Friday, November 28, 2014

We Gather Together



In a word: YUM. Thanksgiving at the Chardonnays' was scrumptious and toothsome. I didn't love everything we made (as always), but I give it a solid B. (Husband and Mom say A–, but they are more good-natured than I.)

We missed Arty Jenny, our companion of so many years who now resides on the Left Coast, but it was wonderful having Mom here, especially on the six-month anniversary of my dad's passing. The day was full of friends, family, and food, lots of laughter, and some great hooch. A perfect Thanksgiving!

Here's the food ranking, from Worst to First. And the good news is, nothing was truly terrible — and I haven't always been able to say that, believe me.

Kind of Blah
  • Tre Verdure (Three Vegetables), Comprising Corn & Scallion, White Bean, and Fennel & Red Onion Insalates: Based on our love of the antipasti at Alta Strada, Mimosa and I liked the idea of having three pretty little veggie dishes. Unfortunately, nothing we made held a candle to the offerings at Alta Strada. Clearly I am not using enough salt. And also, I made the corn dish with frozen corn, and it really really needed fresh corn. C'est la vie.
  • Roast Eggplant Dip: Such a disappointment! Eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic, lovingly roasted and then blended with white beans and lots of yummy herbs. It made the house smell like heaven, but it tasted like thick, dry hummus. Again, not terrible, but nothing I would make a second time.
  • Cheese Straws: Kinda bland. Period.
Tasty, But Probably Once Was Enough
  • Smoked Bluefish Pate: Legal Seafoods made the BEST version of this, and it's no longer on their menu. This recipe was okay, but too chunky — more like tuna salad with celery than the smooth velvety wonder I remember. Though I had some with crackers for breakfast this morning, and it tastes fine — just nothing to knock your socks off. (Mom breakfasted on creme brulee and sausage links.)
  • Stuffed Mushrooms with Chorizo and Manchego: I make stuffed mushrooms with salami and smoked cheese, and they are the best stuffed mushrooms in the entire world. Every time I try a new recipe, I say, "Why do I do this when I already make the best stuffed mushrooms in the entire world?" I am a mystery to myself.
  • Chocolate Cupcakes with Crispy Magic Frosting: I've had this recipe for years, and I'm glad I finally made it because how enticing does that frosting sound? But the cupcakes are a teensy bit dense and a teensy bit dry; I have a much better chocolate cake recipe — moist, dark, and luscious. And the thing I forgot about frosting . . . is that I don't really like frosting. And this recipe made a TON of frosting. We'll be putting leftover frosting on everything from meatballs to the cat's food for a week or so, I fear. But it was crispy indeed, and I guess magical, so there you have it.
Delicious, As You'd Expect
  • Pigs in Blankets: Really, what is there to say?
  • Creamy Salsa Dip: This is always good, but I think I may have used the wrong Knorr's vegetable soup mix (which sounds weird in salsa dip, I know, but it is really good) — it was way chunkier than I remembered. (I'm all about that texture, 'bout that texture, no nutrition.) Whatever, it still tasted good.
  • Vanilla Creme Brulee: Very good, though the crust was not as crackly as it was supposed to be, possibly because we were all ready to eat dessert and didn't want to wait any longer.
SUBLIME
  • Candied Bacon Sticks: Oooh la la.
  • Chicken Enchilada Dip: It never disappoints. This year I made it with mild jalapenos instead of canned green chilies, and it was the best yet.
  • Salted Cracker Toffee: OH MAN this is so good. Practically my new favorite dessert recipe. SO. FREAKING. GOOD.
  • Plimoth Plantation Planter's Punch: Yum!!!! I got the recipe from Mrs. Cynicletary's sister-in-law, and it was so yummy, especially when made with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. (I had a lot of naked lemons, denuded of their skins to made homemade limioncello.)
  • Berry Bellinis: I cooked down two flats of raspberries into a fruity simply syrup, and made this with champagne, berry syrup, and a shot of Triple Sec. Sublime!!! Oh, did I say that already?
  • Raspberry Lime Richards: For my non-drinking husband, I used the same berry syrup, combined with fresh lime juice and tonic water, to make a Rickey for grown-ups. Extremely tasty!! (Good Neighbor Anne tried the first one I made and said it was too sour, but I added more syrup to the second one, and it was fabulous!)
Also delicious, but not officially part of the menu: Rosemary Cashews, which we snacked on while we cooked.

What didn't make the list: Homemade limoncello, which I made and then totally forgot about. And Mom rejected the idea of having it with our breakfast. Report to come!

As mentioned, GN Anne stopped by while we were cooking; she declined a drink but ate 3,000 cashews, which was gratifying. Then after dinner Mrs. Cynicletary and Handsome D came over; they enjoyed a Berry Bellini and played Act Out/Sound Out with us, and it was wonderful to share this day with them.

We played many many games, found a container for every leftover, washed a mountain of dishes, and had a truly lovely evening.

Memories!! I love Thanksgiving.

Blessings and love to you all.

— Lady C

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