Thanksgiving Day

It is one of my greatest pleasures to host 
Thanksgiving Dinner 
in my home year after year.

Here is my brother Don at the outside bar.
Don, Kristy and the kids travel here to LA from Chicago.

Wendy, Jett, Mom, Stone and Lisa in the backyard.
Wendy is from Scottsdale, Arizona.
Mom lives in Santa Barbara, California.
Lisa is from Germany.

Getting ready to serve dinner, buffet style.
Appetizers are on the counter.

Wendy wrote the menu for me on a platter. 
Very artistic! 

Lil' Smokies, because everyone likes 'em, especially the kids. 
They disappear every year. Haha.

Steve and his son, Kyle

26 Pounder.

My "Do Nothing" recipe for cooking a turkey:
1. Loosely stuff the cavity with roughly chopped onions, carrots, and celery, lots of butter and salt and pepper.
2. Rub the entire outside of the bird with soft butter and salt and pepper.
3. Put more roughly chopped onions, carrots and celery in the bottom of the roasting pan with enough chicken stock so that the pan does not dry out.
4. Roast at 400° for the first 45 minutes, then at 325° for a total of about 5 hours. Lower the heat to 300° if it is cooking too fast. Leave the bird alone, don't baste, don't cover, just "do nothing" and then marvel at the beautiful bird when it reaches 165 degree internal temperature. Use a remote thermometer to monitor the temperature.
5. Remove from oven and let it rest. 
6. Have a Skin Party.

I believe the secret is to start with a great turkey. This is a fresh Diestel Turkey Ranch Premium Range Grown Broad Breasted Young Hen Turkey.

Tom makes canned cranberry sauce look gourmet.
I had an idea to make a cranberry gelée, but ran out of time.
Tom improvised for me.
I love it!

Tom's Sushi-style (ahi) Cranberry Gelée.

Getting ready for our tradition: THE SKIN PARTY

I guess that skin-lovers will like this ritual, others may cringe. But hey, this is all family and the best of friends. So we can pick the skin together. Nice crispy skin, help yourself! Don't be shy!

Mom and Chip kick off the Skin Party.

Stone and Don. 
I think this is the first time Stone participated in the Skin Party.

Mom, Kyle, Stone, Tom, and Lisa

During the Skin Party, I make the gravy.

Once we finish the Skin Party, Chip carves the turkey. Kyle is stirring the creamed corn and Linda and Tom are heating the mashed potatoes.

Pat's heavenly popovers (my personal favorite).
They are also great for breakfast the next day, with a cup of coffee. 
Right, Mom?

Mushroom, Leek, Sage Stuffing
I make it with Ciabatta Bread.

Chip serves gravy to Mom.

The Feast!
Red roses from my garden.

Stone makes the place cards the day before.

Gratitude Sharing

We put a place card at every seat at the table and scatter some pens about. During the beginning of the meal everyone is encouraged to write on their card the things they are grateful for this year. We save these cards so friends and family that have been coming to Thanksgiving at my home now have several cards at their setting. It is fun and poignant and sometimes sad to read what we were grateful for in past years. We read our current card out loud and some from the past. We also cherish the cards that have been written by those who are no longer with us.

Gratitude Old and New

"I am grateful to have two nephews and the opportunity to cook with them."

"I am thankful for everything my parents have done for me."

"I am thankful for all the experiences this year. I thank my family and my best friends for all the support they give me, for spending beautiful days with them and for all the love they give me. And I want to thank Kristy, Don, Stone, and Jett for being part of their family, sharing their American-way-of-life, and for giving me the best year of my life. I love you all. Thank you."

"Here's to a healthy 2010."

"I am thankful for my family and friends. I am also thankful that my college applications are almost done. "

"The freedom we have."

"Good friends."

"Good health and old age."

"Having exciting happy moments, lots of them, with my family."

"I'm grateful for my family and friends."

"I am grateful for my lovely daughter-in-law."

"I'm grateful for my job and my life."

"We are thankful for fresh air from the ocean, good earth to grow vegetables, clean water for seafood, and friends to share with."

"I am thankful right now to be sitting among all these lovely people."

"Great food!"

"Thank you for yesterday, today, and tomorrow."

"I am thankful for God."

"I am thankful for this great opportunity to get to know a different country and new people and to be part of a traditional Thanksgiving in America."

"I am thankful to be able to watch the kids grow."

"I am thankful for the lives we live and all our loving friends and kin."

A Thanksgiving Poem

Thanks to all for being so dear
And I hope to see you again next year.

The same faces have again appeared
Along with some new ones which we cheer.
With our friends and family we remain very close
As we celebrate Thanksgiving
With those we love the most.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Later that night, Tom and Jett with Wilson.

Thanksgiving Day Humor: My brother-in-law once shared with us about a year in the past when he was reluctant to eat the Thanksgiving turkey because there were two necks in the cavity. He assumed it was a two-headed bird.