Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cooking for a Holiday - Thankgiving, Part I - On Your Mark

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I've been really busy, so sue me, but the dryer's been fixed and now I'm back.

Because Thanksgiving is coming.  And I am all about Thanksgiving.  It's the accolades for my Thanksgiving dinner that first inspired me to make my acquaintance with this particular sector of the cyberworld.

And, though you might think that I'm pushing things, we've got to get started NOW.  Trust me.

This week I bought my pumpkins.

Which means you need to go out and buy your pumpkins, or you'll get behind schedule.  And I won't be responsible for what happens.

I'm not telling you to do anything with the pumpkins.  Yet.  That's coming.  For now, all you have to do is buy them.  They look nice on the doorstep until ready to be cooked, if the squirrels don't get there first.  Put them on the front doorstep because, for some reason, squirrels don't like coming to the front door.

Now, how large a pumpkin?  I bought two BIG ones, after checking out the "pie" pumpkins which were cute, but dinky.  For the amount of pumpkin puree I want, I would have to cook six of the dinky ones, at least.  Yes, theoretically, one can cook one pie pumpkin.  And have enough cooked pumpkin for a pie.  A pie.  ONE pie.  Una.  But what about pumpkin soup and seeds and bread and cheesecake and cookies, all saviors of the soul during a long, dark winter?

This year, I'm not fooling around.

Just do me a favor and go out and buy some pumpkins.  Any size.  In the long run, it won't matter.  Right now, let's focus on the Thanksgiving pie.  If you're doing pie pumpkins, get one per pie.  You need two cups of cooked pumpkin for a nice, big pumpkin pie.

Having bought my pumpkins, I felt entitled to some leisure.  So last night my husband, Anthony, and I met our daughter Niki, Anthony's brother, and his wife for dinner.

Chinese.  Good Chinese.  And it had a bar.  Case closed; let's go.

Then, suddenly (after a martini and an eggroll), my sister-in-law turns to me and asks, "Do you have any contact with the family?"

A straightforward-enough question, and I answered without thinking:

"Well, I see Tony over at Mariano's once in a while..."

I was interrupted by my brother-in-law, who said, "That's not what she means."

Not what she means?  Did I miss something?  How strong was that martini?  (Please keep in mind that these are Anthony's relatives, not mine.  Mine have their own issues and aren't nearly as much fun.)

It turns out that, to my sister-in-law, "contact with the family" means visits from the dead.  


Of course.

I don't know why I was surprised.  This is a common topic of daily conversation in Italian families.  It's important to keep the tone light.  Bonus points if the story involves twins.  Triple bonus if you can tell it in italiano, so you don't scare the kids.

However, in my opinion, these conversations are better kept for holiday evenings, in the kitchen after cleaning up, with lit candles, the guys watching "the game", and one-too-many Gallianos.  Or late, with a second piece of pie, some anisette, and coffee. 

Pumpkin pie.  Get moving.