October brings us playoff baseball and the World Series. It’s packed with evenings of fun frights at haunted houses and theme parks, all capped off with Halloween. In magnificent contrast, November is about warmth in cold weather, family ties—and food. Carved pumpkins disappear and the smell of pumpkin pie fills homes all around the country. Thanksgiving tradition dictates you cook the biggest turkey you can afford (even if only two are eating) and enough sides to completely cover the dining table.
At home, Thanksgiving Day begins early. The turkey has been brining since Wednesday for flavor and succulence. After letting the excess brine drain out into the sink and patting it dry, the bird gets stuffed with a blend of fruits, spices, and herbs for a unique aroma. It then goes into the oven to cook for hours.
The real work in the kitchen takes place while the turkey slowly roasts. This is when my wife—with help from her sister and our oldest daughter—really gets down to it. Together, they begin work on the copious sides and desserts of the day. They have my utmost love and respect as I’m left to do the easy work. My responsibility is to entertain the munchkin, keep her happy, and out of the kitchen.
The early start to the day means everything is ready in time for a late lunch. Our place is small and we can only invite my wife’s parents and perhaps one or two other guests. A few people fit at the table along the serving plates but each of us takes a plate and sits wherever possible. The payoff of the day’s efforts is audible as we each take the first bites of a turkey that is juicy and flavorful on the inside with a crispy skin on the outside. Accompanying dishes vary by the year but some memorable ones include diced sweet carrots, rich mashed potatoes, and a creamy mac & cheese. My personal favorite is a once-a-year apple-cranberry sauce that gives the turkey a tangy, yet sweet additional layer. For dessert, a slice of delicious pie usually follows and caps off our lunch. The combination of turkey, starch, and sugar leave us temporarily lethargic and the day moves while we sit in perfect bliss.
As the day winds down, our few guests leave and only my wife, our two girls, and our dog remain inside the house. Dinner is a second helping of our own food, dessert, and a drink of choice, while watching a movie or binge watching a show. The hectic Thanksgiving Day now comes to a serene conclusion.