Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Preparations

We've had such a busy week with family in from Memphis and New York for Thanksgiving. I'm just now catching up so be prepared for a long post. My husband decided that we had to have heat in the Breezeway for the family. So two days before Thanksgiving the house was torn apart. This fact had the potential for a major meltdown.

But all was calm.
And I got ready around the mess.


We are also heating the shed which will be our new office. It is amazing how much more house we now have with these additional two rooms. E. thankfully returned the steel wall before the fam got to town.

Chris and Chuck were awesome! They finished the work on time and the house has never been warmer.

The man cave is now our second guest room. We set up an air mattress and I also added a feather bed on top of the mattress. I've already taken two naps in this room. It's really comfortable. I needed two naps.

Eric created the wall behind his desk with the built in "nooks". We are trying to figure out if we are keeping this killer desk we bought on Craig's List or not.  It was a nice little vanity for my aunt and cousin's room. The closet to the right will eventually be turned into a full bath. It will be a great in-law suite when all is done.

The night before Francie arrived I made my first pie crust. Secret to it's success, vodka! And cold shortening. Click here for a double crust. Of course, it is from Cooks Illustrated. We used the Holiday Entertaining magazine that I picked up at Whole Foods a few months ago. Click below to purchase.

Holiday Entertaining Magazine (Cook's Illustrated, Holiday 2009)

I used the Cuise to pulse the dough until it looked like peas. Then formed into a flat disk and chilled it in the fridge.

My 92 year young grandmother arrived by plane early Wednesday so we had a great day to catch up. I introduced her to the blog while I made my stuffing in the kitchen. The stuffing takes ten seconds.

 I browned one pound of Bob Evans Sage Sausage and one yellow onion roughly chopped.

Add four stalks of celery just when the sausage is done, chopped.

Use one bag of Pepperidge corn bread stuffing and one bag of herbed stuffing. I used just a little less of each because my pan wasn't big enough.

Do not salt. Add chicken or turkey stock until all the bread crumbs are soaked, but not wet. Do not cook long. It's much better when the celery is crispy.

Add one egg and mix all together and until egg is cooked. Put in a casserole dish and cool. You can do this one day ahead and put in the fridge.

Then we started in on the pie. Francie laughed and asked, "Why on earth would you make your own pie crust? There are so many good pie crusts out there." Well it was worth trying and was 1,000 times better than any store bought crust I've ever tasted. 

I pulled out the pie crust from the fridge.

I had never rolled out a pie crust. Francie said to only roll it one way, not back and forth. I also turned the crust so it would be round. 

All the cooking shows wrap the pie crust around the rolling pin to get it onto the pie dish. It worked.

Francie helped me pinch the crust. Her Aunt Titter (pronounced Titta) taught her how to do this. I will cherish these photos forever. I just love my grandmother's hands.

Take your thumb and forefinger and pinch the crust.

And continue all around the pie.

She thought my dough was a little wet.  I thought we had to pre-cook the crust in the oven, but no, not for a pecan pie. Who knew?

Then we picked between two recipes in the Charleston Junior League Cookbook.

We used Mrs. Richard Hanckel's (Ruth Farmer) version and had to switch out cane syrup with Karo syrup.

I thought that we needed to arrange the pecans. Francie told me they rise to the top and are glazed when it is finished.

There was a TON of crust. My pie dish was a deep dish.

But it shrunk a little and was perfect.

The hints of salt were delicious and it was the best pecan pie I've ever had. All because of my helper I'm sure.

E. was in charge of the turkey. He got home and I shared with him a few recipes that looked pretty great. The best one was from the November Martha Stewart. We decided to do a dry brine over night.

My aunt was a huge help. Moral support most importantly.

We had a 22 pound bird for eleven guests. Two guests canceled at the last minute. We had WAY too much food. But I wanted left overs to pass out like Eric's family does for everyone. It's the best part. We set it on a rack to let it air dry in the fridge overnight with the salt brine.

 E. rubbed salt under the skin too.

We set out Michele's Pumpkin Granola for an easy breakfast and had vanilla yogurt to start us off right on Thanksgiving Day.
It's been a week since I've posted anything and I'm so thankful for the little mini-blog break. I'm so proud of my grandmother for traveling. She is so sharp and was a delight to have with us. Thank you Mary Frances for your zest for life and help in the kitchen. More on our whole family visit soon. We are on baby watch as my brother's child is nearly here.


susan said...

dibs on that wonderful desk if you are selling it! What a blessing for you two to share Thanksgiving with Francie,she is amazing. Your food looks wonderful..junior chiles would approve!
Thank you for sharing you life, loves, cooking and wonderful baltimore with us.

LPC said...

Your grandmother looks just wonderful.

Ella said...

Welcome back, have missed your posts. I envy you for having your lovely grandmother for a visit cooking with you.