Friday, November 23, 2007

Post T-Day Friday Five

Today's RevGalBlogPals' Friday Five:

Did you go elsewhere for the day, or did you have visitors at your place instead? How was it?

As Constant Readers know, we put out a group invite to our place for Thanksgiving. We got 11 RSVP's, but wound up with eight guests -- which turned out to be a good thing, despite our disappointment over more of our friends not being able to attend, because our seating arrangements would have gone from cozy to chaotic with too many more guests. Our non-family attendees were more acquaintances than friends -- we were rather surprised that they RSVP'd, and equally surprised when they e-mailed back to say that they were bringing their teenage sons. But we had a good time, and sent all our guests home with cartons of leftovers. After spending the first 18 or so years of my life attending tension-filled holiday gatherings of relatives who often didn't like each other very well -- those types of dinners where you sit bruxing your teeth waiting for some rhetorical bomb to be lobbed onto the table -- I'm kind of liking our alternative household tradition of inviting relative strangers; there's still occasion for anxiety, but it's a different and more manageable kind.

But -- gosh -- we missed The Codeman. Thanksgiving was one of his favorite days.

Main course: If it was the turkey, the whole turkey, and nothing but the turkey, was it prepared in an unusual way? Or did you throw tradition to the winds and do something different?

Fellow Traveler was in charge of the turkey, which was fairly traditionally seasoned except for some tamari she told me she rubbed into the skin to improve the color. And our dressing -- a magnificent herbed-apple dressing -- included a big dollop of homemade applesauce.

My tomatoes au gratin were something new -- I saw the recipe online in a collection of old-fashioned recipes and thought it might be good. My variation: I diced up some onion, celery and garlic, and sauteed the mixture in butter until the vegetables were soft. I then added a cup and a half of Pepperidge Farm loose stuffing and tossed the mixture together in the skillet. (The original recipe called for dry toast...but that sounded a little boring and Victorian-sickroom-tray to me.) Then I added a big can of minced tomatoes. I placed this mixture in a buttered casserole, topped it generously with shredded colby cheese and baked it just long enough to heat it through and melt the cheese. It tasted pretty good; in retrospect, I think the only thing I might do differently next time -- and there will be a next time -- is add a few tablespoons of tomato paste, just to enhance the flavor.

Other than the meal, do you have any Thanksgiving customs that you observe every year?

Well, again we're developing our own customs. One of them is using very lovely autumnal-hued linen tablecloth and napkins that I found, never used, in my mother's chest of drawers; I assume it was some shower or wedding present that she didn't really care for but nonetheless kept. We've also been using my inherited china -- it's Steubenville, with a Queen Anne's lace design on it. It's such a shame to just let it sit unused in the kitchen cupboard; I enjoy bringing it out once or twice a year.

The day after Thanksgiving is considered a major Christmas shopping day by most US retailers. Do you go out bargain hunting and shop ‘till you drop, or do you stay indoors with the blinds closed? Or something in between?

Wild horses couldn't drag me shopping today. We are in for the day.

Let the HOLIDAY SEASON commence! When will your Christmas decorations go up?

As late as possible. My grandparents never put their tree up until Christmas Eve. I'm not quite that doctrinaire, but I refuse to put the tree up more than a few days before Christmas. Which also means that, while my neighbors have their trees kicked to the curb the evening of Christmas Day, I have my tree up until Epiphany. Call me an old-fashioned girl. On the other hand, I'm a big fan of Advent as a counterbalance to Christmas madness, so I'm getting ready to put up my Advent wreath.


Sally said...

with you all the way on the Christmas decorations- I like to observe advent first, and our tree stays up until epiphany too!

What a great way to celebrate- with invited strangers!

more cows than people said...

i'm with on the best use of today.

and am wondering at the expression "bruxing your teeth".

and totally get what you're saying about family gatherings.

and love your play.

Wyldth1ng said...

You must be a Stones fan.

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

I so hear you on the family thing on #1. The tomato au gratin sounds good...recipe forthcoming?????

Kievas said...

Sounds like it was a great day!

Rev Dr Mom said...

I am so with you on the Christmas decorations!

The tomato thing sounds good. My mother used to make something like that.

Singing Owl said...

Sounds lovely! Guests, great food, no squabbles. :-) I think we may be doing something like that for Christmas since the kids are not coming home this year. Kinda sad, but also an opportunity.