I’m in that purgatory between cooking seven things for Thanksgiving and eating it all. This well-deserved break is punctuated by espresso with cream and a small shot of Cuaranta y Tres liqueur. It’s 11:30 a.m. Is it bad to be drinking at this hour? I’m assuming that the heat of the espresso will kill most of the alcohol. It could happen.
I look around our large, fabulous kitchen, and all I see is abundance: Family, dogs, kitchen appliances, and a ridiculous excess of food-in-the-making. Stuff I am thankful for and write about all the time.
While preparing the turkey for the Traeger, I thought of a few other things that I am deeply thankful for. In no particular order…
The Elliott Factor: This Thanksgiving, Gary’s oldest son, Mike, and his youngest son, Elliott (below), are here to visit, eat, and hang out. I could write a book about how thankful I am that Mike has been in my life since 1983, so I won’t cover that here. But, in addition, Elliott is, without a doubt, a most remarkable 6-year-old. He is fearless, strong, funny, passionate, and quite possibly the cutest boy ever, except maybe for his older brother and his cousins, depending on the day.
The best part about having Elliott around this year is being able to see Thanksgiving through his eyes. For example, we have those long chains on the front of our house that serve as rain gutters. I love them because in the depths of winter, water freezes on them, and they’re really interesting to photograph. Anyway, Elliott loves them for yet a very different reason: They are fun to climb. I mean, why else would they be there?
I’m sure he’ll take the napkin ring off of his cloth napkin tonight and thread it on his ear. And he probably has a way to eat his pumpkin pie that I have never thought of. Hopefully I bought the right root beer to pair with turkey; he’ll let me know if I didn’t.
Pasta vs. Zoodles: As I reach into the refrigerator to pull out some leftover, chanterelle pizza from last night, it reminds me of the year that we had an Italian-themed Thanksgiving, when I made my first Pasta Bolognese. Truth be told, and I wouldn’t lie to you, I don’t think there is a food more satisfying or seductive than pasta. I may be German and English, but my stomach is completely, utterly Italian. I pine for penne, lust for linguine, am ravenous for rigatoni. Doesn’t just the thought of pasta just make you want to make a pot of Arrabiata sauce, open a bottle of chianti, and get lost with someone? Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking.
But, as the saying goes, the only problem with Italian food is that five or six days later, you’re hungry again.
Of course, I’m only mentioning this because I am on a diet and haven’t had pasta in MONTHS. “Zoodles” have taken over my life. I appreciate them, in a masochistic sort of way, like flossing, but am not thankful for them. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll tear into my next bowl of real pasta, but it is going to be a very, very good night when I do. Maybe you could have me over? I’d break my diet if you made it.
Anthony Bourdain: I can’t not buy his books. From Kitchen Confidential-on, he breaks the mold I have in my head for chefs, and that’s a good thing. Bourdain’s new book, Appetites, flew into my cart at Costco more quickly than the mega-box of those damn Belgian chocolate cookies (stop it, Gary, just stop it). This Thanksgiving, I’m straying from convention by adding a new dish – his “Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame,” which he describes as the following:
“This shit is compulsively delicious.”
After seasoning and roasting a head of cauliflower, you then toss it with a magical mixture of tahini, white miso, red wine vinegar, and then add sesame seeds. What the hell. I’d like to love cauliflower. Maybe I’ll eat it with my zoodles.
It’s Over: The election, that is. Even though it’s hard to imagine at the moment, maybe next year, I’ll be thankful for something that has happened as a result. Yeah, and I’ll be 40 again, too.
Fourteen Cases of Wine: Thanks to a unique combination of hedonism, irrational exhuberence, and several 20%-off sales, we now have fourteen cases of wine in our pantry to choose from on any given night. I’m even finding that sometimes I’m so lazy, now with the advent of screw-top bottles, that it’s almost too much trouble to use the corkscrew. How pathetic is that?
Back to the point. Wine is good. Lots of wine is better. Sharing a bottle of wine with someone is the best. Looks like I’ve got about 168 of those opportunities to look forward to.
Of course, I’m thankful for many more things than this, but you probably are just thankful for my stopping now.
Go eat your Thanksgiving dinner; it’s getting cold, and you know how I hate that.
Thanks for reading. I know how busy you are.