‘At least it’s not Christmas’
Tuesday Night: Sipping a very large Manhattan to reward myself for having made the piecrust (yes, I make my own), I’m tipsily (If that’s not a real word, then it should be) writing my post while waiting for the Big Beef to do its braising thing. (More on Big Beef later.)
Today (if it is in fact Wednesday when you’re reading this) is Thanksgiving Eve. Before I get started raving about Thanksgiving, just take a look at two of the things I like best about this particular holiday:
Anyway, I know I promised not to rant. Nor shall I. But allow me to expound instead on the virtues of Thanksgiving. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas. But let’s compare the two festive occasions, shall we? Then, you decide.
Why, in my humble opinion, Thanksgiving beats the tinsel out of Christmas:
5. No decorations. True, I haul out my cute little turkey salt-and-pepper shakers and ineffective-but-adorable turkey gravy boat. But at least there’s no tree, no shiny-balls-that-break, and, perhaps most important, no reindeer headdresses imposed upon long-suffering pets or parents.
4. No ‘Turkey in a Pear Tree’, ‘Butterball is Coming to Town’, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Wine-Man’. Or, Heaven forbid, ‘Little Drumstick Boy’. The airwaves are remarkably free of Thanksgiving carols. Though, if I have to hear ‘All About that Bass’ one more time, I may reload my banana.
3. No Thanksgiving Cards. (Actually, there probably are Thanksgiving Cards, but if so, I’m not playing. And no one can make me by sending me one and expecting one back.) Oh, and, speaking of cards, no worrying about choosing between ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Hannukah’. Or substituting with that namby-pamby phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ . You can smile your biggest smile and go ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ all you want. To everybody!
2. No gifts. But if someone does bring (hint hint) a bottle of wine to T’giving Dinner, it doesn’t have to be wrapped. This one is huge. Because, while I enjoy a Good Gift as much as the next person, I get super-stressed trying to think of Good Gifts for people. I even get super-stressed trying to think of a Good Gift for myself. And, um, is it just me, or does it seem like the list of people who simply must get Christmas gifts (i.e., tips) is composed mostly of strangers? I mean, do you really know your New York Times Delivery Guy?
1. Best food ever, and (dirty secret) Not All That Hard to Make. True, it takes some planning, but if you make the same Fabulous Foods every year, you always please. Even the Vegetarians and People on Weird Diets who feast at my table are happy. Here, for your drooling pleasure, are a couple of things I’m planning on serving this year:
Oh, and there is at least one other reason: You get to spend time with People You Really Care About. Which I didn’t include on my Thanksgiving vs. Christmas list, because, if you are lucky, you can see many of your Thanksgiving People again, at Christmas. Or, if distance doesn’t permit that luxury, and you are indeed very lucky, you may know enough Wonderful People to rustle up a whole different contingent at Christmas. At any rate, here’s pictorial evidence that I know some Wonderful People:
Thanks to you all for reading. Now get out to your kitchen and start cooking. Here’s the recipe for the Whole Roasted Head of Cauliflower, BTW. (Thanks, PureWow) And that Big Beef I was talking about? It’s a deliciously frightening-to-vegetarians recipe I’ve been making for years. I serve it Friday. Because, by then even the best turkey leftovers are starting to pall. It’s from the East Hampton Star, from before they went digital. I promise to look for it and update this post when (and if) I find it.*
Now I simply must make those pies. Without them, I won’t be able to repeat this particular magic act:
*Look! I found the Big Beef (AKA ‘Beef Short Ribs’) recipe. No online version, but here’s a photo of my torn-out and much-used copy. It’s from the East Hampton Star. I use more ribs, BTW. This year I filled two le Creuset enamel lidded pots with 12 ribs each. I put flour in a brown grocery bag and shake the ribs. (I don’t bother with wiping them with paper towels; doesn’t seem to matter.) It’s best to make it at least a day ahead, but add the carrots before reheating and serving. The reheating is best accomplished at around 325 degrees for an hour or so. (But I left the pot ‘reheating’ once for 4 hours while we were on a hike. No matter. Delicious! I love a forgiving recipe. And I think you will too.) Oh, and I never bother thickening the broth. It’s great the way it is. And parsley? Whatever. I always forget. No one seems to mind.
Amagansett, New York. November 2014