I was so thrilled to be able to make my first Thanksgiving dinner in our new house! I want to kind of journal it, because the dinner worked out so perfectly.
The preparations started several days in advance. I got the turkey out of the freezer (22 pounds!) and into the fridge on Friday prior to Thanksgiving. On Tuesday, I made cornbread for the stuffing, roll dough and hung out with friends. Wednesday, I prepped the stuffing vegetables, I made pineapple cheese jell-o, pomegranate and lime slush, and I went to my mom's house to make pies with my sister and mother. We made 17 pies that day: Apple (using a few frozen pie fillings I'd made at the end of October), Pumpkin, pecan, rhubarb, blueberry, and mincemeat. On Wednesday night we had "Pie Night" and cut into a few of those delicious pies. It was nice to enjoy pie separately from the Thanksgiving dinner, although we had some Thursday as well. :)
Lastly on Wednesday, I put the turkey in the brine. There was still slushy ice in the cavity of the turkey, but otherwise it was thawed and ready to go. We used my pressure canner pot to hold the turkey and brine because the turkey was massive. The brine had lemon and orange, and a bunch of fresh sage and thyme from my mom's garden--amazingly not destroyed by frost yet! We took the insulation out of the vent of the cold storage room so that it would be plenty cool in there, and let the turkey soak down there for the night. We monitored the temperature. My sister Sara will be happy to hear that.
The Turkey was done at about 3:20, so we pulled it out, covered it, and let it rest while I baked the rolls and warmed up the green bean casserole. My mom made the most fabulous gravy from the turkey drippings, using the extra long burner on the stove top. The kids and Grandpa put slush and Sprite in the cups, and Cody carved the turkey after it had rested. Everything was done amazingly on time, and we put it all on the table and sat down right at 4 PM. The food was SO good! The turkey was juicy and tender and flavorful. The gravy was silky and delicious. The mashed potatoes--to which I'd added some cream cheese and mom's homemade chicken stock--were divine. My great-grandmother's recipe for yams turned out fantastic, as always. The rolls were high and light and buttery. I really liked the cornbread stuffing, but it wasn't as traditional as other types of stuffing, so yet again I'm on a quest for the perfect homemade stuffing recipe, that doesn't go in the bird or oven. Hm... I'll have to ponder that one. My dad made a very delicious whole cranberry sauce, and when we sat down we all held hands and prayed, each saying something we were grateful for. Then we had a few toasts with our plastic cups full of slush--yum!--and dug in.
After dinner, we put the turkey and food away, started the dishwasher, then went for a walk around the block as the sun was setting. It felt good to stretch a bit after all that eating, but we were still too full for pie when we got back, so my parents left a few pies with us and they went home. Then we watched a movie and ate pie just before bed, at about 7:30.
I love Thanksgiving and the start of the Holiday season. I hope you all had a great one! We have much to be grateful for. I know so many people without jobs or in poor health or other desperate situations, and I'm always reminded that no matter how bad things are, we still are blessed with much. We have good friends and amazing family, God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, beautiful children who are happy with so little, and a wonderful world to live in. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!