A Rainy Saturday Before Thanksgiving

mantlepiece vignette

Fall table setting

Happy Weekend to you!

 It’s been pouring rain here the last couple of days and feeling utterly Autumnal. As I look out my window through the rain I can barely see the tops of the trees shrouded in deep fog. Santa Barbara is doing a great impression of the Pacific Northwest right now I must say.  Although Fall is not my favourite time (sorry but I’m a Summer Gal and get a tad sad cranky when we turn the clocks back) Autumn might be my favourite season in terms of appreciating the coziness of my home. Built well over a hundred years ago, it harkens back to a time when fireplaces were included in many more rooms than we would ever dream of indulging in now. Especially for Southern California.

So I’ve been enjoying the outdoorsy, I might even say ‘East Coast’ scent of burning wood inside and out. The giant oak we lost last year in the huge rain storm is giving us one more gift.

Mirrored wall

I’m all about Fall leaves at the moment, but more on that in an upcoming post.

I’ve already completed a dry run on my Thanksgiving table because I got excited about using deep garnet coloured depression glass plates instead of my usual green and amber theme. Roses didn’t seem appropriate, and though there were bountiful fruits and veggies at the Farmer’s Market this week, flowers are getting scarce. I chose long lasting gerbers in warm colours with a burgundy base and, yes, again with the leaves.

Thanksgiving table

Fresh walnuts from the market, leaves & the last of our apples for the season

Autumn floral displays

As much as I adore doing all the decorating and the table by myself, I’m not that revved up about cooking the entire turkey throw down on Thursday, only to have a repeat performance a scant few weeks hence-so… I asked for suggestions and inspiration over on my FB page and I’m happy to share a few of them here;

-Turkey for Thanksgiving and Prime rib for Christmas (though I’d flip this around as I have a larger group for Christmas than Thanksgiving)

-Chinese food on Christmas Day

-a pot luck dinner with an Indian Feast Theme for either holiday (love this idea)

-Turkey chilli on Thanksgiving which is so easy to make ahead and only improves with age (within reason of course)

-Go vegetarian. In fact, to quote; Go vegetarian every day.   Hmmmmm.

-Apparently Gelson’s does a delicious  full bells & whistles take-out Thanksgiving dinner. Who knew?

-Cornish game hens, red currant glaze, wild rice & mushrooms

-The secret is in the planning

-The secret is in the sharing- Make a timeline; each prep task is written out on a separate card marked with a start time & posted in order on the fridge. Everyone can grab a card and jump in to help. Frankly I can imagine this working much better in some households than others. Just saying.

-The secret is in the drinking. Serve enough fun libations and no one cares about the food.

and finally, this ingenious suggestion

-Go to someone else’s house!

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Fall dinner table

Do you have any suggestions or inspiration you’d like to share??

After all, it is Thanksgiving :)

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Getting Excited for Thanksgiving!

L1020510Slim Paley photo

A fire crackling away in our living room in Sun Valley, Idaho

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English Bread Sauce

bread_sauce

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Bread Sauce is a very traditional English dish that doesn’t have a huge amount of “hanger appeal” but is absolutely delicious!!  I am including it here because even though you might feel you don’t need the wretched excess on Thanksgiving, it is served traditionally with turkey or chicken and I say the more the merrier!!  Serve it beside the cranberry sauce and the contrast between red and white is very pretty.

How to make Bread Sauce click here

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French "English Bread Sauce"

“French” English Bread Sauce

Hell yes!  This recipe is the same, except you substitute big chunks of french bread rather than plain white, add a mere glance of mace and use extra rich cream or creme fraiche.  Bring.  It.  On.  (L.K. don’t read this)A Few Thanksgiving Tips

- I flip the bird.  I start out with my turkey upside down for a couple of hours so that lots of juice runs into the white meat at the top and the bottom gets brown and a little crispy, then half way through the cooking time, I take it out and flip it around the other way.  This can be difficult if it’s a really large bird, but doable.

- another option, particularly if you are serving guests or family that fight over the dark meat is to roast two small turkeys, doubling your wings and legs and Pope’s noses!

-A pretty idea I poached from Martha is to place large sage leaves underneath the skin of the turkey in a “pleasing pattern”.  It’s not difficult and it does look wonderful when the skin becomes golden and translucent.

- Best way to keep mashed potatoes warm for up to a couple of hours before serving? Place them in the top of a double boiler on a low simmer.  Much better than keeping them warm in the oven as this way they don’t dry out. Just be sure to keep an eye on your water level.

Ginger Pumpkin Meringue pie

ginger pumpkin meringue pie

(From Better Homes & Gardens / November 2008

Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 69 minutes
Cool: 2 hours

ingredients
1  Recipe Gingersnap-Graham Crust, below
1  15-oz. can pumpkin
1/3  cup sugar
1  tsp. ground ginger
1/2  tsp. salt
1/2  tsp. ground cinnamon
3  eggs, lightly beaten
2/3  cup milk
1/2  cup maple syrup
1  Recipe Brown Sugar Meringue, below
directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare Gingersnap-Graham Crust; bake 4 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

2. For filling, in bowl combine pumpkin, sugar, ginger, salt and cinnamon. Add eggs.; lightly beat with fork to combine. Gradually stir in milk and maple syrup.

3. Pour filling into pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Uncover edges. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Carefully spread Brown Sugar Meringue over hot filling; seal to edge. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Loosely cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. Serves 8.

Gingersnap-Graham Crust:In large bowl combine 3/4 cup finely crushed gingersnaps (12 cookies), 1/2 cup finely crushed graham crackers (7 squares), and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter. Spread evenly on bottom and up the sides of 9-inch pie plate.

Brown Sugar Meringue:In large mixing bowl let 3 egg whites stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Beat on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until mixture forms stiff peaks (tips stand straight).

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