Monday 12 October 2015
Thanksgiving game was strong this year! I usually spend Thanksgiving at my uncle's cottage with some family and friends. This year was no exception however a wedding I recently attended nearly caused me to miss my opportunity to make it out there. Fortunately we were able to work something out at the last minute. My family has two cottages at Sauble Beach on Lake Huron, Ontario. The beach faces west so on nights with clear skies you can always catch a stunning sunset as it sinks behind the water. It was a great opportunity for me to spend some time with family. There are a few four-legged members of our family as well.
This group is usually who I spend special occasions with and my aunt and I always do most of the cooking. This year, as usual, we cooked a turkey but tried something new. We had a smaller 10 lb turkey which allowed us to take advantage of a rotisserie feature on my uncle's gas barbecue. It needed a little adjusting and maintaining throughout the process but the end result was delicious. One concern was whether or not the turkey was going to dry out but it stayed quite moist and had a great smoky flavour that you can't get from an oven. We stuffed the cavity of the turkey with woody herbs, garlic and lemon and flavoured the skin with salt, pepper, seasonings and dried herbs. We used a disposable pan to catch the drippings but the turkey didn't really release enough liquid to baste it with so we used some seasoned, melted butter instead. The aromas coming off this thing were extraordinary.
To accompany our juicy, smoky, buttery turkey we cooked a spiral ham with a molasses, brown sugar and autumn spice glaze. My aunt made her signature bread and sausage dressing. We roasted halves of acorn squash and filled them with fried pancetta, mushrooms, onions and a drizzle of maple syrup. We mashed up garlicky potatoes with green peas. There was homemade cranberry sauce made with cinnamon and Triple Sec. My cousin is a vegetarian so we made a hearty vegetable shepherd's pie with chickpeas, lentils, onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, spices, stock and wine. We made up a bread and tofu stuffing to go with it and it turned out really good. It just wouldn't be a turkey dinner without a rich, velvety gravy. It was a heavy meal and I had a crowded plate but it was delicious. Everyone enjoyed it very much.
The first night we were up at the cottage together we made French onion soup with grilled cheese, bacon and tomato sandwiches. My aunt also whipped up a spread of mayonnaise, mustard and parmesan cheese which we used on the sandwiches for an added, creamy richness and grated cheddar, gruyere and manchego. Those were really delicious too.
It's been a great few days of indulging. Once I finish the few leftovers I have it will be back to healthier diet so I can work this off. Always so worth it though. Most cultures in the world have some kind of annual feast that commemorates the biggest harvest of the year. Thanksgiving is what we Canadians have for this purpose. It also gives us the opportunity to spend time with family and recognize the things we have in this life that we're grateful for.
Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians and I hope you all had a good holiday.