After the Feast

14-IMG_6976Thanksgiving is over, and it was good.

04-IMG_6988We started the morning with Pumpkin Scones, served with a little cinnamon butter on the side. These were tender and delicious, and I’ll make them again. (Note for next time: try freezing the unbaked wedges overnight, and adjust the baking time accordingly. Might hold their shape a little better in the oven.) Bon Appétit magazine published the recipe in their November 2014 issue. Here’s a link to that page.

10-IMG_6838My mother’s sausage rolls made their annual appearance, to be enjoyed with champagne and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. This week I wrote a guest blog about them for Rock City Eats, with a recipe scaled to make a modest amount. I told a different story about them on Cookbook Wall last year, with a recipe in amounts designed to feed an army. Click here for that link.

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I like serving family-style, with all the food on the dining table. Makes it easier to reach for seconds, and the feeling of conviviality among diners is nice. Doesn’t leave much room for table decorations, however, especially on Thanksgiving, so this year we went vertical, with a cascade of scarlet and yellow leaves coming down from the ceiling. I had a leaf prop master (aka, First born’s boyfriend) engineer the look with fishing line, clear push pins, leaves from a morning hike up Pinnacle Mountain, and a six-foot-ladder perched atop the dining table. The effect was lovely, especially when the colorful leaves turned slowly in the air.

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These carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes were peeled and cut before being glazed with olive oil, honey, and autumnal spices. Here’s a link to that recipe, which originally ran in The Washington Post, followed by an appearance in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette‘s food section right before Halloween. The mix of cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne filled the house with a wonderful fragrance as the root vegetables roasted.

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This was our first Thanksgiving meal to incorporate as many gluten-free components as possible, to accommodate a family member’s serious wheat intolerance. I had my doubts. Would Roger’s Dressing be as good made with allergy-safe ingredients, as opposed to the usual white bread and cream of chicken soup that contain wheat? Could a decent pie crust be made with rice flour and tapioca starch? Yes. Yes to all of the above. The gluten-free Italian bread for the dressing came from Dempsey Bakery in Little Rock, and its owner, Paula Dempsey, provided the pie crust recipe at a recent talk she gave on G-F holiday baking. Kudos to Dempsey and her bakery for restoring some normalcy to the diets of food allergy sufferers, and in a very tasty way.

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Crumb-catcher

We sat down to our feast shortly after 3 p.m.Thursday, and I was tired but happy. All of my greatest blessings surrounded that table. Planning to spend the next day with friends at a country cabin by the lake, we celebrated my husband’s birthday a day early, presenting him with a lit candle in a pecan pie and as much love as several hearts can hold. Clean-up was a bear, but my crew attacked the piles of dirty plates and saucepans with a vengeance, while I enjoyed a postprandial read. I even had room for another Pumpkin Brownie. At bedtime, sleep came immediately, but it wouldn’t last. The stars were still bright when the phone rang before dawn, with a voice on the other end asking me which emergency room to send the ambulance to, the one transporting my sick father from his assisted living home to the Little Rock hospital of my choice.

The next eight hours would be spent waiting and watching. We cancelled the outing with friends. Eventually, Dad was assigned to a room on the sixth floor. He’s there now, resting quietly, receiving antibiotics through an IV to combat the infection that laid him low. We think he’ll be discharged soon, with appointments made for follow-up care.

Thursday’s formal celebration of gratitude evolved into a Friday full of opportunities to be thankful. For a husband who drove through the darkness and stayed for the duration. For skilled and patient nurses and aides. For protein bars and bottled water. For the friendly young man who pushed Dad’s gurney through the maze of halls and elevators. For doctors who didn’t hesitate to lay hands on a confused, disheveled patient with reddened eyes. For health care workers committed to preserving a person’s dignity. For fried catfish and tater tots, served up by an orderly with a wide smile who introduced herself as an ambassador. As I cut up his fish, my dad encouraged me to try a bite. If he has something good to eat, he always likes to share. It was tasty and hot, and I silently blessed the hands that made it.

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