If my mother’s cat, Earl, were still alive, he’d be yowling and yowling ever louder and louder: The turkey is almost ready.
I’m not sure what this was all about for the part-Siamese, but Thanksgiving morning when the decibels got more than even my half-deaf railroad-working dad could take, Earl found himself out the back door for repose in the garage.
Thanksgivings Past were all about watching my mother and grandmother move with relentless skill about the kitchen until a fabulous meal emerged. Then, it was about imagining my mother’s detailed preparations for an equally wonderful result.
Now, the Brumfield Clan convenes in Tupelo. My little house fairly swells with delight as it’s stuffed with family members from Walls and Jackson to Pensacola and New Orleans.
Some of the party arrived early, and we got right into the swing of things with red beans and rice and garlic bread.
It was my baby brother’s birthday, so out came the sour-cream pound cake and whipped cream.
Can’t let a fellow nudge another big decade without some fuss.
And so, in the middle of the night, I arose to retrieve the 20-pound turkey brining all day, rinsed it well and let it warm up a bit before a nice oily rub-down and baking to temperature in the oven. I’ve also immersed a second turkey in the brine solution to give it all morning to soak up the flavors, then I’ll bake it for leftovers while – I suspect – everybody takes a nice mid-afternoon nap.
For the breakfast bunch, I’ve whipped up pumpkin muffins, thanks to a recipe from the Journal’s Ginna Parsons.
They also had fresh fruit, vanilla yogurt and homemade granola.
To address my one-oven situation, this year I acquired a 22-quart electric roaster to bake some of the side dishes – dressing, Sweet Potato Queen casserole, green bean bundles wrapped in bacon and fresh thyme, and roasted acorn squash, mushrooms, onions and Brussels sprouts.
We’ve surrounded all that with my favorite congealed cranberry, apple and pecan salad, giblet gravy, buttered corn, cranberry sauce and rolls with dessert of key lime pie and what’s left of the pound cake.
I know you’re wondering where the green bean casserole is. Not to be forgotten, I’ll bake one pan tonight to go with leftovers and the second turkey.
My green bean casserole is a nod to the old style, but I use frozen green beans, fat-free cream of mushroom soup and just a tad of those packaged onion rings. I tell myself it’s healthier but enough like the original that I don’t get complaints.
And who would dare complain? Well, I guess it happens behind my back from time to time.
I do get a little manic as the eating-hour approaches.
But heck, I’ve spent the past two weeks doing as much preparation as possible.
Now, it’s all about the funny stories and the joy of being together.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Patsy R. Brumfield writes a Thursday column. Contact her at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog “Southfacin’ Cook” at www.newinnola.com.