Kristine and I had very different Thanksgiving experiences. While neither experience involved cooking both involved eating very well indeed and sharing good times with family and friends.
Me and Randy were invited to celebrate the holiday with a home cooked meal with neighbors and friends John and Lorraine. I was so excited at the prospect of not cooking. Ordinarily I would be planning weeks in advance, shopping at least a week prior and then spending all Thanksgiving eve working away in the kitchen preparing as much as I could to save time on Thanksgiving Day.
But this year has not been very ordinary and I found myself somewhat ambivalent about the upcoming holiday. We had decided not to go north to visit family for the holiday as we had been on the road quite a bit and family had not planned on coming down. After spending so many years making 24-26lb. turkeys and having a house full of family or friends to feed I just was not sure if I wanted to make a large, traditional meal for just Randy and I.
And, then the phone rang and it was my wonderful friend Lorraine inviting Randy and I to dine with them. I asked what I could bring and was told, “Nothing. Just bring yourselves”. This was absolute music to my ears.
Thanksgiving day we arrived at John and Lorraine’s with flowers in hand and great anticipation about the meal. You see Lorraine is a very good cook. Their daughter Therese was also able to come for Thanksgiving. She had just returned from a grueling business trip that took her to Chicago, Indonesia and Hong Kong. She quite literally had arrived on Thanksgiving morning but was quite a trooper joining everyone during appetizers and dinner.
The menu was wonderful and varied. Lorraine decided to serve dinner in courses. Our first course was stuffed shells in marinara sauce. The second course was a great salad with oil and vinegar dressing. There were sour dough rolls, garlic bread and Jiffy corn muffins to soak up the sauce and salad juices. Randy’s favorite was the corn muffins which Lorraine had added chopped walnuts and craisins giving them a wonderful crunch.
Next on the menu was what Lorraine called an, “intermezzo”. These were tiny paper cups filled with lime-flavored sorbet to cleanse the palate before starting the main course. From what I understood this was a family tradition that daughter Therese enjoyed very much. Therese said to enjoy it best, “Bring the cup to your lips and squeeze the filling into your mouth and enjoy”. It was very refreshing. We all got a laugh as we watched Randy using a big spoon to scoop out the sorbet from this tiny cup. Very funny!!
Then came the main dish, a beautiful, golden-brown 20+ Butterball turkey. Lorraine cut a lemon and onion and placed it inside the cavity. When she took it out of the oven the room quickly filled with a wonderful aroma as she sliced the turkey and placed the meat on the platter. The turkey was tender, moist and flavorful.
Next came the side dishes of cranberry relish, corn niblets, yellow and green beans and carrot medley, roasted Yukon gold baby potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy and stuffing. There were so many colors, textures and tastes to be enjoyed all I could think of is, “Where do I start?”
Lorraine added Lipton onion soup mix, a little water and olive oil to the potatoes giving them a beautiful sheen and flavor. She added cranberries, pieces of dried apple, walnuts, sausage and apple juice to the Stovetop stuffing mix creating a veritable dance of flavors in my mouth.
The conversation was lively Therese telling us all about her trip to Hong Kong. The rest of us telling Therese all about out latest cruise to the Caribbean.
After dinner Lorraine and I went for a walk around the preserve, John and Randy watched the Cowboy-Miami game and Therese went off to sleep. While we were on our walk I asked Lorraine a few questions about the dinner. She kept referring to the potatoes as, “Mikey” potatoes. Evidently there was a chance that her son Mike would be coming down for Thanksgiving and the way she prepared them potatoes was his favorite.
We talked a bit about the sweet potatoes. I normally refrain from eating sweet potatoes because they are not one of my favorite side dishes. However, I found hers to be very tasty and definitely enjoyed the addition of the sliced apples and apple juice. But what was really funny is how Lorraine prepares the potatoes. She mentioned that she does not like to make sweet potatoes because they are so hard and difficult to clean so, “I clean them in the dishwasher”. Yes everyone, dishwasher! Very funny!
When we returned from our walk we all sat down to not one, but three desserts. There was apple pie with ice cream and whipped cream, miniature cheesecakes and Nonni’s biscotti.
To say that we were stuffed was an understatement. Add to dinner a little beer, a little wine and it was time to take a nap. Game over Randy and I went to home to our reclining couch trying desperately to stay awake until bedtime.
Kristine’s experience was equally as pleasant sharing it with family in a wonderful restaurant. Here is her story:
For the last two years, I have had Thanksgiving dinner at my house. However, with my sister and her family spending it with my brother-in-law’s family, dad offered to take me and my stepmom Bonnie to Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Fairfax, VA for Thanksgiving dinner. I have to say that being able to sleep in and not wake-up at zero dark-thirty was definitely something to be thankful for. While I don’t go to steak houses, I have to say that everything about our dining experience at Ruth Chris was amazing. Their Thanksgiving menu included:
First course—(choice of)
Caesar Salad, Steak House Salad or Seafood Gumbo (I had the House Salad with a delicious creamy lemon basil dressing)
Roasted Turkey Breast (sliced oven roasted turkey breast, served with homemade gravy, Ruth’s sausage and herb stuffing and cranberry relish
Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Beans with Roasted Garlic or Creamed Spinach (I of course HAD to have two sides, so I went with the mashed potatoes and green beans)
A dessert duo pairing of Pumpkin Cheesecake and Vanilla Ice Cream
I didn’t finish everything on my plate, so I asked for a box. It was at that time our waiter informed us that they actually already prepared to go containers with a little of eveything. Basically, a mini Thanksgiving meal in a box! So with two to go containers, I headed home to watch the most stressful football game where my Cowboys barely eeked out a win against Miami!”
We two divas love to cook but equally love being feted by others. All the food was wonderful but what made Thanksgiving memorable was the time we shared with loved ones.
Mary and Kristine