Sunday, November 24, 2013

Food, glorious food

I really love food, and as an ancillary, cooking, and I talk about both a lot.  And Thanksgiving is this week!  Probably my favorite holiday because a) I like the idea of being grateful and talking about what we are grateful for; and b) Thanksgiving food is AMAZING.  I started cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family when I was 26, and it stayed that way till I got married.  I became obsessed with the perfect turkey recipe, perfecting my mother's turkey gravy, pumpkin pie, stuffing, all of it.  Then Jeeves and I got married and Jeeves and his family love Thanksgiving too.  So the only fair option was to trade off every other year.  This year we are with Jeeves' family.  It's probably for the best - other than fatigue my main pregnancy symptoms have been food-related.

As previously stated, I don't have much nausea (the one exception - smelling my co-workers' food, especially The Grump (I actually love her, but that is my nickname for her because she is the grumpiest human ever, she even made me cry my first day of work) who tends to eat stuff like liverwurst - that will send a serious nausea wave through me and I have to sit there sniffing the hand lotion on my hands like I'm Stefon or something).  But I get very bloated after eating small amounts of food, I have a lot of acid reflux, and I have a lot of food aversions.  Many foods that I love sound totally gross to me currently.  Every time Jeeves mentions a burrito, I gag.  I wouldn't say Thanksgiving dinner sounds gross, but it definitely is not lighting a hungry flame under me.

That being said, I still feel a little sad that I won't be with my own family for Thanksgiving this year, just as I know Jeeves misses his family when we spend Thanksgiving with mine.  I go crazy picking out my turkey - I special order it from a small local farm, then I brine it overnight, then I roughly follow a combo of Alton Brown and like, five other recipes.  It usually comes out pretty great.  The stuffing and the gravy were how my mother taught me.  She's been gone 7 years now and I take following her recipes very seriously.  The pumpkin pie is from Cooks Illustrated.  It's a lot of work, but it's tough to beat.  My family's reaction to my dinner is always one of resounding appreciation and victory.  And my pumpkin pie is so popular that my oldest nephew still demands that I send one down with my dad even when I'm not coming to Thanksgiving myself.

Let me contrast that reaction to my food with the reaction my dishes got from Jeeves' family.  Two years ago, at my first Thanksgiving with them, I made my pumpkin pie, stuffing, and Mom's gravy.   I wasn't going to do anything for the turkey - after all, I hadn't even picked it out!  But Jeeves thought we should brine it, and then because I'm a little bit of a control freak, I wound up taking over the whole production.  It wasn't exactly ideal.  My mother-in-law's (I call her Ammie, which is "mother" in Hindi) oven is small and conventional-sized roasting pans won't fit in there.  So she buys the disposable kind.  As a result, I couldn't fit my roasting rack in it and the turkey just sat in all its liquid, making the bottom half kinda soggy.  Ammie's oven also tends to run 50 degrees too hot, which I did not realize.  So it was done faster than I expected, and also the breast meat was a little overdone.  Sigh.  I hate that.  

Then the stuffing.  Several people at the dinner are vegetarian, so Ammie makes a vegetarian stuffing, and my sister-in-law makes this ridiculously amazing sausage and mozzarella stuffing.  My stuffing has chicken stock in, so it's not vegetarian, but otherwise it is a very traditional bread stuffing with celery, onion, parsley, herbs, and a lot of butter.  No one ate my stuffing.  Except me and maybe Jeeves.  I wound up taking most of it to Kate's family the next day.  It was sad.  

What about the pumpkin pie?  Again, Ammie makes a fantastic pecan pie, and my sister-in-law makes a great apple pie.  Usually the pumpkin pie is purchased from a store.  Less than a quarter of my pumpkin pie got eaten. Jeeves' nephew, J, even came over and told me he had tried it and didn't like it.  Ugh.

The only "success" of the dinner was the gravy, and that is because the non-vegetarian gravy apparently usually comes out of a jar.  My competition was jarred gravy.  I guess I should be grateful I beat out jarred gravy.

So when it came time to decide what to make this year, I was more circumspect.  Jeeves pointed out to me that every family has their version of Thanksgiving dinner and in his family, they like the way things are already, just like my family likes how I make things.  So if I want anyone to eat my stuff, I either need to come up with something new or I need to just take over something that's already popular.  I agreed to do the majority of the work on the turkey, but told Jeeves I'd only do it if his mom got her oven calibrated.  She did, so now it's not fluctuating 50 degrees in either direction of what you set it at.  I gave up on making my stuffing, even though I really love it.  It's not worth it if I'm the only one who's going to eat it.  I'll still make my gravy because it connects me to my mom and I'm not eating jarred gravy on Thanksgiving.  And I'm still making the pumpkin pie - even if I'm the only one who eats it, I know it's good and Kate's family will eat the leftovers.  And I'm replacing the stuffing with maple glazed carrots.  That way the vegetarians can eat it too, and no one else makes carrots, so hopefully someone other than me will eat them.

Hopefully by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll be having a good day symptoms-wise, and I will actually want to eat all this food.  For the most part, the only thing I really want to eat is Ghirardelli peppermint bark and Kashi Cinnamon Harvest cereal.  Delicious.

What about you, dear reader?  What will you make for Thanksgiving?  If you're married and have to fit in with a family that has different traditions, how did you integrate yourself?

13 comments:

  1. Sorry your food aversions are hampering your style. Hopefully they will pass soon. I love reading about your food traditions! I have made the Cook's Illustrated pumpkin pie recipe, but have switched over to mostly making pumpkin cheesecake because that is J's favorite. I make it as cupcakes so it's easier to serve large groups and portion controlled. Sadly, I don't use any family recipes- it's not that my mom is a bad cook, it's just that the recipes aren't my style (baked turkey with relatively plain stuffing, cauliflower with cheese sauce, spinach and strawberry salad (WTF? in Nov/Dec), plain mashed potatoes, brown sugar yams, purchased white dinner rolls, purchased pumpkin pie, cream corn casserole, plain green beans), they are all boring because she grew up in the Midwest and is catering to picky eaters. I have yet to cook my own turkey, but when the day comes I'm pretty sure I'm going to brine it. We are going to a friend's house this year and so far I'm taking the pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes, kale and pomegranate salad, fixings for fresh margaritas (OH! That is actually one my family traditions that started just a few years ago) and possibly another side, but I can't decide between roasted curry cauliflower or garlic mashed potatoes and butternut squash. I guess I am hungry writing this as it's almost long enough to be a blog post on its own.

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    1. First of all, ewww - strawberries in November? Those can't be good. When you make your own turkey, I highly recommend you brine - it's so easy and I feel like it really helps the breast meat especially. Everything you're making sounds divine - I would vote for roasted curry cauliflower because I love curried cauli, but garlic mashed potatoes and butternut squash sound pretty awesome too! I'm curious, Marcy, where your love of food and the refinement of your taste came from, since your mom's recipes are geared towards picky eaters/an old school Midwestern sensibility.

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  2. Hi there, just stopping by from ICLW. And now my mouth is watering. I love Thanksgiving. I've been having a rough time establishing new holiday traditions since my dad died (regardless of whose family I spend it with) but I find that cheesecake is almost always welcome and I love making new flavors.

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    1. Hi! Thanks for visiting! Thanksgiving after my mom died was tough and I think the reason I became totally obsessed with cooking for it was as a way of dealing with missing her. I've thought about making a pumpkin cheesecake... that sounds good actually.

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  3. I loooove food and cooking and thanksgiving, and I'm a vegetarian! I always make my own stuffing and gravy and "turkey course" every year, and at least a couple pies. In my house cooking is a Big Deal, too, and everything is from scratch. I went to my husband's family's thanksgiving one year, and not only did his father insult my cheesecake ("You can take it home. No one will eat it.") but the pies (which I was told not to bother making because they would take care of the pies) were Sara Lee and AWFUL. And the stuffing was Stove Top. To each his own, I guess, but what's special about that dinner?! It's the same thing you have on a random Tuesday in January! I'm a snob and a jerk, I know. Shutting up now.

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    1. I bet your pies are awesome, Anne. And your father in law sounds like a fool! I feel really strongly about everything being made from scratch for Thanksgiving. I totally don't think you're a snob and a jerk, and if you are, then I am too!

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    2. Snobby jerk pies from scratch forever! I'm making a bourbon pecan pie this year. It will be FANTASTIC.

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  4. Liverworst just made me ack out loud yuck-o! I was so sad that we wouldn't have a Thanksgiving this year because we are both working. Three wonderful things happened- first our friends invited us to their house to give thanks with them and their family and it was beautiful (it was last night). Then DH said he will cook a small "Thanksgiving Dinner" for us on Wednesday night so we can give thanks together. Then my Mom said that I should come to her house after work and she will make me a plate- so I get to be with my family too.

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    1. Ohh, I'm so glad you are getting a chance to give thanks with friends and family, even if you have to work on Thanksgiving. And *thank you* for helping to keep the rest of us safe on Thanksgiving.

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  5. Hi from ICLW! Liverworst also made me gag (and I'm not pg)! :) I remember being pregnant 7 years ago on thanksgiving at my in-laws and feeling like everything was pretty nasty. the only thing I could stomach was a super greasy, meaty eggroll?! Go figure. The things that really made me nauseous involved lots of melted cheese (pizza hut commercials, ew), and the images of the KFC bowls. too many ingredients that don't belong together. Good luck getting through turkey day!

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    1. Hi, thanks for visiting! Everything you mentioned sounds so, so gross to me right now. I agree - stuff with lots of ingredients just turns my stomach right now. But I'm having good days and bad, so hopefully Thursday will be a good day!

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  6. Hi from ICLW! Sad that Canadian Thanksgiving is so long gone...I'd kill for another turkey dinner! I would eat everything you made, haha! I had wicked morning sickness last Christmas, so I couldn't eat all of the awesome baked goods I normally love...so this year will be dangerous!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! I love baking LOTS of ccokies at Christmastime, so I am super hopeful that I will actually want to eat them.

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