Well, it has now been a year since the work started on my kitchen and I still don't have doors on the unit that houses the sink. July was the last time I saw our carpenter, and the old dishwasher sits face-down in what is supposed to be my kitchen garden. I have a new selection of herbs to plant to replace the ones that died from the heat when I couldn't get them into the ground. Here's hoping I can get it done this weekend. I did go out this morning before work to start some of the clean-up. If only it didn't get dark so darned early.
We're waiting to hear whether our friend Jack Dann is showing up to stay at our house this weekend and if we've convinced him to stick around a few extra days for Thanksgiving before heading back to Australia. Jack is always a welcomed guest. At the moment we think we've got a dozen people for Thanksgiving itself, which is a small crowd for us (we've had twice that in the past.) There's still plenty of time for that number to expand, as we've often learned in the past.
This weekend, we'll go out and pick up our turkey and I'll make pie crusts. I took the afternoon before Thanksgiving off last year, but I decided I didn't need to do that again this year. Having two ovens means I really do have the ability to bake my pies during the day on Thursday. I was inspired by Alton Brown last week when he made the green bean casserole entirely from scratch and I pulled down the recipe to try it myself. I hate the version with canned beans although the one with frozen beans is edible.
Our appetizers are being taken care of by a friend who will bring them in. Len's big contribution is his stuffing. Susan Ellison will bring a pumpkin bread. I get to do pretty much everything else, which I don't really mind. I just wish I liked Thanksgiving food more. It's just not Italian.
Calvin Trillin did a wonderful article about why pasta carbonara should be the national dish at Thanksgiving. It had to do with Thanksgiving being about home comfort food and that it was always served at his family's Thanksgiving table. I have vague recollections of similar Italian foods at Thanksgiving when my grandmother was alive, but there was always a turkey as well. The Trillin article was frequently reprinted. I think that article also made reference to Brits putting brussels sprouts on the stove to cook for 400 years, by way of reference to terrible British cooking versus wonderful Italian cooking.
I get to use my good china and silver at Thanksgiving and the table looks very pretty. Len grumps and says that before I came along, he was happy when he had enough superhero glasses to go around. I probably wouldn't get so pissed about his attitude it if he didn't highly complement other people who pull out the good dishes and fuss and decorate at various holidays.
Len has promised me that he will get the wall of comic books out of the living room this weekend instead of waiting until the last minute. We've also got to go to storage to get out the folding tables. Dinner for a crowd means that the couches go out on the patio to make way for tables and chairs in the living room. Last year (or the year before), I bought a dozen incredibly comfortable folding chairs with high backs at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It took me quite a while to save up enough 20% off coupons to pull the purchase off, but I did it.
Len promised me a new dining room table for my birthday, but that hasn't happened yet. I actually found a table I like on-line. It is a 48" round table that can seat a whole lot of people when it opens up with 12" leaves. I think it can take 12 or 14 of them. Right now, I use four 6' folding tables and one 5' folding table to do the same thing. The table comes in oak or cherry and I've always been partial to cherry. It has a pedestal which splits and leaves a center support. I had hoped to find something with dropped leaves that opened, but this is would be just fine. In my perfect world, I would be able to have a round table that seats 12 comfortably but I don't have the room. (I saw a spectacular round table that adjusts from seating 6 to seating 12 with intricate triangular pieces but the $14,000 price tag did scare me away.) So this table will go from round to a very long oval and that will do quite well and be not quite as wide as my current system. That will make it easier to get around things for dinner. Maybe I'll have it by next Thanksgiving.
Here's hoping the refrigerator keeps working this year.
Lunch with the Barefoot Contessa
6 months ago