Man. I think that writing and cooking all day at work have made me want to do it less and less in my free time. Kinda sad, but I am getting, you know, PAID to do it, so I can only sniffle so much.
Currently, a large swath of my free time is being consumed by thinking about/seeking out/creation of Christmas gifts. I've only gotten started on the "projects", have already had to cancel my debit card once because of suspected fraudulent charges, broken the needle on my Hello Kitty sewing machine, been mildly side-lined by a thumb injury, and gotten wildly side-tracked at JoAnn Fabric's crazy-amazing sale, which left me wanting to make a bunch of clothes for myself. Between that and the bajillion Thanksgiving/Christmas/general "Winter Holiday" pieces I've written for work over the last month, I'm burned out on the holidays. And Thanksgiving is still a week and a half away.
Well, that's an exaggeration. (From me? Really? You don't say!) I AM still REALLY excited about all the neat gifts I'm hand-crafting for people this year and the thought that's going into anything I'm actually purchasing. Plus, I am DEFINITELY excited about my Thanksgiving "big meal", which I'm planning out in a more balanced manner than last year's. Last year, I did it all from scratch. It was exhausting and it took most of the day. I tried to space part of it out and made my butternut squash gnocchi ahead of time, making a metric crap-ton of the damn things the weekend prior and then freezing them. However, it all fell apart (quite literally) when I failed to recognize the importance of boiling the little buggers (the cooking process that solidifies the dumplings) and went straight to frying them in a pan of sage brown butter sauce and onions, which caused them to merge into one large (although not bad tasting) mushy clump of stuff in a pan. *sigh*
This year is all about balance. All around. Time, taste, health, low-fattitude, etc.
Two years ago, I made a duck. Yummy, very fatty.
Last year, I roasted a chicken and made a tasty pan gravy. Totally delicious, but you know Matt and I picked those bones clean.
This year, I'm going to make actual turkey, but just the breast. Turkey breast is very healthy and good, lean protein. THAT"S RIGHT! My job's comin' home with me! I'm going to season it in a vaguely sweet-n-spicy way, so as to go well with the dish this year is really all about.
Corn Bread Stuffing with Shrimp and Andouille.
Now, I may be good and lighten it up by using a Chicken Andouille that I've seen at Trader Joe's, but this is the big-ticket item on this year's Thanksgiving table. I figured since I was being traditional and making turkey, I'd get back to my untraditional roots by overshadowing the bird. I WILL be making this piecemeal, the cornbread next Tuesday and assembling it Wednesday night (the recipe says I can!), so that on Thursday I can just bring it to room temp and throw it in the oven along with the turkey, which will have defrosted the day prior and marinated overnight.
Along with these, I'll throw together a couple simple sides.
There's a great sounding Caramelized Broccoli recipe I've been ogling for eons. And... I'm going to let HG affect my meal once again and make a batch of our beloved Miracle Mashies, a dish I honestly can't believe works, but it does. I LOVE my mashed potatoes. I eat crazy, vulgar amounts of them when I have them. Therefore, since I plan to make a big pile o' mash, I may as well do myself a favor and lighten the damn things up a bit. Plus, I can't imagine I'll be able to live without gravy, so I'll throw together a quick pan-job to throw on whatever/everything.
For dessert, I'm looking at something fruit-based, mostly because a) I made a pumpkin pie from scratch a month ago and it was exhausting and b) I can't imagine I'll want anything as rich as chocolate/cream/pecan pie. I'm eyeing a Pear Pie recipe I found online, because it's similar to Apple Pie but not as damn boring. I fully intend, though, to buy pre-made pie crust.
The last time I attempted pastry, it wound up so thin because, sadly, one of the things that makes a natural-born pastry chef are naturally cold hands. I don't have 'em. Even still, I may end up dunking my hands in an ice bath before working with my store-bought pie dough. Anyhow, I'll make that in the morning, so I can chill for a while before getting cooking again.
After plotting all this out, though, I ran into a dilemma. In my zeal to craft and ingest this cornbread stuffing full of sausage and seafood, I had forgotten one thing: corn-corns. I'll back the train up for a second to catch up anyone not in the know (i.e. pretty much everyone)...
When I was a kid, my dad used to collect antique cookware, especially anything cast-iron. He had the coolest pieces hanging on the wall in our kitchen, which I now look back upon as something vaguely unsafe for a family with two kids in elementary-school. It also stands to reason that the walls in most of that house, made of a rough-hewn, very splintery type wood, were neat looking but, seeing as you couldn't touch them lest ye be slivered, were probably not the wisest decor with children around... but hell, I made it out alive. And I learned that I would rather dig out my own splinters than have a parent prod me with a sewing needle doused in Ambasol... but I digress. Like, a lot.
One of the most notable pieces in Dad's collection was a cast-iron pan with 7 indentations in the shape of small ears of corn. Using this, he would make cornbread biscuits we called, natch, corn-corns.
Well, about a month or so ago, I was leafing aimlessly through (since I typically never buy anything from) the Crate & Barrel catalog when I saw it.
OMFG. It's the corn-corn pan.
So, I got it.
And I had been 100% planning to make freaking corn-corns on Thanksgiving, but I got sidelined by that crazy devil stuffing!
So, I had no choice but to include a light lunch in the plans. Store-bought butternut squash soup, doctored up with caramelized onions and whatever-the-crap-else I feel like adding, and corn-corns.
Breakfast is going to be a strong cup of coffee, I'm predicting it now.
Oh, and Matt's bringing the can of cranberry sauce. That's my baby!