Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving

On Tuesday morning, it dawned on me that I was living out a fantasy.  The whole going to a farm and getting a real turkey for Thanksgiving fantasy.  My friend, D, and I were headed about 35 minutes north to our friend Elizabeth's farm. I started nagging Elizabeth about Thanksgiving turkeys in May.  We met Elizabeth and her family through the farmers' market and absolutely adore her.  Every week, D and I enjoy our chats with Elizabeth and her daughter while we wait for the horn to blow to permit the beginning of sales.  She and her husband, Bryan, decided they would raise turkeys this year.  Ever since then, they've had to field questions from me about the turkeys.  They would creatively answer my inane questions.  After all, there are only so many ways one can answer And how are the turkeys this week?!  Some of my friends and clients found my interest in my turkeys rather macabre.  These are not my first locally-raised turkeys, but this is my first go-around with actually knowing the person behind the turkey.  Many years, I've tried to snap my fingers and have this experience.  What I hadn't given enough credit is the relationship that makes it all the more special. 

The drive up wasn't exactly my fantasy of covered bridges and frost-kissed brush, it's just a normal highway.  And D was so offended and shocked by something she heard Howard Stern say that she shared something exponentially more graphic and lewd.  But as we turned off the highway, and the road started to narrow and bend erratically around barns, I started to feel a little giddy.  The houses began to drift further apart and vast fields began to dominate.  As we pulled into Elizabeth's driveway, beautiful birds free-ranging rushed around and I parked in a bizarre position to avoid hitting them.  There was a peacock (or peahen?) perched on a pickup truck and a spectacular Royal Palm turkey on promenade.  A big collie, Puffy, greeted us and swiped her paw against our legs if we dared to stop petting her.  Elizabeth gave  us a tour of the farm and we loved seeing where so much of our summer produce grows.  Her garden is huge--probably 150 x 50 and provides a myriad of exquisite vegetables, fruit, greens, herbs, and flowers spring through fall.  A clearing walled-in by dozens, if not hundreds, of acres of corn fields. 
She invited us in for a cup of coffee, with the table bedecked in lovely Limoges china I knew you'd appreciate that she said as I couldn't help myself from turning the plate over to see the pattern name.  We got to learn a little more about her in her happy kitchen.   
I could tell she was a slightly uncomfortable with how much the turkeys cost, but she absolutely shouldn't have been.  After a while, we loaded our coolers with our turkeys and were off.  I managed to get us very lost on the way home, despite it being an easy route.  D has a fail-safe sense of direction and took over navigation and eventually we found our way back. 
If you're local or semi-local, you can get in touch with Elizabeth on her farm facebook here for your Thanksgiving turkey next year.
Smart, talented, and lovely Elizabeth
The rest of the day was spent preparing my turkeys to go in the sous vides.  The advantages to cooking your turkey sous vide are many.  One of the best being that carving is so easy because the bones are out--and because the bones are out, you have them to make stock before Thanksgiving.  So as my kitchen really began to smell like Thanksgiving with the stock starter in the oven, I quite gleefully hunkered down into the final push toward Thursday. 
I think my turkey had a boob job. This is one side of the breast
I like to start my stock by braising the backbone, neck, and vegetables
in a bottle of sauvignon blanc.  Deepens the flavor and color

Dressing prep



My sister and I were in communication all day regarding my mother.  My sister runs our family business (I say our because I clean the chandelier and run over with emergency toilet paper when they've run out) and needed my mom to come in and cover a shift in the evening.  I told her  I would only release my sweatshop labor if the tablecloth had been completed, to which my sister said well god damn it then if she's not done you're going to have to drag your ass in here and work! Someone needs to! The world does not stop because you're fucking obsessed with Thanksgiving! I said oh no! I can't hear what you're... and hung up on her.  My sister needed my mom to come in at 5:30, and my mom victoriously finished at 3:11. 

54 feet of fabric for the skirt, approximately ten inches wide
Is the tablecloth the very embodiment of couture perfection? No.  At least not to her.  She is furious with herself over an oversight in the pattern that causes the top to swoop down further into the skirt than she'd like.  I had to literally hide the seam rippers and scissors, because I knew she was champing at the bit to rip it to shreds. I am so tremendously proud of her for 1) finishing 2) accepting its imperfection.  I'll have it forever and am sure that someday I'll run my fingers along the swooping seam and it'll transport me to this wonderful time. 


Priceless blue and white artifacts from Home Goods Dynasty China,
look away Ellie this certainly qualifies as "bad" b&w.



The china was found on Craigslist in September. Service
for 12 for $60! My sister made the napkins
Though I asked this portion of the pattern not be included.
What the hell is this?

Twisted little fucker
The truth is that I always push to give holidays their due.  To some, holidays are just another day--and that's fine.  I don't think anyone should do holidays any certain way.  I sometimes wish I had a more nonchalant attitude about them.  For whatever reason, they are very important to me.  This Thanksgiving felt different because it is a transitional time in my family.  I can feel things changing and, of course, don't know where they'll go.  Overall, it's a very good time.  We often wait until years later to realize when times were good--often when it's too late to really celebrate them.  I learned this the hard way with my great grandmother.  A few years in a row, I mulled over the idea of having a Mother's Day brunch.  My GG, grandma, and mother could all be there together.  Well, the perfect time never came.  So I never had my perfect Mother's Day brunch.  Within a few short years, my GG had passed away and my grandmother was very sick.  I just hate myself for not having that brunch when I could.  It would have rained and my sister would have bitched about having to be here by 11, but in the end it would have been wonderful--or at least it would have happened.  It was a good time then and I couldn't see it clearly enough to know that it was worth a push to acknowledge. 
Since  I cannot go back in time and change that regret, I have a hell or high water attitude about holidays and mile markers now.  I've yet to regret it. 
By Wednesday morning, much of the food prep was done.  I planned it that way so I could casually enjoy the day.  Running errands, feeling the bubbling holiday energy, arranging purchased flowers, lunch with a friend...and...some grand theft floral. 
I had been eyeing these beautiful yellow crabapples since September.  I would check on them a few times a week to make sure they hadn't fallen due to frost or inclimate weather.  Usually by this time, crabapples are squishy and gross-looking.  This year, with our mild weather,  they are still looking gorgeous.  Unfortunately, these crabapples are not in my yard.  They are at the entrance to a neighborhood.  A big neighborhood where people come and go constantly.  If I had any shame or dignity, I would be much too embarrassed to blatantly go steal fucking crabapples from a neighborhood where I don't even live!  Buuuut I don't.  So on Wednesday afternoon, I pulled my happy ass up, rolled Barbie's window down so she could watch her pathetic father in action, and began snipping away.  Now, listen,  I didn't decimate the trees or anything.  You could hardly tell I even took anything.  Because I couldn't exactly keep a low profile, I opted to keep a high profile.  I waved at people driving by, yelled Happy Thanksgiving! to people running and walking on the adjoining path and just sort of held court there at the entrance to the neighborhood where I was stealing crabapples.  No one seemed remotely bothered. 
I was up late Wednesday, working on the flowers and the table.  I had a terrible time deciding on napkin folds.  Ultimately, I just opted for something simple that showcased my favorite section of the toile. 


Thursday was calm and easy and followed my schedule.  What was unbelievable was the weather.  It was almost 70F! Unheard of for the end of November.  It could have easily been snowy.  Having the fresh air from outside swirling through the house made the day all the more spectacular.  Because it was so perfect, my grandpa called to ask if we could delay so he could golf.  I was happy to oblige and give myself even more time.  So my guest list has fluctuated so many times--from seven to twenty one, that I just planned to cook for 100.   I ended up having the perfect number: eight.  One table, one conversation, a quick-moving buffet, and a manageable amount of dishes.  I was so, so pleased.  Especially for my mother.  The tablecloth was the star and every guest got to experience it.  There were photos taken and questions asked and accolades galore for her and I know she loved it.  Sewing is not something everyone can comprehend, because unless you've done it, it can be hard to understand just what skill and work go into it.  So she doesn't often get the credit she is due for her work.  But because this tablecloth was so visually commanding in color and form, it was awarded much praise. 




Apple-Cranberry-Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange Buttercream

I wasn't thrilled with my platters for the roasted carrots and parsnips, but didn't want the carved turkey to get cold while I was fussing with them.  Other than that, I was so pleased with how the day went.  It was casual and easy, but ceremonial and special.  My best friend, M,  was happy to fold into my family, and we didn't even argue politics.  My grandpa told his story about sneaking behind the Berlin Wall for lunch one day (the food was bad, the women were beautiful), and M showed us YouTube videos of a girl we went to high school with who is apparently a sensation in South Korea.  The prosecco flowed and we lingered at the table. 
I trust my friend and turkey farmer, Elizabeth,  so much that I took her recommendation on a different pumpkin pie recipe.  It was phenomenal.  L gave it high praise and said it's not "barfy" like normal pumpkin pie.  I've never found pumpkin pie to be barfy, but if you have, you may love this one.  The only problem with it is that the brown sugar makes it look a little burned. 
So--from turkeys to regret to barfy pie--that's Thanksgiving 2015.  Or I thought it was until yesterday when M texted me that she was making a feast after all.  She was at the grocery at 1PM and served by 7PM.  I helped with mashed potatoes in her cramped kitchen with insufficient bowlage, spilled shit everywhere as we worked on top of each other, and she topped my wine off whenever I turned my back.  We debated on whether muscular guys look better with big butts or small ones and she tried to tell me that Joanna Barnes was not in the original Parent Trap.  When we started doing the Spider Dance or how we think it would look,, I knew I wouldn't be driving home.  I was called on to carve her turkey and did a pretty good job for three-too-many glasses of wine.  I arranged alternate transportation home and woke up giggling.  Her Thanksgiving couldn't have been more different from mine in preparation, planning, and equipment.  And yet it was every bit as fabulous.  That's the beauty of Thanksgiving, isn't it? 
M's feast

Never too hungover to appreciate a beautiful sunrise

How was yours? How many people did you have? Who got the drunkest? 

89 comments:

  1. We had a great time. The table looks FAB.
    I would say my J got the drunkest.

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    1. Thank you! Haha were there a lot of wedding questions overwhelming him?!

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  2. 1. That orange table cloth is SPECTACULAR!!! I want one. Isn't she clever?

    2. LOVE the flowers, the food and the crab apple theft tale

    3. Am sad it is over- I will miss these posts- can you do Christmas?

    4. Love the craigslist china and all your stunning decor

    5. LUFF the Non-Ellie approved blue and white china

    6. I don't want to scare you half to death but I know if you lived on this continent in this city, despite being horrified at my over bleached hair full of split ends, we'd be friends.

    xxxxx

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    1. Hahaha thank you, FF! I would never be horrified by your hair as it is always 11/10. Plus we all know slightly damaged hair has the best texture anyway!

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  3. Fantastic Thanksgiving. Your meal and table setting looks outstanding. Fresh turkey is great - I had it from a farm once and it is sooooo tasty/tender.

    This year I had prime rib roast and only 10 people. I bought the pies from Whole Foods. They were okay and the ice cream made them better. Everybody was relaxed and nobody got offended. Overall a success! Now on to Christmas. Susan

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    1. Thank you so much! Your Thanksgiving sounds fabulous and stress-free! Lovely! The turkey was so, so good.

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  4. Just so beautiful, loved all the details and loved your descriptions!
    Your Mom's tablecloth is really beautiful - she is very talented!! I say that as someone that sewed my daughters box pleated bed skirt… it looks good from a distance (i.e. at the doorway to the room). Just don't go up close.
    That toile is interesting though… is that a dead donkey strung up on the log they're carrying off to bbq? I can see why you didn't want it on the table.
    Loved too your description of stealing the crabapples. There are roses growing everywhere in Adelaide, including on the side of roads and footpaths and the middle of roundabouts (they are very easy to grow here. Like weeds really)… and you often see cheapskate males snipping roses off to make up bouquets for their girlfriends. Although that's kind of sweet in a way…
    Can't wait until we roll on for your Christmas feasting posts!! And the tree!! And all your decorating. I've just loved your Thanksgiving posts so much.

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    1. Oh my mom will be so glad you know they're box pleats! Thank you so much! Yes I don't know what the deal with the poor donkey was! I love the boyfriends picking wild roses! Though if they don't arrange them beautifully with other greenery and a silk ribbon, I don't love them! I'm excited about my tree this year, I'm doing colored lights! Have always done white.

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  5. You are nothing less than a 5 Star happening. Loved every single detail...you continue to amaze the world.
    I am so out of gas from too much food...time to have a simple turkey sandwich with cranberry orange relish on top. Did not even get any great photos to share. You did not miss a trick!

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    1. Thank you so much, Loti! Oh I agree with you. I think I only want to eat lemons until Christmas. Toooooo much of a good thing. The relish just gets better, doesn't it?

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  6. Loving your approach to Grand Theft Floral, just wave and yell at everyone going by, it's all normal here! Hehe perfect, and look at the result, I'm dying over the combination of your mother's fantastic tablecloth which I've already pinned to my October Holidays board, the stunning floral/crab apple arrangements (!!!) and the food. And your grandpa calling to delay on account of his golf game and you just going with it. And M's dinner the next day, also Barbie looking so elegant. And the sunrise. Please start a new series leading up to Christmas. It would be so good. XOX

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    1. Thank you so much! I know you love a pop of orange as much as I do! Yes, I figure at 80 to go out and golf on Thanksgiving is an opportunity not even I could deny to keep the schedule! Haha

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  7. As Loti says, a five star happening! What a glorious tablecloth. And no wonder you obsess about Thanksgiving, it's kind of a Presidential dinner chez vous!

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  8. I LOVED THIS!FORGET HAIR YOU SHOULD WRITE FULL TIME!I laughed OUTLOUD at the upside down ASS........maybe he got hurt and they were carrying HIM HOME?Your MOTHER's TABLECLOTH is GORGEOUS!
    TOO Much to comment on as it was a BLAST TO READ!
    I did not get this notification after signing up with email.......I will TRY AGAIN!I am certain its MY COMPUTER..........dumb cyber space they take a lot of coffee breaks!
    SO< HAPPY IT was a SMASH and SO happy YOU enjoyed it!!!PREP WORK........and Elizabeth's TURKEY's........are you going to share the pie recipe?
    XX

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I will! I couldn't find a link for it. So I'll post it! I think the notifications are supposed to come the next day? We'll see. I've noticed I get some and not others!

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  9. MY MEAL WAS TERRIFIC..........cause I used ELEANOR's COOKBOOK.Second year in a row.......we were only SIX.REPEAT performance tonight!!!!

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    1. I'm not the least bit surprised! I love her mother's recipes so much! They are written by someone who clearly has tremendous passion! And it doesn't get better than Ellie's way of weaving them together!

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  10. Amazing meal and amazing pics. As always, you inspire me to do a better job next year. This year I did better than last year, because I did the turkey sous vide and it was the most amazing turkey any of us have ever had. NEXT YEAR I resolve to do a better job on decor because I have SO much more time now that the turkey is no longer a stress-builder! Glad your day was wonderful and enjoy the warm weather, we are so chilly here. (24 degrees last night!)

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    1. Thank you so much! Oh I am so so so glad the turkey cooked sous vide was such a star!! It's just fantastic, isn't it? And soo much easier! I felt like I was cheating my first sous vide Thanksgiving! 24?! Unbelievable! It's starting to cook back down here-which I'm glad for...don't want my Christmas decorations to turn brown!

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  11. I don't have a blog, I found you through Ellie and have enjoyed your recent posts. You make me laugh, I love the crabapple story, which will probably become part of family history. I love color, so I think your table is beautiful with your Mom's magnificent tablecloth and the flowers and napkins( love toile). Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, mainly because of the cooking, and cooking equals love, I think.

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    1. Thank you so much! Now I need to keep an eye on evergreens and holly to steal for Christmas! Haha. Couldn't agree with you more re cooking!

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  12. P.S. Jealous of your LeCreuset! I have one piece with lid.

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  13. That tablecloth is amazing, and your mother clearly a very superior Sewist (speaking as a life-long mediocre stitcher). The combination of that spectacular orange with your blue glassware is sublime - and very Monet!
    I have always found it prudent to check the pictures in a fabric toile - you never know what you might see in that innocent looking design. Loved all your Thanksgiving posts, thank you.

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    1. Thank you so much! I just love orange and blue! You're right-there are some suspect images hiding in those lovely toiles! I have a beautiful old flo blue plate that upon further inspection of the pattern is a slave trade! I don't have the same fondness for it now that I used to!

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  14. Brilliant. And...I love the tablecloth.

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  15. And another round of thank you & much applause for everything in your latest round up of thanksgiving. Truly awesome writing. Also love how you can cook, love and appreciate your family & do things on the side of beautiful! Thanks again Den x

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    1. Thank you so much, Den! Time to start gearing up for your big Christmas party!

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    2. Skates are on! Hubs guerneyed ( think that's the right word) the sandstone driveway & side paths (which were a nice shade of brown). God bless him because it now looks fab although he's exhausted. he's scrubbed the floor of our outdoor terrace ( thank goodness cos I really didn't want that job - I scored job of driving teen to her friends karaoke party were birthday girl came dressed as John Lennon, there was one Kate bush you'd be pleased to hear & took son to his training ) Christmas wreaths up on front doors,Christmas tree up & general festive feeling happening. Ordering from butcher, deli, green grocer & bottle shop today. Actioning all linen after work today. Tomorrow making sure we have enough wood for our 2 bbqs as we love wood fired bbqs ( please don't tell climate change forum as I tell the kids although it tastes good we're contributing to making the hole in the ozone layer bigger).
      Hubs has the same look of relief on his face as Steve Martin has on his face in the movie Father of the bride, the couple of times I've told him x or y can't make it! Have a wonderful week. Den xxx

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    3. PS would love your mum's tablecloth on center table, because nothing says happy like that tablecloth. Prepared to pay big $$$$ to hire that fabulous piece as well first class air freight. Reminds me of the time my mum sewed the first blazer I wore to high school. It didn't have school logo on it but I loved it as she used the loveliest silk fabric to line the blazer and I was never pulled up for not wearing regulation blazer. It just looked luxe and divine in my mind at least. Den xxx

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    4. Oh that sounds like so much work! Your Christmas will be fabulous!! Love the story about your blazer! My mom would love it if her tablecloth were the star of an Aussie Christmas!

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  16. We don't have Thanksgiving in Australia. You probably already know that. It's a wonderful idea though,I mmean a day where ALL the family get together to give thanks for everything that have. Brilliant!
    The platter arrangements look pretty damn good to me.

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    1. Thank you so much! There was an interesting discussion on Faux Fuchsia several posts ago about whether it would be good or bad if Thanksgiving came to Australia.

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  17. I just laughed out loud over the crabapple story and scared the cat. She went shooting off the bed. You are so funny and such a storyteller. Thanks for that wonderful recap! Our Thanksgiving was snowy, icy, and cold but dinner was great!

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    1. Haha thank you so much! Oh I would have also loved a snowstorm over Thanksgiving! The farmers almanac says we're supposed to have a snowstorm over Christmas!

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  18. ooh, your food looks absolutely divine!... and that cake! What a gorgeous combination of ingredients! ... your mother is so talented, I see where you got the flare -

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    1. Thank you so much! You're exactly right!

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  19. As with La Contessa, there was just way too much here that is fabulous to comment on, I don't know where to start! Can I just make a blanket statement that absolutely everything (pup included) was just beautiful and you will know that I mean it?

    But I do want to say that I thought of you on Thanksgiving Day (after you so kindly included me in your run-up via photos, I still am so grateful for that) and...that idea that Naomi proposed about a live feed? I seriously wanted that. Ok, maybe not on the day itself as it seems rather chill (and wow was I impressed that you let your Grandpa have his golf game) but perhaps the day before? Or if you and M decide to make a day-after feast a regular tradition? Because...and here is the good part...we could all do pay-per-view and the proceeds could go towards you and Barbie coming over on the Queen Mary 2! Come on...you have to admit that it is brilliant, right?

    While never quite arriving at drunkeness, I most certainly had the most to drink in my house as I was the only one celebrating! Let's just say that I bet my Mom will say that I was quite "entertaining" when we talked at four pm my time and I thought that I had stretched out my Chardonnay consumption more wisely than I actually did... :)

    Gros Bisous,
    H

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    1. Haha thank you! maybe you can just be my agent! I know that I should have divided this post up but I just didn't want to :) Monday and Tuesday are the most hectic days I'd say as I really put all the pressure on to get the food done then. Then I have weds for overflow. The great thing about Thanksgiving is that most everything can dine ahead! Except pies and mashed potatoes. Those I make/bake thurs morning. Some pies taste better the next day, but not pumpkin. In my opinion, that is!

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  20. stephen i read this while at work yesterday and it truly lifted my spirits, just the color alone was all i needed. thank you so much for this whole series and especially thank you for a glimpse into your home. what a treat! it is so beautiful and i'm dying to see more. your mother is a superstar!!! xo

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    1. Thank you so much, Janet! I think color this time of year is so important. At least it is here because October is such a riot of color and then November turns so bleak and grey! That was my inspiration for the buffet arrangement, actually. Because the only color left among the woods and brush are the berries.

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  21. Oh my God, Stephen! Everything looks absolutely perfect… The food, the flowers, the table setting and that tablecloth! That tablecloth is everything! I would have been with you out there cutting those crab apples. I always keep scissors or clippers in my car just in case I have to steal something on my way home from the market. Your Thanksgiving is perfect. Perfect like you.

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    1. Thank you so much!!! I'm glad you will pardon my b&w. :) I'm so glad I'm not the only one who does this! Dani told me that her friend is a fellow grand theft floraler. I don't usually keep clippers in my car but I think I will now! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  22. SPECTACULAR!!! Just beautiful! Any tips for starting a china collection! I wouldn't know where to start except the color would be blue! Your settings are gorgeous!!!

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    1. Thank you so much! That's an interesting question. I'd say know what your "neutrals" are. I use blue and white all the time, as a neutral so I tend to buy pieces that still look good with that. Because there's almost a guarantee that blue and white will be somewhere on my table. If you're thinking blue anyway, it should be easy. Blue and white all goes together and no need to match it all. There are less and less sets of blue and white China showing up in flea markets,'so I wouldn't hold out for a set to show up. But I scan Craigslist, eBay, goodwill, and my favorite thrift stores always and just keep an open mind. Also, it can be so hard to pass up the lovely serving pieces-tureens, pitchers, platters--but I often do because I rarely use those. So I keep my focus on plates. I always make bread so I always like to have bread plates. Teacups and saucers are so cute but I don't have much need for them either, so I try not to be terribly tempted by them! Let me know what you find! Also a wildcard in China can be an app called Live Auctioneers. There's almost always a buyers premium, but china will often go for low $$ on there in big sets. You just never know with auctions.

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    2. Great advise, thanks so much for your reply!

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  23. Gorgeous!!
    I adore your Mum's tablecloth -- it is a treasure! Your table setting and flowers were drop-dead-gorgeous (the colors and patterns -- laughed at the toile -- some of the patterns are a bit dicey and some are racy!) and the food looks divine! REAL turkey -- Wow!
    Many thanks for taking wonderful photos to share with us .... Our Thanksgiving was wonderful, rain but LOTS of food and fun! (yes -- I DID end up moving the table centerpiece -- could NOT see over it nor around it) Your centerpieces are perfect and the showstopper floral arrangement on the buffet is stunning!

    Cheers!

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    1. Thank you so much! I hear you on center pieces, it is so hard to keep them low! I often will place the highest center flower first and work from there. And if I'm in doubt, I'll sit it on the table and sit down to double check. But I learned the hard way that I need to remember most people are shorter than me! So they needed to be a few inches below my field of vision! Your Thanksgiving sounds so wonderful! I'm sure your house felt cozy and warm amid the cold rain!

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  24. This was almost the same as being there! Sounds like everything was exactly as you described ... perfect!

    Our whole family was together at my parents' house ... my brother and sister, and all of the children and grands. We all live within 45 minutes of each other. This wasn't something that I EVER had while growing up, as an Army Brat who-knows-where at Thanksgiving, since extended family lived elsewhere. Times when we can all be together (except for our daughter in Montana, who was there spirit) are precious.

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    1. Thank you! It was certainly not perfect, but it was close enough :) Your big Thanksgivings sound so wonderful! And how nice that your family has finally been able to drop anchor! I'll bet Thanksgiving in Montana is fabulous!

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  25. I'm a new reader and I love your blog! I wish I put in as much effort as you do for holidays but I am much too lazy. So please keep telling us about yours-it looked fabulous. And your mom's the bomb!

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    1. Thank you so much! I only do it because I love it! I wouldn't bother if I didn't want to! The important part is the gathering, all the other stuff is just fun (or not!).

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  26. Love your Mother's handiwork...the table looks very elegant.
    The crab apples are a great choice...I like to think that you were "pruning the trees!" for free so performing a service to those who reside in that gated community.
    I wonder if your grampa ever cooked a turkey dinner...I'd be stressed out if I was told a few hours before dinner was to be served that the time needed to be extended...you are an amazing host!

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    1. Thank you! I tried to improve the form of the trees, so you're right! I mainly cut intersecting branches that may become problematic later!
      Oh if I had been roasting the turkey in the oven and had it all planned that way, heads would roll if I were asked to delay! But since I cook my turkey sous vide, I can have that flexibility and it's no trouble!

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  27. Stephen your table spread is elegant, refined and what a beautiful tablecloth,.And i am sure your food was delicious. I agree with you the best time to do things is NOW because the perfect time for everyone will never be. I love reading your post. I am happy that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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    1. Thank you so much, Mary Sue! You are so right. If can be tempting to think "by next year I'll have improved x, y, z..." And let that keep holding you back!

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  28. Stephen, I have been following your blog for a while and always enjoy your posts. I just wanted to say that you seem like such a nice person, and your responses to your comments are always thoughtful and kind. Your Thanksgiving series was stellar! Thanks so much for all of it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Rosemary! That is so lovely of you to say! I am nice, unless I'm hungry :) hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it!

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  29. i think barbie has the coolest cat burgler father i mean crab apple burgler father in the world.
    you know what i love?
    more than the obviously fabulously delicious feasts you always make?
    i love the elegant minimalism that is your life.
    the only thing wicked and wonderfully over the top is your sense of humor and your heart.
    XO♥

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    1. Oh Tammy thank you so much! But I am really a type-A hoarder! I have so much stuff. Can't help but pick up beautiful things when I see them! I actually also have a lot of my friends and clients' family china, silver, and crystal that they didn't want but didn't want to totally let go of either! I keep way more than I should!

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  30. You are simply the best! Your Thanksgiving feast looked wonderful, your mother's tablecloth fantastic (box pleats on an OVAL table!), and your posts about it all have been a treat. Thank you for sharing with us!
    P.S. You may have diagnosed the root of my pumpkin pie aversion, i.e. the barfy texture!

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    1. Thank you so much, Catherine! Happy Thanksgiving! haha it was so funny when L said that! Everyone except me was like "oh, yes, I know exactly what you mean!" I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the only one who genuinely loves pumpkin pie! I will post the recipe. It's all heavy cream and no evaporated milk!

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  31. Everything looked beautiful! I love all the silver trays and the gorgeous tablecloth your mother made! I got a sous vide earlier this year but forgot to use it for the turkey - duh. Then we wouldn't have ended up with a dry turkey which I blame on my husband. I did make your grundle yesterday, which was excellent. Oh, and I found a gold mirror last week which is quite similar to yours I think. Hugs.

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    1. Thank you so much, Donna! You will need to let me know if you ever need to borrow silver! Oh I am so sorry I didn't remind you about the sous vide! It would have made your life so much easier! If you make a turkey for Christmas, you must sous vide it! One my friends might do a day of cooking lessons at her house--if she does, she'd like me to teach on sous vide. I will let you know if it materializes! Can't wait to see the mirror! So glad you enjoyed the grundle :)

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  32. What a fabulous series, we never wanted it to end! Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving prep and the big day. And your mom deserves a medal for that outstanding tablecloth, all those box pleats = pins everywhere!

    Happy Thanksgiving from Sydney.

    Susan x

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha you are so right! Can't even imagine how many pins were in that thing. It was so funny seeing her carry the skirt around before it was pleated, the pile of fabric was bigger than she was!

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  33. Love, love ,love this "story", Stephen. Your mom did a phenomenal job on that tablecloth. I DO sew and that is not an easy pattern to make come out perfectly. She did a great job.
    You did a great job, too, on the food. I followed your advice and got an electric knife this year.OMG- WHAT a difference. Thanks for the push to do that.
    Love that your friend's dinner was so different than yours. I am more like you- a planner down to perfection and it always amuses me how people can throw things together and it doesn't really matter in the end at all, does it? lol

    Hope you have a good week of recovery..and now---let's start planning Christmas, shall we? xo Diana

    ps. YOU will get a kick out of this. My dinner was perfect-everything timed perfectly. Put the sweet potatoes under the broiler with the marshmallows on them for the kids-forgot the stupid things and had charred marshmallows. It was all anyone talked about....my perfect meal and they remember the burnt marshmallows. lol

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    1. Thank you so much! Exactly!! I sometimes ask myself: why do I have to make everything so much more difficult?!
      So funny about the charred marshmallows! I remember one year I messed up the gravy and no one would let me forget it for years! And then one time for a random family dinner in October, not even Thanksgiving, I forgot to add sugar to the pumpkin pie. Well every pumpkin pie I've made since, I get to hear all about that one time I forgot!

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  34. I bow to your skills and chutzpah: You freakin' sous vide turkey for Thanksgiving! Damn, man. Your table, your food, your story and, my god, that amazing tablecloth, are all absolutely wonderful. I'm so happy you enjoyed it all!

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    1. Thank you! Sous videing (viding?) makes it so so much easier! Only problem is that a turkey demands quite a bit of real estate. So I need two of them! How did your mashed potatoes go? Did you end up adding the celeriac?

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    2. Mashed potatoes were great. Two apple pies were great. Salted caramel pecan bars (in lieu of pecan pie, which no one but me eats) were freakin' amazing. Unfortunately there was a bit a mix-up when it came to buying celeriac and jicama came home instead, so no celeriac (or jicama) mash for us!

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    3. Oh and the creamed onions (I used Williams- Sonoma's recipe with lots of thyme) were declared one of the best dishes on the table.

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  35. Oh please, Stephen, tell me what sous vide is. I looked it up and it's like boiling in a bag?! I know that can't be right. Please educate me.
    I want you to be my neighbor. xo Kathleen in Oregon

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    1. Hello, Kathleen! So basically what cooking sous vide means is that you vacuum seal meat in a plastic bag with seasonings and then put it in a precisely temperature controlled water bath. It's basically a very precise crockpot. Slow cooking on low temps. Where it differs from a crockpot is the temperature control. So things don't overcook. Then I pop it in the oven for a few min to color the skin. I have a much more thorough post on it here:
      http://stephenandrewblog.blogspot.com/2014/12/an-intro-to-cooking-sous-vide.html?m=1

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  36. I am so pleased for you and your family.

    The tablecloth looks phenomenal and I can't believe how she got the curve and the pleats just so. Before I did my one day crash course sewing where I screwed up no button cushion covers - I have a whole new respect for the craft and she is talented. That toile on those napkins cracked me up though.

    We don't celebrate it here but in Korea they have the autumn harvest moon where they do thanksgiving and invite dead ancestors for a picnic in front of the grave. It's a real thing! I am tempted by the sous vide for the home but like a gym membership - everytime I buy one the whole thing stops before it starts. I still have a vitamix taking up precious counter real estate. I can't wait for yoru Xmas prep now!

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha I still haven't bought a viramix because I just don't use a blender often enough to justify it. Meanwhile I am researching my next Le Creuset because, you know, I really really need another one :)

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  37. Oh my gosh - after hearing the story of grand theft floral (love it!), I do have to admit that Barbie is so ashamed of her "pathetic father" stealing crabapples. Just look at that face!! I would have done the same thing. And have. Well, not crabapples but just today it was holly. Shamelessly, happily...snip snipping away.

    Your Thanksgiving sounds absolutely perfect SA!! Everything looked beautiful and was probably delicious...so happy for you!

    We had 14, including the toddlers and there was very little drama. Really good for my family. We were bright and cold and it was a good day. So happy!!

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    1. Oh I need to locate some holly! Haha thank you so much! I'm so happy to hear it went so well! That is such wonderful news, I know you had been a little apprehensive! It's so nice that your effort was rewarded! A great feeling.

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  38. I love the idea of getting your turkey so farm fresh like that! I am dying for a specific custom tablecloth and if your mom is willing to take orders I will pay handsomely! Seriously, she should open shop. That tablecloth she made is so stunning.
    I love, love, love your table. Elegant without feeling bourgeoisie. (I had to Wikipedia how to spell that)
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much! I will pass that along to her :) we might need to work on her production time! Haha

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  39. oh wow. you're so beautiful Stephen.

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  40. Thank you, gk! I hope you're doing well!

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  41. Beautifully set table, again I love your glassware. Impressive crimping of your pie dough. Your Mother did an amazing job with the tablecloth, love the idea of the length of the pleats. Had a giggle at your sisters napkins, have to love a sense of humour. Sous vide is a pretthy amazing technique. Have you used the sous vide method for anything other than your turkey?

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I use my sous vide several times a week! I absolutely love them! I pretty much always use them when I'm cooking protein. Just so much easier!

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  42. I absolutely love reading your blog Stephen - such a great storyteller, I also enjoy reading your comments around the blog traps as well! Can't wait to hear about your Christmas preparations, (no pressure!)
    Cindy F
    x

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    1. Thank you so much Cindy! I am working on Christmas and hopefully will find the time to post soon!

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  43. Have only just discovered your blog and I absolutely LUFF it. Where have you been all my life?
    I need your determination and utter perfectionism in my Christmas lunch planning!!!
    https://chelseamorningsite.wordpress.com/

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