The Joys of Friends & Thanksgiving…

Friday night, The Hubbs & I were invited to J & Miss R‘s house for a belated Thanksgiving dinner celebration.

J had seen my postings from the long weekend and how I was lamenting the fact that I missed out on my family’s (non)traditional Thanksgiving dindin. Monday morning I got an email from him asking if I would like to come over and help J with all the prep work involved and then later have The Hubbs join us after work to partake in a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. I was absolutely thrilled to bits that he had asked. Apparently he himself was kind of sad that they didn’t have their traditional dindin with the recent arrival of Lil’Miss E=MC^2.

So Friday morning, I did some at-home prep and then went over to their house to help J with the rest of the turkey dindin. My job that morning was to bring dessert and the root veggies for roasting — I chopped a skin-on sweet potato and a buttercup squash into cubes, tossed them with a chopped onion and 3 massive cloves of Hutterite garlic, extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh as well as dried rosemary from my kitchen pot, and some dried thyme. When I poured the everything from the mixing bowl into the roasting pan, I realized that there was way too much veggies going on for only four of us eating that night, so I saved half the vegetables in a ziplock baggie and tossed it in the freezer for The Hubbs and I to have in the future.

The whole day was really fantastic and sharing the prep work with J was a nice change seeing as it was just the two of us chatting while doing the mundane tasks of vegetable peeling, turkey seasoning and then eventual cleaning. While all this was going on, Miss R was seeing to the needs of Lil’Miss E, who was demanding instant food-action from her mama. They’ve been trying to figure out how to feed her in such a way that doesn’t involve eating too quickly and then barfing everything up afterwards. I think they may have figured it out by now.

Once all the dinner prep was done and we were just left to wait for the turkey to do its thing and The Hubbs to show up after work, the four of us retreated to the basement for some movie-watching until it was time to eat. J had Lil’Miss E strapped to his chest so she could snuggle, be warm and feel safe while we were watching the movie. I have to admit, we are not a quiet bunch… okay, ~I~ am not a quiet bunch, and that had absolutely no effect on Lil’Miss E. I’m kind of glad for that, they’re happily getting her used to her surroundings and the day to day goings on of the household and no one has to feel like there’s a need to be uber-quiet.

Around five o’clock, we mosied on back up to the kitchen to finish dinner prep — turkey needed to be checked upon for doneness, potatoes needed to boiled for mashing, root veggies needed to be tossed into the oven underneath the turkey to be roasted and Lil’Miss E needed to be fed before dindin. When we checked on the turkey, we discovered that the breast was super duper browned, almost to the point of being burnt, but it was caught in time and pulled out of the oven. I totally forgot that when brining a turkey, the skin goes crazy dark, super fast, from the sugars in the brining liquid — the recipe that J used for the turkey brine came from Nigella’s Feast cookbook. Checking on the temp, the breast was definitely done, but the thigh meat hadn’t quite gotten there so we were in a bit of a quandary. After a little bit of discussion as to what to do, I suggested that J just take the turkey and flip it over onto the breast so the bottom could cook. This would both colour the skin and help to finish cook the thigh meat. I have to admit, it was a brilliant idea. We only left the turkey in the breast-down position long enough for it become golden brown, prevent the breast meat from overcooking to dreaded dryness and save burning its luscious skin. Admittedly, doing this was a little bit awkward and did require two sets of hands, and it made the skin less than crispy for serving but we discovered after dinner that the skin managed to crisp up once the juices dried off.

While the turkey continued doing its thing, butt up in the air, we chucked the root veggies on the lowest shelf. When J & I were prepping veggies for seasoning inside the turkey and lining the bottom of the roasting pan, I chopped up a small bag of parsnips to go with the squash and potatoes and that rounded out our roast veggie tray. Having the veggies roasting in a cookie sheet as opposed to a casserole dish was a fantastic way of getting them to cook faster and truthfully, our only option at the time since the 12 pound turkey was so huge it took up the majority of the space in the oven, leaving us with only the skinniest of spaces between the bottom two racks.

While I was keeping an eye on the turkey and boiling the potatoes, J had to pick up Whelkin and Miss R had Lil’Miss Eneeding another feeding before dindin. By the time everyone had finished whatever it was they were doing, The Hubbs had arrived, potatoes were finished cooking and the turkey was perfect and ready to come out of the oven to rest before carving.

I have to admit, I am not a mashed potatoes kind of girl, but when made with nothing but high fat cream and butter, I am all over that. We had a pretty awesome batch of mashed potatoes going on, care of The Hubbs, as always: 54% cream + butter and seasoned with salt & pepper. That’s it. It was amazing. I’m still blown away by how awesome three simple ingredients can make mashed potatoes.

Once the potatoes were done and Miss R was finished feeding Lil’Miss E, she was handed to me and I got to snuggle her for the rest of the time it took for everyone else to finish with setting the table, putting out food in serving bowls, corn could be boiled, Stove Top(!) stuffing made, and turkey could be carved once rested, etc etc etc… Miss R makes awesome gravy. She claimed that it didn’t taste as good as it normally does, but it tasted pretty phenomenal to me.

Lil’Miss E is so tiny! She’s so tiny! I’m so amazed at how small she is. J nicknamed her Spudlet before she was born and she reminded me exactly of a baked potato when I was holding her against my chest – she was all curled up like a frog against me (as in utero) and she was just giving off so much heat that she reminded me of a baked potato. I could hold her with one hand and almost engulf the bottom half of her body with it. Babies that small are amazing. She has huge hands and feet for only being ~10 days old at the time, too! It was kind of funny, D & K‘s Baby D is almost 2 months old and Lil’Miss E’s hands and feet are the same size as his!

Once we had finished clearing away and divvying up all the leftovers… omg so much leftovers… we relaxed with dessert that I had made, All-In-One Holiday Cake, recipe from Dorie Greenspan and coffee. The recipe I got from her new iPad app and I made in the cornucopia bundt pan that Dad had bought on sale after last year’s Thanksgiving. The above link doesn’t have any mention of the maple frosting served with the cake, but is super simple: 6 rounded tablespoons of icing sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and just enough cream to make the consistency loose enough to drizzle. And as we discovered, goes really nicely in a cup of coffee in place of a regular old spoonful of sugar.

At the risk of sounding all mooshy and sentimental and stuff… It was absolutely fantastic and such a joy that they invited me into their home so soon after Lil’Miss E’s arrival to help cook dinner and share a table with them. Having a belated Thanksgiving dinner with friends so soon after the birth of their first child was such an honour and the memories will be treasured.

I hope that we can do this again with J & R and Lil’Miss E, as well as have the opportunity in the future to do so with other friends that may be in need of a helping hand with a cozy homecooked meal and extra on-one-time together as friends.

All-In-One Holiday Cake

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