Thanksgiving, within our family, belongs to me.
The holiday is held at Diane’s and my home, and, since it is acknowledged that within our home, I own the kitchen, all else falls from that.
As it is, my sister-in-law, Jill Hedgecock has her birthday generally the week before the holiday, so part of the family custom is to acknowledge Jill’s nativity along with eating too much turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and yams and green bean casserole and on, watching the Lions begin the morning while the Cowboys keep the home fires burning till it is time to eat: usually around 4PM, California time.
That gives an hour or so to gorge before falling asleep on the couch watching the evening game, whatever that may be.
It is important to me that when I cook, everything around me is neat and ready to go. Same when I write, or hit a golf ball. I am, I guess, somewhat fidgety (I suppose “compulsive” might be another way to describe this behavior). I like to set stuff up so that it feels organized in a way that makes me get what I need to get done, done. Right?
Thursday morning I made a chocolate bundt cake for Jill with an Orange/Cointreau glaze tp start the day. This was around 9 AM, a little while after I posted the articles for the site and set my rosters. Once the cake was in the oven I threw together ingredients that became cheddar biscuits, and while that dough was setting, I made cranberry sauce, which orange, sugar, and a little more Cointreau.
By then the cake was out, the oven up to 425 (from 350), and Case Keenum was having a fun day as we got to know details like he wasn’t drafted and never had a chance to drive a team and how amazingly well he has been playing, deserving to start somewhere at this point.
The biscuits (about 18 minutes a batch) went in but I had to start the stuffing, so I went to the baguettes that had been hardening and chopped em up adding spices and chunks of apple and onion, letting them all simmer in a big saucepan with butter till everything was moist.
At halftime I heard from my cousin Richard, visiting his in-laws in Southern California warning the Lions were not to be dismissed so readily on Thanksgiving. True to form Marvin Jones, Jr. took the Lions back, and though I did have a chunk of Adam Thielen shares, none with Marvin.
The biscuits were done, and the stuffing in the casserole dish, ready to go into the oven for a warming. The cake was cooling, and the Lions pulled within a TD of the Vikings as I mixed together soy sauce, garlic, crushed red pepper, brown sugar rub and orange marmalade and around noon when the turkey breast–about eight pounds worth–soaked in the concoction, and then went into the smoker with a handful of cherrywood chips.
Eric, Jill’s husband and my golf-buddy doesn’t really like turkey, having suffered a Simpsons-esque trauma his first day at Montessori School over 50 years ago. That fateful day his class actually did go to visit a slaughterhouse, this one particular to poultry, and the who experience left four-year old Eric indelibly stamped.
So, every Thanksgiving I make Eric a meat loaf (I don’t mind, for meat loaf makes for great left overs too!) and that was next, although before I peeled sweet potatoes and chunked them, dropping them into a 375 oven soaking in orange juice with aluminum foal crimped over the 8X8 pan.
Now the meat loaf, as time ran out in Detroit, got my eyes for salt and pepper and egg and onion and the good stuff that makes meat loaf not just a burger loaf. The meat pressed into a loaf pan and I pulled the sweet potatoes out and mashed them, mixing in some heavy cream and orange rind. I whipped this stuff up and spooned it back into the pan, covering with little marshmallows. But, I had a couple of old fashioned dough nuts in the freezer and I took one, thawed it, and then stuck it in the oven, unprotected, for 15 minutes, till it was nice and dry
And, then I made crumbs out of it and sprinkled over the top of the little Jet Puffs as the surprising Chargers offense–of whom I do own a few shares along with a lot of Philip Rivers–started to go to work.
At about 1:15 I took a deep breath. I still had mashed potatoes and gravies–one each for the meat loaf and turkey–ahead, but otherwise everything was ready to go, in process, or simply in need of a final heating. That made it almost two o’clock, and the turkey was scheduled to be done around 3:30, figuring we would indeed eat around four.
I had been at it for five hours, prepping one thing or another, auditing the games while Diane was out walking Jeep, J.J., and Pavlov, but shortly after two Eric and Jill and the rest of the family arrived and the final prep: fixing the salad, spuds, gravy, the usual all were finished up as the table and nearby counters were cleared to host the overload of platters.
We did run a bit late: The Chargers were done dominating as we all sat down to eat. Everything was done and ready, and that is part of the challenge of the day to me, for cooking a big meal like Thanksgiving for a bunch of people does take some serious project management.
There we were–my Diane, and a friend, Joan, along with Eric and Jill and their daughter Lindsay, mom Edie, and Jill’s sister, Sue–with dogs at our feet, at the table together with the spoils of my morning work.
The Hedgecocks adopted me when Cathy and I were married, over 20 years before, and luckily they hung onto me. Further, they love, and hang onto Diane. And, another game was looming where I had shares of Sanjae Perine, but foolishly left Jamison Crowder on the bench.
Even so, I had plenty to give thanks for. And, it was a pretty good day. I hope yours was too!
Most of the time Lawr actually writes about football and baseball, but sometimes he strays. Still, you can indeed follow him @lawrmichaels.