The best Thanksgiving yet, if you ask me. The secret is lots of prior planning! People laugh at my time schedule and my lists, but that (plus lots of help from my assistants Mitch and Kevin P.) is how things got to the table (mostly) on time. Many thanks to my friends who were able to attend, for their patience and good conversation, the highlight of the day for me. Thanks Kaan, Jana, and Aven (pomegranate soda and sparkling cider- yum!); A.J. for the photos, the wonderful breads, and the cranberry relish I liked better than my own! Ajay, Elaine, and Yana (mmm! champagne!); Ellen, Marcus, and Zoe (lots of treats!); Rich (excellent wine! carver king!) and Charles (lovely flowers and wine!)... and especially big thanks to Kevin, for all his help, and my honey Mitch (lots of hard work and patience there!)
Poor Kevin must have been bored, but I spent all Wednesday cooking. Got the chocolate tart finished; mashed the potatoes; braised the sweet potatoes; baked and frosted the spice cake; prepped the corn spoonbread batter; made a strata for the Thanksgiving breakfast (eggs, French bread, cheese, onion, mushrooms, and sausage with a white wine reduction sauce); sliced eight million or so shallots for the green beans' pan sauce, and tidied up the house. I had Kevin busy washing the globes on the front porch lights, moving tables and chairs, putting CDs in the player, and watering houseplants among other tasks. We did have time for an hour-long walk around historic Bastrop though, so he could see the local architectural highlights. After a quick shower I took him into Austin for 2-for-1 burgers night at Hut's (yum!) and then Mitch and I had two hours of salsa class to teach, while Kevin walked around the downtown area.
Thursday went pretty smoothly if you ask me. Mitch attacked with the leafblower and made the outside shipshape and attractive. The only real hitch was those turks... I guess because I was roasting two breasts at once, it took about 2x as long as the people at Cook's Illustrated had predicted. Oh well, it didn't really matter-- we had a great group of people, and lots of champagne. I invented a "signature cocktail" for the party which I named the "Many Blessings" in honor of the day. It's a twist on a kir royale, using passionfruit juice concentrate in place of the creme de cassis. It went like hotcakes! And one benefit of freely-flowing champagne is that no one complains when the turkey is slow. My friend Ellen brought a cream cheese-and-crab appetizer, and there were lots of olives and nuts, so people were able to last the extra hour for supper. We sat down to eat at 6, and people lingered pleasantly over dessert, coffee and port until about 9:30pm.
One other goof-- I miscounted chairs and placesettings, so my poor guest Kevin sat at the corner, on a wobbly chair, with everyday china and silverware. He was a trooper throughout, though. He even helped with the washing up, that night and the next day.
A few things to note for next year-- less sweet potatoes! less stuffing! less spoonbread! Turks were a little dry, too. I can skip the spice cake (it was heavy and dry, surprisingly)... can even skip the apple strudel. The chocolate caramel walnut tart was a hit, as always.
Fortunately, AJ also brought a camera, which I'd forgotten at Mitch's. As soon as AJ sends me photos, I'll post them here.
Kevin left to go home on Saturday afternoon. What did I spend Sunday doing? Putting out dishes and decor for the Christmas party in 3 weeks! I love entertaining and if I could afford to have a big party once a month, I would. I do plan on a Caribbean party this spring, though.
Next weekend, we'll put up lights and finalize the menu, dishes, etc. The weekend before the party we'll get the tree (and ironically, the 17th which is the day after the party we'll take down the tree. Just easier, when no one will be around to enjoy it until January.) We leave for Mitch's parents' home in Vegas on the 20th.