Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cooking for a Holiday - Thanksgiving, Part VII - Four Days Before

Roll up your sleeves.

Today, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, begins the real work.  I'm going to make the cranberry sauce, and while that's cooking, I'm going to chop up the bread for the turkey stuffing. 

I finished shopping for ingredients, including the cranberries and the bread, on Friday and good thing I did.  Because yesterday, in addition to FINALLY getting the freaking stitches removed from my (first) oral surgery, we got hit by the biggest November snowstorm in 120 years.  So it would have been a bad day for shopping, but that didn't stop me from going to the store on my way back from the periodontist's to pick up a bottle of whiskey.  (Don't judge, unless you've ever had half your mouth stitched up for two weeks.)  Unfortunately for my capodost of a husband, Anthony, my mouth was then free to yell at him for not buying a new snowblower this year.  Right on time.  

But now I am ready.  In theory, I shouldn't have to leave the house until December 1st.  At the earliest.  Which is fine by me.  Everything's at my fingertips.  Including the whiskey.  

Cranberry Sauce
Put 2 1/2 cups of sugar and 3 cups of water in a big pot.  Cook and stir the sugar water over medium high heat until it goes from white-and-cloudy to clear.  Then bring it to a boil.  Turn down the heat a little and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Rinse 3 bags of fresh cranberries (remove the really deformed ones and any sticks/twigs/spiders you might find) and put them in the pot with the water.  Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer again.  Cook the cranberries for about an hour, uncovered, which is about five times longer than any other recipe will tell you.  Stir now and then.  The sauce thickens up, but don't wait for it to turn into jelly, like the canned stuff, because it won't.  Now, turn off the heat and stir in a big bag of frozen raspberries, the ones without sugar.  Ladle the sauce into some plastic containers, let cool, cover the containers, and put them in the fridge until Thanksgiving.  Done.

While the cranberry sauce is cooking, you can chop up your stuffing bread.  I chop up 3 big loaves of cheap white bread, into 1-inch cubes.  More or less.  Depends on my mood.

I'm going to lay out two options on how to do the bread:

Option #1:  You can cut it up into little squares and toast it.  In baking pans.  Then tie it up in plastic bags and set it aside until Thanksgiving morning.  I never do this.  It's boring.  And just one more thing to go wrong.

Option #2:  This is what I do.  I get two big brown grocery bags.  I put my cut-up bread into one of them and put the other bag over the top of the first one.  Like a condom.  Then, once or twice a day I go into the bag and toss the bread around a bit with my hands.  The paper bags let the bread get nice and stale by Thanksgiving morning, without going moldy.

Your choice.  And just so you know, Anthony has brought it to my attention that people who live in the American Midwest (which includes us) have taken to chopping up White Castle sliders and using them (instead of bread) for their turkey stuffing.  Personally, I never heard of this, but I confess that, after an initial wave of revulsion, it occurred to me that it would taste good.

One more thing.  If you cooked and froze your pumpkin in 2-cup containers, take one of them down and put it in the fridge.  Pie-baking is Tuesday.  It should be defrosted by then.

Me, too, I hope.

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