We had a marvelous visit to Dan's parent's in NY over the Thanksgiving holiday, with time to cook, to chat, for me to get a crochet refresher from Mom, and do a few chores for Mom and Dad, too.
We drove over on Tuesday, departing just as the snow started here in Maine -- fortunately just a dusting but enough to make me wish I'd purchased new windshield wipers before the trip. Traffic was not terrible, but busy enough on the Mass Pike to make me really glad we were driving over early.
Instead of driving west with a zillion other crazy Mass drivers, on Wednesday we did a few chores and in the afternoon, I made pie --pumpkin, pumpkin pecan, and apple. It went pretty quickly as I had made the dough ahead of time -- which also made the dough a little easier to work with, I think. Whatever the reason, these pies turned out pretty well, the bottom crust was crisp and they were beautifully flaky and tender.
We did have a pie tragedy. A piping hot pumpkin pie was knocked off the counter, did a mid-air flip and landed right-side up on the floor, but with much of the filling jolted out of the crust onto the floor. Fortunately, the pie plate did not break, but chaos ensued as we scurried to get the hot pie filling off the floor before the dog ate the filling, or the hot plate burned the linoleum. It was heartbreaking, (all those Henbogle eggs gone to waste!) but no one was hurt, we got to a sample the filling and crust without guilt, (see the before sampling photo, below left) and we have a new anecdote for the family stories archive. Perfect!
There was plenty of pumpkin puree left, and I had enough dough left for another crust, so I whipped together another pumpkin pie. I am just glad it wasn't the pumpkin pecan pie that crashed, as that would have been one sticky mess!
Making the pies the day ahead made cooking the actual dinner go pretty smoothly, even with the disadvantage of being in a different kitchen and using an unfamiliar smooth-top electric stove. It is crucial to plan backwards from the time dinner will be served, and make as much ahead as possible. I like roasted vegetables, so I usually try and make as much in the oven as possible, which also leaves the burners free for gravy and mashed potatoes, etc. Things were a bit tight in Mom's oven (note the oven rack mark across the turkey breast on the above photo), but I managed by cooking the squash ahead of time and reheating while the turkey rested. Of course, kitchen staff makes life easier, too.
Dan was a big help, doing dishes, washing the turkey and prepping the squash. He even julienned the carrots for me. I was trying to make life easy for Dan's mom, but needed her help with a few things, readying the potatoes and especially with finding the various dishes needed to cook everything.
I only swore twice, once when I turned off the wrong burner, causing the gravy to boil over, burning on the stove, and again during the emergency response that followed, when the roux for the gravy hit the floor, arghh. I'm getting better at producing these dinners, but by this point, with dinner mere moments away, I was on the edge.
Lucky for me, Dan's sister Jean was on hand to help out, she made a flour-water paste to thicken the gravy, and with that, dinner was served. Of course, this means that I was so wigged out I forgot to take the group photo I had planned, but we all enjoyed dinner and good company, and that is, after all, what it is all about.
Capping off the holiday was a flying visit to my friend Mrs. Holly to see her and get a taste of a second Thanksgiving feast. We had my favorite, little turkey sandwiches made on Holly's fabulous homemade dinner rolls. Holly is still enjoying her newlywed status, and we got to ooh and ah over photos and wedding gifts. The visit was far too short, but I hope we'll see her again soon for a visit here at Henbogle. Maybe for a solstice celebration? I can hope....