Photos of the Day
Oy, before it’s Christmas, I need to wrap up Thanksgiving. Truly, dearly I love each and every member of my family, but honestly, we went a little over-the-top this year.
Making our pilgrimage from Boca Raton and Sarasota, from Cleveland and Detroit, from Dallas to Lincoln Park. . . and on to Evanston, we carried cakes on planes, packed coolers with pastry and produce, stuffed diaper bags with sippy cups, graham crackers and blankets. . . all to convene in my nephew’s kitchen, armed with recipes and carving knives.
Because we could, we did: cook, bake, baste, simmer, stew and stir way-out-of-control.
|Table setting for 30|
Expecting the Clash of the Titans in the kitchen, my nephews steered clear of our menu choices while their mother - my sister, Susan - and I hashed out our plan to tackle most of the meal, starting with separate runs to Whole Foods on Tuesday. Susan (my only sib) and I have the longest history in the clan as it stands today. I know from vivid memories of Thanksgiving Days past that she can be accident prone with a knife, so I know not to mess with her head. Nonetheless, Susan and I think in perfect synch when it comes to cooking and together we whipped up our part of the meal quite compatibly and amicably -- and quite well, if I must say so myself.
|Matt, Mason, Wendy|
|Jeri, Ben (Ben & Jeri!) and Andy|
Our gracious, most generous and patient hosts: Douglas -- my hyperkinetic nephew - and Ellen, quite the opposite in temperament - started the tradition of our family Thanksgiving Extravaganza a few years back. The table has expanded and extended again and again, as our family has grown, now to include a new generation of married cousins - their babes in arms and in-laws, too. Add my husband’s cousins - and you have a houseful of us, before we even get started with Doug-and-Ellen’s family and friends.
In all the clamor of a loud Jewish family, Ellen is Irish and gently ribs us for carrying on the way we do about food. Why can’t we ever keep dinner to one simple choice of each thing - why all this megillah? And all the calls and emails back and forth. . . on and on for a month it goes. Ellen claims no specialty for the holidays -- but she’s fine “for perfect comfort food” in her own right, and quietly bakes the most beautiful pies I’ve ever seen or tasted.
|Caramel apple cranberry pie|
|Sandy and flight-worthy chocolate cake|
Douglas -- everyone should have a Douglas in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day -- on any day for that matter. We joke about the “Douglas gene” - lament that it’s recessive in our children, and attribute it to my father who was the family neat-freak, running the vacuum after guests even when they were still in the house. Douglas has inherited the trait to extreme. Okay, maybe he’s a little OCD, but in a good way. He trails you in the kitchen like Smokey the Bear stamping out forest fires; with wet towel in hand he mops and wipes and polishes surfaces, clear of every spec and splatter of grease and flour. Doug alphabetizes his spices -- removes them from their carrossel and wipes the bottles clean after every use. His refrigerator, his cupboards, his drawers are all wonders of organization. And yet, as tidy as he keeps his home, he’s a good sport, ever-so-welcoming of people who come in to his kitchen, tear through his cupboards, - abusing his pots and pans, sharpening his knives, scorching his burners on a new stove, no matter. He’s with you - and with his God -- rag in hand, cleaning up the aftermath.
|Douglas in his element: kitchen|
|David, Doug's bro|
My nephew David: another welcoming and gracious host and fine cook - accommodates our family from out of town in his condo. David is always ready, willing and very able to fill in, shop, cook as needed. . . I’ve never seen him break a sweat -- that is, until this year, when his oven went out on Thanksgiving morning. He had undertaken the prep of all the veggies, as well as the menu choices of his house guests - my husband’s cousins, Sandy and Robert, who traditionally bring the gravy, soup and a surprise dessert.
|David and twins, Lauren and Zachary|
Without the oven, there was quite a flurry and change of venue - whereby Doug and David “commandeered” the neighbor’s kitchen next door -- the neighbors being good friends and out of town.
|Matt and Mason, learning A-OK|
|Lauren and Mason|
Long story short, it was a mess at times and much-too-much of a fuss, but the result and the family who came to the table made it all worth it. Of course! We may have alarmed the in-laws with all our antics in abundance, but hopefully we didn’t scare them away. For the first time, we got to share the pure joy and wonder of our grandchildren together - twins Zach and Lauren, toddler Mason and new baby Ben! Really, it doesn’t get any better than that:
|Great grand mom, Helene|
|Carin and Ben|
|Ben, rarely seen in PJs. .|
Until next year.
The Hosts: Doug and Ellen
The Cooks: Susan, VH, David, Mal, Sandy, Robert, Carin
The Kids: Matt & Wendy, Andy & Jerry,
The Grandkids: Lauren & Zach, Mason and Benjamin
The Grandparents: Susan, Jeanne, Mal, VH, Carin, Drew, Nan, Helene,
Good Friends: Bob, Jean, Michael, Allie, Preston, Dwayne, Gina, Cameron, Evan
|Bob and Susan|
(A funny wrap-up email from Doug in response to our search of a zester in his kitchen: )
But to have been accused of not having a zester when I was quite positive I had one…now to THAT I took exception. And worse, I was told it had to look like a rake or some such gardening tool…now that had me all muddled. So upon inquiry at Williams-Sonoma for a proper zester, what do they bring me to? Well, have a look yourselves at the attached pictures. It’s a bird, it’s a (micro)plane, it’s Ultimate Multi-Zesteur! Now in one of the pictures, if I might please bring your attention to the end of the handle on the left…see right there…those circular doo-hickies…two sizes no less! With those you may make your citrus peel curls in, not one, but two sizes.
So I am writing to exonerate myself of the accusation that I did not have a zester. To the contrary…I had quite the zester. It seems it was not I, but everyone else that was muddled over my zester.
Now I am still in search of a proper roasting rack…so far all the ones I have found come with a roaster, of which I already have 3. Thanks, Doug
|Zester in question|