Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Dinner

I used to tell myself [and anyone who would listen] that one of these years I would do it all properly: tablecloth starched and pressed to crispness, candles lit, a "centerpiece", relishes and pickles all in the heirloom dishes.  At this point I realize that is not going to happen.  We are not a formal family.  I didn't want a formal eating area in this small house and this is my favorite of the kitchens I have helped to design in the houses J. has built.  Here you see SIL carving the turkey, while J. and grandson D. fall upon the food, which I set out on the island behind the small table.  Daughter G. is feeling recovered from the illness which caused her to miss a day or two of work--thankfully not a full blown flu. She didn't "dress" for the occasion, but came down in jeans and a warm "hoodie." She stirred the gravy while I arranged condiments and J. mashed the potatoes with more butter and cream than I would have done.

I feel that I cannot invite guests who don't like cats!  D. caught our old Raisin on the sink counter top licking  the drippings in the pan. Raisin has always been a bit fragile and prone to a delicate stomach.  She is looking old and frail and boney, so we indulge her in whatever [and where ever] she fancies to eat.

Charlie [left] the dad cat, loves to have anyone come in.  He makes a nuisance of himself looking for attention.  D. stooped to pat Maisie [right] and Charlie immediately rushed in to push her out of the way and hog the limelight.

Charlie in full possession of the hassock and draped in D.'s napkin.
Oh yes, the napkins: I realized I had no paper napkins in stock, remembered this fabric which I bought several years ago meaning to make harvest themed placemats.  So, fabric sliced into squares and folded.  I'll do some sort of hem finish on them and put them away til next Thanksgiving.

We enjoyed our meal, but didn't over eat, and decided to save the dessert pie for later.  D. appeared for his just as I finished putting the kitchen to rights an hour later, J. and I had ours for tea.  D. appeared again, grinning, at suppertime with a variety of small containers and the "orders" for various leftovers--perhaps the best part of such a meal.
I couldn't help thinking of the innovations which would have amazed our grandmothers, maybe even our mothers.  I used a package of cubed and seasoned "stuffing mix", adding dried parsley grown in Heidi's mountain garden, a pinch of celery salt, some dried apple I had on hand. [After realizing that J. made applesauce last week from all the fresh apples.]  The turkey, stuffed and seasoned, was gently tucked into a "roaster bag" which kept it moist without basting, there was no messy pan to scrub.  I'm almost ashamed to say that I bought a package of rolls to heat at the last minute, rather than making them as I usually do.  And, perhaps most astonishing, the dishes, all but the few kettles and pans used, went into the dish washer.
I'm probably sounding by now like an advertisement for all sorts of "modern conveniences"---but I have to admit that this last minute feast went well, mainly because I took advantage of available short cuts. With everything cleared away, family dispersed to their house next door and J. tinkering outside in the slanting afternoon sunshine, I sat down with a lovely and leisurely mug of tea.


  1. You and I are sisters, I am sure. I have the greatest of intentions to always have the "perfect table" at Christmas or high holidays such as birthdays, but rarely does it come to pass. However, never any complaints about the food!

    I am glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a little bit of a nod to modern conveniences now and again makes life so much easier. It doesn't HAVE to be ALL hard graft you know!

  2. Sounds like a pretty good day to me:) Glad your daughter is feeling better.

  3. I've just returned to have another look at your coloured unit in the kitchen. It is a useful thing to have - I just have a little trolley on wheels which used to have my demi-johns of wine bubbling away on it, but it seems to have become Gypsy's bed now!

  4. That sounds like a wonderful family celebration! I love the photos of your beautiful cats and agree absolutely that they should join in and be part of a special occasion.

    MM - Please can I thank you for your help with my blog. It now seems to be working just as it should and I have no idea what magic you worked. BB told me that you had been the Good Fairy and I am very grateful!

  5. Thanks so much for following my blog - I really appreciate that and look forward to getting to know you better through your lovely posts.

  6. I love how your kitchen is laid out...very comfortable and practical. Formal dining rooms are wasted space most of the time and in a small house, that's a big waste. It's nice how well your meal came together at such short notice...too bad all the work fell on you, but lovely that it worked out. How very sweet that Miss Raisin is permitted to help herself to whatever she wants to eat, wherever she wants to eat it (your description sounds like thyroid or kidney issues).

  7. I know what you mean about guests and cats ... but then if they dont like cats and their ways or dont accept a cat lovers ways ..then they are not worth having as true friends.
    we have a couple of cats who cannot leave an empty dish unlicked and one that only licks chilli bowls lol ...cast iron stomach. So glad you had a great relaxed family day and everyone enjoyed the food.

  8. But don't all those short cuts mean that you can enjoy the holiday along with everyone else. I'm all for shortcuts as long as everything tastes good! And oh! your cats make me miss our Pogue so much (number four out of five cats). He really was the best!