Holidays 2017: Thanksgiving
I have decided to do a blog series detailing my holidays starting with an inside look at my friends and family Thanksgiving and ending with my plans for next years Christmas. I know it’s a bit after the fact and may feel either irrelevant at the moment, or too soon to even be thinking about it, but because I took a bit of a blog break over the holiday season I wasn’t able to share this with you then. I guess I’m going with the better late than never narrative and hope you’ll agree!
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I’m a fan of the abundance of delicious, comforting, heartwarming food. The gathering of friends and family around a table laden with said food. The cozy early darkness of late November that begs for hours spent in front a roaring fire, wine in one hand, book in the other. Not that there’s much time for that when you’ve decided to host the season’s festivities but I’ll get to that in a minute. It also happens to fall within a week of my and Naleigh’s birthday every year. Sometimes it is one of our birthdays. Last year it was mine, this year it was hers. Such proximity to my day of celebration has always guaranteed me an amazing meal and a table full of friends and family, something I’m trying to teach Naleigh to love about sharing her birthday with a major holiday. Family, friends and food is my all time favorite way to celebrate being alive! This year I decided I desperately wanted to host the festivities at my house. An energetic passion for table settings, warming side dishes and heritage turkeys took hold of me and would not be denied. I also received a Thanksgiving meal plan from Food and Wine in my inbox late October and it helped me see how manageable hosting the day could be with the right amount of preparation and planning. It ended up being absolutely perfect. Seriously…perfect…but it was not without a few mishaps, a healthy dose of anxiety and a day after spent cleaning up and crying. So, with out further ado, here are all the glorious and gory details!
What really started my hosting ball rolling were all the inspiring table settings on Instagram. It was a month of pure eye candy for those of us who love dishes, glasses, linens and cutlery. I built up a Pinterest page full of even more inspiration and honed in on a particular color palette and style I loved. Mixed metals of silver, rose and gold with a sophisticated farm vibe was the theme I kept gravitating towards. Once I knew that was the direction I was headed I went about inventorying what I already had and making a list of what I needed, I’m sorry, I mean wanted. There really wasn’t a damn thing I needed if I’m being honest. There was however, a lot I wanted and it’s been years since I treated my self to any new dishware so I figured now was the time. I found gorgeous pink depression glass salad plates and decided they would look perfect set on top of my Kate Spade dinner plates. Her Pebble Point and Corona Grove patterns are what I chose for my wedding china and I still love them 10 years later. With their silver accents they pair up beautifully with just about anything if I’m looking for a less structured vibe. I found fantastic rose gold flatware on Etsy but sadly the shop is no longer selling it so I can’t provide you with a link, but it was a real find and totally perfect for my table. If it weren’t hand wash recommended I’d use it everyday but there is a level of crazy even I will not entertain. I already had sparkly silver chargers that fit the theme perfectly and looked stunning under the Kate Spade dinner dishes, these are similar. I went with pale pink stemless glasses for water and my grandmother’s cut crystal wine glasses for, well, wine. I bought a simple linen table runner, “Thankful” embroidered linen napkins from Crate and Barrel which are no longer on the site, sorry, gold napkin rings which are also no longer available but these are similar, vintage brass candlesticks, a eucalyptus garland, silver, cream and white gourds and a couple of artichokes to round it all out. All in all I was absolutely thrilled with my table. So thrilled I set it up at least four days in advance, okay maybe five, just so I could admire it for awhile. I dusted it all off before serving, don’t be concerned! At least not about that, maybe for my sanity however.
Now the food, ahhhh the food! I had some help with this thank the lord, but Josh and I agreed to take on the turkey. Something we had never done before and frankly I was pretty nervous about it. Hence the anxiety I spoke of earlier. I’m an animal advocate and though my foundation has not yet taken on the farm animals in this country and focuses mainly on companion animals I still try to do my small part by only buying free range, grass fed, hormone free, humanly raised, wild caught meat, poultry or fish. Try saying that three times fast. Anyway, I found these Heritage Turkeys and bought two a month in advance and had them shipped the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The only problem was they came fresh but could not stay in the fridge for five days. So I had to freeze them on Sunday the day after they arrived. Then I made the mistake of not taking them out of the freezer until Tuesday night. Sooooo…they were still pretty solid in the middle come Wednesday night and in a total state of panic I feared they would not be thawed enough to fry or roast Thursday afternoon. Thankfully, (see what I did there) we were able to get a giant, and I mean giant free range, organic turkey from Whole Foods Thursday morning. One of the heritage turkeys was finally defrosted enough to fry later in the day and it turned out perfect thanks to Josh Kelley’s fry master skills. The Whole Foods turkey I decided to roast which had me sweating! Remember the scene in Christmas Family Vacation when Chevy Chase cuts into the Turkey and it disintegrates? Well that was playing on a loop in my head the entire time leading up to pulling the turkey out of the oven. By some combination of grace and the perfect recipe it turned out heavenly. Golden and crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. It was a Thanksgiving miracle! Once the other heritage turkey was defrosted we fried it up too and ate turkey for like two weeks straight! But damn was it delicious! The lesson here is, even if you only put the bird in the freezer for a day and a half, get it out Monday night so you can be sure it’s fully defrosted by Thursday morning!
For the side dishes I was in charge of I used an old cookbook my mother gave to me about three years ago. It’s called Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase and it’s perfect for all those cozy, comforting dishes I spoke of earlier. From the cook book I chose grand mariner glazed carrots, rutabagas anna, Nantucket cranberry relish and cranberry oatmeal cookies. I threw in our family’s favorite mashed potatoes (you gotta have something to drink up all that gravy right?) I also added an extra rutabaga dish, a puree we’ve had every Thanksgiving since I was like five. I wanted to try a new rutabaga dish but was afraid I’d miss the old one too much so I threw it in last minute. It’s really pretty easy to make so it wasn’t much extra trouble. There were many more sides and desserts than just these thanks to the help of my mother, mother in law and our friends who joined us. It truly was an abundance of delicious food!
This year was probably one of my all time favorite Thanksgiving celebrations. Between the company, the food, the birthday of my first born, the beauty of the table and the gratitude pouring forth from all of us with ease and joy it really could not have been more perfect. The next day however, well, that’s where the tears come in. Like I said, this year my birthday fell on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I had big plans to do nothing more than chill in front of the TV all day in my jammies watching all my favorite romantic comedies and eating a giant plate of better the next day leftovers. Unfortunately I had forgotten to anticipate the wreckage left behind in my kitchen and living room from the day before and sadly I am not one of those people who can just live with the mess. I spent hours on Friday hand washing dishes that could not be placed in the dishwasher, drying said dishes and carefully putting them away till the next party or holiday. Cleaning up cookware, platters, and casseroles. Putting away any food that had been left out and doing a final clean and sweep of the counters, dining table and bar. It was not exactly what I had in mind for my birthday and once it was all done I felt exhausted, burnt out and kinda sad. It took me a day or two to get over feeling like I had worked my ass off to ensure everyone else had a special and meaningful holiday but my feeling special wasn’t anybodies priority. Then I stopped wallowing in self pity and realized it was my own fault. I had made a major mistake. I didn’t ask anyone for more help with the clean up on Friday. I did that thing we women are so great at doing. I call it the “I’ve got it, I’ve got it” syndrome. We run around like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off convinced we’ve “Got it” and that it’s our jobs to do so. Meanwhile the people around us get tired of asking if we need or want any help and go off to rest with their feet up. We witness said resting and bury every feeling of frustration and fury that wells up inside of us until we have a nice, big, compact ball of resentment lodged in our throats just waiting to burst forth. Needless to say it’s an unhealthy cycle, but I’m learning people, I’m learning. Next year Naleigh’s birthday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, mine is Saturday and neither one of us will be doing any damn dishes!!
Stay tuned for next weeks look at my Christmas decor and the inspiration behind it. XOXO, KT