Clotilde looked small and unsuspicious and seriously out of place in my kitchen filled with thrust and G force way beyond her means. After all, she was only a 13-pounder turkey, and the kitchen gang had long gotten used to handling birds of more hefty stature. But Clotilde was the fleshiest of the flock for the post-Pilgrim holiday. I like to think of myself as an out-of-the-box person, most definitely cook, so, it was no surprise to me or my friends when I announced my Thanksgiving meal would be taking place three weeks after the holiday had passed.
No one seemed surprised. And no one said no. How could they? They knew it would be an ocean of culinary delights, from the turkey, to the stuffing to the mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, cranberry port sauce, and on and on and on. Ending with pies. Many pies because one is never enough.
My house is colorful and bright, every tile, art work, or cookbook holds a fun and usually tasty story of the life that bonds Yeshua and I together. However, my house is a wee bit tight and breathes easier with the help of our huge backyard, which, for the ocassion, was decked out and ready to accomodate people, particularly stuffed ones. Plans, of course, are made to be broken, for that day was grey and blustery and, fifteen minutes before our dinner party was to begin, showcased a true Florida rainstorm, the kind where your windshield wiper is on overdrive and you still can’t see beyond your nose. Outdoors: cancelled.
Clotilde looked lovely for the event: evenly browned and dazzling with her accessory of Mom’s Famous Stuffing (both cavity and neck). As I set her aside to rest on her own board, she seemed to reassure me that everything would work out, my parties inevitably gravitate around the kitchen. I laughed out loud. Clotilde was right. I laughed again. I am listening and taking advice from a cooked turkey. I must be a chef. Or insane. Or both.
But you read this and you know at some point you’ve done the same (haven’t you?) And you know how this ends, Clotilde was correct: the party did gravitate to the kitchen, where, impromptu butts sat on countertops, stood, chatted, drank delicious champagne and noshed on treats brought by everyone, awaiting for our moment of thanks.
I had added a Hanukah component to the evening, given we were smack in the week of that celebration and as I stood watching my dear friend Ana Paula fry up our latkes, I smiled in agreement when she coined the evening Thankshanukah: a bit of blessing, a bit of grease, a lot of friendship and food.
Rafael's Cranberry Relish
Not because he invented it, but because he will not come to my house for turkey if I don't serve it!
1 9 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 large package of cherry jello
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup ground fresh cranberry
Drain pineapple and save syrup. Add water to syrup to make 1/2 cup. Dissolve gelatine and sugar in 1 cup hot water. Add syrup and lemon juice. Chill until partly set (about 30 minutes in the freezer or 1 1/2 hours in fridge). Add pineapple, celery, walnuts and cranberry, put in a 5 cup ring and chill until fully set, overnight.