In the comedown of Thanksgiving, on the cusp of crazy December, we puttered around the kitchen of the house where Danny grew up, warming up with one more cup of coffee and assembling turkey and candied ham sandwiches whenever we got hungry. That is, whenever we pulled ourselves out from under two layers of down comforter. Plus wool socks for me.
But the brisk air (14 degrees one morning!) does a lot to set the scene for the holidays. Seasons are static in Miami, much like the humidity, and a break to the Midwest for a holiday instilled the Christmas spirit in me. Cool temperatures and a little snow on the ground make it more romantic, somehow. A visit to his hometown, visiting his old haunts, makes Danny more sentimental, too. It’s the most nostalgic time of the year.
So, Thanksgiving is next week. Flights are booked. Recipes are dog-eared. Friends and family are invited. My dad will celebrate his 50th birthday. What’s on your menu this year? Wait. Don’t answer that. Not yet. What I want to know, what I really need to know, is this: could you love a pumpkin by any other name?
The truth is I don’t remember seeing stuffing on the Thanksgiving table. We had turkey every year, and I know there was cranberry sauce. Potatoes, always. Mashed or scalloped and afloat between thick layers of butter and cheese. But stuffing? I can’t picture it and if it was on the table I’m not sure who in our family would’ve cooked it.
You may think, what the heck does this girl from Miami know? A girl from a city where they call it ‘Sangiving’ and the traditional American staples of this holiday might share a table with gallopinto, taquitos, and tres leches.
But I have my sources. A boy from Iowa and a copy of the classic Joy of Cooking, which was a high school graduation gift from his Michigan-born father. This well-known tome dedicates a couple pages to the topic of stuffing and offers a basic recipe with many variations. This Thanksgiving we’re heading to Iowa, which feels very much like the center of America, so I’m bringing a fairly traditional stuffing recipe with me.
Rapp Brewing, everyone’s new favorite Tampa Bay brewery, makes a chocolate-hazelnut porter that I can’t get out of my head. The guys running the show at the tasting room are some of the friendliest I’ve met; they didn’t even kick us out when our card game got probably way too loud. They offer 20 rotating beers on tap, and this chocolate-hazelnut porter caught my eye but I wondered if it’d be too sweet. This being our first trip to Rapp, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.
A couple sips later and I couldn’t shut up about the porter. It tasted so clearly of dark chocolate, pumped up by the flavor of hazelnut. The beer was balanced rather than cloying. I regret not ordering a second. I can’t get this beer out of my head, and I can’t seem to get my hands on it either.
There are two large jars of dill pickles in my fridge, at the ready, for rounds of pickle shots. A remnant of an early summer thing. At least I think that’s why Danny got the jars.
But until we break out the vodka for a round or two (it’s never just one, is it?), well, we’ve also got these quick pickled peppers. We’ve been piling them high onto sandwiches with bread slathered in creamy goat cheese or tossing a handful into a salad.
I’m on a mason jar bender, using them for my morning iced coffee (until this growler gives out) or to carry snacks to the office. And I want my fridge to be filled with jars of homemade stuff. We’re on our way with these pickled peppers, and I’d like to add bourbon pickled jalapeños soon, thanks to this book. What are your favorite vegetables or fruits for pickling? There are also a lot of ideas in this book.
p.s. we finished the first jar of these pickled peppers and are left with the brine… I’m thinking it could contribute to a cocktail. What do you think?