Monday, November 30, 2009

Roasting Teddy Kennedy and other long weekend delights

Thanksgiving weekend may, in fact, be the best weekend of the year.  The reasons?
First: it is a four day weekend for anyone in a government-related job--like me.  Nice to be paid for two days you don't have to work, and the short work week beforehand is definitely a low-effort work zone.
Second: the quality and quantity of good company increases immensely.  I spent 75% of my weekend knitting and chatting with Adrienne, and Sam got to spend plenty of time with both Root Beer and Tesla, including two long visits to the dog park.  I spoke on the phone with Mom, Dad, Colleen, Grandma, BJ, and Aunt Ginny, which was nice.  The Upstairs Crowd maintained an open-door policy all weekend, so much watching of old movies (Flash!  Ah-aaaaaahh!  He'll save every one of us!) and playing of the Xbox (Soul Calibur IV) commenced.  Wino Scrabble has long been a favorite of mine, and I observed (and kibitzed) a single game.  (I didn't feel like playing without Mike around to periodically scream "That's not a real word!" at me while inventing hilarious new obscenities that make my mom laugh until tears run down her cheeks.  Somehow playing a six letter word parallel to another six letter word and grabbing two triple word scores loses its charm without watching my kid brother writhe in agony over the veracity of all the two-letter words formed.)
Third: the food.  Oh the food.  For Thanksgiving Day I brined our 20 pound turkey in a mixture of apple cider, sea salt, sugar, peppercorns, star anise, and water.  I threw in a little bit of hard apple cider that was sitting in the fridge.  We dubbed the bird Teddy Kennedy as it was quite robust and clearly working for social change.  (Actually they were both rather fat and dead, and it sure beat the other possibility--Goebbels.  We thought a [dead racist bastard] Nazi name was not auspicious.)
Anyway, after overnight brining Teddy Kennedy received a rubdown with a stick of unsalted butter, a third cup of very green and fruity olive oil, applewood smoked salt, fresh ground pepper from a four peppercorn blend, the zest of two large oranges, and about 2 bulbs of garlic, which I blended together with my amazing hand blender's food processor attachment.  I stuffed him with an onion and the two oranges, he roasted in the oven for about 5 hours, and then he fell apart when I tried to carve him.  Everyone liked the taste and there are few leftovers.  (I saved the carcass for tortilla soup, which will happen at some point this week.)
I also made potatoes au gratin with cave-aged gruyere, which was a big hit.  Other food on the table included mashed parsnips & carrots (yes, they are in fact better than mashed potatoes), two types of stuffing (savory sage and fruit & nut), roasted brussel sprouts, mustard greens, apple & butternut squash soup, cranberry orange relish (the be-all and end-all of cranberry sauces: raw and fresh tasting), and tomato pudding (weird as all hell--like a soupy ketchup bread pudding).
I enjoyed my minibreak immensely and am refreshed and ready to get back to real life.

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