Thursday, November 25, 2010
Just a half mile from the railroad tracks...
Its Thanksgiving here in America and today we are expecting a house full of family and friends. I have been up since 6AM and so far my studio has seen me for about 2 hours, I have made a large pot of Irish oatmeal, baked 3 pies, hummus and directed Chris on how to make cranberry sauce. I have washed dishes more time than three times and watched the Macy's Parade. I have listened to Arlo Guthrie and William Burroughs. I have talked to friends and family. I have noticed stupid things like the Ronald McDonald balloon in the parade had speedskates on. Where am I going with this? Its 1:05 PM, a full two hours before anyone will arrive, and yet the time with my immediate family has been so enjoyable that the holiday has already been wonderful.
I want to write about traditions as cliche as that is. My family is not unlike others, we have several, like serving keilbasa and pierogies and making cranberry sauce from whole berries and pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin. When Kenny and I got married we wanted to make a good pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. We went pumpkin picking at Greig Farm and then spent a month searching for the perfect recipe. We baked pies every chance we got, finally settling on one we got out of this unassuming cookbook we received from my mom's friend Carolyn Cherry called The Complete Cook. I have held onto this book as it has several incredible recipes in it that have become a basis for our kitchen repertoire. It is out of print now, but you can still find used copies for under a buck.
My other pie is one that I originally found in the New York Times Dining In section around the same time 23 years ago and have never seen the recipe reprinted. It is a chocolate cranberry pie, which is so easy that its almost sinful. It involves making cranberry sauce with orange juice, brown sugar, orange zest and cinnamon. When the cranberry sauce is thick, remove it from the heat and mix in a bag of chocolate chips (whatever you like - semi sweet, white, milk, bittersweet...) and 1/2 cup of pecans. Pour it into a cookie crust (I like a chocolate graham cracker or oreo) but this too should suit your taste. Bake the pie in a 425 degree oven until its bubbly then cool the pie until the chocolate sets up. Serve with ice cream. I like Vanilla Bean spiked with a 1/4 tsp of serrano peppers mixed in (take qt of really good vanilla bean IC and thaw a bit. In the food processor place the IC and chili peppers and process until well mixed, put the IC back into its container and refreeze).
All this talk of cranberries reminds me of when Pete showed me the bogs on this island across the Narrows from his place in Maine. I wonder how many people headed out there to harvest the berries this fall? I wonder if the berries taste different?
So whether you go over the Throgs Neck and Down the Expressway to MeMe's house we go (as my dad used to sing when I was a kid) or just hang out at home with the tiny turkey for one, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!