Thursday, November 22, 2007


It is Thanksgiving morning, I should be rolling out pie crust, but what I really want to do is indulge a different greedy urge--reading. I have some recent evidence of my book appetite:
Yup, eight works of fiction I just received from the library. (From the top, Jim Harrison's Returning to Earth, Rudolph Delson's Maynard and Jennica, Valerie Martin's Salvation, Roddy Doyle's Paula Spencer, Ward Just's Forgetfulness, Nancy Horan's Loving Frank, Bobbie Ann Mason's Nancy Culpepper, and Jennifer Gilmore's Golden Country)

And thanks to the suggestion from Jan at Jan's Daily Dish (aka "All the latest from Heavensville..."), I have a new way to a) waste time and b) show off my library addiction on my side bar with the new widget from Library Thing. Cool isn't it? If you want to make one for your blog, go here. Thanks to the Ann Arbor District Library's wonderful web site, I can import the books I have checked out to my account to Library Thing and don't have to go the tedious route of typing in all the titles.

Of course, since I also check out all the kids' books on my card, I do have to go through the list and delete their (many) selections like Ian's latest thrilling read: The Endocrine system, the reproductive system, human development and Fiona's choice: Young naturalist's handbook. Insect-lo-pedia.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What we'll be drinking

I just got back from Arbor Farms where I was picking up the last of the ingredients for our Thanksgiving menu and, most fun of all, picking out what we'll drink:From right to left--Vruit, for the small people, Estancia 2006 Pinot Noir with dinner, and for the cheese course, a half-bottle of Chateau Beylieux 2003 Sauternes.

Arbor Farms has good deals on wine. Their selection isn't the biggest in town, but the store manager loves to talk about wine (he pointed me to the Estancia and said it was a great deal and better than some of the higher priced Pinots he carries) and they give you a 10% discount when you buy any 6 bottles.

I was going to get some tawny port for the cheese course, but then I spied the Sauternes and went for that. The first time I tasted Sauternes was when I lived in Bordeaux and was invited to dinner at one of the profs houses. A fellow lecteur, who was a non-drinker, brought along a bottle of Sauternes that someone had given him; the prof said that it was a really good Sauternes, way out of a lecteur's price range, and when it rolled across my tongue it made me think of liquid gold. Since it is cold and damp and rainy today, I was inspired to bring that bit of sunshine to our meal tomorrow. It probably won't be as glorious as that first sip years ago (especially since this is a relatively affordable bottle), but I'll embellish it with my memories.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The crunch factor

I must say, this is a very curious feeling. I am actually looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I've bitched about the holiday in the past, but this year, for the first time, I have some agency over the holiday menu--my sweet, lovely, lousy-cook mother-in-law is out of town visiting her brother and so I get to be responsible for the meal planning. I contemplated a rather radical Thanksgiving--turkey with Vietnamese stuffing, maybe some steamed kimchi dumplings, that kind of thing. But when I proposed this to the other people who will be dining at the table that night, I saw some confused looks and not much in the way of enthusiastic cheers.

Then I thought about it a bit more and figured that some small tweaks to a more traditional menu could make the meal palatable to me, and still not rock the boat. What I dislike most about the traditional meal that my mother-in-law dishes out each year is the mush factor--pretty much everything at the table has a squishy texture (except for the turkey which, unfortunately, she cooks until it is dry...): mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied yams, canned cranberry sauce, soft rolls.

I don't care for squish.

I found that adding a little crunch back into the meal makes it one that I can look forward to. I'll still make a few mushy things for those traditionalists at the table (buttermilk mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy), but the turkey will be deep fried (using Brian's birthday present), the hush puppies will replace the rolls, the Brussels sprouts are served tender crisp, and there will be a salad with a nice sharp vinaigrette to contrast with the richness of the rest of the meal. Also I'll reduce the sweetness factor--the cranberry relish I'll make is piquant with ginger and jalapeño, and the sweet potatoes will be smoky with Spanish paprika.

So here is our menu: