Friday, November 27, 2009

Here's the Spread

Right after I took this picture, I remembered the mashed potatoes, still on the stove.  So, add those to the spread.  Everything, including the cranberry sauce, was home-made (except the pie crust).  I made the cranberry sauce and dried the stuffing bread earlier this week.  The blueberries in the pie are from my bushes, but the green beans, turkey and bread were store-bought.  In future years, I'll move further towards using food from the homestead. Small steps!

The tablecloth is the only link to those past years when I used to cook a huge Thanksgiving spread for my husband, his brothers+ girlfriends and various friends and family.  My husband's family is russian orthodox, (they celebrate Christmas and New Years eve on different dates than we do), and Thanksgiving was the beginning of a season full of feasts (two christmases, two new years' eves, one birthday), fueled by alcohol and family stressors.  Over the years I grew to dread this season.  I didn't help myself by planning elaborate, showy menus that required a huge amount of preparation and ingredients.  Last night I looked at this tablecloth and appreciated even more this simple meal that took only a few hours to prepare. I was also thankful for the absence of alcohol-fueled crying, fighting, making up and other dramatic things that happened so often between the brothers during the holidays.

Kate asked about cooking in the toaster oven.  I'll start off by saying that this house came full of appliances (a selling point!) that were all about 30 years old (not a selling point!).  The tiny refrigerator smelled and leaked.  There was a rolling dishwasher and ancient microwave that I made the seller throw away.  The only appliance that's still here is the propane stove, and looking into the oven is a scary event!  I think mice lived there.  So I bought a toaster oven big enough to work for most things except bread, cookies and ... meat.  Since Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without turkey I bought the smallest turkey breast the store sells, six pounds worth.  It had bones and structure so that stuffing could fit in there, and altogether it fit into the toaster oven - barely.  I had to tilt it on its side to make it shorter, and since the toaster oven only goes to 50 minutes, I had to restart it three times in the two hours of cooking.  Thank goodness for oven bags and my meat thermometer!  The turkey and stuffing were MOIST, and cooked just right!  Yum.

So, why did I replace the refrigerator but not the stove?  Last year I was thinking that I'd eventually get a wind turbine and convert the entire house to electric.  Now I realize that even if I were to get a wind turbine (solar electric is more likely than wind at this point - fewer moving parts), it would still be smart to keep using the propane tank.  So yesterday evening I shopped for a new gas stove on  I picked the new guy out and may buy him in a few months.  A new stove is about the same price as my drum carder was, which is interesting.  For the money, I would have used the oven more than I've used the drum carder so far.

Here's the blueberry pie.  It's a variant on Mama Pea's recipe, except the bottom layer is a cream cheese mixture with sugar, milk, vanilla and crushed pineapple. I'm obviously a whipped cream newbie - I whipped this either too much or too little.  It still tasted good, but no peaks for me!  (Yes, I did read the newspaper at dinner.  I'm almost caught up on Wall Street Journals!  Unfortunately, they keep sending more, so I have this backlog of four that I can't get rid of....)


  1. Oh life in the Northeast!!

    My city place came with a rolling dishwasher, an ancient stove and a refrigerator that died two months later -- and an ancient washer and dryer. Threw out the dishwasher after finding a leak, and replaced it with a Maytag (that doesn't roll). So far, still have the ancient stove and washing machine, probably because I don't use them heavily. Just use the dryer for something to put the dehumidifier on...

    But you made me laugh because guess what I found when I went to check on my country place on Monday. Mice were living in the propane stove. Stupid me. I thought it was airtight, so I put boxes of food in there. (Now it's in the microwave.)

    What fun, eh?

    I picked out a propane stove at Sears too, over the summer, but then couldn't decide whether it would be better to get electric!! So I didn't do anything. That stove works fine, by the way, or did before it became a mouse house. But it has a propane pilot, which means it would be burning up gas even when it was off. (They don't make them that way anymore.)

    And back to your lovely spread -- sweet! I am envious of your pie making ability.

    I cheated. There's a great cheesecake place in Cambridge, NY, and I stopped to get one on Tuesday, on the way back from finding the mouse house in the country. Yum.


  2. Yeah - I didn't think the stove would be as wide-open as it is. Mice were coming up behind the stove until I put steel wool back there. Then they started to come up THROUGH the burners. So now that's where the cats hang out. I touch as little as possible on that stove!

  3. Your "spread" looks wonderful!

    I'm in the same situation regarding the oven. Mine hasn't worked for a few years and I've been using a little toaster oven too. It really isn't the same as a oven is it? lol

  4. My first stove was a used harvest gold number and the frig was one with the little icebox in the corner of the refrigerator part. Never could do much freezing, but I knew it would be replaced shortly when the no-existant kitchen was made over.
    Fast forward to another life another hubby, another house...Now I think of new cupboards and the appliances have all been replaced since I've been here 14 years. It doesn't seem to end...never a dull moment, I guess!!Always a project!

  5. I applaud you for "taking care of yourself" and making such a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Would I go through the trouble if I were alone? Dunno. But I hope so.

    Nice touch adding pineapple to the bottom layer of your blueberry pie. That sounds kinda good!