Most daunting of all for me is living up to the Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood... served by my mom in pearls, perfectly coiffed hair and an apron starched to high heaven. Cozy. Home spun. Norman Rockwell. You betcha! As I cobbled together the menu for my first Thanksgiving, my senses were flooded with the culinary aromas of my youth~dishes crammed with great food and nostalgia. It was Thanksgiving de ja vu all over again, but this time I was the hostess...armed with a hodge-podge of recipes handed down from family and friends or ripped from magazines, served up while wearing sweats, hair in a pony tail, smudged eyeliner and pink fuzzy slippers. I was a bit surprised to find myself over whelmed by it all, scooting around the dishes, trying to keep it all warm .....many years later, I'm happy to say...not much has changed.I love a day that inspires gratitude on all sides. I'm speaking straight from the heart here, I think back on the past 1,688 days and I remember that first smooth stone, tossed into the pond. It slipped quietly beneath the surface and we lived each ripple. Before we knew it, we were all thinking harder about the things we are most thankful for. I'm thankful that I'm spending this Thanksgiving with my people, even though my heart is a little fogged over. My family incomplete. This year, I have a few new wrinkles and a new tinge of weariness, but what it means is that love is in my heart, and I'll take it.
I'm thankful for unexpected surprises, and better news than I expected.
I'm thankful for the cachepot of friends I have.
I'm thankful for the hope of a new story. With enough happy ending to go around.
I'm thankful that I am much more than the sum total of all my wonkyness.
I'm thankful that Tom and Jerry humor transcends generations.
I'm thankful for the guys always there with a helping hand and a loving heart.
I'm thankful for a warm place to live, for air scented heavy with cinnamon, two furry puppies, for ponytails and my family.
Should you find yourself minus one (or more) at your table on Thanksgiving day, you will be sad. There are just no two ways about it. Facts are facts. You will remember how forcefully he embraced all traditions involving family that carry with them the merest whiff of obligation. How all outside expectations are shrugged off, all requisite get-togethers cherished. And you will, in the days leading up to The Day, regularly remember him with a thump and a grin, because you'll be washing up the good china upon which he ate. The good china he bought for you. Because in my family, anyway, we root for good china the way normal families root for their alma mater. You will remember him while you are setting out place cards, the one on which he wrote "...I love my Fam." And as the day goes on, you'll begin to notice he's everywhere, actually, popping up around every corner. You'll remember the pumpkin muffins you're baking were his favorite and how he loved your corn pudding. You will be filled to the brim with love. You will be sad, anyway. Because Thanksgiving's Thanksgiving. And that's no time to be apart. You will carry on, of course, because that's what we do, and you will be genuinely glad for everything else. You will gather your wits and tell stories that begin with...remember when? You will use words like miss, wish, and hope...eyes almost dry. You will eat well and laugh often and give genuine thanks for the pleasures of the family that he helped create. The Fam. that he loved.
I think, in the end, that our time might be better spent living gratitude than writing every whip-stitch of it down. So, I'm making a deal with myself to pen my thankfuls on the inside surface of my heart also, every day. And I promise to press down hard when I write.
For tonight, I'll not attempt the complete unabridged list. Instead, I'll just say to whom it was that let that first stone fly - thank you.
Sagaponack Corn Pudding
an Ina Garten recipe
5 c. fresh corn, cut from the cob (6 to 8 ears)
1 c. yellow onion, finely chopped
4 extra large eggs
1 c. milk ( use 2 %)
1 c. half & half
½ c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. ricotta cheese ( use part-skim)
3 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, cut into slivers
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. Kosher salt (scant)
¾ tsp. black pepper
6 oz. extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated plus a bit more for topping the pudding
cayenne pepper (my adaptation)
Grease a casserole dish that will hold 8 to 10 cups. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F.
Place the butter in a deep fry pan. Add the chopped onion and the corn kernels. Place over medium high heat and bring the vegetables to a sizzling bubble. Cook for four minutes, turn off the heat and let them cool just a bit.
Meanwhile mix the eggs, milk, half & half, sugar, slat, pepper, basil, and cornmeal to make a slurry. Add the ricotta and stir vigorously to break it up.
Turn in the corn and onion mix.
Plop the pudding batter into the casserole dish. Sprinkle a bit more Cheddar on top and sprinkle on some cayenne pepper. Place the casserole in a larger deep pan, add hot tap water to the water bath so that the water comes halfway up the outside of the casserole.
Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
The pudding is done when it begins to come away from the edges of the pan, quivers when jostled, and is golden brown on the top.
Remove from the water bath and allow the pudding to cool for just a few minutes before serving.