Due to certain thespian happenings this week, tonight’s Thanksgiving celebrations have had to be put on hold. But that hasn’t stopped me from planning what I would make for you all, if you came round tonight for dinner.
As you walked through the front door into our warm kitchen, dumping your wet shoes and coats and bicycles, you’d find a bowl piled high with Buttermilk Cheddar Bay Biscuits.
And we’d put extra butter on the biscuits, of course, and need napkins to wipe the grease off our fingers after we’d all greedily tucked into at least two each.
After drinks had been passed round and stories of Oxford traffic nightmares exchanged, we’d sit round a long makeshift table with chairs that don’t match and kitchen roll for napkins and barely enough forks to go round. I’d be anxiously checking the oven because I’m terrible at cooking roast meat, and you might be called over to help me check that it’s cooked through. (That way, the blame is never solely mine, see?)
The meat on offer would be Delia’s Roast Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon because I’ve failed at that recipe less than most. I find turkey both dry and tasteless, so you’ll never again see it at my Thanksgiving table. A few years ago, we bought a whole turkey, but had to get the butcher to chop it into quarters because it wouldn’t fit in our oven. And because we were just a small crowd that year, we only roasted one quarter. Do you know what it’s like to face three turkey quarters in your freezer every time you open it, dreading the day you have to use it up? Scarred for life.
The next Thanksgiving a friend kindly offered to do the turkey at her house and bring it over. Except her oven sort of caught fire while they were out at the store and the fire brigade had to break down their door to rescue the bird.
So, me and turkey? Not best buds.
On the side we’d have Bacon Brussel Sprouts Gratin, and sweet potatoes roasted in foil – with little bowls of brown sugar and butter scattered around the table for you to sprinkle liberally on the steaming insides. There would be mashed potatoes made by The Philosopher. And a fluffy salad featuring rocket/arugula, cucumber, cherry tomato, and spinach, tossed in a balsamic glaze. Maybe some roasted pecans for those of us whom nuts wouldn’t kill (i.e. not me).
And when we’d shared a prayer, and dug in to the feast, and stuffed ourselves silly, we’d take a break to breathe deep and loosen our belts. You’d roll your eyes as I made everyone at the table name three things they were thankful for this past year, and one thing they felt excited about for the year ahead — but you’d all indulge me, and I like to think you’d benefit from the exercise a bit too.
And then: pie. Oh pie!
This year I’d attempt Brown Sugar Maple Pumpkin Pie, and Apple Cranberry Pumpkin Pie and of course my mother’s Chocolate Pecan Pie that always steals the show. We’d have cream for the Brits, and vanilla ice cream for the Americans, and we’d all have a slice of each pie though our bellies would protest each bite.
Then some of us would pass out on the couch wrapped in a blanket, while others would insist on doing my dishes, and someone might even propose putting on a bit of Michael Buble. I wouldn’t object. The Philosopher would whip out Mindtrap and I would groan and counter with Articulate, and because it’s Thanksgiving we’d play both until the laughter hurt our ribs.
And when you’d all stumbled out into the dark night, the room suddenly empty of your warmth and good company, I’d look at my husband and say: “Let’s do this again soon.”
And he’d grin. “Next year? Same time, same place?”
And I’d not want to wait that long to do it all over again.
Thank you, friends near and far, for your excellent love. Wishing I could hug you tight tonight, and tell you all the reasons that you are wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving!