You should smell my house right now.
Nutty waves of cooking squash, coupled with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are wafting through the house.
There might be palm trees and sand outside, but it smells like autumn in here.
Thanksgiving, for most people [/Americans], is on Thursday, but some friends of ours are coming down from NorCal to spend the day with us, and had to amend their plans at the last minute after finding out one of them had to work on Friday. We were posed two options: (a) do a Thanksgiving lunch prior to them getting on the road on Thursday (it’s a good 9 hour drive back north for them) or (b) have our Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday instead. We opted for (b). If there’s one thing I learned growing up, it’s that holidays are about getting together with your family and loved ones– not about the day you happen to do it. In the same way they say home is where the heart is, I’d proffer that holidays are about the feeling, the specialness, not about an arbitrary day. For us, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same as a lunch– one of the great things about it is the late evening pie (the second wave of eating, as it were) and wine. You chat and lounge with friends and family, digest your meal, then break into the dessert. It just wouldn’t be as relaxed with a looming deadline.
So Wednesday it is.
Of course, this adds some complexities that would otherwise not be there– namely that I’m working for most of the day, which I wouldn’t be on Thursday. Hence, the autumny goodness working its way around the room: meal prep.
I worked out the menu a few weeks ago and I’m really excited about it.
Our friends are bringing a pre-cooked turkey from the Whole Foods, but other than that it’s all us. It’s easier for me that way, being the token vegetarian. Plus, I like to make things for people– and that includes food.
- Winter Salad (arugula [rocket], tiny heirloom tomatoes, dried cranberries, candied pecans, shredded carrots, parmesan cheese)
- Variety of cheese and crackers. I picked up several different cheeses, including a London Truckle Cheddar, a Cranberry Cheddar, a Brie, a Winter Gouda, a Stilton, a Roquefort, and a Dubliner with Stout.
- Aforementioned pre-cooked turkey
- Acorn Squash Soup (So delicious. It tastes like pumpkin pie but as a soup. I’ll make plenty, but it will constitute my “main” dish in lieu of turkey)
- Stuffing with mushrooms and mirepoix (a big hit with my parents every time I make it)
- Homemade cranberry sauce (sounds like a pain when you could just get it in a can, but I promise it’s quicker and easier than you think. It doesn’t have the grooves in it like you get in the can, but we all have to make sacrifices for quality.)
- Garlic Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Biscuits and/or crescent rolls
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Homemade Apple Pie (this is Joe’s bailiwick. He makes a really good pie.)
- [In a pinch, I also have a pumpkin pie on reserve which I can bake up in a couple of hours, and enough ingredients to make a batch or two of pumpkin pasties]
- Variety of beers, to include Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale (from Maine), an assortment of Sam Smiths Ales and cider (from the UK), and some Firestone Velvet Merlin (from California)– an oatmeal stout (honestly, I mostly just get a kick out of the name, but it’s pretty tasty too.). I might have gone a bit overboard, but they’ll all get consumed eventually, even if it takes us a few more holidays 😉
- Variety of wines
- Non-alcoholic spiced apple cider (basically just spiced apple juice)
- Coffee and Tea
- Whisky from our recent UK trip. I also have lemons and cloves so we can rock some hot toddies if we feel so inclined.
The decadent miasma in our house right now is thanks to the acorn squash, which I’m pre-cooking so I only have to worry about turning the cooked squash into soup tomorrow afternoon. It’ll save a lot of time and precious oven space. I also pre-quarted the potatoes (red, white and blue for a little visual variety), made Joe labels for all the cheeses, and set out some croissants (pumpkin and almond) to proof overnight so Joe can just pop them in the oven tomorrow and then he can enjoy them with our friends over breakfast. Lest you think Joe is not contributing aside from his pie, rest assured we are each doing our part. Joe is primarily responsible for ensuring the house is ready for our guests, no insignificant task. For my part, I am responsible for supplies and food.
It should be a good time tomorrow. I’m excited, even if a bit sleepy. We’ll undoubtedly have plenty of leftovers for Thanksgiving proper, and I’ll be making an additional pie for my coworkers who don’t have the day off.
I think the pilgrims would be proud!