By Mary Anna Violi |@MaryAnnaVioli
Yesterday we had the good fortune to have seven inches of snow. I say “good fortune” because I heartily endorse winter weather. The reason for this is that I stay indoors and focus on my writing. I need prolonged periods of quiet in order to work out plot lines, character development, and dialogue. Winter is a liberating season as far as I am concerned. Yes, I would have preferred to do the grocery shopping yesterday afternoon, but I can do it just as easilyl after work tomorrow. The trick is to have certain food items in the pantry, in the freezer, and in the refrigerator in order to survive winter weather. Having Netflix at my fingertips also helps combat cabin fever, as do the antics of our cats, Valentino and Coco Chanel.
Thanksgiving articles and stories fill cyberspace these past weeks leading up to The National Big Feast. One of my favorite recent reads was the New York Times article, “Thanksgiving, the Julia Child Way”, by Julia Moskin, on November 16, 2015. It relates the charming story of how Julia and her husband Paul Child celebrated Thanksgiving. Once they had moved back to the United States, Julia did not stand on rigid protocol in serving up the traditional dinner. Her feast had little to do with the nuances of French cooking she taught us to master. Like Julia herself, from what I have read, the meal was down to earth delicious and welcoming in every way.
One recipe she followed judiciously was her Aunt Helen’s Fluffy Pumpkin Pie, which I have included here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/dining/julia-child-thanksgiving.html
I understand Julia not tampering with a family classic for her Thanksgiving dinner. Televised cooking shows, magazines, and the Internet are overloaded with variations of pumpkin pie in the forms of pie, tart, and cheesecake. Pecan pie is also flogged with infusions of brandy, or cognac, or rum [all of which I endorse in baking], chocolate, and other curious ingredients. It seems to me that these folks are tripping over one another in vain attempts to serve the Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner, which sounds alarmingly like one’s final meal. Frankly, I am rather a purist when it comes to the Thanksgiving feast. I prefer the turkey itself roasted with butter, olive oil, white wine and herbs. My dressing of choice, served on the side, is comprised of coarse Italian bread, chicken stock, celery, onion, garlic, and sage. Fluffy mashed potatoes with half-and-half, butter, and salt and pepper please me no end. Our family’s traditional Jello-based [raspberry and lemon] fresh cranberry salad with pineapple, red grapes, and nuts draws a smile. For the past several years I have added Campbell Soup’s iconic green bean casserole to our repast because it really is scrummy tasty. Buttered corn is another favorite on the table. Though I am not an avid sweet potato fan, I will add a dollop of them to my plate of food on Thanksgiving Day. Finally, there is the iconic pumpkin pie topped with whipping cream. I follow the Libby’s brand recipe, but I add either brandy, or cognac, or rum. Mincemeat and pecan pies might also make an appearance. The Thanksgiving food invariably reflects a kaleidoscope of autumn color, which makes it all the more appealing.
In the end, no matter how one serves up Thanksgiving Dinner, it is finally about coming together with family and friends, and celebrating a day of thanks while feasting on delicious food, honoring the traditions that draw us together on the last Thursday of November each year. Buon appetito!
Ciao for now.