Friday, November 28, 2008

Round Robin: Getting Thanksgiving on My Table

(Quick note: if you're looking for my speculations about the Doctor Who Christmas special, they're here.)

It's Round Robin time! This week, Steven is going with a theme that links into what many of us in the U.S. were doing this week. Yes, it's the post-Thanksgiving edition of the Round Robin Photo Challenges, "On My Table"!

As it happens, my entry for this week's Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot covered the pre-Thanksgiving preparations for filling my table with turkey. That was Step One: shopping for the turkey, rutabagas, chicken broth, cranberry products, potatoes, yams, milk, and I-forget-what-else. That last bit is the problem, actually. I don't know about you, but it usually takes me about four trips to the store to get everything I need. I could make a list, but where's the fun in that?

Let's pick up the photo sequence with Step Two:

Step Two: rutabagas. The one in the middle is partially peeled.
From my Picasa album Round Robin Photo Challenges

Cooking for Thanksgiving started late Wednesday night, or you might say very early Wednesday morning. It was some time after midnight that I started peeling the rutabagas. This somewhat obscure vegetable, which I've written about repeatedly in the past, was to be my contribution to the post-Mass Thanksgiving pot luck at St. Michael's.

Okay, the first one is peeled - but almost impossible to cut in half!

Peeling the rutabagas was no problem this year. I got nice big ones from Fry's (the ones at Safeway were small, greenish and frail-looking), and they weren't waxy as they sometimes are. But cutting them in half for faster cooking was a major issue. The knife just would't cut through the whole thing, even if I worked my way all the way around the rutabaga at the edges. At one point the knife got stuck in the thing. I held the knife with the suspended rutabaga completely disinclined to fall off it. Eventually I microwaved the rutabagas to make them easier to cut. I should have nuked them longer, because the cooking took hours before they got really tender. I went to bed at 6 AM.

Step Three: St. Michael's Thanksgiving pot luck. Parishioners loved my rutabagas!

Mass was at 10:30 AM, followed by the pot luck. Nancy, the parish secretary, worked with her husband to prepare the turkey and organize the contributions. (I gather he was in charge of the bird, Nancy in charge of everything else.) For a while a number of us were reheating food and getting it onto the buffet with appropriate utensils. Mr. V. had not yet arrived with the bird when I saw people helping themselves to my rutabagas. I heard several expressions of pleasure that rutabagas were provided, and there was very little left for me to take home afterward.

Mandarin orange compote, pumpkin pie, pumpkin trifle and pumpkin roll slice.

A particular joy for me was that I got two more "pumpkin anything" items for my life list of pumpkiny foods tried. The pumpkin trifle was excellent, the pumpkin cake roll just okay. The pumpkin pie slice I got for comparison was darker and more caramelized than I usually see.

Reverend Carey Womble is dressed for the occasion.

I have to show you Father Womble, age 90-something. He dressed as a pilgrim, joking at Mass about "appropriate vestments."

Step Four: prepare the turkey. Hard to make it look "real" with three legs!

Back home afterward, I took a break and then started on the turkey. As I had told someone from the Safeway meat department, I intended to arrange my drumsticks around my turkey roast of mixed white and dark meat to resemble a whole turkey as much as possible. But I had failed to notice that I had three drumsticks, not two. A three-legged bird? Uh, no.

It came out pretty well, though!

Because of the drumsticks, I set the oven for a temperature in between the 325 degrees F called for on the roast's directions and the 450 called for in The Joy of Cooking, and adjusted as I went along. I also held out for the whole bird temperature on the meat thermometer instead of the lower temperature for a turkey breast. It was done in an hour and forty-five minutes, a big improvement over past years when the roast took an hour longer than the directions claimed it would take.

Step Five: on the table. After all that work, it doesn't exactly look like a feast!
(click on this photo and the next two to see larger versions)

John cleared the mail, his backpack, etc. off the kitchen table. I wiped it off and set up the meal, buffet style. I was disappointed how sparse it all looked. Really, though, that's a lot of food for two people, with carefully-chosen scraps for two desperate dogs.

Stuffing with sausage and cranberries, turkey roast with drumsticks, cranberry
relish and what's left of my rutabagas, with a smidge of mashed potatoes.

And here's what we end up with: my mom's old sausage stuffing recipe, minus the onion and raisins but with craisins in part of it (John doesn't like to mix meat and fruit), my unreasonable facsimile of a full-sized turkey, and the paltry leftovers from my rutabagas for church.

Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cranberry, baked yam au naturel, low fat gravy,
mashed potatoes with skins.

At the other end of the table were my festive non-alcoholic beverage, baked yams (who needs marshmallows?), gravy from a jar, and mashed potatoes complete with skins, because they're more interesting and nutritious that way.

John doesn't like sit-down dinners, or our stylish but flimsy kitchen chairs from Sears. So we ate in the den, watching Rex Harrison and Anthony Newley in Doctor Doolittle. Good times! Overall it was a fairly low stress day, a world away from my 2002 Thanksgiving horror show. May every Thanksgiving be at least as successful as the 2008 edition!

Now let's go see everyone else's tables. I suspect there will be turkey on a few of them!

Linking List

Steven - Posted!

Carly - Posted!


Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Liz - Posted!
Visual Counterpoint

Wammy - Posted!
The Ellis Family Cincinnati

Far Side of Fifty Photos

Strong Chemistry


Teena - Posted!
It's all about me!

Terri ***Welcome new member!*** - Posted!
Ways I See the World

Monica - Posted!
Family Affair Photography

Sherrie - Posted!

And how about you? Have you showed us what's on your table yet?



The Cheshire Cat said...

What a spread!I am going to try the rutabagas. I have never heard of them despite being a vegetarian :)Liz

Teena in Toronto said...


Happy Thanksgiving!

I played too :)

barrettmanor said...

That is a feast for two people! You have variety but smaller quantities. There's nothing wrong not with cooking more than you'll eat - giving consideration to the traditional leftovers, of course.

Wammy said...

Everything looks great to me. My Dad loves big old sweet potatoes baked in the oven. He told me he added applesauce to them when he mashed them this year...said they were really good. I'll have to get back to you on that. Love the 'Pilgram" Michael said that "it" looked pretty real to him. All looks good enough to eat...even the three legged turkey!

Carly said...

Hi Karen :)

It looks like a delicious meal! :) Alan and I got all involved in a marathon game of Skip-O and I never actually got the table set! LOL. We ate in the livingroom, in front of the TV! Time together is what you make it! Good for you two!

Always, Carly

Monica said...

I love the "pilgram" - what a hoot. Dinner looks good, you had a good variety of items yet had moderation.


Martha said...

Your "looks like turkey" is my favorite - well I love the photo of Rev Womble too :-)

Steven said...

First time I've felt hungry since Thursday! Good eats and lots of it. Love your table cloth. Classic picnic :-)

Jama said...

That sure is a lot of food on the table, Karen! you're making me hungry right now..

splummer said...

Love your Photos! What wonderful memories to share! Thanks for stopping by my place. Take Care!!


DesLily said...

your turkey roast w/ legs looks great Karen lol love your creativity! ..and I love rutabagas! Only around the holidays do I actually have them but eat them up as a veggie and in the turkey soup!!

just me said...

Everything looks yummy, care to share your stuffing recipe? I really enjoyed your pilgrim picture too.

Sandra said...

Yum pumpkin roll! I am so craving it now. Thanks for sharing!