Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stuff me with Lemons and Pass the Gravy

Things for which I am grateful:
(written over the course of several hours on Thanksgiving day)

It's early afternoon on Thanksgiving day and I don't have to be anywhere; nor am I expecting visitors.  This year, for the first time ever, it's just my nuclear family. I slept until after 10, and we're all still in our pajamas.

I picked fresh herbs from my garden (sage, oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme) to put under the turkey skin and stuffed it with lemons and onions. Other than that, I prepare it just like my mom did: soak cheesecloth in butter, wrap it around the turkey and baste frequently. The skin comes out so crisp that, just as when I was a girl, we strip the turkey bald and eat the skin before the turkey makes its appearance at the table. For gravy: remove the cheesecloth; move the turkey to a platter and leave cheesecloth in pan. Add some water and boil the cheesecloth, scraping up turkey bits as you go. Add some flour to thicken. We call this rag gravy.

After more than a quarter century, I learned something new about my husband: he likes green bean casserole. Despite thinking it vile, I made one for him.

Last night I made applie pie while my youngest daughter (sans braces) made Nigella's chocolate pots. We spend six hours at the orthodontist office yesterday and she is no longer a metal mouth. I told her that we're going to allow her in family pictures now that she's pretty. Three people in the office said, "oh, she's been pretty all along!" I need a big emoticon over my head.

Back to the chocolate pots: I forgot to tell her to pulse the food processor gently when she poured in the milk and cream, so half of the choclate scrumptiousness ended up on the counter.  No matter; we'll still have a smaller version of a tasty treat with fresh whipped cream. She made my mother's lemon meringue pie today, which almost makes you cry when you take your first bite: it's that good.

My husband and oldest daughter have taken over the kitchen, chatting companiably, after I helped put things away. My turkey carcass is already bubbling for turkey soup (see background of picture). I remember asking my mother one day why she didn't make it anymore; she said "because I don't have to." Unlike her, I don't have five kids (thank you, Jesus) and don't have to put $100 in cash in four envelopes every month as my grocery money.

I wanted to shower, but the dishwasher is running so I had to settle for washing my face. Now I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine, go downstairs and maybe watch "Little Fockers."  Here is a treat for you, along with my best wishes.

Agnes Toone Lemon Pie

 People used to say that my mom made pies like other people make iced tea because she made it seem as if no effort at all was involved.

Sift together:

1 ½ C sugar
6 T cornstarch
½ tsp salt

Blend gradually:

½ C cold water
½ C fresh lemon juice (first zest the lemons)

When smooth, blend gradually:

3 beaten egg yolks
1 T butter

Stirring constantly, gradually add 1 ½ C boiling water.  Bring mixture to a full boil, stirring gently.  As it begins to thicken, reduce heat and allow to simmer, slowly for no more than a minute.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp grated lemon peel.  Pour into baked pie shell.  Cover with meringue.


Note:  Eggs separate much better when they are cold; however, the whites should be room temperature when you’re beating them for meringue.

Pre-heat oven to 325.  Whip until frothy:  4 egg whites.  Add ¼ tsp. cream of tartar, and whip until stiff, but not dry.  Beat in, 1 T at a time, 3 T sugar.  Beat in ½ tsp vanilla.  Bake 10 – 15 minutes.

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