Last weekend Jeff and I hosted our family's Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. My parents, my brother Ryan, my sister Emily/Poof and her husband Tyler, Jeff's parents, and his daughter Melissa were all there, and everyone on my side of the family stayed overnight.
We had a great time with lots of laughs, and Poof put together a video for her second YouTube channel, Beauty Vlogcast. Since I was too busy cooking to take lots of photos, some of what you'll see here are screen-grabs from that video. Jeff also took some photos of the food moments before we destroyed it. So thank you, Jeff and Poof!
Mom, Dad, Poof, Tyler, and Ryan arrived in the morning, and I made sure they had plenty to snack on. We planned to eat the big meal at around 5:00, so the above spread, along with a massive pot of chili, kept everyone happy until then.
I've already blogged about everything you see above. It's great to have some recipes that I know people will like, and they included pumpkin cookies, seasonally spiced nuts, li'l smokies, a roasted red pepper cheesecake, the heavyset cheeseball, various crackers, cheese, and vegetables, and tiny peach and raspberry star-topped pies (I changed that recipe, using the same crust but filling the pies with peach preserves and raspberry jam). Mom kindly made one of her spectacular apple pies.
I loved seeing my family, and we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon laughing, snacking, and telling stories.
Ryan, Tyler, Poof, and Dad entertained our cats in the living room. Tyler's holding one of the festive mimosas that he and Poof made for everyone.
Mom helped Jeff and me while we puttered around the kitchen. Jeff wanted try something different with the turkey this year, and he did a great job preparing Tom Colicchio's butter-and-herb recipe here. He started working on it at around noon, taking it out of the oven to baste it every half-hour or so.
A couple of hours before the turkey was supposed to be finished, Jeff took its temperature just for the heck of it, and to our great alarm we discovered that our turkey was done! Upon further examination of the recipe, we learned that Tom had called for a 14 to 16 pound turkey, and ours was only 12 pounds. So that made a big difference, and suddenly I was scrambling to get the sides together for our meal, which had just been moved up two hours.
I made Parmesan smashed potatoes, which usually take about 45 minutes from start to finish, and put the stuffing and sweet potatoes into the oven. Luckily I had prepared those ahead of time, along with cranberry sauce, and the rolls were a heat-and-eat situation. Meanwhile, Jeff carved the turkey breast and Mom got as much meat as she could from the rest of the bird. Jeff's folks arrived with their extra table, and soon all we were waiting for was Melissa and her ratatouille. And Melissa was running pretty late, so we stuffed almost the entire feast into our oven's warming drawer and hoped for the best. When she arrived, I hope I didn't appear too exasperated.
Me: [I can't remember if I even said hi to her, sorry Mel!] What temperature?
Mel: I don't know.
Me: How long?
Mel: Until it's done?
I popped it in the already-hot oven, set it for 20 minutes, and figured that would work (it did). The warming drawer did its job too, and I relaxed and got the buffet organized.
That turkey was so good, by the way! We were lucky to have caught it at just the right time.
That's Melissa's ratatouille in the foreground. It was nice and light, and it contrasted nicely with the carb- and butter-tastic dishes that made up the rest of the meal.
Everyone was stuffed to the gills, as we say in Illinois, but certain people who were in New York City last month demanded dessert immediately after the meal, so Jeff and I broke out a couple of our lethal candy bar pies (pictured above with our creepy sumo gnome) along with Mom's apple pie. Readers of this blog may recall our trip to the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York and the little dessert we began referring to as the meth pie. Melissa bought the Milk Bar's cookbook for me a few weeks ago--and it is just the greatest thing--so Jeff and I could make the meth pie for Thanksgiving.
Which we did! This pie was INSANE. Even the pie's creator Christina Tosi describes her pie version of a Take 5 candy bar as "a little bit of a bitch to make," and indeed it was. It's four recipes in one, and one of those recipes contains a sub-recipe. The instructions go on for eight pages. It took two people two days to make these pies, and the recipes involved four dangerous experiences with boiling sugar water. You guys, we made nougat. Nougat is apparently something people can make!
Just to break it down for you: it's a chocolate cookie crust topped with a thick layer of not-runny-but-not-solid caramel that is a little bit of a bitch to make, peanut butter nougat made with crushed peanut brittle that you of course have to create yourself, and a toasted pretzel trapped between a mixture of white and dark chocolate (melted together to form a super-chocolate).
I'm not going to copy eight pages of recipe for you. As far as I can tell, only a few people on the Internet have attempted to make this pie. If you want to give it a try, you're just going to have to buy the book, and I wish you good luck in your baking endeavors.
And make no mistake: we're totally making this pie again sometime. I'm thinking this would be a fine activity for when we're snowed in and bored out of our minds. The next time a blizzard hits, I'll be the one in the store stocking up on butter, chocolate, and peanuts while everyone else is buying flashlights and snow shovels and salt and stuff.
BACK TO THANKSGIVING.
The next morning I had apple dumplings for everyone. My family had made it through the night with our cats afoot. Poof had a migraine headache before she went to bed, and she said she had trouble sleeping, but luckily she felt better by morning.
Poof loves these apple dumplings, and I received the best reaction of my cooking life when she tried them for the first time last year, so I had to make them again. You can find the recipe here. They're a teeny tiny bit of a bitch to make, but they're worth the hassle because things like this happen:
SHE IS SO CUTE. And the following is my favorite frame from Poof's video:
I love when Poof gets that glimmer of ramping-up-craziness in her eyes. You want Poof at every meal you serve, trust me.
And here is Poof's video of Thanksgiving! Look at my family moving around doing things and talking to you!
I seriously do not know why I do that thing with my mouth when I talk or how I can ever stop. It disturbs me as much as it disturbs you, it's all I can see, and I apologize for any emotional distress it may have caused you and your family.
Thanks to you, my dear readers, for getting all the way down here to the bottom of this post, and I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too.