Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Thanksgivings and In-laws

Last Year

We had a kosher pre-brined turkey with oyster stuffing,
cocktail shrimp(bought frozen), sweet potatoes Anna (the one that almost cost a fingertip),corn relish, creamed spinach (experiment not to be tried again), baby carrots pickled in mustard, bottled pickled beets,cranberry orange relish, steamed broccoli. Not in picture, too camera shy: corn bread, pumpkin flan and Calvados tarte tatin.

Reading Sassy's then Tingaling's blogs about Thanksgiving dinner made me think hmmm, husband and I have to decide very soon whether we'll host it this year.
Husband loves this holiday because he gets to hang out with his folks without the stress of Christmas gift-giving and the accompanying crass commercialism (he's a diehard Marxist).
Last year I had a small but special group of victims I mean! dinner guests: my one and only sista and her 3 kids, flown all the way in from California. We decided to bond, after 11 years apart, to get "reacquainted", by ourselves.
I love my in-laws; they are really, if you dissect bit by bit, and compare to other families, very easygoing and pleasant. But. Mother-in-Law can't(won't?) eat beef. One brother-in-law won't touch red meat of any kind (and he likes to hack my golden moist, slow roasted turkey into hash; I've had to ban him from my kitchen),the other one dislikes any kind of "shiny" food, one niece can't have shellfish. And they all don't touch alcohol. I try to accommodate them all.
But then I just found out that last year, when they went to sis-in-law for dinner, they didn't have turkey.
They hate turkey.
The hostess apparently roasted 2 large capon chickens and the others brought "pot-luck" all the side dishes. What is a Thanksgiving dinner without turkey? It's the symbolic fowl of the New World, shared in peace by the Native Americans with the pilgrims to celebrate the successful harvest, the gift to unite two colliding worlds. Hmm.
I've often asked myself why I agree to host the big bash. They bring loads of food from Chinatown anyway, sometimes a whole honey baked ham even . Am I such a control freak, seeking the spotlight? I kid myself that I do it for the love of this tradition and to keep husband happy. My kids like to eat it too. It's fun to assemble the dish with the meat and the sides jostling each other on the plate. But then again, this year I might suggest that we all go to someone else's house and I'll just cook a tiny turkey the next day.
Here are the dishes I made last year, which I post in the hope that I might help someone in planning their menu. Sometimes all the fun is in the staging.