Anna is taking a break this week from writing the column but will be back with something interesting and tasty next week.
'Twas the night of Thanksgiving,
but I just couldn't sleep...
I tried counting backwards,
I tried counting sheep.
The leftovers beckoned...the dark meat and white,
but I fought the temptation with all of my might.
Tossing and turning with anticipation,
the thought of a snack became infatuation.
So, I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door
and gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.
I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
stuffing with gravy, green beans and tomatoes.
I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,
till all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.
I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky
with a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie
But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees...
Happy eating to all -- pass the cranberries, please.
It’s a good bet that Blondie never worried too much about cleaning out the leftovers in her fridge. Dagwood’s penchant for midnight snacks pretty much took care of that. I have wondered occasionally if his services were available for hire. It’s always a race to use all those delicious post feast bits in time. At our place there is usually a massive day after Thanksgiving lunch of the remains. Creative sandwich combinations abound, sufficient to challenge the size of mouths and the ability to squirt the softer materials all the way into a siblings’ dish. Isn’t it strange that there is never the slightest worry about leftover desserts?
Sandwiches, however splendid, have their limitations. It is possible that as much creative thought and effort go into the consumption of leftovers as went into the original meal. Though apparently one is allowed to be less concerned for the visual presentation. Among the favored leftover dishes are: turkey tetrazzini and other pastas, open-faced turkey sandwiches with gravy, mashed potato pancakes as well as sweet potato pancakes, tacos with green beans, turkey stuffing and cranberry sauce, turkey enchiladas, turkey pot pies, turkey stews, casseroles, turkey, potato, vegetable and stuffing hash, Shepherd’s pies, and soups.
As always, you will find many recipes on our website http://www.litchfieldfarmersmarket.org/ to inspire your dealing with leftovers, including a Creamy Turkey Tetrazzini: Likewise one can simply create on the fly, like spreading a warmed tortilla wrap with cranberry sauce, a few pieces of turkey, a heaping spoonful of creamed onions and rolling it up. Or how about making fresh crêpes (See Mushroom Crêpes for basic crêpe recipe), sprinkling it with some leftover turkey and gravy. For today, we’re offering up a Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Stoup. That is not a typo, it is almost a stew, so I mixed the words stew and soup together. When you’re finished eating the stoup, please go make something else with leftovers.
Dictionaries are marvelous inventions and great places to meander and ponder. It is always interestingly informative to look up a reasonably known and well-used word and discover a nuance you hadn’t realized; a root that suddenly makes all the sense in the world; or a perspective that sheds new light. We so often interchange the words thankful and grateful that perhaps their significance loses its focus the way anything used constantly becomes taken for granted. The definitions I found for thankful and gratitude were: impressed with a sense of kindness for a benefaction received; warm, friendly feelings toward a benefactor prompting the desire to return the favor; an appreciation for good wishes or a kindly feeling; and the quality of being appreciative for a favor, that is returning and otherwise showing appreciation. Sounds delightfully simple.
Well, I am hoping to remember those definitions throughout the coming fantastically busy week. To not let the frantic-ness overshadow the concept. To take a leaf from a great nephew’s book and put it into practice. Jesse, an eight-year-old, was asked to write a letter to someone he was grateful for having in his life. Here is what he wrote:
Of all the rituals and traditions, it is the storytelling that appeals to me the most. I love to hear how the numbers in the stories grow from one year to the next. How the details become more rather than less embellished with time. After Jesse wrote his brother the letter, his Mom decided to introduce a new ritual to their Thanksgiving celebration, one that she could include far flung family in. She cut up and decorated one side of dozens of two-inch by two-inch cards. She then sent them out to everyone and asked to have the blank side completed with something for which the writer was grateful. At their dinner, all the little notes will be put into a basket. The basket will be passed repeatedly around the table, with each person taking and reading aloud one note at a time. Count me in. But next year I want cards big enough to tell of gratitudes a little more thoroughly.
Despite years of practice for Thanksgiving, there always seems to be some disaster either narrowly escaped or hilariously endured. I will be grateful to keep these to a small roar this year. My favorite hacks for this particular holiday include:
- Buy a couple of turkey wings or thighs the week before, make stock and then gravy 2 days in advance instead of when all the other last-minute things are in work.
- Cooking the stuffing in the microwave before stuffing the bird. This eliminates the undercooking concerns. Make enough cooked stuffing and fill a buttered casserole to put into the oven toward the end to reduce the impulse to overstuff the turkey.
- Use dental floss to truss the turkey. It slips out easily without tearing the skin.
- Use thermal rubber gloves to turn the turkey breast side up about half way through and then again to move the bird from roasting pan to platter. You’ve got your hands directly and firmly on the bird.
- If you get one more call telling you what yet another guest can’t/won’t eat here’s a giggle to help prevent discourtesy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX9EAavxrus
Speaking of things people can’t eat, one area of growing concern is finding gluten-free recipes for anything in which you might have previously used wheat flour. Chestnut flour is a great substitute for the gravy. I will let you know how it works for a rolled-out pie crust. There are literally dozens of holiday recipes on the web site including: Crustless Chestnut Pie, Farro Stuffing, Stuffed Pumpkin, Cranberry Lime Salsa, Vanilla Bean Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Alabaster Turnips and Potatoes, not to mention Roast Turkey Today’s recipe is a Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.