kit. Folks can register at www.cookinginschenectady.com. Compared to the cost of taking a similar class at the CIA, the Schenectady Boot Camp is a real value – the same level of expertise for about a third of the cost.

This is a really exciting project for Schenectady County – Matt Mazzone (who also chairs the Chamber’s Tourism Committee) came up with the idea, and got all of the partners together to make it happen.

Prepsgiving

For the next three days I will not…

Drink any more bottles of wine that have been earmarked for Turkey Day.
Snack on any Thanksgiving earmarked chips/foods.
Order pizza from Red Front in Troy, NY until Wednesday night, no matter how much I want to otherwise!

This Saturday Albany John and I spent our day running round grocery shopping. It was a glorious day. First we got bread (in the freezer til Weds now), then Save-A-Lot, then the Asian Supermarket, Hannaford, the Co-Op, and the Veggie Mobile. Yipes! What a day. In heels, no less. My legs feel very toned!

We spent about $100 on thanksgiving related sundries and supplies, and $20 on non-holiday food for the house (like bonito flakes, canned kimchi tuna, noodles, yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, and collards).

We didn’t get much at the Veggie Mobile – just two baggies of spinach, cabbage, and some oranges. $1.75 per bag for the spinach, and oranges were only 25 cents each. Lemons and limes were cheaper (and looked better) at Save-A-Lot, so we’ll go back there at some point to get those, along with half-and-half ($1.99/qt!).

I will go back to the Co-Op at some point to pick up cheese, apple cider, and pecans though. I completely forgot about the pecans (on sale for $5.99/lb this month!), and didn’t want to tempt myself with delicious cheese in my fridge over the weekend. Albany John made pretty blue puppy eyes over wine and I let him open one bottle from the Thanksgiving stash over the weekend when we had friends over.

Split Pea Soup



I made split pea soup earlier this week or last… something like that. I popped the leftovers in the freezer, and yum – I’ve been eating it all week.

I didn’t have any pork broth (well, okay, I had this ‘instant’ soup base thing that hadn’t been touched by humans in a while. Upon opening it, well, the buggies sure had been touching it!), so I used chicken broth and misc meat bits in my fridge and freezer. Okay, the only meaty bits in my fridge and freezer.

Does anyone have a good rec for hammy flavoring for split pea soup? Knorr smelled really bad… And I know – I should keep some smoked hocks around or something, but I don’t.

Super Split Pea Soup

2-3 Diced onions
4” Lamb kielbasa
3” Chinese bacon
1 Turnip, peeled and diced
Smidge of Butter
1.5 – 2 C Split Peas
1 box chicken stock, equal amount of water
garlic powder (I was out of fresh)

Melt butter in a pot, toss in the onions. Once the onions get translucent, pop in the meat. Cook a few minutes, then toss in the turnips and sprinkle in some garlic powder. Once everything is soft and smells cohesive, turn the stove on high, pour in the chicken stock and water, and bring it down to a simmer once it starts boiling.

Cook it covered for 1-1.5 hours. I pureed the split pea soup with a hand mixer since I like my soup smoove. It cut up the meat into tiny bits, so there’s a little bit of meat in every bite. I really liked that – the powerful lamby flavor really added some dimension once pureed, which almost made up for the lack of hammy goodness.

FWIW, I really like the ham flavoring packet they give you with some split pea packages. Do they sell that stuff on its own?

You couldn’t tell the turnip was in there, not like it’s got much flavor on its own at any rate. I like to think it added a little more healthiness to the soup.

Spicy Eyes


Last night I maced myself.

… with white chocolate chips.

So the baking chocolate is in the same drawer as some of my spices. I was mindlessly noshing on some chips from the bag, rubbed my eyes and then… SEARING PAIN. Pretty sure some errant hot spices were on the outside of the baggie.

At first I thought I had an eyelash in it.

And then it started to reeeaaaallllyyyy burn.

Watering red eye, eyelid puffed into oblivion. That was 15-20 minutes I’d like to get back. Saline flushes are not successful. The best luck I had was putting an icy cold can from the fridge on my eye.

So I think I’m going to stay away from white chocolate for a little bit.

whatnottery going on right now, food and non-food-wise

§ Tweaking my Turkey Day spreadsheet, listing all ingredients I can think of so I am not missing a crucial ingredient last minute.
§ Planning on spending this Saturday running around shopping like crazy for T-Day ingredients.
§ Was asked to provide a reference for someone. That was my first time – how exciting!
§ Slick is no longer claiming couch residency.
§ Going through temporary sleep deprivation this month, making money that I’ve realized will essentially cover Thanksgiving. I am so freaking excited, you have no idea! This is going to be epically food-tacular.
§ Still no idea where my little pink camera went, so I’ve been trying to use Albany John’s big fancypants camera. I’m bad about taking out the memory card to upload, though. If you have a crappy old one you’re not using, I’ll love you forever and bake you tasty things if you give it to me.
§ I might have to learn some Spanish. Habla Espanol?
§ I met someone named Samson and he really, truly looks like Samson.
§ Albany John has strong-armed me into decorating our place. $20 for two pillows?! Yeah, I’m still getting used to spending money on crap I consider essentially useless. On the other hand, at least our place won’t look like we’re ready to move out in the middle of the night.
§ VoluMax shampoo and conditioner = CRAZY VOLUME, eternally non-poofy peeps.