Yesterday I sat down and did something I’ve done every year for…well, decades worth of years I’m shocked to say.
I curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and newspaper clipped recipes, cookbooks and started making lists for my Thanksgiving dinner.
I laughed at myself, studying the new recipes, because really, once I’ve written down the classic must haves, there’s no room to try anything new. I make the list because it’s what a cook does, write the dishes, and make the grocery list, but it never varies.
Besides, I experiment with new dishes all year long. Thanksgiving is not the time to try something that plays with memories and not in a good way.
This year, I’m convalescing, so I won’t be entertaining. But I will be cooking for DD (who happens to be home at the moment, but not for long!) and me. How can I not? When I was in the hospital a mere two weeks ago, the thing I missed most, wanted to get back to fastest, realized I loved more than anything, was cooking in my kitchen. To prepare meals for loved ones, to create magic from raw ingredients, to feed and nurture, others and myself, was what I craved.
I will cook a mini Thanksgiving, cheating, this year, wherever I can: a roasted turkey breast, canned gravy, canned cranberries, two mashed potatoes, a bit of dressing, two roasted sweet potatoes, a handful of brussels sprouts, some braised kale, and a full size pumpkin pie I will make with pumpkin I steamed and froze in October. All the flavors will be there, and all the fuss and leftovers, won’t.
My new find is this positively electric looking Sugarplum Gingerbread Cake featured in the New York Times. I’ll make that for tea time this week. It’s the dusting of cocoa over the gingerbread that gives it a jolt. My bundt pan is trembling at the thought of it.
And whilst I prattle on about Thanksgiving and baking, there is big sorrow in the family this year. A beloved uncle is not well. Life marches on, with joy and loss mingling as it does for everyone. We stop and give thanks. And carry on.
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving! to those of you who celebrate.