Every Thanksgiving we go to our friends’ (the Lillys) house for Thanksgiving.  Diana Lilly makes all the other food; I do turkey, stuffing, and desserts.  Except she usually makes desserts too, but you can’t have too many.  Yesterday I rode my bike to WalMart in Jackson to get stuff to make cheesecake.  It’s about 30 miles round trip, with a fine mist of rain on the way there, and some patchy, but fairly heavy, rain on the way back.  It was actually a very nice ride; I had all the appropriate rain gear on, and the groceries were in a waterproof pannier.  Halfway home my cell phone rang, but I couldn’t get to it.  I found a tree to stop under and hit redial.  It was my sister Gerry; she meant to call her husband but was fumbling with the phone and called me by accident.  We had a nice chat, and she mentioned that my nephew Scott and his family were driving to Pearl River that afternoon — so later I could call them and wish my grand-niece Libby a happy 6th birthday.
I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen, cleaning, making the cheesecake, making enchiladas for dinner, and spatchcocking the turkey.  This last consists of cutting out the backbone so that the bird can be spread out flat for roasting, which purportedly gives faster, more even cooking, with moister meat.  With the 22-pound turkey I bought, there was no way that it would have fit in my big roasting pan spread out like that, so I wound up removing the ribs and breastbone, and cutting it down the middle.  The two flat pieces then fit in the roasting pan, but only if you turn one so you have a leg pointing each direction.  Sophie said it looked like a contortionist turkey.  I rubbed it with fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme, covered it with plastic wrap, and stuck it in the fridge.

This morning I got up at around 7 and  cut up all the day-old bread that I’d bought into cubes, then spread them on baking sheets in the oven to dry out a bit more.  I sauteed a large onion in butter, then some Italian sausage, and a pound of mushrooms.  All that went into a bowl in the fridge, then I cut up more fresh herbs and mixed them in with the bread cubes in my biggest bowl.  I took the turkey out of the roasting pan, cleaned the pan, and dumped the bread cubes in to see if the amount was right — it was, about 3″ deep throughout the pan, so I can spread the contortionist turkey on top of the stuffing when it’s time to roast it.  Then I did a little more deboning — just getting small bits of rib, etc. that I’d missed — rubbed the turkey with chopped garlic, and put both halves in a giant zip-loc bag, and back in the fridge.  Dumped the bread back in the bowl, and buttered the roasting pan.

Then I took all the bones that I’d cut out of the turkey and put them in the stock pot along with an onion, filled it with water and put it on the stove.  Morning Edition was on NPR, and they were with some chef at his Vermont farm with his family, talking about how they prepared their traditional dinner.  They said that Thanksgiving is a day when families get together and do the same thing every year.  It’s true, pretty much.  This year, though, Cabell can’t be here because of her DVT, Hannah is spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend’s family in Massachusetts, and Sophie is about to leave for Costa Rica for a year.  They cut to some plaintive, folky instrumental music on the radio, and I had to go sit down for a while because I was about to cry.  I get anxious and panicky sometimes when I have to be away from the kids.

So I made a cup of tea and I’m writing about it, and I feel a little better.  Now I need to go make pumpkin pie and apple pie before it’s time to devote the oven to the turkey.  On the plus side, I’ve got Robin and Sophie and Sophie’s friend Chloe, and the Lillys.   And I’ll see Cabell and Hannah at Christmas.  Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

4 Responses to “Thanksgiving”

  1. Jade says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Allen. Please send my love to Robin and Sophie and everybody (and Hannah, if you speak with her today). I will send my own regards to Cabell. I really hate to hear that she’s suffering with those damn blot clots. Poor thing! She’s pretty tough and seems to be handling it well, though. I’m dragging my mom and company to a cozy little Polish restaurant for our “Aadams Family Thanksgiving.” Good luck with the turkey and pies and thanks for the cooking tips. xoxo Jade

  2. K says:

    I have been hijacked by music before now. You have my sympathy. I’d make you the cup of tea, if I could.

    Happy Thanksgiving – despite the general complications. (I am actually glad I will never have to make a Thanksgiving dinner, as it sounds as though it would be beyond me! But I’m all for general feelings of thankfulness.)

  3. Travis says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, friend.

  4. Allen says:

    Thanks, everybody. Needless to say, I felt better after stuffing myself. And we talked to Cabell again last night, and she seems to be doing well. Today we’re taking Sophie up to St. Louis — her plane leaves early tomorrow, so we’re going to spend the night at a hotel.

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