Friday, November 27, 2015

We Gather Together in Joyful Thanks-Giving

We gathered, we feasted, we celebrated, we gave thanks. And on the second day, we rested.

Then we raked the yard, and I'm about to sit down with Mimosa and tackle a chore I've been dreading and postponing with equal vigor: taking a crack at her financial aid application for college. But, like exercising, I know I'll feel so good once it's done.

We had a gorgeous Thanksgiving — just the four Chardonnays this year, which was perfectly lovely. And I talked to Mom and one brother and had a flurry of e-mail exchanges with various relatives.

I recently reached out to the girl cousins on my dad's side, whom I literally never talk to, and it has been great fun to reconnect with them. We are very different ladies, but we are the daughters of four extraordinary men and women and the great-granddaughters of Alice Brown Davis, the first and so far only female chieftain of the Seminole tribe. This is a strong bond, and I don't want to lose touch with them, particularly when Aunt Di, Daddy's baby sister, the last of the four, leaves this world for the next one, which I devoutly hope and pray will be decades from now.

On Thanksgiving morn, Mimosa and I watched the Macy's parade, as is our custom, while Husband made breakfast. The parade was a little less fun than usual because we had no act we were dying to see (last year it was Idina Menzel — we love us some Idina Menzel!). I was happy to see a snippet from The King and I and a little Matthew Morrison, but those happened in the first half hour, and then it was a symphony of "major" young country stars that I don't care a whit about.

But nonetheless we watched every minute, while I transformed a high-necked dowdy sweatshirt into something sexy and cute that I will wear with pride.

Everyone helped cook the feast, which was fun (prep seemed a lot easier this year!), and the kids adored their sugar-rimmed mocktails. We then made a Gratitude Turkey (in the window — long story):

And after dinner, we took a walk around the block, ran into some friends, visited the tall, enormous rock the children used to climb on (Husband and I both remember it as being shoulder-height, when it reality it's just above our waists — Martini could hurdle it), then played Pictionary and Consequences and watched the penultimate episode of Gravity Falls and an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as we've been having a Buffy marathon since June. (We're on Season 4. It's not what you would call a "sprightly" marathon. But we are dedicated!)

In other words: pretty much a perfect day!
(And, because I have so much on my plate right now, I also worked a little — but I managed to finish the big job with the closest due date, so I am in good shape. I have another job to do by Monday, but it's smaller, and it's also okay if I miss the deadline by a day or two, which is a nice feeling)

OK! On to the dinner report. Everything was basically fine, with one exception. It seemed like we had more "not great" dishes this year than usual, but that is the risk when you try something new. And I finally, finally learned my lesson and made only half or quarter portions of some recipes — we wasted much less food than usual.

Here is the report, from worst to first:

  • Strawberry-Basil-Rum Splashes: Muddled berries, basil, lime, and sugar, shaken with rum and ice and topped off with seltzer — I thought it sounded so refreshing! But instead it tasted like cold sparkly medicine, ughy-pew. I quickly subbed in Plimoth Plantation Punch, an old favorite also employing rum, except (spoiler!), I loved my other cocktail so much, I never even made one.
  • Glazed Maple-Chipotle Nuts: The best snacking nuts are the Rosemary Cashews that I usually make. Why can't I simply stick to a recipe that I know I love? Why must I strive for something new? These were okay . . . but the Rosemary Cashews are divine. A learning.
  • Asian Three-Bean Salad: Black beans, edamame, and green beans, tossed with a sweet-and-sour vinaigrette. The problem: too many black beans and too much sweet in the dressing for my taste, though Husband liked it more than I did. One funny moment occurred when I was shelling the edamame, dropped one, and said to Husband, "It's by your foot." He looked down and said, "No, it isn't — it's in the cat's mouth." Yep, Annabel gobbled up that soybean like we'd been starving her for weeks. And within seconds, Fenton and Duke appeared in the doorway, all, "How come Annabel gets a soybean?"
  • Toasted Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing: I have now tried to toast chickpeas twice and I haven't liked it either time. I love plain ol' chickpeas right out of the can; clearly I should leave well enough alone.
  • Mushroom-Thyme Spread: I've made this before and it was fabulous. I think I overcooked the mushrooms this year — not sure how. But fortunately, I didn't make a lot of it.
  • Winter White Salad: Thinly sliced cauliflower, parsnip, jicama, and fennel, with a mayo-based dressing. I really liked this, it was very coleslaw-like, but I think I would toss it with Ranch next time — it needed a little more flavor.
  • Gulf Shrimp with Remoulade Sauce: Perfectly tasty, but I prefer cocktail sauce.
  • Caesar-Salad Deviled Eggs: Again, perfectly tasty (and really cute, with their garnish of julienned Romaine leaves), but I prefer plain ol' deviled eggs with a garnish of black caviar. Swoon!
  • Warm Brownie Pudding: This was just a chocolate pudding cake, and I think there was an error in the recipe. It was fine, but there are better chocolate cake recipes in this world.
  • Salted Cracker Toffee: I fell in love with this last year and made it many times, so I know it's amazing, but this year I somehow overcooked the caramel, despite following the directions exactly. (I have a new stove; I'm still learning its kinks and quirks.) Also, I really prefer plain caramel toffee with almonds, but I make two-thirds of the pan chocolate-caramel to appease my chocolate loving family — and then I pick my way through the leftovers, hunting, hunting, for the plain caramel pieces. So sad.
  • Golden Champagne Cocktails: Champagne, Triple Sec, vodka, simple syrup, and grapefruit juice. Swoon!
  • Quilted Pigs: Pigs in blankets, which we gave a fancier name because we all like them so much.
  • Linguine and Prosciutto Frittatas: I made these in a mini muffin pan, just the right size, and they were very tasty. They are even better the second day!
  • Layered Peppermint Jell-O: Raspberry Jell-O with peppermint candies melted during the boiling-water stage. Pretty and toothsome! Next year, I think I'll sprinkle crushed candy over the top layer.
  • Ginger-Peach Mock-a-Ritas: These were heavenly!!!! I will keep ginger simple syrup in my fridge from here till eternity.
  • Candied Bacon Sticks: To die for.
  • Chicken Enchilada Dip: Ditto. We have this every year. It is the best dip ever.
  • Hot Artichoke Dip: . . . except possibly this one. We don't usually serve both . . . but why not????
  • White Chocolate Mousse: A new recipe this year, and what a find!!!!! So crazy yummy!!!
And there you have it. We have a fridge full of delightful leftovers, I don't have to cook one damn thing today, life is sweeeeeeet.

Tonight I'm attending a post-Thanksgiving leftover pie party hosted by a dear church friend, tomorrow I'm going to the movies with Brunie, and on Sunday I take Mimosa to see Roman Holiday on the big screen. And in there somewhere, I will get this next job done. All will be well!

Happy holidays to all!

love and xxx's,
Lady C


  1. Wow-ee!
    What a great list of food!
    EVERY single thing I made was in the "Good Solid-B" category.
    I think what was missing was a fun & fancy cocktail...
    a couple of those and who cares about the B food anyway?!
    Next year.
    Something with ginger simple syrup (that sounds good all by itself!).

    I love the blue of your walls---maybe in the spring I will paint my "new" room blue.
    Gee, mind if I just borrow all your good ideas? :)

    Happy Thanksgiving onward---I am grateful for you and your blog!

  2. P.S. Wow, again---even better than your food and your walls and your neat family is your AMAZING ancestor! I just read the bio you linked to of Alice Brown Davis---is there a book about her? (SHould be!)

    1. Yeah, it's pretty cool, the Alice B. connection. We had a family reunion in Oklahoma one year, and I've got relatives who still live on reservations and who wore beads and feathers to the dress dinner. One of my last best presents for my dad was to compile everything I could find about Alice online, print it, and bind it into a book for him — he LOVED it and made copies for all his siblings. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to do this earlier!

      There is at least one book about her: "Alice & J.F.B.: The Hundred Year Saga of Two Seminole Chiefs," by Vance H. Trimble. It's not well-written at all (every chapter ends with something like, "Little did Alice know that the winds of change were soon to sweep around the corner!"), but I adored seeing the pictures. It's hard to get a definitive list of all of Alice's kids, but my grandpa was her youngest or next-to-youngest boy.

      Fun and fancy cocktails, definitely!! The ginger peach mocktails comprised the ginger syrup, peach-mango juice, fresh lime juice, limeade, and margarita mix, shaken with ice. You could throw many different liquors in there — tequila or vodka or rum — I would think, though tequila is the classic. Delish!

      The blue walls of my dining room will become a more denim-like blue in January, when we have our ice dams repaired. That was always the color I'd envisioned, and I was surprised when I saw how "peacocky" this blue is. I've learned to love it, but I'm looking forward to the next shade.

      Happy post-Thanksgiving to you! I'm excited about your new job sparking art.

    2. I got sick on tequila on my 18th birthday (Wisconsin hadn't raised its legal drinking age yet) and have never enjoyed it since.
      I would go with rum.

      I think about your Celebrated Ancestor as I work on Andrew Jackson.