I woke up a little late this morning, promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. There are few things more decadent than sleeping in on a Thursday morning. The autumn sun was streaming in through my balcony’s glass door when I eventually made my languid way out of bed. One of the nice things about Texas is you really do notice the seasons changing. Summer was very hot, autumn cooled considerably and the changing of the leaves promise an even colder winter to come.
I retired to the lounge, munching on a “South Beach” friendly breakfast bar. There I sat and made a list of things I wanted to get done in the holidays. It’s a long and ambitious list.
One of my goals was to do something nice for Thanksgiving dinner. I decided I would cook it myself since eating out doesn’t quite seem special enough for thanksgiving, nor does warming up some pre-cooked turkey burger sound particularly in the holiday spirit. A few Internet searches later and I had the list of ingredients I needed for a fantastic thanksgiving meal.
Where else to go for ingredients but to my friendly local Wal-Mart? I wanted to get a turkey, not a whole turkey, mind you, since that would be extravagant and wasteful, but still, a reasonably sized bird that would require a little effort on my part to prepare. I discovered “turkey breasts” which essentially are a slightly stripped down version of the entire bird, replete with breasts, skin, ribs and so on.
Preparation of the turkey was embarrassingly simple: wash inside and out, pat dry, rub in salt and pepper and baste with oil. While meandering around the store I discovered a number of things to aid in my turkey meal: instant mashed potatoes (yay), canned corn and pre-mixed salt & pepper.
The other holiday stalwart of thanksgiving meal is the pumpkin pie. I was more committed to this than the turkey since I love to bake. I meandered through the aisles, looking vainly for the items on my list: ground cinnamon, brown sugar, cloves, ground nutmeg, ground ginger and a host of other little things I simply didn’t have. Hmmm, this was going to be expensive if I had to buy a whole bottle of nutmeg just to use a quarter teaspoon. I wondered if…
Sure enough, my eyes settled on yet one more beacon of the consumerist society we live in: pre-mixed Pumpkin Pie Spice (capitalization intended). Not only that, the spice had a grossly simplified recipe which I am now following to make my pie. Here it is, in its entirety:
Mix 1 can pumpkin, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 2 eggs and 1tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice. Pour into 1 frozen unbaked pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 425F.
I must admit I feel a little sheepish in that all I am doing is mixing cans of things together and pouring them into a ready-made pie. Still, the question you have to ask is, how do you really define “home made”? Would I have to make the pastry myself or just roll out pre-made dough? Should I get a can of pumpkin or puree it myself? Precut pumpkin or a whole one? Should I mix my own spices or just buy some? Should I dry my own cloves?
So, I gave in to convenience and made a “home made” pumpkin pie the modern way. I console myself with the fact that I still have enough self-respect not to buy cookie dough, that’s just morally wrong.
The real difficulty in preparing a meal like this is getting all components of the food ready at the same time. I remember my grandmother had a special warming chest which kept all the plates and different parts of the meal warm so that when it came to serve, everything was still piping hot. Lacking this luxury, I have to time everything right so that everything from the turkey to the gravy itself is ready to eat at the same time.
I am actually most proud of the gravy, since it was just an afterthought. It took me ages to find chicken stock on the supermarket.
All in all I have to say that this has to be the best thanksgiving meal I have ever had 🙂