{How You Do It} My Fluid Thanksgiving

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in our series, {How You Do It}, written by guest contributor Dianna. Dianna is a staff attorney (and my co-worker) in the Albany Office of Prisoner’s Legal Services of New York. She is wife to Michael, mama bear to Max, Jacob and Rudi and grandmother to Kaylee. Dianna has the most interesting food projects, adventures, insights and an encyclopedic-mind that makes her a perfect addition to the blog. Dianna has agreed to post once a month on whatever her family is up to.  You can learn more about her on the “Who Are We” page. Welcome Dianna, I’m so happy you’re here. Thank you – Christina

{The Family as Interpreted by Kaylee}

Since we don’t live particularly close to our families, Thanksgiving has been a fluid holiday in our household. Sometimes we have celebrated by ourselves, sometimes with friends or odd mixtures of straggling family.  Since my husband’s mother died five years ago, we have mostly gone to spend Thanksgiving with his father and sister in Boston.  The challenge in that group is that Michael’s father is an old school carnivore, lamb chops and two starches for dinner, and his sister is a vegetarian who worries that milk is theft.  We apologetically bring a turkey, offset by three kinds of dessert. Michael’s sister makes some tofu-based turkey substitute that I secretly like.  This year for various scheduling reasons we are home alone and I am confronted with my increasing vegetarianism minus the support of my sister-in-law. What is a meat-averse woman to do faced with a husband, a mob of hungry twenty-something-year-old sons and one five-year old granddaughter who thinks that hot dogs are one of the basic food groups? She makes turkey and three kinds of dessert, of course.  She has no principles in face of tradition.

{Garlic Harvest, 2009}

I have been planning our Thanksgiving dinner in my mind for nearly a month now, and as usual plan to balance two starches for my father-in-law who won’t be here, with two vegetables for my sister-in-law who also won’t be here.  This is the menu:  a local smoked turkey (I hate turkey, but smoked turkey is almost tolerable.  Normally it seems like overcooked lizard meat); cranberry sauce made from a store bought package of Ocean Spray cranberries, the recipe on the back of the package is pretty good; some kind of mushroom gravy but with the mushrooms disguised since my youngest son Rudi thinks he doesn’t like mushrooms; stuffing to be decided but definitely involving chestnuts and lots of onions; garlic mashed potatoes from our own red potatoes and garlic plus lots and lots of pepper and the perfect amount of salt and butter (yum); Brussels sprouts from our garden, parboiled and then pan roasted; salad from our CSA winter share mixed with toasted almonds and lovely greenhouse-gas avocados trucked in from California; homemade pumpkin pie for Rudi, homemade apple pie for Michael and my eldest son Max’s Over The Top Flourless Chocolate Cake for me, gluten free but otherwise lethal.

The cake is worth trying if you are a chocoholic:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of a square pan, line it with parchment paper and butter that too.  In a small pot on low heat melt 8 oz. of bittersweet chocolate with 1 stick unsalted butter.  Whisk while melting.  Remove from heat, stir in 2 tablespoons cognac.  Cool.

In medium bowl, whisk 6 egg yolks (reserve whites) with ½ cup sugar, add cooled chocolate mixture.  Beat whites in separate bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form.  Fold whites gently into chocolate mixture. Pour into pan and bake 30 minutes.  Cool on rack.

Make a chocolate glaze by bringing ½ cup heavy cream to boil in a small pot, whisk in 2 tablespoons of honey, take off heat and add 4 ounces of broken-up bittersweet chocolate, whisk till smooth.

To assemble.  Spread 1/3 cup raspberry jam over top of cake.  Cut cake in half, place 1 layer on top of other (so you have a double decker half circle) and pour glaze over it.  See a diagram of Dianna’s directions in this pdf -> dianna’s illustration

Garnish with cocoa powder and raspberries.  Eat very small slices; feel your eyes roll up into the back of your head.

And of course before we start eating, we go around the table and everyone names something for which he or she is thankful.  We are forbidden by house rules from being sentimental.  “My family” does not cut it, unless there is some recent particular reason for thankfulness, like we have just bailed you out of jail or sat all night in a hospital emergency room with you, in which case it is ok. “I am thankful that I am not in prison” is a perennial favorite in our household, but time-honored witticisms such as “thank God I am an atheist” and “I am thankful that I don’t have to do all these dishes since I am running out of the house right after dinner” are also acceptable.

We all have much to be thankful for.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Tes says:

    I have to try this flourless chocolate cake a try. It sounds really interesting!
    So nice you have homegrown garlic to cook 🙂

  2. max says:

    to be fair, its Max and Melissa’s over the top chocolate cake. credit where tis due.

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