Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Lot to be Thankful For

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful, and I have a lot to be thankful for. My family is not the least amongst those things. They are amazing, every one of them.
This year, due to circumstances beyond our control, my daughter and I were unable to be with her Daddy for Thanksgiving, so instead we did something I haven't done in a long, long time...we went to my parents' house for the holiday. We weren't alone, my brother Jim and his family, my brother Rick and his wife, and my brother Brian and his girlfriend were all there as well. And though it was an exhausting, busy day (heck, week!), it was also a lot of fun, and very filling!

Another reason to love Thanksgiving is the food. The Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and more is one that I look forward to each year. It is a lot of work, and worth every second when things go as they should! Now, as I mentioned before, I am a gravy loving girl, so the gravy is a hugely important part of the meal for me! So, I want to do it right. I went to my butcher (Iowa Meat Farms), and got my hands on some turkey necks and wings, which were added to a stock pot with some onion, celery, and carrots to make our turkey stock. Everything was roasted before simmering, for extra flavor, and I used chicken broth instead of water, so the flavor was rich and heady.

My sister in law, Carrie, made a mashed butternut squash dish which was similar in texture to mashed potatoes, and decadent with melted butter and fresh ground pepper. Mashed yukon gold potatoes were also given a butter and black pepper treatment before being served.

Of course, the star of the show is the turkey! A roasting bag helped to ensure this turkey was moist and flavorful. Look at that yummy golden skin! I know, I know, it isn't good for me...but it sure tastes delicious! Didn't Dad do a great job of carving and serving the turkey? I thought it looked terrific! And what's turkey without the dressing? Next to the gravy, the dressing is my favorite. We are'll find no fruit or oysters in this dressing. Bread, celery, onion, and turkey stock are the basis of this luscious side.

And then, there are the pies. We had a total of 7 pies! I know it sounds like a lot, but believe me, everyone wants pie to take home, so it's not too much. Pumpkin and apple, traditional choices, were just the tip of the iceberg! Cherry was next on the list, being a favorite of both mine and my brothers. And this year was a special treat because this was the first time my daughter made a pie. She did everything herself, with the sole exception of the crust, which we got at Trader Joe's (very good, by the way!). She made an apple crumb pie, but added a secret ingredient: fresh pomegranate juice! It added a tart-sweet flavor that was such a great contrast to the crumb topping! It was equally good, hot and cold- I should know! I tried it both ways :)

Also served: Coconut Dream Pie, my own invention (which I'll be posting, both recipe and pics) and fruit salad, plus both fresh and jellied cranberry sauce. It was enough food to feed an army, and the leftovers are terrific! And the best part is, later this week I get another of my favorite comfort foods: Turkey Pot Pie! Don't worry, there will be pics and recipe forthcoming for that one too!

Here's hoping you all had an amazing, delicious Thanksgiving and that you had a lot to be thankful for on this special day.

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