In our household, the holidays began full-force over the weekend with a house full of my family and a legit Thanksgiving feast. John and I have a wedding to attend over the actual Turkey Day, so we simply bumped up the festivities by a couple of weeks. Since they were here for the better part of the week, this post will count as its Bliss Bits… though, often, the camera remained neglected on the counter because I was enjoying cooking and card games and laughing with family so much.
It started snowing on Wednesday, and the frigid weather made it easy to hunker down. There were crockpot pulled pork sammies and Asian wings and grilled pizzas. There were poker and dice games and car shows on TV. There were naps. There were snacks and drinks galore and lots of football games. Family time.
Friday was “prep” day, and my mom and I busied ourselves in the kitchen, baking pies and creating appetizers and starting on side dishes and sipping Bloody Maries. Mom made cranberry sauce from scratch. John brined the turkey. Dad and Matt worked hard as taste-testers and dish-washers and potato-peelers and photographers. We tried new recipes, and most were successful. We even made homemade pie crust– more on that later!
Saturday was our official holiday. With college ball games on TV, we got to work. We made the rest of the side dishes, like green bean casserole and corn and mashed potatoes. Mom stuffed the bird. John buttered and seasoned it. While Mr. Turkey cooked, we played (very competitive) card games. Occasionally, John would pause the game to baste the turkey in butter, which led to a group Viewing of the Turkey each time. Our “ooohs” and “ahhhs” were warranted- it was a gorgeous bird!
There’s something fabulous about the frantic minutes before Thanksgiving dinner. The long-awaited turkey comes out and is carved into succulent slices. The gravy has to happen simultaneously. The side dishes need to be properly heated and everything has to land on the table at the same time. We made it a family affair, and by the time we sat down to our feast, it was easy to go around the table and speak about what we’re thankful for. (Hint: time with family took the top spot.)
Our dinner was later than we’d planned, and the tryptophan kicked in immediately. After a bit, the pumpkin pie and chocolate-pecan tartlets made their way around the group- a classic end to a beautiful day. We slept well.
I think everyone will agree that one of the very best things about Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers. I started my day with a turkey and stuffing sandwich for breakfast, obviously.
But it’s the day-after dinner that I love: The Gobbler. The Gobbler became a tradition two Thanksgivings ago, and is basically a Shepherd’s Pie made with all of the leftovers. The layers went like this: stuffing, turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, corn, mashed potatoes, and cheese. We baked it until the cheese started to brown and, despite the turkey-fest we’d already had, devoured the whole thing. Scrumptious.
There’s a hard and fast rule in our family that the Christmas season doesn’t officially begin until Thanksgiving dinner is over. For years, our after-feast tradition was to go outside and cheer as our Christmas lights went on for the first time. We don’t have Christmas lights up yet, but since my Turkey Day came early, I feel like I’m head of the game…
Is it too soon for Christmas music?
One year ago: A Saturday, by the hour.