This year, the boy and I stayed in Austin and had a cozy and relaxing Thanksgiving at home.
As I did back in 2008 (when my mom came down to visit and we had a vegan holiday), we bought most of our food at Wheatsville Co-op, our regular grocery store and all-round favorite place. They always produce an array of fresh, ready-made items for the holidays, and this year we picked up some of their addictive vegan macaroni and cheese, along with a large quantity of sausage stuffing, some roasted root veggies, and some garlic mashed potatoes. Eric also surprised me by bringing home a pumpkin pie! Wheatsville’s pies are fantastic.
Of course, I couldn’t resist doing just a little cooking.
Though someone forgot to buy sweet potatoes and marshmallows, and we didn’t have my great-grandmother’s cornbread gravy, I managed to make some English-style roast potatoes with gravy, cooked alongside two fresh, organic turkey breasts (also from Wheatsville) in an aromatic mixture of bacon fat, olive oil, and fresh-picked homegrown rosemary. I have yet to cook a whole turkey, but this hit the spot for us!
Roasting potatoes with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary.
Wednesday night, I made bangers and mash, which is one of my go-to weeknight winter meals. They turned out beautifully, and I had enough mashed potatoes leftover to make two hearty servings for Thanksgiving Day, as well. This time, I left the skins on (as per Eric’s request) and added a generous amount of sour cream. Little did I know, Eric had already purchased about a week’s worth of garlic mashed potatoes from Wheatsville! Coupled with the roast potatoes and roast root vegetables, it made for a starchy holiday! No complaints from me!
Even though it was just the two of us and our cats, I tried to make the day festive and visually appealing, as well. This year, I brought out my large ceramic turkey serving dish (thanks, Debbie!) and the traditional taper candles. Coupled with Eric’s autumnal mums (also from Wheatsville!), and a few scattered tealights, this simple decor elevated the table to true festivity. I’m not one of those folks who goes crazy with fake leaves and pilgrim window decorations (or, indeed, gourds) I nevertheless really love holidays. I enjoy the cessation of regular workday time, the unabashed sumptuousness of the food and drink, and the communal celebration and connection. I must admit, Thanksgiving has really grown on me over the years. Not only is it a secular (or at least religiously non-partisan) holiday of particularly American origin, it’s also all about huge quantities of the most delicious, autumnal, American food, and it features
four five days of football.*
Our plate. Yes, that is a biscuit from a can.
To finish things off, we popped some canned buttermilk biscuits in the oven, and I whipped up some Bisto beef gravy. I have no shame about this. I didn’t make a whole turkey, or any other meats–how was I supposed to make a gravy? I just wanted a little drizzle over my mashed potatoes, and the Bisto was fine! The canned biscuit was, of course, less than delicious, but acceptable nonetheless. Maybe next year I will make homemade yeast rolls (…once I convince Eric that “yeast roll” is not a redundant term. And after I’ve enlightened him to the true superiority of cornbread dressing, which he thinks is on par with Yankee white bread dressing! I know!). But I refuse to feel ashamed about enjoying a processed food, even on Thanksgiving. Since there were only two of us, after all, we decided the time was better spent relaxing.
All in all, this meal was a great combination fun but easy homecooking and the work of other hands. And for that I am very grateful. We got to spend the whole four days in a cocoon of warmth and leisure, reading long-coveted books and watching football–both kinds. And all our teams won!**
But I still haven’t told you about dessert.
Eric’s Pumpkin Roll: homegrown pumpkin, homemade dough, and homemade cream cheese icing.
Actually, we had the first dessert for breakfast. Eric’s pumpkin and squash crop only recently matured, and he had been wanting to bake with pumpkin for some time. To my surprise and elation, I came home Wednesday night to find a beautiful, spicy, perfectly swirled pumpkin roll in the fridge! Thursday morning, we sliced it and enjoyed it with coffee–wonderful! As I said, the student has become the teacher. Eric may soon take over blogging duties here at Stella Cooks (Eric Cooks?). I mean, look at that thing.
But, wait, there’s more!
Since we’d already had the pumpkin roll for breakfast, we went straight to the pumpkin pie for dessert. And not only did we have pumpkin pie, but I had the brilliant (if I may say so myself) idea to top that sucker with a scoop of Blue Bell Buttered Pecan ice cream. Oh, yes.
You want to click on this picture to enlarge…
So, while I’m sorry I don’t have any fantastic new Thanksgiving recipes to post, or any crazy relative stories (well, not about this Thanksgiving…), I wanted to share a little bit of our relaxing*** and delicious weekend with you all.
I hope everyone had a restful and meaningful Thanksgiving.
*Suck it, Aggies.
**Goodbye to A&M!
***Except during the last two minutes of the UT-A&M game, at which time I seriously considered whether or not I might throw up.