Don’t you even think about relaxing this weekend! What are your Thanksgiving plans? Have you checked the china? Have you counted the silver? Do you have enough napkins? Where are the platters? Have you thought about ordering your turkey? You have only got three weeks to get your ducks and turkeys in a row, so get cracking!
For only the second time in twenty years we are not having Thanksgiving at home. What a peculiar feeling! I’ll still order a turkey (or a turkey breast) so we have the requisite leftovers for sandwiches, but for once I will not be coordinating dishes, arranging flowers and standing in the kitchen directing potato peeling or turkey basting.
This year we are traveling to our daughter’s house for the first away-game Thanksgiving for all of us. There is a new baby to coo over, so we want to make every thing easy peasy. This will not be a Martha event, although we are hoping to have some nice touches. There will be the aroma of the roasting turkey, the glow of candles (and football on the television) and affectionate warmth as we gather around the table and give thanks, as we share a meal and a flock of Prosecco.
Some families have reliable traditions like NPR’s Susan Stamberg with her grandmother’s Thanksgiving relish: http://www.npr.org/series/4175681/susan-stamberg-s-cranberry-relish-tradition. Truman Capote baked fruitcakes with his aunts. We do not have any public broadcasting or American literary pretensions here. In this house, invariably, with almost clockwork precision, I forget to cook the green beans. Luckily, over the years, we have found that we like our beans lightly steamed; heated just enough that they appear bright green and lustrous. Forgetting them annually is not a huge glitch in the Thanksgiving schedule. Though neither is it a rollicking yearly joke. What if we were one of those families whose holiday depends on a Campbell’s mushroom soup green bean casserole? Crickey! I would probably also forget the canned crunchy onion rings! These are among the blessing we count.
I will be contributing is a dessert. Which is always fun and show-off-y. I am baking a variety of wee, small, diminutive pies. We have always have chocolate-y desserts at Thanksgiving. Or rather, when we hosted Thanksgiving, we erred on the side of chocolate. Now with new family members, we have to consider that pumpkin and apple pies might be in order, too.
I will make the usual chocolate pudding pie, topped with clouds of homemade whipped cream, only in miniature. Also some itsy bitsy pumpkin, cherry and apple pies. This way everyone can sample a variety, no one needs fine china or sterling because they will be practically bite-sized, and I’ll still get a chance to fuss with minutia when assembling them.
As always, I advocate buying pre-made pie crust, rolling it out and cutting out small circles of dough to fit into cupcake pans. A nice scalloped edge cookie cutter will give you the illusion of piecrust fluting, or you can press the edges of the piecrust down with a fork to create a pattern. You can make tiny latticework for the doll-sized cherry and apple pies, but be sure to chill the dough before you start weaving your magic.
Also remember– don’t try to bake all the pies at the same time. The fruit fillings cook faster than the pumpkin, and you will need to do the chocolate pudding pie separately anyway, because the shell needs to be baked before it is filled. And if you attempt an exotic lemon meringue pie there is the delicate browning of the meringue. Maybe you should think about Key Lime pie instead. Traditionally it calls for a whipped cream topping, too. Heavens!
A nice variety of petite pies, borne into a warm house on Thanksgiving, will be festive. And maybe there won’t be any leftovers to bring home, back over the river.
After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
― Oscar Wilde