Hosting Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was this past Thursday in the states and there were a lot of firsts for me this time around. I was put in charge of hosing the meal for my family for the first time, so I made my first Turkey and my very first pie that didn’t involve a store bought crust. Yes, I’m almost 30 and I’d never made a turkey. So mark that one off the bucket list.

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Of everything I made, I am most proud of that pie. It turned out amazing. I used a combination of recipes from the Pioneer Woman and this one from Crazy for Crust. In the Pioneer Woman tutorial, she has a guest blogger Pam come in and give her the low down on making pie crust. She uses a combination of butter and leaf lard for her crusts and makes it sound like leaf lard is easy to find. Let me tell you, it is not. No one at any of the 5 grocery stores I went to had even heard of it. Turns out this is a specialty thing and the best way to get it is to be friendly with your local butcher. Too bad I can’t seem to find a local butcher in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Instead, I just substituted butter for the leaf lard – more of the classic butter only pie crust recipe you’ll find at Crazy for Crust with is a 2.5 cups of flour to 1 cup of butter ratio.

I was terrified during the process because my pie crust wasn’t looking at all like the pictures on the websites I referenced. It didn’t clump the same way, but I pressed on. When it came time to roll them out, I was worried that mine seemed a little too dry and the first one I rolled out cracked quite a bit. I did add a tiny bit more water to the 2nd one and it rolled out much better. The pie came out delicious. And, despite my terror, it was SO EASY. I followed the fruit suggestions from the Pioneer Woman tutorial. I have a feeling I’m going to be making a lot more pies in the future. I just need to get a dedicated pie pan.

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My other first was making a turkey. It came out better than I hoped and now that I’ve done it once, I know they’ll only come out better in the future. I brined the turkey following Alton Brown’s suggestions. I rubbed the turkey with butter instead of canola oil and added a bunch of seasonings to the outside. We also shoved lots of herbs and citrus under the skin. Tasty fellow.

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I got to use my nice china! I’ve got a tiny 4 person table, but we managed to squeeze all 6 people around comfortably.

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I inherited this blue willow set and the crystal goblets from my grandmother. Finally got to put them to use.

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I made sure to have fun with the dogs while I was stressing out. Watson is seriously the best selfie dog on the planet.

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Contributions from the whole family made this Thanksgiving just delicious. One of my family’s traditions, which I’ve learned is a little unique, is to make rice stuffing, also known as rice dressing or dirty rice. My mom’s family has Creole roots and you can see them peaking through with this dish. You can barely see it there on my plate next to the green beans and above the yams. It’s so moist and delicious. I’ve yet to taste a bread stuffing that’s as good.

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And, of course, there has to be a plan for all those Thanksgiving leftovers. I made a gigantic pot of soup yesterday and froze a whole bunch of it. It came out more stew-like than soup like. I think I let it boil too long with the lid off. I can always just add water or stock to the frozen bags when I reheat the soup later in the year. There’s a lot of flavor in what got cooked, so that shouldn’t affect the quality of the soup too much.

Did you celebrate Thanksgiving this week? What was the holiday like for you? If you’re not in the states, what holiday are you most looking forward to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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