(Based on a true story)
“They’re both in the kitchen,” Starsky murmured. “We could make a break for it.” He looked hopefully at his captain.
Dobey raised his eyebrows, bemused by his detective. “You mean, make a dash for the Torino? You could slide across the hood as I leaped gracefully in the passenger seat. Then you’d gun the engine, and we’d peel out with a screech of tires heading for—?”
“Huggy’s,” Starsky said, sotto voce. “He’s got the best spread in the city. Turkey and all the trimmings. Real stuffing. Real gravy. Ham. Ribs. Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows…” Starsky leaned in closer to his boss and whispered, “Green. Bean. Casserole.”
Dobey chuckled throatily. “I can tell you’re not married. I have to live with that woman. I’d have to come home sometime.”
“Hutch and I might as well be married,” Starsky complained in a normal voice. “He bosses me around, criticizes my taste in everything, and now he’s ruining my holidays. He might not have been born into my family, but somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, he put himself in charge of my life.”
“You know, Starsky, we do have a lot to be thankful for,” Dobey reminded him. “Edith and Hutch are just worried about us. That means we have people who love us. Not everybody has that.”
Starsky grunted, unconvinced. “Yeah, well, why couldn’t they love us a little less today and pick it up again tomorrow?”
Dobey laughed again. “You’re just hungry. You need a distraction. Rosie, go get the Scrabble board. Let’s see if we can entertain Uncle Dave until dinner.”
“How are you coming there, Hutch?” Edith asked.
Hutch glanced over as Edith went to open the oven to baste the turkey. He gave her food processor another whirl. “This is a really handy device! It made short work of chopping the parsley, creating fresh breadcrumbs, adding the toasted pecans, and putting the whole crumb topping together.”
Edith laughed. “Oh, Harold makes sure I always have the latest food preparation devices. I got that last year for Christmas. It does save a lot of work.” She turned to look at Hutch. “Those toasted pecans smell wonderful. In spite of Dave’s moaning, I think everyone’s going to love that sweet potato casserole. I would have never thought to put sautéed apples on the bottom. And I really love the substitutions you made.”
Hutch nodded as he added the pecans to the breadcrumbs and gave the processor another whirl. “The trick with Starsky is to never tell him the ingredients. He doesn’t need to know we reduced the butter content drastically, substituted light half and half for the heavy cream, skipped the bourbon and the brown sugar, and this breadcrumb-pecan topping eliminates the pure-sugar marshmallows Starsky thinks he can’t live without. But it’s crunchy. He’ll love it.” Hutch shut the processor off just as Edith turned back to the bird.
“Talk about smelling wonderful,” he said, as Edith basted the bird. It had a beautifully browned skin, and the roasted vegetables nestled around and under the bird glistened. He noticed her wiggling the leg. “How’s it coming?”
“You know…I’m not sure,” she said. Hutch thought she sounded a bit worried. She moved to one of her kitchen drawers and pulled out a meat thermometer. “I think I’ll just check…”
“Little early for that, isn’t it?” Hutch said. The bird had only been in about two and a half hours, and they had estimated it should take at least four.
She shrugged. “The leg is moving freely. That usually only happens when the bird is done. But that would be awfully early.” She pushed the thermometer into the meaty portion of the bird’s thigh and paused. After a moment, she moved the thermometer to another spot. And then another. She turned to Hutch with a stricken expression. “I can’t believe it! This bird is done!”
“What? How is that possible? In two and half hours?” He glanced about the kitchen. Nothing else was even close to being ready. They had been in no hurry. They thought they had plenty of time for the sides.
“The bird may be ready, but the stuffing isn’t hot enough,” Edith said, testing it as well. “But the turkey’s juices are running clear, the leg moves freely, and the thermometer says he is finished. We’ve got to take him out or he’ll be ruined.”
“Okay, okay,” Hutch said, looking around for the oven mitts. “The bird has to rest awhile anyway—”
“For half an hour!” Edith reminded him. “Not an hour and a half. He’ll be ice cold by then!”
“What did we do wrong?” Hutch wondered. “I’ve never had a bird cook this quickly.”
“We didn’t do anything wrong,” Edith said firmly. “We did everything right. But this is a fresh bird, not frozen, and we did let the bird come to room temperature before stuffing it. I think that cut down on time in the oven. Give me a hand, will you, Hutch? We’ve got to get him out.”
Hutch covered his hands with the oven mitts and lifted the heavy roasting pan, setting it on the counter where Edith had placed insulated pads. Edith moved her pre-warmed turkey platter next to the roasting pan, then handed Hutch the large forks so he could use them to transfer the bird onto the platter. While he did that, Edith grabbed a big spoon and another Corning Ware casserole dish.
“I’ll scoop out the stuffing and put that back in the oven,” she said as she started. “Get the aluminum foil, Hutch. Once the stuffing’s out, we’ll wrap the bird in foil and cover it with a bath towels. With luck, that’ll keep him warm until we’re ready to carve.”
Hutch grabbed the roll of foil and pulled out a sheet big enough to encase the entire bird. “That’s a great idea! We can put the root vegetables that were around the bird in another warming dish and keep them covered, too. We need to heat the beets since I cooked them yesterday. That’ll only take a short while. And the sweet potato casserole can share the oven with the stuffing. While that’s going on, we can start on the gravy.” He paused, realizing something. “But we haven’t peeled the potatoes yet!”
“That’s okay,” Edith assured him. She covered the baking pan filled with stuffing and slid it back in the oven, before starting to scoop the roasted carrots and parsnips out of the turkey’s roasting pan and into another covered dish. “I know just the man for that job.” She went to the door separating the kitchen from the living room and called, “Starsky, have you got a minute?”
Hutch smiled as Starsky appeared as if by magic, sticking his head around the door and wearing an expectant grin. “Is it time to eat?”
Hutch grabbed him by the shoulder and hauled him into the kitchen. “Not by a long shot. We need some help in here.”
“Thank God,” Starsky said, looking grateful. “Rosie and Cal were killing me in Scrabble. It was embarrassing.” He eyed the turkey as Edith finished covering him in large, heavy bath towels. “I thought you said we weren’t ready—?”
“The bird’s ready,” Edith said, “but nothing else is.”
“Well…” Hutch added, “except the beets.”
Starsky’s face fell. “Oh, joy.”
“Weren’t you in the Army, Starsky?” Edith asked, rummaging in her drawers.
Confused, Starsky never-the-less saluted smartly. “Yes, ma’am!”
“Good.” She turned, handing him a potato peeler. “You’re on K.P. The potatoes have been washed, and are in a colander in the sink. You peel, and Hutch can cut them up. We need them on the stove ASAP if you want to have mashed potatoes with dinner.”
Starsky stared at the implement. “Uh…sure.” He moved to the sink and started working. Hutch took the peeled potatoes from him and quickly chopped them into smaller pieces so they’d cook more quickly. They had the potatoes on the flame in short order.
“Hutch,” Edith said, “is your topping ready for the sweet potato casserole? We want to get that in the oven right away.”
He nodded. “Then the sweet potatoes should be done when the white potatoes are ready for mashing. Just have to add the melted butter to the processor.” He turned the processor on, and fed the melted butter he’d prepared into the chute so the crumbs would clump together. Hutch noticed Starsky looking on with that suspicious expression he always wore whenever Hutch tried to feed him something “healthy.”
Hutch moved the casserole dish with the cooked apples and mashed sweet potatoes already in it closer to the processor. He shifted the handle of the processor, freeing it from its base and removed the top and the interior blade so he could sprinkle the crumb topping over the mashed sweet potatoes.
Starsky leaned closer and took a sniff. “That smells pretty good, Blondie. Like toasted pecans.”
“It has toasted pecans in it,” Hutch said, looking at him as he lifted the crumb-filled container. “Trust me, it’ll taste wonderful.” But his hands had a light film of butter on them. As he moved to dump the crumbs onto his casserole, he bumped the edge of the dish and the handle slipped in his fingers and went flying. Crumbs sprayed everywhere—the counter, the sink, the floor, the spice rack, Edith’s canisters—but not a single crumb landed in the casserole. The plastic processor container finally clattered to the floor, uninjured but empty.
Hutch, Starsky, and Edith stared in dismay as the crumby mess covered three feet of food prep area.
“Everything all right in there?” Dobey called from the living room.
“I’ll go see,” Rosie chimed in, and entered the kitchen in a rush. Staring at the shocking mess, she opened her mouth to exclaim, but a glare from her mother halted her outburst.
“Not a word, young lady!” Edith snapped. “Get the broom right now. It’s just a small—”
“Disaster,” Hutch moaned, staring helplessly at all his work splashed across Edith’s immaculate kitchen.
“You ain’t kiddin’, partner,” Starsky said almost reverently.
“Nonsense,” Edith said, as she grabbed a dishcloth and started wiping down the counter. “We’ll just make it again. We have lots of bread for the breadcrumbs, and—”
“Those were all the pecans I had!” Hutch told her. “Do you have any?” It would only take a few minutes to toast them on the stove—even though every burner was currently occupied.
Edith turned to him, her expression stricken. “Actually—no. I used up every nut in the house for the cookie swap at Cal’s school.”
Rosie was diligently sweeping up the floor when Starsky took the broom and dustpan from her. “I’ll take care of this, honey. You go back to the game. Just don’t say anything.”
As Rosie nodded and left the kitchen, Edith chuckled. “She’s five, Starsky. She’ll tell Harold exactly what happened the minute he asks her.” A burst of laughter came from the living room. “See what I mean?”
“What are we going to do?” Hutch moaned. “I need a topping for the casserole.”
“We’ll do the only thing we can do,” Edith said. She pulled a bag of marshmallows from a cabinet.
Starsky’s face broke into a broad grin, but one look at Hutch’s expression and he immediately muted his glee.
Hutch stared at the bag, horrified. “After everything we did to keep this meal healthy? Edith!”
“It’s moment-of-truth time, Hutch,” she admitted in her firm, no-nonsense way. “I made my standard cornbread stuffing. Harold would divorce me if I didn’t. I added more onions and celery and skimped on the butter, but it won’t make that much difference. It’s hard to do much to the mashed potatoes and gravy to make them healthy. We still have your lovely roasted beets, which Harold and my kids will love.” She turned to Starsky and gave him a stern look. “Your partner will, too. And the wild rice with pecans, raisins, and dried cranberries will be a big hit. You made a beautiful fresh cranberry and orange relish. And I think the roasted cauliflower will make everyone forget the traditional creamed cauliflower I usually make, which Harold never cared for anyhow. Your sautéed green beans look beautiful. The roasted carrots and parsnips are sweet as can be without any sauce. A few marshmallows aren’t going to ruin everything.”
Hutch could only gape as Edith and Starsky tossed the last of his pecan-breadcrumb topping in the trash. He sighed. “I supposed you’re right.”
“We have enough food to feed an army,” Edith said. “Even if a lot of it is ‘healthy,’ it’s hardly part of Harold’s food plan. We can go back to trying to save their lives tomorrow.”
Starsky grabbed Edith by the shoulders and gave her a loud kiss on the cheek.
She shoved him away, laughing, and scolded, “Stop that!”
Hutch nodded, still mentally bemoaning his crumb topping. Something at the top of the refrigerator caught his eye. “Two pies?”
“One pumpkin and one apple,” Edith said.
“Hey, Hutch,” Starsky said in a consoling tone. “Could be worse. It’s not cheesecake.”
Hutch sighed, yielding to the logic of the situation. “Don’t be surprised if Starsky offers to marry you.”
She chuckled. “He does every year.”
“And she always turns me down,” Starsky said mournfully.
Edith patted Hutch’s shoulder as she added the marshmallows and slid the casserole in the oven. “At least you’re both here this year. Having you in the kitchen giving me a hand has been a nice surprise.”
“Yeah, especially when I redecorated the place with pecan breadcrumbs.”
She laughed. “No, really, Hutch. Most of the time, you boys stop in for a bite when the day is over since you usually work the shift. And Harold not getting called in has been the biggest blessing—”
Just then the phone rang, making all three of them jump. It had been quiet all day. The two partners froze, staring at the kitchen phone as if it were a snake about to strike.
“I’ll get it,” Cal yelled from the living room, with a typical teenager’s enthusiasm. “Hello, Dobey residence,” he said with a formality that belied his youth. He paused then said, “Dad, it’s for you.”
Hutch’s shoulders drooped. “We spoke too soon.”
The three walked into the living room as Dobey picked up the phone.
“Yes, this is Captain Dobey.” He frowned as he spoke into the receiver. “What? Oh, yes! Yes, of course. Why, thank you, Phillips. I will. And a Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.” He dropped the receiver back onto the base. Smiling, he looked around at all the worried faces. “Relax, everyone. That was the sergeant on duty letting me know things have been quiet and the shift is changing. We don’t have to go in.”
There was a collective sigh of relief around the room.
“Hey, Hutch, in all the excitement, I forgot to tell you,” Starsky said. “I think turquoise is your color.”
The two kids erupted in giggles as, confused, Hutch glanced at his short-sleeved t-shirt. It was brown. Edith poked him with an elbow and pointed at his waistline. Only then did he notice the frilly turquoise half-apron she had tied on him to ward off stains as they worked at the counter. Just in case you end up going in, she’d said. He felt his face heating up. As he wagged a warning finger in Starsky’s direction, Edith took his elbow and led him back to the kitchen.
“Don’t worry, Dave,” Edith said over her shoulder. “I’ve got a nice red and blue one for you. You’ll need it when you’re washing the dishes.”
The kids laughed even harder, and Hutch could hear Dobey’s chortle.
Starsky had to admit the Thanksgiving table looked like a magazine spread. The bird was a gorgeous brown, and amazingly, still warm. Edith’s lovely serving dishes were beautiful, filled with a colorful array of sides: stuffing, mashed potatoes he’d helped make, green beans, cauliflower, cranberry relish…beets…and greens. He’d promised Hutch he’d at least try the beets, and they were so pretty all glistening red and steaming hot, he thought they were worth at least a bite. The sight of the huge bowl of mashed potatoes filled him with joy—and hunger. He’d had Edith’s gravy before and knew it was one of the best he’d ever tasted.
The last thing to come out of the kitchen was Hutch’s new “healthy” sweet potato casserole. Starsky blinked as Hutch carried it carefully to the table with thick pot-holders. The marshmallows were browned and puffy, looking perfect.
“Harold, I think we’re ready for you to say grace,” Edith said as they all sat at the table.
As everyone clasped hands, the captain said a few words in gratitude for their bounty and the fact that they’d been given a whole day to enjoy it.
But as he finished, Starsky reached for his wine glass. “I’d like to propose a toast. To our two chefs who worked so hard to make this gorgeous spread. I know everything on this table—everything—is going to be just delicious. To Edith and Hutch. To the chefs!”
Everyone cheered, “To the chefs!” and clinked glasses.
“There’s pie, too,” Edith said. Then looking pointedly at Starsky. “After the dishes are done.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Starsky replied dutifully and gave another salute. He took a small portion of beets onto his plate. Poking at the greens, which looked like a mess of cooked grass, he took an even tinier portion of those. He wasn’t about to give them much real estate considering all the other delicious looking things he needed room for.
Then he caught Hutch eyeing him from across the table. He was aware how much trouble Hutch had gone through for those stupid roots—peeling them, slicing them into pretty half-moons, then adding a touch of maple syrup and roasting them in a hot oven for over an hour. Hutch said the greens were easy to cook, but Starsky had watched Hutch separate them from the stalks and slice them into thin little ribbons before cooking them in a touch of olive oil with the pine nuts and raisins. Starsky was willing to bet Julia Child wouldn’t have gone to that much trouble for these dirt-tasting things. His mom always boiled the beets, which didn’t help them any, and she never cooked the greens. He couldn’t remember even seeing beets with their greens in the markets his mom went to. When his mom did roast beets, she did it with their skins on and then skinned ’em later. Also not helping their flavor. Red dirt on a plate.
Hutch was saying something to Rosie sitting next to him. Serving plates were going around, everyone was talking and sharing. Tentatively, Starsky cut one of the shiny half moons in half, speared it, and quickly popped it into his mouth. He’d brave the cooked grass in a minute. Might as well get this over with before blondie has a conniption. He chewed.
It wasn’t like he could actually taste maple syrup, but he couldn’t taste that typical “dirt” taste either. He always laughed when cooks on TV called it “earthy”—as in earth, which was just another word for “dirt.” He chewed some more. It wasn’t all mushy and overcooked the way his mom’s had a tendency to be. It had a firm bite, but wasn’t raw either. It was a pleasant texture. And the taste was…good!
He took the other half slice. It was sweet without being sticky sweet. Sweet like a good cooked carrot could be sweet. But not sweet like candy. He was totally surprised. Staring at the greens, he scooped some on his fork. He wasn’t a huge fan of spinach, in spite of Popeye’s claims, or any other kind of green grassy thing Hutch insisted was good for him. So, he was even more surprised at the subtle sweetness of the sautéed beet greens. He knew Hutch hadn’t added any sugar or syrup to these, just a few raisins. And the toasted pine nuts gave the dish a lovely nutty flavor. This was scary. Starsky was eating cooked grass and liking it.
He raised his eyebrows and reached for the serving dishes with the beets and greens and took some more.
Hutch suddenly realized what he was doing and looked on in surprise.
Starsky raised his wine glass again and got everyone’s attention. “And another toast to my partner, Hutch. A man who could make beets taste like food!”
Everyone at the table simply stared in confusion as Hutch laughed, and passed him the sweet potato casserole. “Okay, Starsk. Glad you liked them. Now that you’ve had some real food, enjoy some marshmallows.”
The story is based on a true event. We had a lovely, if chaotic, Thanksgiving this year at the Flamingo household with myself, St. Anne, Rosemary (tiranog), and our friend, Taya. Usually, our dinners run late, and the bird often takes longer to cook than we anticipate. But this year, the bird was done an hour and a half earlier than expected. The stuffing hadn’t reached a safe temperature. The potatoes hadn’t been cooked. I’d decided (for some reason) to make a relatively healthy sweet potato casserole instead of the simple baked sweets we usually prefer. (I have no idea why.) We took the stuffing out of the bird, wrapped the bird in aluminum foil and towels, and everyone started scrambling around to get everything else going. It got so confusing, we never did make the cauliflower, one of our fave veggies, and we’d bought a lovely purple one just for the occasion. We didn’t have Edith to keep everything running smoothly.
While the others worked to get the potatoes on to boil and the unfinished stuffing in the oven, I went to put the crumb topping on the sweet potato casserole—and dropped the thing out of my (literally) butter-fingered hands. Crumbs went everywhere all over my kitchen. I just stood there in stunned dismay as the dogs scrambled to clean up the floor. Taya and Ro and Anne reassured me that everything would be all right and kind of moved my shocked senseless body out of their way and cleaned up. We were out of pecans, but we did have almonds. As Taya and Ro cleaned up, and I stood there with my mouth open, St. Anne (always to my rescue) toasted the almonds, made more breadcrumbs, and chopped the parsley. In about ten minutes, we had another topping for the casserole and it went in the oven. (We didn’t have any marshmallows!)
I’m the one who doesn’t like beets, Ro loves them, and Anne thinks they’re fine. I make them for Ro, but found a way to prepare them that pleases me. And while I’m not crazy about beets, beet greens are one of my favorite foods. They’re sweet and tender (assuming the greens are fresh and young), and really delicious. We sauté them with raisins and pine nuts (the same way we make spinach) whenever we can get good greens, which, unfortunately, isn’t that often.
The meal all worked out thanks to the quick thinking of fannish friends and everything was delicious (even the beets)…even if we forgot the cauliflower. Here are some of the recipes we used and that were mentioned in the story.
The sweet potato/apple casserole
This is the recipe I amended for the sweet potato casserole. (I doubt if I’d bother to make it again. I think it’s cursed.) The link will take you to the original recipe on Fine Cooking. It didn’t need as big a casserole dish as the recipe suggested. An 8×8 dish would work fine.
Bourbon Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with a Pecan Crust (adapted by Flamingo)
- 3 to 3-1/4 lb. sweet potatoes (about 3 large)
- 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
- 4 oz. toasted and very finely chopped pecans (1 cup)
- 1-1/3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream ½ cup Light Half and Half
- Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices fresh ginger, unpeeled and crushed
- 2 whole star anise
- One 2- to 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. bourbon
- 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 lb. Granny Smith apples (about 3 large), peeled, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
Bake the sweet potatoes
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and bake them on the sheet until completely tender when pierced with a fork, 55 to 60 minutes. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, if not working ahead, reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
Discard the skins and put the flesh in a medium mixing bowl. With a potato masher, work the sweet potatoes until they’re well mashed (they don’t have to be perfectly smooth).
Make the crumb topping
Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter and combine with the pecans, breadcrumbs, parsley, and two big pinches of salt in a small bowl. (I did everything in the food processor.)
Infuse the cream
Combine the heavy cream (I used light half and half only), ginger, star anise, half and half and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Bring to a full boil (watch carefully so that it doesn’t boil over) and remove from the heat immediately. Let steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a liquid measuring cup, pressing down on the solids with a spatula to extract all of the liquid. (Just remove cinnamon stick if not using these other spices.) Remove cinnamon sticks. Stir in 2 Tbs. of the bourbon, the vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
Cook the apples
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, season with 1/4 tsp. salt, and toss well. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, 8 to 9 minutes. Lower the heat if the apples are getting too dark, but not so much that they soften without browning.
Turn off the heat, carefully add the remaining 2 tsp. bourbon and stir until it evaporates, a few seconds. Pour in 1/3 cup of the infused cream and stir until the apples have absorbed most of it, a few more seconds. Set the pan aside and let the apples cool for about 15 minutes, turning them occasionally to release steam.
Assemble the casserole
Butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish (9×13-inch works well) (we didn’t need one nearly this big). Add the remaining cream (half and half) to the mashed sweet potatoes and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt. Arrange the apples across the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the sweet potato mixture over the apples in an even layer. Top with the pecan-crumb mixture.
Bake the casserole at 375°F until the crumb topping is dark brown (it will be browner around the edges) and the casserole is heated through, about 25 minutes.
Make Ahead Tips
You can bake and mash the sweet potatoes and make the crumb topping a day ahead (cover both and refrigerate). Bring the potatoes and crumb topping to room temperature before assembling the dish. You can also assemble and refrigerate for up to 8 hours before baking. Return to room temperature before baking.
Roasted Beets with Maple Syrup (simple and delicious from a former beet-hater)
Preheat oven to 425°. Peel raw beets with a potato peeler. Slice into 1/2 inch half-moons and place in baking dish or wrap in aluminum foil. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and maple syrup. Toss to coat. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.
Sautéed Beet Greens with Raisins and Pine Nuts
(This is actually a picture of Swiss Chard with pine nuts, but cooked beet greens don’t look much different.)
You might need as many as 3 bunches of beets with fresh greens to make enough to serve 2-4 people. Like all greens, beet greens cook down amazingly, so what looks like a giant mound will end up being a small amount. (You can also use the same recipe with spinach or kale.)
Take about a half cup of raisins, golden raisins, or currents, and soak them in very hot water for at least 15 minutes. While they’re soaking, strip out the thick, tough part of the stems on the greens, wash the greens thoroughly (though they’re not as sandy as some), then stack four or five together, roll them like a cigar, and slice into thin ribbons until all the greens are cut.
Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly sauté about a quarter cup of pine nuts (more or less depending on your quantity of greens). Sauté the pine nuts until they color slightly, then add the beet greens, stirring and tossing as they begin to wilt. The water on the leaves will help cook the greens. Heat should be medium. You don’t want them cook too fast or hard, just gently. When they’re fairly well cooked down, add the raisins, stirring and tossing so everything gets mingled. Sample the greens to see if they’re tender, and when done, eat!
Fresh Cranberry Relish
We adapted a recipe from Martha Stewart. The original recipe is here. We don’t make the spicy version, just the one with the oranges. It’s the best cranberry sauce we ever had. You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries. This is our simplified version.
Makes 4 cups
- 1 pound fresh cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (you may not need all this, and often get it from segmenting the oranges)
- Zest of 1 orange
- 4 oranges, segmented, pith and membranes removed
- In a medium saucepan, bring a splash of water to a simmer. Add the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and zest. Stir until sugar is dissolved and the cranberries begin to pop, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add orange segments. Stir to combine.
Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans
This dish has become a tradition in our house. The original recipe is from, again, Martha Stewart. You can find it by clicking on the title.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- 1 cup wild rice
- 3 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add rice, and cook for 1 minute. Add stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until rice is tender and starting to burst, 45 to 50 minutes. Drain any excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl.
- While rice cooks, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast until browned and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop pecans.
- Add toasted pecans, cranberries, raisins, and parsley to rice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Mashed potatoes and stuffing are pretty much mandatory. We make a cornbread stuffing. We sometimes have a simple roasted squash, like delicata or butternut or sometimes roasted pumpkin as a side (which can be made ahead and reheated), and green beans or asparagus either steamed, roasted, or sautéed. None of us grew up with green bean casserole or care for it. (My mom loved creamed cauliflower and creamed onions, but I never liked them. Anne didn’t grow up with that, so she’s not interested in those foods, either.) Roasted cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts are delicious and can be made ahead of time and reheated. We always roast parsnips, carrots, onions, and celery beneath the bird (this benefits the pan gravy) and eat those vegetables on the side. We usually make a very similar meal for Christmas.
This year, we’ll be hosting a small number of friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful holiday season with many blessings and good fortune for the new New Year. — Flamingo