Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

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Guys, I hosted my first holiday dinner this year.  Thanksgiving.  Me.  Guests.  Dinner.  Turkey.  Gravy.  Other Things.  Scary.

What's that you say?  Thanksgiving was October 8, and today is November 21?  Well, the answer to why I am posting all about Thanksgiving 2012 more than a month after Thanksgiving 2012 is because I am really, really bad at not being lazy and really, really good at procrastinating posting this in honour of our neighbours to the south in celebration of their American Thanksgiving!
Special occasion = I got to use The Hubby's monkey peeler.

I should also mention that although The Hubby and I hosted the dinner, my mom did basically help me to cook 80% of it, and took zero of the credit.  Baby steps, it's all about the baby steps.

My mom is truly my cooking mentor.  Since I was small, I have watched her effortlessly rustle up seemingly gourmet dinners night after night, after having worked an 8-hour day at the office.  When I lived at home, both of my parents loved being in the kitchen, so there was always something delicious being served at the dinner table.  I don't remember ever eating something that came out of a box, except cereal and pasta...mmm, delicious cereal and delicious pasta.  Whether it was something grilled off the BBQ from my dad, even in December, or homemade chicken cacciatore from my mom, the kitchen was where everyone gathered in my house.  With my younger brother included, we would all spend time together while my parents made us dinner and cranked rock and roll.  It's one of the reasons that as an adult I love to be in the kitchen, and love to go to concerts with my parents for bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse (just went to this with them on November 11!), Fleetwood Mac, or Little River Band.  The kitchen was the heart of their home, and their food was love.  My mom has earned the nickname 'Martha' in more than one circle of friends.  Me - I am definitely not Martha Stewart.
My mom  helping me to stuff my first turkey this year at Thanksgiving.
Having two parents who loved to cook was great, but it also meant that I never, ever, cooked things myself.  Ever.  When I moved out of the house at age 21, my mom gave me a copy of the 'I've Never Cooked Before Cookbook,' which I still have, took me to the grocery store to help get me stocked up on staples, and wished me luck.  It's through trying to recreate the meals that I loved eating when I lived at home that I have learned to love cooking as an adult.  If you told my parents when I was 21 years old that I would eventually have a food blog, be part of two supper clubs, own about 80 cookbooks, and pretty much be obsessed with food, they would have looked at you like you had two heads.  This is the same daughter of theirs, after all, who while my parents were on holidays, once left a crockpot of Hamburger Soup that my mom had made for my brother and I out on the counter, unplugged, all week, because I guess I thought that the crockpot magically kept it from spoiling.  My brother and I stopped eating the soup part way through the week when it started tasting 'funny,' as rancid meat often does.

For the past two or three years, my mom has been dropping 'subtle' hints that she would like me to host a family holiday dinner.  First it was the turkey stuffing bag and turkey baster in my stocking at Christmas with sticky notes attached saying, 'next Christmas at your place?' then it was the handing down of my grandmother's Christmas Cooking cookbooks, and then it was the more obvious Christmas gift of a turkey roasting pan with a comment that she hopes it got put to good use, possibly at Thanksgiving?  I'm not sure how it happened, but this year I decided to volunteer our home as the venue for Thanksgiving Dinner 2012.

Here is what went down at the Thanksgiving dinner table at my house this year:
Items that weren't made by me were:
  • Cranberry-orange cheese ball - yum! (made by my aunt)
  • Cheese and crackers platter  (made by my sis-in-law)
  • Elsie's Potatoes - if you don't know what it is, you're missing out!  (made by my mom)
  • Pumpkin pie and Pecan pie with maple ice cream  (made by my mom-in-law)
There were 12 of us in total, including The Hubby, me, my parents, his parents, his grandmother, my Auntie Glenda, my niece and nephew, my brother-in-law, and our sister-in-law.

My mom came over the day before and we prepped all day long, in our aprons.  I never realized how much work goes into making a tasty holiday dinner until now, and I finally understand the trouble that my mom has gone to all these years.  I'm only going to share the recipes that I feel are keepers, and those would be the butternut squash soup, the stuffing, the peas, the sweet potatoes, and the red cabbage.  I wouldn't use the same recipe again for anyhing else that I made, including the turkey.  I learned so much this year!  Mom - the trouble has been worth it.  Love you! 

Click here for Butternut Squash Soup with Cumin
Click here for Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing (can be made gluten-free or regular)
Click here for Braised Red Cabbage with Goat Cheese
Click here for Butter-Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Click here for Peas With Shallots And Pancetta

I have so much to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends and readers!  Gobble Gobble.

Oh, and what is your favourite holiday dinner side-dish recipe?  I need to figure out something yummy to make for a side dish at Christmas this year.


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