I could not sleep last night. I woke up at 6am, after restlessly tossing and turning since I went to bed at 2:30, and I could only think of one thing: turkey. At 7:30 I had already planned the entire menu and mapped out my route to the market to find fresh turkey breast. At 12:30 I was walking home with bags full of fresh lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, oranges, and of course, two kilos of fresh turkey meat. It doesn’t get any fresher than the market – next to the dark lumps of breast meat behind the glass counter are whole yellow chickens with rolled-back eyes, their necks twisted and the blood still congealed on their half-feathered bodies. That’s freshness for you, I guess.
I didn’t think I would be able to pull off a Thanksgiving dinner at all, since I usually get home from work at 10pm and that doesn’t really give me time to cook a 3-hour turkey. But this morning, with visions of pumpkin bars dancing in my head, I realized that I could do it. Today. Now. So I called all my friends, and went to the market. About five stores later, I had everything, and my already-baked pumpkin bars were cooling on the counter. I had to go to work, but ran home in between my classes to stuff the turkey in the oven and cut the potatoes. At 10:00, everyone arrived, and we sat down to a veritable feast:
-lemon herb roasted turkey breast
-au gratin potatoes
-brown sugar orange glazed carrots
-green salad with escarole and romaine lettuces
-cranberry sauce! (of course, cranberries don’t exist here, but I had some leftover cranberry jam that I found in the “exotic food” section of an expensive grocery store, so I boiled it down and added a splash of rum and a splash of orange juice….sooo goooood!)
The turkey was BEAUTIFUL…I could not have asked for it to come out better than it did. It was perfectly browned and juicy white inside, with good herb flavoring. The secret is rubbing the herbs/butter under the skin. It makes a huge difference. There were ten of us total, and before we sat down to eat, I mentioned that it’s generally a tradition to name one thing you are thankful for before beginning the meal. It was really nice to hear how happy everyone was to have become friends…some people were really touched. Anyway, back to the food….for dessert we had pumpkin bars (Mome’s special recipe), which disappeared, as they always do, even though people claim not to like pumpkin. There was also some leftover plum cake, which was still moist and tastes better with age. There were bottles of wine and happy chatter, and the satisfied sighs of full stomachs and light hearts. I could not have asked for things to work out better than they did, and all on the spur of the moment.
Being able to have had a Thanksgiving dinner (my first official Thanksgiving “on my own,” so to speak!) makes me even happier because it was a little bit of home, and now I can officially begin the Christmas season (meaning, it’s officially okay for me to start listening incessantly to Christmas music and to put up my lights). And tomorrow I don’t have to work until 5pm, which means…Christmas shopping (and leftovers!)!!! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
(p.s. some free publicity – almost this entire meal was made possible courtesy of http://www.allrecipes.com, my new favorite website)