Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Thanksgiving Feast from the Bird's Nest

I'm a few days late on this one, but Thanksgiving was great! I tried to have two Thanksgiving dinners, one with Boyfriend Bird's mother, and one with my family. This was a mistake. No one should try to eat that much food in one day, that is for sure.

As expected, there was a lot of food. I offered to make something for dinner one, but I asked much too late, so there was nothing that needed to be made. We had green bean casserole, awesome stuffing, turkey and gravy, homemade cranberry sauce by boyfriend's grandmother, asparagus, mashed potatoes, and... oh, there was more, but I can't even remember. I had another serving of the stuffing, despite knowing about the second dinner that was awaiting me.

Oh, and then like an hour after gorging myself on food, they brought out pies. I was practically falling asleep on couch while his family played Boggle. I would have not played with them even if I had been awake, as Boyfriend Bird can get stupidly high scores. His little sister is now quite a monster at it as well, so I am afraid to try to play with them. But back to the pies.

I don't know about you, but when I think of Thanksgiving pies, I think of only two: pumpkin pie and pecan pie. I have two confessions to make about Thanksgiving pies.

I have never liked pumpkin pie, ever.

Until last year, I had never had pecan pie.

(Mama Bird always made me an apple or cherry pie for Thanksgiving. I was a spoiled little bird.)

So this year, when the pies came out, I looked at them, and had to think for a while. I knew I didn't need those pies, given that I was going to be eating in maybe another two hours. And given the whole 'on a diet' thing, too. Thanksgiving is probably the worst time to diet, isn't it? So the pumpkin pie wasn't even tempting, even with a scoop of vanilla ice cream next to it. The pecan, however, was tempting me. I had only had it once, and it had been insanely sweet. Was it always that sweet? With that weird texture? I had to test this theory.

So I had a half of a piece, and it was delicious and totally worth the calories.

Then we migrated over to my family's house, where more food awaited us. One of my aunts came over, and she made us fried.... sausage bread balls. I want the recipe, although I know I should never make those again, because they were surely terrible for me.

The first thing I did when I got home was set up my mother's slow cooker. To make mulled wine. I did not take any pictures, since the kitchen was full of work, and I didn't really want to try to explain to my aunt why I was taking pictures of a slow cooker. It was also really dark in there.

So yes, I made up a batch of Stephanie from A Year of Slow Cooking's Mulled Wine.
Sadly, I am really not a red wine fan. I go to a wine tasting after work every Friday, so I should have seen this coming. But I wanted to like it so badly I ignored that I hated the little taste of the wine I took when I was pouring it in. I even tried to have a glass with dinner, and got scolded for putting such hot liquid in a wine glass. That probably was a little foolish, I'll admit that.

But Mama Bird liked the wine, and so did Boyfriend Bird's father. He and his fiancée had a most of it, I would say. So while I was disappointed, I guess it wasn't a failure.

Second dinner did not go nearly as well for me. I had like four sausage balls before, so any hunger that had been thinking of returning to me stayed far away instead. Mama Bird made many things, that all smelled wonderful, but I just could not eat. I had a tiny amount of turkey, of mashed potatoes, a pittance of stuffing, and a dinner roll with homemade jelly. I think that was it. I just sat there and moaned about how I wanted to eat. Boyfriend Bird managed to eat, and I was proud of his efforts.

Immediately after dinner, my mother brewed some coffee. And I remembered I had promised Boyfriend Bird I would make pumpkin spiced lattes for him. Also from A Year of Slow Cooking. Only this time I didn't have 2 hours to prepare it, and I started panicking a little, until I remembered we had a stove.

And I felt rightly silly.

We didn't have espresso, either. I did not make myself any, because I dislike coffee, so although I tried it I had no real opinion. It was very well received, though. Except for the bottom fourth of Boyfriend Bird's, which was nothing but spices. I felt bad for not stirring his enough.

Then after we sat around for a few hours, Mama Bird decided it was time for dessert. I was no longer completely stuffed, so I agreed. We had two pumpkin pies- Sister Bird wanted a lot of leftovers. She was feeling well enough by then to have a small bite, but she was completely better the next day. We also had a pumpkin parfait that I made, and a cheesecake that hailed from my great-grandfather.

The cheesecake was a bit of a joke through the whole day, actually. Mama Bird had to beg the recipe from him, after he had made it every year. He very begrudgingly wrote it down for her, and when he handed it to her, he looked her in the eye and said 'You'll never make this correctly. I'm the only one who can.'

I spent most of the day reminding her of that, but in a loving way. But I will say that he was very wrong; her cheesecake was delicious. Someday I will attempt to make it as well and maybe even share the recipe.

My favorite Thanksgiving dessert is decidedly the pumpkin parfait. I used to find out where my mother had put it after making it, and then move it to a different freezer and bury it deep, so I was the only one who could find it. And I would eat the whole thing. No regrets. This year was no different, except that now I encourage others to eat it so I don't. Oh, how things change.

Pumpkin Parfait, from Mama Bird's recipe box
(Serves 9, approximately $1.12 per serving)
  • 1.5 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1.5 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 quart softened vanilla ice cream

    1. Combine sugar, graham crackers, and butter.
    2. Press into 9" pan.
    3. Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in mixing bowl.
    4. Fold into ice cream.
    5. Pour into pan.
    6. Freeze until firm, and keep covered.

    I could eat this every day of the holidays. It's not a pronounced pumpkin flavor, which I think is a big part of why I like it. I advise against trying to resist its charms.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • Even if pumpkin pie is gross, you probably don't hate pumpkin flavor as much as you think.
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