December 7-11, 2011: The Ruckman/Gleim Birthdays
November 19, 2011: My 65th Birthday Party
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November 24, 2011
Thanksgiving at My House

 

After the weekend of my 65th birthday, getting ready for Thanksgiving was a continuation of being in hosting mode. It's good that we didn't try to celebrate my birthday on the correct day, that would have been the day before Thanksgiving this year!

This year, Thanksgiving was extra special, as my niece Jeffie, from Atlanta, was staying with us and with a friend here in Dallas, and so not only was she at my birthday party but she was with us on Thanksgiving, too. We had a large group this year. In addition to Fred, myself and Jeffie, our friends Mario and Steve were with us, as well as our friends Denny and Larry. Also, our good friend Lou was able to join us (actually, all of his family live in Denver or Florida, so we are happy to have him here with us). And as an added bonus, our friends Justin and Gary were able to join us after they finished a decorating installation that their company was doing here in town.

Fortunately, I had coordinated with the meat department manager next door at Tom Thumb, and he had located a 24-pound turkey for me. It is getting harder and harder to break the 23-24 pound barrier. Turkey growers, he tells me, understand that the most popular weight for a Thanksgiving turkey is now between 18-20 pounds, and so that is their target. I did the turkey, dressing, gravy and mashed potatoes; Mario and Steve contributed a casserole and Denny and Larry brought a vegetable dish as well. Lou brought some hors d'oeuvres and Fred did the baking for dessert.

 

 

Preparation

I have become pretty adept at preparing Thanksgiving turkeys. I suppose that since I left home and have been out on my own, I have cooked a turkey every year save for six to eight years. Most of the years I haven't cooked the bird I have spent at my sister's house in North Carolina. So I have it down to a routine.


I usually bring the turkey home three or four days before Thanksgiving so it can thaw in the fridge and be ready for stuffing on Wednesday evening. Two days before Thanksgiving, I begin work on the stuffing. The most tedious part is the dicing of the celery; I prefer not to use a food processor, as it seems to puree rather than dice. Turning twenty stalks of celery into little 2mm cubes takes time- lots of time. In comparison, preparing the parsley, onion and bread cubes is a snap. I do all this dicing and slicing ahead of time, and put the ingredients in bags in the fridge. Then, the night before Thanksgiving, I mix everything together and unwrap the thawed turkey.

Then the stuffing process begins. Most cookbooks say that you should stuff a turkey loosely, but over the years I have found that stuffing it completely and densely, while it means that you have to cook the turkey somewhat longer, results in a juicier bird. So that's what I do, but to each his own.

I used to stuff the turkey the morning of Thanksgiving, but have also found that allowing the stuffed turkey to rest overnight in the fridge also results in a tastier bird and tastier stuffing. But perhaps the best reason of all is that I can sleep a good deal later on Thanksgiving Day if the turkey is already stuffed. I just have to be up by eight to put it in the oven for a 2-3pm dinnertime. So after I got the turkey all prepared, I put it in the fridge, cleaned up the kitchen and was done for the evening.

Fred, meanwhile, was doing most of his baking today- baking two pies and a cake. He had the kitchen for most of the afternoon, turning it over to me to get the turkey ready that evening.

 

 

Cooking on Thanksgiving Day

On the big day, all I have to do early on is to put the turkey in the oven, which is usually about eight. Then, for the rest of the morning, I baste it every thirty minutes or so, beginning once sufficient liquid is available in the roasting pan. Around noon, I get set up for the potatoes and gravy.

Lou arrived about one, bringing chips, dip and devilled eggs. The eggs were attractively arranged, so Fred took a picture of Lou with them, and you can see that picture here. Mario and Steve arrived shortly after with their vegetable casserole, and when Denny and Larry arrived, they brought two vegetable side dishes. By that time, all the hors d'oeuvres were set out in the breakfast area waiting for the guests to partake.

Fred took some candid pictures as everyone was munching on hors d'oeuvres and talking, and if you will click on the thumbnails below you can see some of them:

Along about two o'clock, most everything was pretty much ready, so we sat down to the salad course. (I might note that Justin and Gary could not get away from their work until about five, so they didn't have their dinners until then.) Anyway, when we'd all sat down Fred and I took two pictures (so each of us could appear in the other's picture). You can have a look at those pictures here and here.

As everyone was finishing their salads, I checked on the guest of honor that I had taken out of the oven twenty minutes earlier so Fred could bake the rolls. It was all set to be carved. I moved the turkey to the breakfast table where Fred had removed the hors d'oeuvres and replaced them with all the casseroles and other vegetable dishes.



Then he took the official picture of me and the turkey (you have seen one of these on just about every thanksgiving page); take a look at it by clicking on the thumbnail at left.

 

Then, Fred and Denny switched out to take pictures of our entire group just before dinner, and you can see these two pictures by clicking on the thumbnails at left.

Then I began carving the turkey as Fred made a movie. In his movie, which you can watch with the player at left, he looks at everything- our guests, all the dishes and me carving the turkey.

Finally, everyone served themselves, took their plates into the dining room and we had our Thanksgiving dinner. (We put the cameras away for the time being, so everyone could just enjoy their meal without fear of being caught with their mouth full!)


We were pleased that Justin and Gary were able to join us, and when they did, they were able to have a Thanksgiving meal and share desserts with us. Fred took a few more pictures of the guests after Gary and Justin arrived, and if you will click on the thumbnails below you can have a look at them:

I also took my own movie after dinner, and you can watch it with the player at right.

I think everyone had a great time, and so that make's it a successful Thanksgiving.

I might add here that Jeffie left for Atlanta on Saturday, and we took her to the airport. It was a pleasure to have here here, and hope she returns soon, but, for now, we could only bid her goodbye at the airport.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.


December 7-11, 2011: The Ruckman/Gleim Birthdays
November 19, 2011: My 65th Birthday Party
Return to the Index for 2011