Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving


Hello! Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving! Mine was wonderful. I don't have many words today.   I tried but I'm in a bit of a sour mood regarding something completely unrelated to Thanksgiving and it was creeping in and throwing things way off.  Here is an excerpt of what I started to write in what was supposed to be a Thanksgiving post that turned rant:

"...I told her she’s free to do whatever she wants and also suffer the consequences.  It was a classic WASP threat said with an icy stare and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand.  The kind where you clear all distractions, turn toward, and stand your ground without moving an inch.  She might need one wayward holiday to learn.  Who knows, her chart is mostly Gemini..."

"...We all know what happens to those people when they stay like that.  They get mauled by bears camping or hit by cars running or have strokes giving elitist lectures to their fat friends.  Then the fat friends meet for happy hour and talk about how the stress of staying thin and smelling bad because they’re afraid of aluminum is what led to the stroke.  Then we order some potato skins and a half priced but still over-priced bottle of wine..."
"...Well, the reasons are many.  Mainly I don’t want to exploit little souls so whatever vapid husband I have and I can have cute Christmas cards..."

Yes, my Scarlett O'Hara Syndrome (SOS) is flaring up.  I'll probably post that at some other time but I haven't made enough sense of it.  So today we'll go with more pictures than words, a very rare occurrence.  I'm going to take Barbie on a looooong walk, and work on Christmas decorating and get rid of my bad vibes.  
The day started with a casual breakfast and watching the parade.  I kind of hate the parade but I refuse to miss a moment.
Do you watch it?  My favorite element is the extreme awkwardness of the lip-synching performers + the on-float
extras who just sway and wave their hands. 

Whatever was left I used as garnishes later! I couldn't love my Thanksgiving plates more.  
Barbie claiming a good seat early

Though the lure of a warm fire proved too hard to resist


-The silver was my grandmother's.  I inherited it by force, a tactic some legal experts call theft. It would have been liquidated otherwise.  
-Fuck anyone who liquidates family silver.
-The glassware is a mix of Fostoria and good ol' Libbey.  The Fostoria glasses are all in the color Topaz, but not all the same pattern.  The wine glasses are Fostoria #6007, if you see them in Topaz, let me know.  They were my Great Grandmother's.  I collected the water/ice tea glasses in thrift stores and eBay.  

-Fostoria's Topaz is a surprisingly versatile color as it works in every season.
My mom made the napkins.  They're a beautiful linen

-The placemats are collected vintage 
The dinner plates are Doulton before Royal Appointment, pattern Watteau. I loooooove them.
More commonly, they have a romance scene in the middle.  I love the white center and decorated border. 
My dome finally got its big moment! I cooked two turkeys.  One sous vide, which was superior in taste and so much easier...

and one roasted whole to look beautiful.  I carved it for leftovers.  I will admit, the house smelled amazing with the roasting
turkey, something a sous vide turkey can't compete with. 

If you don't have one already, I highly suggest an electric carving knife before next Thanksgiving.  So much easier!
Also, Anova has a Black Friday sale going on and sous vides are $99.  A very good deal considering my first SV unit in 2012
was almost $400.  

Yes, this was quite the fire hazard.  I kept a close eye and snuffer nearby. There is some blackened bittersweet.  That's okay.

Not sure if the scale really shows here, but that bowl is massive.  There are 4.5 dozen roses in there.  Note this is my grandpa's place setting, he requires a lot of butter.  I have trouble finding bowls that are large enough in diameter but not 
too tall.  This one is just right.  13 inches in diameter and 4 inch sidewalls.  The flowers are just below line of sight, so
there is no obstruction in view of conversation.  
Oh I feel calmer already.  Please please tell me about your Thanksgiving?  How did it go? What was the disaster?  There's usually at least one.  Thank you so much for reading this year, I so enjoyed it.  A blog is only fun when people read and I really appreciate all of you who indulge me.  I think I might do Christmas this year, too.  Christmas is a very different creature from Thanksgiving in my family... 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bittersweet






Today is one of my favorite days of the year.  The anticipation for a holiday is the best part; and I simply love the energy.  For at least today, the world and I are in tune.  Everyone is thinking about the things I love most, and for the most part people feel very warm toward one another.  I dare say this particular Wednesday before Thanksgiving this year is my idea of perfection.  Cool enough that I can use my deck as refrigerator, a light rain that makes the kitchen all the more ensconcing, and enough breeze to bring the now subdued and leathery falling leaves to life as they flit to the forest floor. 
I had a lovely morning driving around waving at people pretending I belonged there as I parked, left the car running, and stole shit from their yards and fencerows.  Barbie never ceases to amaze me with her intuition.  She sensed the devious nature of the errand and presumed the drivers seat as I clipped and loaded into the trunk.  She slumped down a bit as to keep a low profile but still drive the getaway car if need be.  Being half Border Collie, I don’t think that’s an impossibility.  Now the less picturesque part was when I walked my fat ass right into a patch of raspberry brambles.  Let’s just say whatever innocence was left in me is gone as those canes got places they shouldn’t have.  I felt violated.  I was so stuck I wondered if I might need to abandon my shorts and hurry back to my car, parked roadside in the brush.
Beautiful orange berries,, often found growing in fence and hedgerows. 

How very Ohio to enjoy--a surprise bovine vista 

As I was searching for and collecting bittersweet, I couldn’t help but admire the perfection of that very German word.  Did you know I speak German? I mean, to be fair, I speak like a slow, drunk 8th grader but enough to get by.  Anyway, I feel German is often written off as an ugly language.  People think it sounds like hacking or even less attractive actions.  The truth is German is straightforward and without adornment, but very sincere.   Which is why it is full of portmanteaus—devices not all languages embrace.  I am wholeheartedly a fan of the portmanteau, especially of bittersweet.  Such a simple, clear word with strong, evocative meaning.  There is nothing more bittersweet than a holiday.  We might visit with the memories of someone gone, reconnect with someone now outside of our everyday orbit, or be confronted by their mile-marker nature.  There’s always bitter and always sweet.  On this particular day before Thanksgiving, I am feeling some of the bitter but more of the sweet.  Perhaps if you are feeling the scale tipped the other way, remember you can’t have one without the other.  Embrace the bitter, but taste the sweet. 
The chaos of prepwork is almost over


Came across a Civil War monument on the 35 minute drive for duck eggs



A few relevant tips for today:
-Light a candle next to your cutting board when chopping onions.  It burns the gas they let off and reduces tears.
-If you get off schedule tomorrow, relax.  Have a drink-or scream into a towel if you’re an alcoholic-and remember that no one will die if dinner is late.  Give them whatever you can to tide them over and tell them to shut the fuck up. 
-The whole reason we do this is to gather, enjoy, and affirm whatever being American (or human) means to you.  You can still do that with runny gravy, dry turkey, and cheap wine.  Just not with burned stuffing.  Don’t burn the stuffing.  Don’t forget to take note of that in the mad rush before declaring Okay, let’s eat!  A tiny toast goes a long way.  I remember once on a Christmas Eve episode of Live, Regis Philbin said that one should always toast and always keep it under 59 seconds. 


How’s your prep going?   

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Getting Closer...


Well, here we are with one week to go.  Elizabeth still has one unclaimed turkey if you need one.  I have about a million things on my mind today and I’m sure you do, too.  So I thought I’d herd that chaos into bullet points in no particular order. 
-In case you missed this post last year, make yourself some cranberry relish first thing so you can sip my most beloved cocktail.  So good, so fresh, so easy, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Or if your feet are planted firmly in your kitchen for the entirety of the day, all three! What do you like to sip on while you’re in holiday mode cooking?
-I have a little wrench thrown into my schedule this year.  Not a wrench so much as a pleasant scheduling conflict.  I have friends who will be in Columbus for 24 hours and those 24 hours are Thanksgiving.  So I’m having them over for breakfast.  I have to tie my hands and keep it simple.  The good news is that it’s a Holiday so I don’t have to pretend it’s healthy like we usually do with breakfast. I’m going to make individual little sausage pies tonight and freeze them unbaked (though the filling will be cooked already), my favorite muffins, and sliced citrus.   They suggested a restaurant buuuut I have moral opposition to that. If you serve multiple meals on the big day, what do you do? 

I'm sorry if you're sick of these sunrises! I'm not...

-I won’t make my whole case but I think anything non-essential should be closed on Thanksgiving.  Maybe you disagree, that’s fine.  Every year my mom and I argue this because she sees it as an affront to capitalism. People don’t need Big Macs, tennis shoes, dildos, or god knows what else on Thanksgiving.  Grocery employees work so hard in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, it should end with a day off.  I don’t need to tell you that every dollar you spend is tracked and analyzed.  I do not patronize any business on Thanksgiving Day.  Not even Tim Horton’s in the morning.  I figure any dollar I spend makes the case for being open next year on Thanksgiving and any dollar I don’t leads the case against.  I’ll drink my shitty homemade coffee on Thanksgiving and eagerly await the good stuff the next day. 
-Last year I literally remembered everything except the fucking mayonnaise for the day after.  What is the quintessential Thanksgiving sandwich without mayonnaise?  Stock up now.   Also, get some cheap plastic containers for your guests’ leftovers.  Don’t get caught with your pants down and send guests off with your good Tupperware. 

Have been hoping to get his photo all season!

I asked him to come a little closer...

Deer are not usually aggressive, save for mothers with fawns and bucks in mating season

A littttttttle worried he might charge the car.  I was willing to risk a dent

He smiled and waved his tail as to say "I'm just fucking with you" 

More pressing matters at hand...

She doesn't seem interested

...no luck, back to breakfast

-Thanksgiving music is kinda hard.  What do you play?  I am working on a mix that’s about 70% jazz, 20% 60s and 70s, 5% classical, and 5% Christmas. I like a little Christmas music peppered in. 
-I wrote about my scheduling last year, but here is my schedule for this year.  If you don’t have a written schedule, I urge you to make one.  There are so many little things you forget about, and you always think you have more time than you do.  I try to think about what time I want to start and end on each day.  Maybe your peak productive hours are late into the night, early in the morning like me, or all the time like FF.  Schedule accordingly.  What’s joyous at 7AM can be daunting at midnight or later. 




-Thanksgiving pushes any kitchen to its limits, I find it helpful to have an out of the way zone to keep dishes until I’m ready to wash them.  It’s hard to serve dessert with dinner regalia on every square inch of counterspace. 


Monday, November 14, 2016

Politically Erect

What a week.  I’m not going to touch it. 

Maybe I will.  You know how on a Viagra commercial they always say call your doctor if you’re experiencing an erection lasting longer than four hours?  Well I think we need to call our fucking doctors for our election lasting longer than 24 hours.  It’s over.  Maybe you think we shot a blank, maybe you’ve never been more satisfied-- but we have an early morning and really can’t try again.  In short, we have too much blood rushing everywhere except our heads.  I’ve snapped, you’ve probably snapped, we need a cold fucking shower and some kumbayah. 
I missed the moon by about 23 seconds this morning.  


I’ve cried, argued, resigned, resumed, and eaten a lot of carbs.  What I haven’t done is written off entire swaths of my family and friends.  I know a lot of people who voted for Trump.  We disagree and that’s okay. I don’t hate them, wish to banish them, or think they’re stupid.  This is Ohio, for fuck’s sake.  If I excommunicated everyone who I’ve disagreed with politically, I would need to reset my circle every four years. 




I’m currently in my deep-cleaning phase of Thanksgiving prep.  I try and get everything as clean as possible so that my house is easier to work with during the holidays.  The most important part of this phase are the dishwashers.  While we’re on controversial subjects, let’s talk about dishwasher theory.  I clean my dishes with soap and water before I put them in the dishwasher.  I think of dishwashers as autoclaves, not garbage disposals. I think that because dishwashers are autoclaves and not garbage disposals.  Dishwashers do not have blades in them to mince things into manageable little pieces.  Therefore, if particles are left on plates, they will likely build up over time.  Many have box grater like lined cones that do mush food particles with water pressure and gravity, but that is not the same as a big ass garbage disposal. 
I used to have a wonderful guy who fixed my appliances.  He is kind of like a lot of other technical geniuses in that he is really fucking weird.  His shirt is always dirty and half-tucked in, he farts freely, and he opens the refrigerator and asks hey what’s this? Can I have some? Now in the interest of full disclosure, I feed everyone.  So he probably wouldn’t do that everywhere
I would die if I ever did any one of these things, let alone all of them all the time.  But he’s so sincere I can’t help but like him.  I open the windows and make him a plate.  He hates all the appliance companies because they’re not what they used to be, but he especially hates Viking. 
I used to have Viking dishwashers.  So, so pretty.  So, so awful.  So one year I had Thanksgiving on Thursday, of course, and then was catering a dinner party the following Saturday.  I did pretty much all my catering out of my house.  It was going to be tight, but I could handle it.  Until one of my dishwashers wouldn’t start.  What?! NO! Okay, thank god I have two.  Redundancy! Wait.  WHAT?! NO! Fuck.  They were suddenly both suffering from different maladies.  I wasn’t surprised as of course I was running them nonstop in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  I can easily do ten loads of dishes a day.  Granted, sometimes one load means only two BABs (that’s Big Ass Bowls if you’re new here).  I put everything in the dishwasher unapologetically.  Here in the land of political discontent, we have plenty of rain so I don’t feel guilty running them constantly.  The only things that don’t go in the dishwasher are my Le Creusets, a few precious plates, some silver, and my knives.  Other than that—from gold rims to dainty crystal—they all go in.  I have freakishly strong hands so I’m much more likely to break stemware drying it by hand than letting the dishwasher handle it.  I have broken many more glasses in the cold, sober, morning light than I have in tipsy tumbles. 
Anyway, I called my appliance whisperer in a panic Friday morning.  He was out of town until Tuesday.  Not exactly an epic hardship, but a fucking pain in the ass. 
This is how I got very rigid and compulsive about dishwasher care.  Between farts and refrigerator raids, my appliance guy chided me for not diligently keeping up on my jet-dry/rinse aid.  In a dishwasher with heated dry, this chamber should NEVER EVER be empty!  Keep an extra bottle of it always! NEVER LET IT GO EMPTY.  Okay, okay I’m sorrrrry.  These drains are all clogged! Are you putting dirty dishes in here?  Isn’t that kind of the point?  NO! Dishwashers are to automate and streamline sanitation! How often are you running it empty?  How often do you run a cycle with Lemi-shineHuh?  UGH!

Nowadays, I pamper my dishwashers all year, but especially leading up to Thanksgiving.  There are so so may dishes and I just don’t want to tempt fate.  About two weeks before, I run an empty cycle with Lemi-shine in the detergent compartment.  Then I run an empty cycle without Lemi-shine to ensure a solid rinse.  Lemi-shine not only leaves the interior of the dishwasher sparkling, but also ensures the drains out of the dishwasher are clean.  I get the impression it’s kind of like a scrubbing bubbles/drain-o combination product.  I don’t know much about it other than my guru says to use it.  I comply. And knock on wood, I’ve had great success.  I also refill the Jet-dry chambers frequently. 
Ready for the holidays
Forgive me if this is dreadfully boring, but I’m sure you’ve read plenty of controversial things lately. 
I’d love to hear your prioritized lists for holiday cleaning?  Of course, I think the kitchen should have top priority because clean kitchens are the key to holiday joy and efficiency.  But for beauty, I focus first on glass.  Light is so important and often you don’t realize you have bad light until you have good light.  Clean windows make for clean light, dirty windows make for dirty light.


Barbie turned 4 on Sunday! She had a fabulous day. 
I spent a lot of time cleaning my windows last week and through the weekend.  I figured this week of all weeks was a good time to wash away all the dust and grime that collected through the late summer and fall.  A chance to see things a bit more clearly—in good light.