Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Baking

Pumkin Pie set out to cool.  It will be served with whipped cream for dessert tomorrow.

For the past two years the younger family members next door have orchestrated the Thankgiving feast, inviting cousins and friends.  I have liked that, being required only to produce a few pies and dinner rolls for the event. I could enlist grandson to carry food and extra chairs across the adjoining yard, enjoy the rather noisy company for an hour or two and then stroll back to my own quiet realm.

 By Monday I began to suspect that they weren't organizing anything this year.  SIL and grandson had planned to attend a sporting event, but had to cancel. Daughter G. has been at home from her teaching duties, having finally succumbed to some variety of illness making the rounds.  J. and I were all day on errands in Casper on Monday, a 2 and 1/2 hour drive each way.  I spotted a new Super Wal Mart just behind one of the building supply places we visited, and with a feeling of, "Errrr, someone needs to plan Thanksgiving dinner," we hurried in to purchase a frozen turkey and some yams.  I did a bit of local shopping last night and announced [with a tinge of martydom] that I would produce a harvest dinner.

I enjoy traditional holiday food, I like to bake, however, the occasion seemed simply to descend on me this year while I wasn't looking!
I was out of the quilt shop early today, and hurried home to start the baking.  A large tin of pumpkin has turned into the above pictured pie and a loaf of pumpkin/raisin bread---quite appealing--I just had two slices liberally spread with butter.  I baked a small blueberry pie for J. who doesn't relish pumpkin, tucked a larger blueberry pie in the freezer for future reference.
Daughter has struggled from her bed and phoned to inquire in a raspy voice if they should prepare anything for the communal meal.  I have it well in hand, and there is the suggestion that SIL may take over the roasting of the "bird", a task he does with finesse.

I protest the quantity of side dishes which sometimes appear at these feasts and the corresponding excess of food consumption.  I like to keep it simple. The theme, after all, is meant to be thankfulness; gratitude for ample harvest--not quite as meaningful perhaps in these days of super market shopping as when the winter's food was the result of a handed down knowledge of seeds and seasons, planting and weeding, harvesting and putting by, all undertaken with hope and prayers for timely sunshine and rain.

On Friday we will head over South Pass to celebrate the holiday with our son and his partner.  Heidi is a marvelous gourmet cook and a meal which she creates is always memorable.  I will doubtless be making another pie or two in her kitchen.
When I asked what I might bring [shopping is even more limited in Pinedale than here] she immediately requested a new teakettle as hers has sprung a leak. 
I went first to the elegant kitchen shop in town.  Two kettles on offer--handsome, but VERY pricey. I tried the appliance store next and discovered a bewildering array of mid-priced kettles in their cookware department.  I dithered, rejecting the cheapest ones, attracted by a sleekly modern "stainless" model, but finally won over by the  homespun red-speckled enamel one above. It should add a cheerful note of color during the long winter.

As we grow older holidays bring with them an increase of nostalgia, memories of times past, family no longer with us.  Writing this tonight, in a house that smells of ginger and cinnamon and pumpkin, many miles from my home in New England, I can conjure up years of Thankgiving services, my Mother at the pipe organ in the choir loft, my Dad hovering over the recording equipment at the front of the church creating the master tape from which he would make copies for shut-ins. All the stops out on the organ for the final verse of the closing hymn, all voices raised in joyful song.

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown
Unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.


  1. The pumpkin pie looks delicious and I'm sure |Heidi will love her kettle. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your family, hope your daughter is suffiently recovered to enjoy the festivities.

  2. Hullo MM,

    Thanks for this post.

    More poignant for me than you can imagine, and caught by surprise as I read it, ended with a huge lump in my thoat thinking ahead to Christmas and the New Year without any of the previous generations for the first time.

    Your imagery of your parents and church rang loud in me as I thought of my lovely G's parents - Mum in the choir and Dad recording the services, duplicating tapes and hand delivering them around the parish every week to the old and the infirm.

    I am always fascinated by the thought of pumpkin pie - American icon that it is - wondering what it tastes like as I have never tried it. Maybe this year I should try and do something about that and try and find a recipe on line.

    thanks again.


  3. Happy Thanksgiving my dear. Sounds like you are in the driving seat this year. I like the "not to excess" celebrations. Keith would have a very bare-cupboard Christmas if it was down to him as he is NOT a foodie and as he gets older the list of what he will no longer eat grows . . . LOVE the cheerful kettle. I'd have gone for that too.

    Keith bought some limited-edition high cocoa chocolate yesterday, and included me with some that had blueberry, blackcurrant or raspberry included. I'm not a dark chocolate person, tried the blueberry and spent the next hour trying to get rid of the taste. YUK! I'll stick to blueberries in pies and muffins thanks . . .

  4. Hullo again,

    Typical - hit send as I realised I hadn't wished you all a happy thanksgiving day when it comes. Enjoy the family.

    Awra {all the} best......Al.

  5. Thanksgiving always sounds so wonderful ...what do you do at christmas? That is when family try to get togerther here, with one person taking on the challenge of cooking and hosting the event. Now a days it tends to be smaller gatherings though... people keeping to their own family unit more.

    Happy Thanksgiving luck with the cooking ....will we see photos?

  6. I absolutely love this post; it brings memories and homeliness - and oh that red kettle! So true that we ten to over-indulge at times of celebration. Right now I have stopped by when in the middle of working - am writing an article on 'Vegetable Heaven', advocating grow-your-own to minimise fuel costs and food bills. Thanks for inspiring me as I sip my herbal tea. And thanks too for your comment on my blog - enjoy Thursday and hope your daughter is well again soon.

  7. My second comment and you will be deep into festivities right now - but I had to say I have just looked in again to your blog - we like the same books and films. Have a wonderful evening.

  8. Can you imagine how much I enjoy reading your comments and sharing ideas--we seem to have collected a group of our own, making the rounds of the blogs and finding delight in the appreciation of so many things.
    WSC: I beleive you write for the sort of magazines I have always enjoyed. I have found that people who do things with their hands, gardening, working with wood, or fabric, or paints are never bored. It is a fine balance to crafting with words or more "cerebral" tasks.
    Angie: Christmas dinner is rather a repeat of Thanksgiving for us. Perhaps a roast beef instead of turkey. In both my family and J.'s when more of us lived close by in New England, the food preparation was always shared. None of us have ever been affluent and Christmas hasn't been about partying or huge expenditures for trendy gifts. One of the most enjoyable gatherings I ever created for friends and family was a drop in high tea on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas. Hot cider, tea or coffee, nut breads, cheese and cracker trays, a fruit salad, and a variety of pies.
    Al: as I thought over this post, I recalled that some of the family gatherings were a bit obligatory--a sense that maybe we were "expected" to get together as a family when we might have liked a change of pace some years. With my parents so recently gone from us, its one of those situations where if we could "turn back the clock" we might have realized better how precious these times would be in retropsect. Families are complicated!
    BB: dark chocolate is my favorite--just a tinge bitter and with dried fruit. I try to keep a stash in my sewing cabinet to nibble sparingly. I tell J. he doesn't appreciate the good stuff savored a bite at a time. I do like blueberry muffins--with real butter!
    Rowan: I'm thinking that during your visit to New Hampshire you must have seen the farm stands of the area--pumpkins, squash, bags of apples--maybe freshly pressed cider?
    Thank you all for the wishes for daughter's quick recovery--I'm relieved she is feeling so much better as she has a history of asthma which can complicate other ailments.
    I also appreciate the affirmation re my choice of the red kettle!

  9. Me again, still catching up on reading and commenting. I so agree that Thanskgiving shouldn't be about excess and gluttony. I also don't like holidays where women end up in the kitchen doing all the work and men hang out in the den watching football--luckily this wasn't my experience growing up, but i've seen it in other households. I love the Harvest Home hymn words and the New England images you evoke. And with everyone else, i totally agree that the red tea kettle was an inspired choice.