Saturday, November 24, 2007


I already spoke a little about Thanksgiving for the benefit of my Italian readers last year. Every time, though, I seem to forget why Thanksgiving is a holiday - the historical event behind it is, in fact, a little odd. Supposedly, it is the day when Native Americans and the Pilgrims got together to celebrate and thank for the harvest before wintertime. Most people I talked to told me that after that the massacre of the Native Americans started.. As usual, it's impossible to disentangle good and bad, and memories slip away. In any case, I don't think many people really think about the original meaning nowadays, and this holiday is transformed into a moment of general thanksgiving for all the good things we have, and for the possibility of getting together with the whole family. In this sense, it is really a great occasion for American families, who are often scattered through this large country.
So here we are in Virginia! It's actually very nice to be here, and who knows when we'll be able to come back. To begin the post, here is a picture of trees wearing fall colors, taken from the front of the house. It's such a beautiful view, and we miss it a bit in California.

The house got bigger since we last came here. You can see on the left the addition that Lucas's dad Jim recently made. To me it's quite amazing, I'd never be able to do anything like this. He still has to do the interior - and I guess, then, figure out what to put in this new part of the house. :)
As it also happens in Italy, family reunions occur around tables loaded with lots of good food. Lucas's mom Debbie is a great cook and here is just a small sample of what she made for us.
This was for the dinner before Thanksgiving - all the children had already arrived, and it was good to be altogether.
There's fried apples, salmon, baked mac and cheese and salad. The salad was my contribution to the dinner (a variation on the theme of my usual cabbage salad) - I was very pleased by the fact that everyone enjoyed it, knowing how hard it is for some of the family members to eat veggies ;) For my Italian readers: fried apples are apples cooked in a pan with butter (ehm, a lot of it :) ), sugar and ground cloves, and mac and cheese is a casserole type of dish where layers of small pasta and cheese and cracker pieces are layered, and then cooked together with a mixture of milk and eggs. Mac stays for 'macaroni' - interestingly enough, it doesn't have anything to do with what Italians call 'maccheroni': the former is a small, elbow-like pasta, whereas the latter is a tubular, hollow and streight type of pasta about 1.5" long. So, mac and cheese doesn't really have anything to do with 'pasta al forno', and if Italians go to the US they shouldn't expect that. It's actually quite good, but it's a different thing.
And here is a sample of our Thankgsving meal!
This is a very subjective view of the meal, because it's what was on my plate - so, the meat part of it is very underrepresented. But it does show the variety of things we had: the two things in the middle are stuffing (on the center left) and turkey (center right). Then, at the right side of the turkey, there's a small amount of mashed potatoes, and going clockwise, cranberry sauce (traditionally eater with the turkey), gratin cauliflower, a bread roll, collard greens, broccoli/yams/peppers "martatouille", and spinach sformato. As you may have guessed, I attended the preparation of the veggie sides. I used all my experimented recipes - you can find the cauliflower recipe here, the spinach here and the martatouille here. The collards were brought by Joanne, Jim's sister (they're a traditional southern side - I had a small explanation in Italian about collards here). In case my non-American readers were wondering: the turkey meat I had on the dish was of course part of a real 20 lb turkey, that Debbie started cooking at 6 in the morning for it to be ready by 1 pm!
Everything was really good, and of course, the dessert side wasn't less important. We had coconut cake and three different pies (chocolate, pumpkin and pecan) that Debbie made. The pies are a very big tradition for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Debbie always prepares about 5-6 of them. :)
As a side, for our breakfasts and afternoon snacks, Debbie baked a few more things:
The softest and most delicious rolls ever, cinnamon bread, banana muffins, almond cookies, Christmas balls (my favorite, the round spheres, made with mostly eggs and nuts), and sausage balls (in the front, they are made with cheese and sausage). Keep in mind that everything that's shown on this plate was prepared in batches of hundreds, more or less. :)
Debbie also made just 'a few' hot crossed buns:
(Apparently these are supposed to be Eastern buns, but no one seemed to mind their presence for Thanksgiving.. :) - they are small rolls filled with cinnamon and raisin).
She also made a dessert that I really loved:
\It's a pound cake, served on custard and covered with a sort of fudge chocolate cream.
Now... do you understand why I gained a few pounds during this short vacation?!? :)
Unfortunately I don't have many people pictures.
Here is the Thanksgiving meal - and Jason with a small amount of mashed potatoes in front of him
And here is Rowen, one of the two cute cats belonging to Alison, who always join the family reunions!


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What scrumptious looking food! Yummy!



chemcookit said...

Yeah, I agree. :) Too yummy to resist :)

Amanda said...

It all looks so delicious! I sure do miss collards during the holidays. I must learn to make them!

Nora B. said...

Hi Marta, I was most mesmerized by all the baked goodies! So many to choose from - i would need a separate dessert compartment in my stomach.


chemcookit said...

Hello! So good to hear from you guys.
Mrs W - yeah, collards are good, and also really easy to make! Just wash them and put them in a pan with a little olive oil and garlic, leaving some water attached to the leaves. Cover and cook for for ~15 min, making sure the water hasn't completely evaporated.. serve with vinegar! I think true Southerns would use bacon fat instead of olive oil, and no garlic.. but that's my rendition. :)

Nora - yeah.. that's what we were all thinking :)

Amanda said...

My husband's grandfather made the best collards. I think he cooked them with ham hocks. Yum!

chemcookit said...

Mrs. W - that sounds really the right original stuff!

leosatter said...

Maybe you can help me out with something…? I want to order all of my food online from now on because of various reasons, but I don’t know where to go for quality food. I have tried 2 companies so far, Fresh Dining, and and Celebrity Foods, but I wanna get others I can try out. Do you know of any? The main thing I’ve ordered so far is steak. I guess you can say, I’m a steak junkie. LOL!!! From what I have found out (from what I have ordered so far) I think I am able to regulate the quality of beef I buy. I hate going to a store and getting that crappy slab of beef that I have to cut down until there is like nothing left. Hahaha!!!! (its so true though) Anyhow, sorry that I made this comment so long. If you can help me out or point me in a direction where I might find more quality foods online, I would greatly appreciate it. Have a good day or night! (depending on when you read this) LOL!!!!