Friday, November 23, 2012

Ere The Winter Storms Begin

Come, ye thankful people, come.
Raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
- Henry Alford

We were minus one at our Thanksgiving table, yesterday. Alex's mother, who has been facing a cancer diagnosis since late August, was admitted to the hospital a third time on Wednesday night after nine hours at the ER. After much discussion with Alex's father and family (do we cancel? do we postpone?), and knowing that his mother had been stabilized, we moved our dinner plans to later in the day. Still. Nana was sorely missed and our hearts were (and remain) heavy with worry and concern for her.

But for the family that could gather here, we were thankful for the pleasures of good food and warmth and most of all, for the company of each other.

Our menu:

Cheese and Cracker Plate with Olivada Spread
Turkey, cooked to perfection (and ease) in the Roaster Oven
Simple Herb Stuffing
Scalloped Corn
Roasted Maple-Glazed Sweet Potato, Beets and Red Onion
Red Cabbage Cranberry, Pear, Apple and Walnut Salad with a Honey Vinaigrette
Mashed Maine Potatoes (peel on)
Green Beans in Brown Butter with Toasted Almonds and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Tassajara White Bread Rolls
Cranberry Orange Tea Bread
2 Pumpkin Pies
2 Pecan Pies
1 Canadian Maple Cream Pie
and thinking of Nana, before we knew she wouldn't be able to be with us, I made up a Gingerbread Cake, having overheard her saying that was her favorite when she was a girl. This recipe comes from a 1972, Cooperative Extension Service Bulletin from University of Maine at Orono (revised by Nellie Gushee) and it's the perfect Gingerbread, dark and dense and rich in flavor.

six pies and four loaves of cranberry bread might not be enough dessert, so I'm whipping up a double batch of gingerbread cake, too. #fromourkitchen #baking #Thanksgiving

I nearly always double this recipe, which fits in a 11 x 17-inch pan. Bake 65 minutes.

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup melted shortening (I use butter)
2 eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups flour

Stir molasses, sugar, salt and spices together; add melted shortening (butter), then eggs and beat well. Add baking soda to boiling water and add alternately with flour to creamed mixture. Bake at 325F in a 10 x 13-inch greased pan and cook 35-40 minutes or until browned and springy to touch.

I made this gingerbread after I overheard my mother-in-law recounting how it was her favorite as a girl. She was admitted to the hospital late last night and she's been facing cancer since her diagnoses late August. We were so hoping this would be a good

I've struggled with my mother's recipe for her Cranberry Orange bread for years, never having it come out right and this year, I finally found a recipe that works really well (recipe linked above). Tip: let the bread cool at least 15 minutes in the pans before removing.

cranberry-orange tea bread :  Whole Foods' recipe #thanksgiving #fromourkitchen

Alex is our pie baker. He makes all the crusts and pies from scratch. Aren't they beautiful?

my husband made these pies : two pecan, two pumpkin, one maple cream #thanksgiving #fromourkitchen

Up early on Thanksgiving Day, we made calls to family about Nana and rearranged the day some, and then we spent the day doing all the last bits of arranging - flowers, tables, chairs and plates. We juggled dishes upon dishes in our small kitchen and puzzled out placement for more in our single oven. Having run out of fridge space, we put all the drinks out on the deck, along with two extra coolers for pies and cold foods. We did much of this with the Macy's Parade on in the background and we all awaited Santa's arrival, which to us, signals the start of the Yuletide season.

the arranging portion of the day : this works #thanksgiving
no fridge space left, so drinks are on the deck #thanksgiving

Late afternoon, the white lights that Alex had put on some of our trees lit up our garden as the sun set, and family soon arrived. Papa arrived first, coming directly from the hospital and he had a moment to relax and crack some nuts and chat with the kids while Alex and I finished the last bit of food preparation in the kitchen. Then we had the challenge of getting everything to the table all at once and making sure everyone could get servings. Luckily, everyone was fine with family-style service.

let the eating begin #thanksgivingthink the dinner rolls are generous enough... #thanksgiving
don't let appearances fool you, they are very content #thanksgiving

The meal was relaxed, the conversation was good and we all expressed our wish that Nana had been with us.

After dinner,  everything was removed to the kitchen and we instituted mandatory take-home boxes, and seeing that this made not a dent in the food, I encouraged any of our friends to abandon their own leftovers and come eat ours. Sadly, no one arrived to save us from ourselves.

we've instituted mandatory doggy bags -- it barely made a dent, so if you're hungry, consider stopping in  - not even remotely kidding.

Anything after that point was pretty much just polite waiting around on the pretense of full stomachs, until someone mentioned pie. Then indecision set in and so everyone had some of each kind, I think. The Canadian Maple Cream is going on our Must Have list.

pie time #thanksgiving
mine :: maple cream pie #thanksgiving

Because Papa had been up so late the evening before, we all encouraged him to stay over so he could get a good (warm) rest and so that we could feed him in the morning and he wouldn't have to resort to "dirty eggs" at a diner near his home.

By 9pm, our kitchen was returned to rights and we settled in with Papa to watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and we laughed for a bit.

so glad to have Papa's company tonight

This morning brought more news and concern for Nana, and so Papa ate with us and then headed up the road to see her. We'll do the same soon. We don't know what winter has in store, just yet. All I do know, is that it was good to gather together, as many as were able, in love and support before the storms begin.


  1. Sending healing wishes for your Nana/Mother In Law from far away NJ!

  2. Many thanks, Sylvia. I will certainly pass those along to her.

  3. Sorry to hear about your MIL. I'm glad you were still able to have a lovely Thanksgiving. That food looks amazing!

  4. What a great menu!!! Thanks sooo much for the gingerbread recipe and the maple cream pie recipe and cranberry orange tea bread!!!

    I will be making them all soon!!! (Christmas!)

    Hoping that Nana has some good news soon and is able to enjoy your family's wonderful warm home in person!!!

    1. Many thanks, and you are most welcome. Yes, we are also hoping for some good news.



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