Yeah, the blog has taken a backseat to life’s happenings, and I miss it. Writing here is honestly a bit of a creative exercise, and exercise is always better when it’s a regular thing, wink wink.
With Thanksgiving Day a week from tomorrow, thought it might be a good time for reentry by sharing my first published piece, Dressing the Bird. Never mind it’s a neighborhood publication, it feels good to have something I wrote actually in hard copy print, thank you Megan. We’re all about trying new things, putting yourself out there a little, and taking small risks. So, here we go, sharing with you my submission for Delaware Park Living magazine:
Dressing the Bird
First Thanksgiving dinner thirty-one November’s ago we brought to the table a partially frozen bird. Who knew you couldn’t make the Wednesday night bar rounds, sleep a few hours, wake up early, run the oldest foot race in America and do Thanksgiving dinner soup to nuts all in a few hours?
That was our first married holiday meal, and we invited guests. Mom showed up early afternoon and wondered why the turkey wasn’t in the oven and I really didn’t know why either. Simply jumped in with no experience and went to town. Can’t remember how I ever got dinner on the table and fed my people, yet it did happen, and it was memorable.
Now, three decades later, six kids, a new son-in-law, and we’ve got it down. There’s got to be two turkeys, (and now we cook them just fine), good old-fashioned bread stuffing, cooked cranberry sauce with cinnamon and orange, green beans, double amounts of mashed potatoes, candied yams with of course marshmallows on top, roasted Brussels sprouts, soft, buttery dinner rolls, triple amounts of scratch gravy, pumpkin, blueberry, and apple pies. When the kids were little I used to make them pick the berries, and froze them for our November and December holiday pies. Now I call the farm, order a flat or two, and freeze them in 6 to 8 cup zip-lock bags for pie on the ready. Crust has got be scratch, and only with butter, no white shortening in this kitchen, and that can be done early, and frozen before rolling out as well.
One turkey to carve and one to look at until dinner is done. The second bird is so we can send hearty leftovers home with family and friends and for sandwiches the next day. In the early years when Gourmet magazine was still a thing we jumped around with the stuffing, adding chestnuts, or weird things, always with complaints if there wasn’t old fashioned bread stuffing as well. Now we just go with the tried and true, cutting the crusts off of two or three loaves of Pepperidge Farm white and letting the bread dry on the countertop for a few days. In a pinch we’ve been known to throw it in the oven for the speedier version.
The only Thanksgiving dinner I didn’t cook in the last three plus decades was the year I was pregnant with our fourth child, it was her real due date on the big turkey day, and husband and I with our eldest son and our twins were invited for dinner at mom’s house. Walked the Turkey Trot that day, (no drinks the night before), me pushing a double stroller and husband pushing a single, and went for dinner. Second son Maxwell who was two then pushed back from the table after it was all over and declared, ‘I’m loaded’: we still laugh about that today. Helped with dishes that night, told husband it was time to go, left the three wee ones with the grandmom, went and birthed Sarah. Sarah is now turning twenty-six this Thanksgiving season, and we are forever grateful, and still serving basically the same meal.
This family of ours now depends on tradition, and the food that goes with it. They can come home and know the bird will be dressed with old-fashioned bread stuffing, and that there will be gravy and pie, and all the fixings. It’s a secure feeling, and we are thankful for the bounty of this beautiful land, and for the soulful and good feeling of coming to table and breaking bread with those we love.
Wishing you all a holiday season of honest food, and a full heart.