We didn’t change much. Colleen and I are identical triplets and everyone came in for dinner at the holidays. We were a family gathering of less than 10. You know how it goes, triplets tend to dress alike. We couldn’t resist. All safety measures were taken and testing was all negative. Christmas lacked the big roast – the Beef Wellington was in the oven. And, oops, there were four of me at Thanksgiving.
Yeah yeah I know, thanksgiving was an age ago. And once upon a time, Bill held Jules and she was smaller than our thanksgiving turkey. That was a long time ago. This past year we felt bad that we were in quarantine and no company allowed. Solution: make your own. Lately, there are those who believe in whatever they are told. So: we invited a group of look-a-likes. I snapped the picture, There was enough turkey for all. Since we all quarantined together it was perfect. Yeah, yeah, we all had the same outfits. But, it would have taken longer to have everybody change. Me? I think that turkey was bigger than this turkey.
We were having a solitary Thanksgiving. No travel, no family, no friends. I broke the rule and invited my brother. Then, with the dismal news, and the heightened risks, we felt compelled to follow good practice and refrain. So, no one will join our dinner but our seven cats. I wish a peaceful healthy Thanksgiving to all. On a lighter note, it appears that Jules once weighed less than our celebration turkey. Go figure! That is at least worth a smile.
It’s been a few months since thanksgiving. I guess it’s safe to mention the following:
1. Eating cold turkey is against the spirit of things. Jess made the bird early on the day of. Jeremy read a Youtube on how to carve? Cold turkey? No! It’s roast turkey. That would be hot. A restaurant would not serve cold turkey except in a sandwich. And even then, it’s hot turkey sandwich!
2. Jess has a phobia about germs. Is the turkey done? And she would never ever!!! stuff the bird. We threw out the sponge after it was used to wipe the counter. Yeah?? me too??
3. Expiration date? The broth was just expired. We almost threw the can out. Keep the can, throw out the broth…
4. My true love, Colleen, precisely cut all the stuffing into precise cubes… only to throw everything together and mash it all together in a crock pot. Yes!! Precise cuts, all the while complaining her knife was dull.
5. I admit I sat in awe! I did not say a word. Speechless! I can and have cooked thanksgiving, soup to nuts for years. No one asked. I did not volunteer. I just sat stupefied. How did they all get this far and never know how to make thanksgiving. To me it is akin to watching a train wreck all the while knowing how to do things. … each was happy in ignorant bliss.
6. Have no expectation. Have no disappointment. I wasn’t. ???
7. Next gen – not too much hope there?
8. The official photographer has no duty but ….
9. Turkey is a duty. There is no more stress than on this day when you make something you make once a year and barely remember “how to” from year to year. The NYT Times published hundreds of recipes and “HOW TO’s” in advance; no one reads NYT around here.
10. Yes, that would be “turkey in a bag.” It’s not picturesque. It looks more like a leftover preview. Hey! Dinner. I can’t complain. My feet were up and my fingers clean the whole way through.
I live with folks with dietary restrictions. I don’t much like fish, but I can eat anything I want. I draw the line at bugs. Dave ate crickets once. This is my kid. This is my kid whose diet for a good long time was – pasta with garlic and oil. But, gluten free, no corn, no potato, vegetarian, and so on and so forth…. I made a meal (feast). It was thanksgiving prelude. It had all the trappings with the pressure. Family and friends. …just no turkey. We made a formal table out of old mismatched silver we had picked up a $1 a utensil.
The meals started with carrot ginger soup. We used a food mill… Salad of spinach, beets, mushrooms, and granny smith apples followed. Homemade – real – bread. Vegetarian chili – hot peppers and tofu – well, three beans, peas – actually it came out very very well. Carrot cake – from a mix – but with a couple cups of real grated carrot – and extra eggs, yeah, you can cheat Betty Crocker. And then there was the SCAW – sour cream apple walnut – pie that I reconstructed from the Little Pie Company. Yup, I did good. No one left hungry. Everyone lost their appetites. A true thanksgiving.
It’s a holiday party. They named it thanksgiving as a matter of thanks. Not Christmas, it would have been religious and not PC. And it was masked – Mardi Gras? Not Halloween. Actually Filipinos do celebrate Thanksgiving. It was all confusing and misleading. There was another great cultural mystery to ponder. George and I were the mainstays of the surgeons who attended last year and this. Another one or two came. The remainder of the staff is mainly Filipino and they like to party. I guess I do too. My OR nurses Jen and C2 (sorry I can’t spell her name) are pictured. The rabbit ears, hmmm, maybe a little Easter? Yes, my day job includes brain surgery…
Amy is taking an iPhone shot of my next bird. It’s a bit more browned. Better oven and more experience. Hey, you get better with practice. My soup sure did get better. (see previous post) And we made another breast (wings included) because there were 23 people scheduled to show. Note: about a pound a person – we did not need the extra breast. Other note: when all is said and done, it is the trimmings that make the meal.
So the dishes that surrounded the meal and that were contributed by the guests really made it all great. I learned a new tradition – sauerkraut over mashed potatoes. (Hint: I could have done without ever knowing that.) I did stuffing on the outside – too heavy to transport a stuffed bird to a second location. It worked. I’m a crockpot (stuffing) fan now – not a crackpot. More family showed up and a good time was had by all. Dinner was scheduled for 6PM. We arrived at 6:08 and were the last ones in the joint. Do you think everyone was hungry? More family, more friends, more stuffing, success again!
No, this is not the second Thanksgiving. Wait patiently; it’s coming in a few days time. This is the annual chestnut cake. I’ve not made it myself. So I had to improvise. The food mill was a cheap piece and barely was serviceable. Caveat: get a good tool if it is important to your project. Yeah, yeah. Hey, it’s a nice looking cake! And I got someone else to do the whipped cream. Yes, I’ve whipped it into butter once upon a time. But that is not the disaster. For a change but not extraordinarily, I don’t have an actual picture. Nice cake huh?
It starts with the making. We prepared the soup near midnight the evening before. The next day was a full day’s ride to Elkins, WV. The soup was secure in the rear of the SUV in a pot with the lid taped shut. Insufficient for the task I might interject. You can see the disaster happening in slow motion already? In the dark, as I opened the hatch and moved the cooler, the pot beneath was precariously leaning on the edge and went on over. About two cups remained in the partially overturned pot. The rest was on my shoe, the bumper, and the driveway. (Note: see spot.) Salvage was not an option. Folks would have noticed road dirt not pepper in their soup. Off to the market on Thanksgiving eve. Yeah, it was a beat market. No, butternut squash, and then hours of cooking that I did not count on was a heartbreaking prospect. Acorn squash to substitute, until… light bulb – pumpkin! Yes, pumpkin puree for pie; it works. Substitution! And with the right seasoning….the soup was a success! Really, and not out of sympathy; I made it again, same formula and it was a smashing success two days later. And I will appreciate it if you don’t tell Jules about my improv soup recipe caper.
‘Cause there are two. Be patient I’m only doing one post at a time. Two – count ‘em two. I’m a gluten. Punishment? The first was staged in a kitchen then moved to a second kitchen and meanwhile I stayed at an inn far from the kitchen. Get it? I got it! – as in shot. That’s the next post. This one was about the kitchen in which the turkey was baked. And it was fully stuffed too. So think of a small galley kitchen. And then you don’t know the ingredients, spices, pantry, pots, pans, knives, or anything of how temperamental the oven might be. Think disaster. Nope, didn’t happen. Wait for the next post. This one is about how tiny the kitchen was. I’ve cooked in small kitchens. And maybe I told you about the Thanksgiving dinner in 2006 where as we sat to eat, a set of wild turkeys crossed the yard in front of the window before us. Magical! No, this was about the things people will do if you ask. We were talking about jump photos and Richard Avedon who popularized them in his portrait work. Yup, Lee jumped. The secret for someone who can’t jump is to fold your knees. You look so much more athletic! No, I did not think this up myself. My kids told me. They were embarrassed at how bad I looked in their pictures. Humbling, ain’t it?
How small? I had to park the turkey out of the oven on the washer. No space. Someone was doing apple pie in a toaster oven. I’ve never seen that before and Jane admitted it she’d never tried it either. The pie was gone on the first round of dessert.
Back in 2011 I made my way downtown to the spot where the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade turns on 34th Street. There you get a view of the balloons. These helium filled giants are the stars of the parade. And it was still very crowded as lots of other people had the same idea. I was jostled but held my ground and got some very nice shots. Yes this is a special New York style Thanksgiving.
It took a little longer to find this shot. But my database came through again. I have thousands upon thousands of subject labeled Bill. And unless I used turkey or Thanksgiving as a key word… or Bill’s house or Lila’s house, this was going to be a long search. I got it from Thanksgiving and J’s approximate age. The visual joke here is that the turkey and J are about the same size and the turkey weighs more. Some jokes whether good or bad linger longer than others.
Right there! It says ‘Happy Thanksgiving – photobackstory.’ I am absent from Thanksgiving holiday in NY once again. Farid’s kids are off today. They go to the American International School. So naturally they have off for the holiday. He graciously suggested we have dinner. He was reminded of that quintessential menu item – “Gravy.” Well, that’s true but it does need a turkey to go with it. Where to eat? I started a web search for a restaurant in Jeddah where we could go. I’d also pay for dinner if I could get the bill first. Nonetheless, there are no viable suggestions. I tried the American junk food places – McD, Burger King, of course not; Fuddruckers, no way; Friday’s, Tuesday’s, not a thing on their website or anywhere else about Jeddah. No American chain hotels. To be honest until Farid suggested, I was just going to have a very quiet dinner out. I was going to drag my iPad along and read a digital book and look at the many photographs of the fishies I have shot. We’ll dive in the Red Sea tomorrow, of course.
There! Right there on my search page screen capture. It’s even on the first page! There’s a reference to my blog post last Thanksgiving. It’s irrelevant to my search. But the tags and key words put me on the first page of the search engine. That is too cool! It also means there is no where you can hide. (Note to myself: “self, don’t put anything into your blog that you would be embarrassed if your mother should read it.”) … which means that no one will be seeing anything about the inside workings of the world of neurosurgery anytime soon. It would prove way too politically incorrect. I have no particular desire to be the nail that gets hammered. Happy Thanksgiving again to one and all for whom this is a significant day (which excludes most of the rest of the world). …For the historical record, I had dinner with Farid and Silva, and the kids. They both (the kids) passed out by the end of dinner. We ate after 9PM in an Italian restaurant. It was quite a find. I have been up and down this boulevard countless times and never looked up to see a restaurant on the 4th floor with an outdoor balcony (smoking). The menu had hamburger, and spring rolls. I had veal scaloppine – after all it’s Italian. It was breaded, deep fried, and very tender. It wasn’t Turkey (Friday’s or Chinese), but it was very flavorful and enjoyable. I fought once again but lost out in paying. It wasn’t family; it was close friends and that’s a wonderful thing too.
I hadn’t intended to do much for Thanksgiving. It’s not a holiday here. But the market had some chestnuts (from China). I kept remembering the tainted milk. All the produce is labeled with its country of origin. I got an Egyptian pomegranate and bananas from the Philippines.
Everyone I speak with has a different way to do it. I’ve used a microwave, boiling hot water, and oven roasting. I went with roasting. As usual there were a bunch of molded spoiled nuts. There’s nothing you can do, it’s built into the process. I had a pumpkin that was a chance spontaneous purchase a couple weeks ago.
So I made a passable soup. It reminded me of the soup my daughter took over a few years ago. She took the recipe my wife used in the Silver Palate cookbook. Anyway it was a good soup. I had some fresh bread, cheese, and corn fritters. It reminds me that sliced white bread is sold in the market. But it is the flat breads and all the other variations, which make bread so much fun. There is focaccia, Egyptian, Ethiopian, and you name it. I never see the same thing twice. The price can be as low as 25 cents. It turns out that this is a real bargain. You just have to remember not to indulge too vigorously.
I like to multitask while cooking. So I was roasting peanuts as well. The have loads of beans, grains, and nuts available in the market. I made all this stuff weeks ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. For Thanksgiving I’ll phone home and then avoid turkey sandwiches.
Here’s David with his Grandpa Bill and Uncle Pete. (They don’t much use the term grand uncle.) It’s Thanksgiving and dinner is about to be served. It’s interesting. Bill and Pete don’t do kitchen duty…no cooking and no dishes and certainly never at the holiday. All the ladies are not at all annoyed. I do cooking and clean up. It’s how I was raised. If your mother wants to survive three sons, the boys help or they don’t eat. The funny thing is that when I was on my own for the first time, I found out that I could cook and never knew it. By the time you know all about prep work, the only thing left is to throw the food into the pan and cook it. Ha! Cooking lessons and I didn’t even know it. So much to my surprise David called from Argentina and inquired how to roast a turkey. David didn’t like to eat turkey much less had he ever been in the kitchen to roast one or to cook anything else (so I thought). He got instructions from his mom (I could only laugh). We next heard he needed instructions on how to light his stove. Ha ha. But it was the fact that the oven had no thermostat that really killed the deal. David made dinner for about 30 people and pulled it all together. No one got food poisoning! I can only say that this was a pretty impressive achievement. He had a little leeway. They like to eat near midnight in Argentina.
It’s a tradition in my house except that I’m not home this year. My life has landed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. So the day started in the gym, stretching. Then on to the OR for a woman who just had a baby and was becoming paralyzed from breast cancer. We saved her. It’s already late afternoon and in New York everyone is just rising. No Thanksgiving dinner later for me. No celebration. I’ve spoken to friends and family, left messages for others, and emailed my kids. It’s a funny thing because one year is so different from any other. Ninety degrees and sunny, tomorrow I’ll dive in the Red Sea. Who would believe that this is the alternative to Black Friday? The kids are traveling. My son is in California visiting his girl friend’s family. And my daughter will spend it in the Cayman Islands. I didn’t realize that dropping out of the holiday would change it so much for everyone else. In searching my hard drive, I was hoping to catch a classic shot that’s hiding there. Julia (infant) is being held by Grandpa Bill in one hand and in the other Grandpa has the Thanksgiving turkey waiting to be dressed. Julia was smaller than the turkey and it’s a priceless shot. Grandpa doesn’t even like turkey. He loved his grand daughter. So I got this shot. It’s a holiday dinner some years later. As you can see Julia is exhausted. And all she had to do was eat the dinner. We would start days in advance. It’s not hard. But you have to gather all the essentials. One year my wife bought a frozen turkey on Tuesday expecting to bake it on Thursday. She panicked upon realizing that this would not be possible. We ended up with a fresh turkey (don’t ask) and another whole turkey dinner on Saturday. So I say, go ahead and enjoy. I hope I can get a football game on TV/internet. Then I’ll remember Thanksgivings past. All the best to all of you.