Monday, November 26, 2007

In Recovery

We had another successful Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. It was a small crowd of a mere 10 people and everyone pitched in to help. We did all of the traditional stuff, including turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole (using Alton Brown's recipe from scratch, although I did burn the onions and we had to make a run to the grocery store to buy the canned fried onions), corn, butternut squash (with blue cheese and pecans, again from the Food Network website) and pumpkin and apple pie. I had a major panic when I discovered I had thrown out my old pastry cloth and not replaced it, since that's the easiest way to roll out pie crust. I managed with waxed paper, but I did go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to replace the necessary cloth and rolling pin cover on Saturday.

Len makes the stuffing, but that's really his only contribution in the kitchen. With the exception of some donations from guests (Gillian Horvath made a great oyster pie and I couldn't have gotten dinner on the table without her help in the kitchen), I cook the rest. It's a very long day on my feet and Len did not follow through with my request for kitchen mats to ease the pain in my back.

After Harlan and Susan Ellison left, the remaining guests helped pack up the food and stack dishes and I spent the next three days cleaning up and then cooking a huge pot of turkey posole to take to a party on Sunday (thus messing up the kitchen again.)

The posole recipe was from Rachael Ray's suggestions for left-overs at Thanksgiving, and it was a huge success with the other guests at Gillian Horvath's party. I had eaten posole, a traditional New Mexican stew, at a place called "The Shed" on the square in Santa Fe. What's not to like about something with that much corn (in the form of hominy)? I realized I had never cooked with fresh jalapeno peppers before and I certainly had never had tomitillos in the kitchen before either. Tomitillos look like green tomatoes, once you pull off the papery outer wrap they have and taste a bit like green pepper squirted with lemon or lime when they are raw. I've had them in a mild sauce on the wonderful fresh and green corn tamales made by Corn Maiden here in L.A. (a must-stop-by at any of the bigger farmers' markets around town) and in this dish they were chopped in the food-processor before being added to the soup. The recipe is available on the Food Network website here, and it tastes just wonderful when finished with a squeeze of lime and some tortilla chips. I've got the leftover posole in my fridge and that's going to be lunch this week.

I started to make the house look like Christmas by laying out a red tablecloth and putting flowers in a vase of Lenox's Holiday pattern, flanked by a matching tea pot and candy dish. Then I replaced the every day white Corelle dishes with Holiday pieces on the open shelves in the kitchen. It's a pretty holly pattern and matching pieces are on my Christmas list.

We won't get a tree for a few more weeks because we hold our Christmas party on Twelfth Night and we like the tree to look decent on the first weekend in January. I think we're doing our party on January 5 this year, which is actually the right night to hold it. I've even found a fine way to make King's Cake (the same thing that's served during Mardi Gras), so this will be the first time I've made one for the party (if I get around to it.)

I did not indulge in the shopping frenzy on Friday, where stores opened as early as 4 a.m. There's nothing I want that much and I sure have no love for dealing with traffic at the malls. My son, however, did go to Best Buy at 5 a.m. but came home empty handed. He couldn't bring himself to stand in a line that snaked entirely around the store.

I did do a quick drop by Macy's on Saturday to pick up the afore mentioned Holiday vase, because I got $10 off the price which was already half of list. I think that brought the price down to about 30% of the original price. I do like bargains, but not at the cost of sleep.

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