We Give Thanks

What a wonderful day it was!  Even though the weather outside was not the best (drizzling rain, cloudy, etc.), we were dry and warm and well-fed inside.  For these and all our many blessings, we continue to give thanks.

Table Turkey
 Anyone who knows me knows I love to decorate for the holidays...pretty much any holiday.  I have color-coded plastic containers in the attic for practically every special day...and Thanksgiving gets two boxes.  Mr. T got them out when he put the Halloween boxes (3 of them...:) back up, so I've had the mantles and the dining room table decorated for several weeks, adding a touch here and there.

As you can see in that picture (right), the centerpiece on the table again this year is the stuffed turkey I made 20-25 years ago.  There are also matching placemats, napkins, and aprons.  I add lots of fall colors in the leaves, the flowers, and the candles...and I sprinkle leaf-shaped confetti about on the tablecloth.  A pain to pick up...but a fun touch nonetheless.

Publix Pilgrim salt 'n pepper
  Also, on the table are the salt and pepper shaker set we call the Publix Pilgrims (left).  We got our first set when we lived in Duluth, GA, and shopped at Publix...still one of my favorite grocery stores.  I also have a set of napkin rings to match.

Pilgrim Hat Pots
 This year's addition to the tablescape was Missy M's Pilgrim Hat Pots (right).  She is so creative!  She got some black spray paint for two clay pots, which she adorned with cardboard "belt buckles."  Then, she added some beautiful potted mums she found on one of her trips to Home Depot...running errands for us while we were working on the Garden Shed (yes, I'll get back to that topic in the next post, I promise...:).  They fit right in with the turkey centerpiece and all...and were a sure hit.

For Thanksgiving Day 2010, I got up early to get started on the To Do List.  Each year I write out my menus, who joined us for dinner, and on the back, I add both the To Do's and notes on What-I-Should-Do-Differently-Next-Year.  With that first cup of coffee in hand, I noticed that I had written on my list for 2004 to "remember to spray the inside of the oven bag with Pam, so it won't stick to the turkey."  A really good idea...and something I seem to forget every year.

First things first:  a second cup of coffee.  Second things and so on:  get the turkey out of the brine (my recipe calls for the bird to spend the night in the cooler, submerged in brown sugar, salt, spices, wine, water, and apple cider), into the bag (I use one of those handy-dandy Reynolds Turkey Oven Bags), and ready for roasting.  While the oven preheated, I headed out to the garden to pick lettuce for a salad, and as Ella Rae was so eager to join me, I let her dash through the gate...without giving it much thought.  Soon, she was joined by The Drool Gang:  Duchess, Gus, and ElmoOh boy, let's go play in the Way Back!

Lettuce protected by row cover
 While I was busy removing the row covers from the rows of lettuces (right), they were busy rolling around in what we've been descriptively calling The Stinky Grass:  some grass clippings our neighbor had saved for us in black bags, that have been sitting in the hot sun all summer long...and that were in the last stages of composting when Mr. T spread them on the newly-tilled areas a couple of days ago.  Now, grass clippings for the garden are really a blessing, I assure you.  Having the dogs dousing themselves in the scent is something else entirely.

I could smell Ella approaching me before I saw her.  Good grief!  Mr. T wiped the Houndz down with the Baby Wipes, while Missy M had to give her poor pup two baths...the second one in diluted vinegar.  That little chore wasn't on our original To Do List for the day, but you do what you have to do, right?

Salad greens washed and ready for fridge
 While the others were attending to the cleaning chore, I put my apron on and got busy in the kitchen.  With the turkey in the oven (and the ham ready to go in after 90 minutes), I washed my salad greens (left)...including the nasturtium blossoms (yes! they are indeed edible, as well as pretty!)...and bagged them up for the crisper.  BTW, I do so love the salad spinner Missy M got for me last year...love it, love it, love it!

The last of the green tomatoes that were saved before the first freeze had turned red and would provide the color for the simple salad.  Other garden contributions to the Holiday meal would be: 
  • peas and lima beans for the Three-Bean Casserole;
  • yellow and zucchini squash for the Zippy Squash Casserole; and
  • sweet potatoes for the Sweet Potato Souffle.
All of these casseroles had been made earlier in the week, so all I had to do was get them out of the extra fridge in the garage and ready to finish off in the oven:  get them hot and bubbly, then add the toppings to each.  I had made up the Crock Pot dressing (use the link to that basic recipe, which is similar to mine...only I use only one can of Cream of Chicken Soup, along with one can of Chicken Broth...and only 2 eggs...and I add finely diced carrots for some color...:) on Wednesday night, so I just plugged in the Crock Pot and turned it on "high" for two hours...then down to "low" for the rest of the time...just a few stirs required...and it doesn't take up a burner on the stove!  Those would be needed for the gravy, the mashed potatoes, and the rice.  Hey, we've never met a starch we didn't like in this family!

I had also made up my Potato Roll recipe the night before, so I got that bowl (it's a huge Tupperware bowl that takes up way too much space in an already crowded fridge) out to let the dough reach room temp and start its second rise.  After that, I rolled up 90 balls of dough to make 30 tri-cornered rolls.  Yummmmm!  They would be the last thing to go into the oven, just 15 minutes before dinner was served.

Things hummed along, and we were ready for Brother and SIL J&J when they arrived at around 11:00, bringing along a lovely three-pack of wine from the Biltmore Winery.  We had a nice visit while the meal continued to cook...and soon, it was 2:00 and time to eat.  Judging from the kind comments, I think we can call Thanksgiving Dinner 2010 a success.  Oh, and my note for this year's list?  "Remember to bag up some ice on Wednesday so there will be plenty for dinner."

Mr. T with J & J at Oak Hollow after dinner
 While N/M/E took a little nap after dinner, J & J, Mr. T, and I took a little stroll through the neighborhood, down to the lake (right)...and when we returned to the house, Missy M was just finishing up with the first round of dirty dishes.  Now, that's really a blessing!

I hope each and every one of you enjoyed a bountiful meal and all the blessings of the Day, surrounded by family and friends, and then drifted off to a peaceful night's sleep in a warm bed on clean sheets.  And, if you did, remember to join me and take a bag of canned goods and non-perishables to the local food pantry sometime this week.  We'll be glad we did!


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