Monday, November 13, 2023

The Thanksgiving Preparation Begins (Oh Hell, Martha! I Have To Finish The Jigsaw Puzzle!)

Obviously, tchotchkes are my life. Just as with all my other stuff, each and every one of them has a memory attached, a story, a reason for it to be in my house, although the reason is sometimes nothing more than, "I like it." 
I obviously use a lot of spices too. Those you see on the right are mostly my baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as my curry spices. Turmeric, cumin seed, ground cumin, and yes, curry powder. Among others. 

I also have an old wooden Coca-Cola crate to the left of my stove which holds the spices that I use mainly in stove-top cooking such as my paprikas and sage, chili powders, powdered mustard, bay leaves, and so forth. Of course there are crossovers in the two areas and I also have a cabinet above the stove where I keep large containers of things like garlic powder and oregano, Old Bay, salt and pepper. 
There really is no method to my madness. 
The little pottery bowl in front of the Coke crate is where I keep my garlic. I am using the garlic we grew this year which never got very big but it is good and it is also easy to peel. I keep a bag of it in the pantry. 

We've had no rain here for weeks and weeks. Because it has been cooler, things are not as dire as they would be in July or August. The forecast, though, calls for rain for the next three days. We shall see. It has been a depressing gray here for the past two days which has been quite the change as our skies have been the brilliant blue that only comes around in fall. So I hope we get rain, as my weather widget claims we will, because if water is coming from the sky, the gray will be worth it and I will be grateful, not depressed. 

Today's been a sort of strange day, probably because of the weather which for some reason keeps reminding me of Christmas which is something I'd just rather not be reminded of as if that were even an option with even Publix showing displays of candy canes and all of that holiday crap. I was talking to August the other day about Christmas and of course, he, being a child, is very excited about it. He still believes deeply in Santa. He asked me some question about how Santa does...something? I can't remember. But one of the magical things that he does. Because I am a horrible old cynic I told him that I really didn't know and he was just going to have to figure that out by himself. Anyone who wants a jolly discussion about Old St. Nick ain't gonna get it with me. It also somehow came up that I do not like Christmas and when he asked me why, I was hard put to tell him. I do not want to go into any long, Freudian explanation about my childhood and its effects on any future enjoyment I might have ever gotten from  Christmas so I just said something like, "Well, Christmas wasn't always so great when I was a child." But then I proceeded to tell him about the best Christmas present I'd ever gotten which was a fifty pound (at least), old (even then) typewriter with a little metal typing desk for it to sit on and even a manual to teach myself how to type. 
I did love that typewriter. My mother got it so right that year. 
August asked me if he could have a typewriter like that. "Well you know who you should talk to about that?" I asked him. 
"Uncle Hank!" he said. 
I don't know how many typewriters Hank has. He was infected by the love of them at an early age and believe it or not, it turns out that there are still many, many of them around. They made 'em to last in the olden days. When Hank was really going through his typewriter collection phase, they seemed to appear everywhere for him to just have. I am not sure, but I think he probably still has quite a few. 

But anyway, back to today. I did get to have lunch with Jessie because I needed to go to town and she was going to be at a place north of town to completely charge her car for free so we met up at a Thai place and it was good. I had planned to go to Costco after that, then the library, and then Publix. Costco was so packed though, that I just couldn't bear it and so I drove to the library which I always, always forget is closed on Mondays. I put my books in the book-return slot, and drove on to Publix which was not crowded and did some shopping there. I'm going to make my Thanksgiving cranberry/apple/pecan/orange relish tomorrow, I believe, and that will be done. The longer it sits, the better it is. I am also going to make my pecan pies this week and freeze them so I won't have to mess with that next week. I think I'll make the angel biscuit dough next Tuesday because it does not hurt it at all to sit in the refrigerator, waiting to be rolled out and cut into biscuits and baked. Ideally I'd like to have everything but the turkey and dressing and the collard greens and iced tea to make on Thanksgiving day but that's one of those dreams which seems completely obtainable until the day itself at which point one just has to laugh and laugh at such silliness. 
I better remind Mr. Moon to buy me my bottle of Thanksgiving rum. Shots will be downed and you can bet on that. 

I'm trying to get all of this figured out in my head although I'm sure I could do this in the dark by now, simply on auto-pilot and with muscle memory. I made my first Thanksgiving dinner at the age of 22 and there have been many, many, MANY more since. I feel most matriarchal at Thanksgiving. This is not a bad way to feel. 

What I am going to try and avoid this year is yielding to the urge to just make more and more food. My kids always bring a lot of food. Too much! And I make too much. It's not all about the food, anyway, is it? It's about the hugs and the gatherings in the kitchen and the kids running around and grown-ups asking, "Has anyone seen Maggie lately?" and the music in the hallway and this year we can play my old records on my new stereo and the men will be putting the tables together outside (hopefully) and oh, gosh- that reminds me. I HAVE to finish my jigsaw puzzle which had been taking up space on the dining room table for at least a month. 

When I got back from Publix today I immediately began making a beef and vegetable soup and sliced and chopped and seasoned and peeled and chopped some more and just as I had it all together and simmering away, my husband gently reminded me that he was going to a basketball game tonight and would not be here at suppertime. 
Oh well. I'll eat it tonight and we'll both eat it tomorrow and there will still be a gallon or so left. 

As I always say, in a former life I was the cook at a lumber jack camp and that's all there is to it. I've had friends who worked as cooks on oil rigs and they've described to me the enormous number of calories they must provide for the workers and I just sigh and think, "My dream job." Endless cookies, pies, and cakes, sauces made with real cream and butter, breads and biscuits, and bacon in everything. 

That will be my next lifetime. 

Not really. I couldn't live on an oil rig for three days. Plus, I hate those things and the horrible damage they do to our oceans. But I bet I'd love to feed the folks who work on them. For a little while, at least. For now I'm quite content to simply make too much for two people and share. 

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Your cleaning person must have an extra long swiffer to dust all that overhead stuff!
    I could never even imagine cooking with so many spices. And, your Thanksgiving will be wonderful.

    1. I don't really think she dusts it. I don't know. Maybe she does.
      I probably have too many spices. Is that possible?

  2. I was just thinking how many of my spices you have, and I have more Indian ones. I do like my spices. And I don't like Christmas much. I can't get excited on command. But I might see about an advent calendar this year. Better get onto that. One with daily treats to get me through the season.

    1. I was thinking you probably had a lot more Indian spices than I do! But we do share a love for Indian food.
      Do they make advent calendars with shots of rum rather than chocolates?

  3. Once my kids grew up and got partners with their own families Christmas has been bittersweet as we sort of got slotted in where there was room. This year we are not doing anything. Nobody will come and visit and that is fine.
    I wish we had something like Thanksgiving. Non-religious being grateful for family and friends. I might see if I can make a Merlot family festival next year.
    Cooking for crowds is fun and I think you would be amazing at catering for large groups.

    1. Yes- that's why I like Thanksgiving. It's just a big jumble of food and hugs and love and all the good stuff, none of the crap.
      I don't think I'd really like cooking for large groups. Although maybe I would. I don't know.

  4. Perhaps you could try making soup in a smaller pot?
    I love all your knick-knacks all over your house. I have stuff too, but nothig hanging off windows and doorways because the house is rented. I did put up curtain rods though.
    Could you satisfy August by simply saying Santa is magic?

    1. I often try to make soup in a smaller pot but what happens is that after I put in even what I consider to be a meagre amount of ingredients, it is overfulll and I have to pour it all into a big pot!
      Curtain rods are something I'm not good at. I frequently just use tacks! I should be ashamed but I am not.
      That's probably what I should have said about Santa.

  5. My BIL's dad was a cook in the army during WWII and stayed based in England. He had a cookbook designed to feed 500 men that went something like "peel 400 lbs of potatoes". BIL couldn't find that book after he died but I know we'd all love it if it turned up again. One day he had just walked out of the "ice house" when it was hit by a bomb. A very lucky escape indeed!

    1. "Peel 400 lbs of potatoes"! Ha! And yes, it does sound like he was a very lucky man in that one instance at least.

  6. 37paddington: I do love having the crowd at Thanksgiving but I’m usually happiest the day after when it’s been accomplished. I have such agita in the lead up. Christmas is a quiet affair for the man and me now, with our kids navigating their lives as grown folk. I’m starting to lean into it. Grandkids will change everything again but for now I’m starting to appreciate the simplicity of a quiet Christmas. Your gathering will be wonderful. And having too much food is in the Thanksgiving rulebook! Enjoy your beautiful family.

    1. Yes. The day after is really the best day although I do like the day before when things still seem so manageable and I'm living in that dream bubble. Of course, I don't have a thousand people in my house! I would not be able to handle that. I am in awe of you for doing this every year.
      You're probably right about the too much food..

  7. My sister and I share the cooking as I always have it at my home. We will have a group of 14 and after all of these years, I am finally feeling more comfortable about it. In the past, I was always so nervous about preparing the feast but now I feel if they don't like something, they can always eat after that get back to their own homes! HA!

    1. We are fifteen without any extras and we always have a few of those. There is always a seat for every one and every one gets plenty to eat.
      I really don't ever get nervous about whether or not people will like the food. Is that egotistical of me? Probably. But really, we always eat basically the same things every year so I know what we all like.

  8. Hank has a tattoo of a typewriter, doesn't he?

    My stepsister gave me an old German typewriter many years ago that I kept for a while. It weight about a zillion pounds and had all kinds of fascinating keys for letters and punctuation we don't use in English. But when I moved to New York I gave it away. I had to downsize considerably to fit into a Manhattan apartment!


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