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Cooking with Claire: Thanksgiving Edition

21 Nov

There will be dessert. 

If all else fails, if I have a flat tire and don’t make it back from Rancho Escondido, if the javelinas get us, if we just decide to stay out there in paradise, if we defect to Mexico, (more likely: if we take a wrong turn and end up in Mexico), there will be dessert served at my house on Thanksgiving.  So far a chess pie and a fudge pie.  On Wednesday, if I come back, I will whip up a pecan pie.  Papel sells a fancy concoction called “Pecan Pie in a Jar” for those of us who would rather buy our Karo syrup at a gift store, wrapped in tissue paper in a fancy bag.  I am going to give it a whirl.  Just add butter et voila!  Just like the turkey: how hard can it be?  But they didn’t have chess pie or fudge pie in a jar, so I was on my own tonight.  Just me and every southern cookbook ever written.  We do love our desserts.

And I did purchase a turkey today, so don’t fear the vegetarian Thanksgiving.  It is pre-cooked.  That seemed like a prudent choice for a first-time turkey-preparer and Thanksgiving-hostess.  My dad will be here, so I have a turkey-carver.  I am sure that my knives won’t be sharp enough for him.  he will say “do you have a sharpener?  I meant to send you one.” and then for Christmas I will receive some Sabatier carbon-steel knives and a sharpener.  I can hardly wait!  A little taste of home in my Texas kitchen.  I might even get a new apron out of the deal.

The side dishes (yet to be prepared!) are sweet potatoes with marshmallows, roasted green beans, and a super-promising potato and califlower gratin.  Doesn’t that sound delish?  the gratin calls for creme fraiche.  I have never cooked with it before, but it’s French, so my dad and I will surely love it.

It feels so decadent to leave town in the days before Thanksgiving.  Who do I think I am?  Someone well-organized and skilled in planning ahead?  Y’all are too smart to believe that.  I am really just a girl who could use a good road trip.  I am going to load the children up in the third row, stack our luggage in the row between them and me, and put my earbuds in my ears and crank up my ipod.  It will be just like being alone. 

Oh, I am just kidding.  I’m actually looking forward to getting the little tikes back early tomorrow and traveling with them.  We always have a good time.  Maybe I should re-phrase: It’s always an adventure.

Shouldn’t Thanksgiving week be harder than this?  Isn’t there supposed to be some turkey-cooking drama like in all the movies?  Am I forgetting something?  It can’t possibly be this sane and manageable.  There’s only one answer that makes any sense to me:  I have waked up in somebody else’s life.  Either that, or it’s that old black magic of denial.  Stay tuned.



7 Nov

I love animals and I hate the idea of their being raised for food.  I also hate the industrialized large-scale animal-raising operations like feed yards and dairy farms.  I see a lot of animal-farming in West Texas.  I regularly see 18 wheelers loaded with sheep or cows on their way to auction.  I always apologize to the animals on board, vow never to consume another animal product, and pray for forgiveness as I quickly become aware of my suede shoes and the leather seats in my car and the lunchables I sent to school with the wee ones.    In Lubbock, you can even smell the feedyards when the wind blows.  Which is almost all the time.  It’s not pretty.  If I lived my principles, I would be vegan.

However, I really like hamburgers.  And cheeseburgers.  With mayonnaise.  And either jalepenos or pickles, depending on how spicy I am feeling.

It’s not easy to reconcile what I enjoy with what I believe.  (if I were feeling evangelical, I might segue this into a discussion about what we are supposed to do and how our natural inclination is to resist what we know is right in favor of what we like to do.  But I don’t think that’s my purpose with y’all.  I am just here to talk about what’s for supper.  And cooking.  And how in yet ANOTHER area, what I do and what I feel strongly about in principle are two different things.  Because I am so deep.)

Having said all that, I have determined that just for today, while I determine what we will eat during the three nights I prepare supper, I am going meat-free.  Just for this one brief opportunity, I am going to pass on participating in the slaughter of animals for my nourishment.  The slaughter of plants?  I have no moral quandary with that.

Which brings us to the meal plan: cauliflower mac-n-cheese served with broccoli (a Sunday tradition); a roasted vegetable soup with barley, and a beans & rice dish.  Yes, I am aware that cheese is a dairy product and therefore not consistent with my vow to be more kind to animals, but really – I have children to feed and sustain.  They have to grow.  So yet again, I will wrestle with the conundrum and come out at a compromise.  C’est la vie.