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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

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The pumpkin is cooked and the chestnuts are peeled; the turkey is dry brining in the fridge; I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving!
It’s my favorite holiday – loved ones around the table, good food atop it, and a chance to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for.
In my family, we are all about chestnuts in our stuffing. Unfortunately, coaxing said chestnuts out of their shells can be a painful experience. Just the word “chestnut” is enough to remind me of the burned fingertips and that horrible feeling I get when the fuzzy skin stabs me under my nails. Ugh. Sharp as knives. Well, one thing I remember about last year is that my mom discovered an amazing new way to peel chestnuts. There is a quick little video here but no audio and not much explanation so this is what I did:
1. Cut the chestnuts in half with my biggest sharpest kitchen knife. While bringing a pot of water to a rolling boil.
2. In batches, parboiled the chestnuts for two minutes.
3. Used pliers to squeeze the chestnuts out if their shells.
It is worth looking at the video to get a sense of what you need to do (it is less than a minute long).
4. Finished cooking the chestnuts in the oven.
It was so easy and, most importantly, painless!

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With school back in session for a few months now, we have settled into the routine of moving between the garden and the city. This month, I am in my city kitchen, not our outdoor garden kitchen. In this kitchen, there is …
A tea cozy

Before I lived with chickens, I used to think they were cute. I guess I may have been influenced by the histrionic mother hens in the cartoons, but I got warm feelings when I thought about them. Then we got chickens and I saw what they were capable of. Before long, I came to view them as dinosaurs in disguise. I won’t go into details, but let me just say that it was a few years before any chick hatched in our coops lived much past the age of a month or two. Those motherly, nurturing cartoon hens weren’t real!! Not to mention the horrific damage they can inflict upon the vegetables with their tireless scratching.
I still like the way chickens look, though, and I am a sucker for chicken shaped things (I have chicken shaped egg cups that I find very satisfying to set upon the table), so when I saw this tea cozy I was thrilled. Never mind that it is hard to find a proper tea cozy anywhere these days, this is a cozy with some serious personality. And when I am away from the garden, I still have a chicken at the breakfast table — and this one is very well behaved.

Lebanese Coffee

Where on the planet Earth could I have possibly found such a thing? Why, in Abu Dhabi! A few years back, some dear friends of mine moved from Istanbul to Abu Dhabi. I saw them again on their visits back to Turkey, but we always talked about me and the boys going there (Ali doesn’t leave the garden). It was just talk for a long time, until one day Tuba and I were talking and suddenly it was time; I found myself booking actual tickets to visit her and her family. Her daughter, Ella, is Baki’s very first friend and in spite of her being almost 3 years older than him, they remain fast friends. And Ted is a fellow gardener. Plus, Tuba and Ted love to eat and cook (and do both well), which makes them excellent company.
We had a wonderful time there, catching up on the chats and coffees that we had come to miss and in the mean time taking in a bit of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In the glittering malls, it was easy to forget where in the world we were. Of course, in a mall you expect to see the same stores that you recognize from every other mall you’ve ever been to, but in the Dubai Mall there were stores from so many different countries that it was like the whole world was there. I was reminded of Hong Kong, where it sometimes felt that you could traverse the entire city by going from one mall to another, and your feet would never touch the ground.
The evening that Tuba and I spent in downtown Abu Dhabi, then, was an interesting change. After an exhilarating romp through Lulu Supermarket (I love to visit markets and supermarkets when I travel), she took me to a Lebanese restaurant among dated looking high rise buildings. The place was doing a roaring business,and no wonder — the food was great. Afterwards, we went next door to buy coffee at the Lebanese Roasters. Tuba marched me straight to the back of the store where a row of coffee grinders was rattling away and the rich smell of the coffee filled the air. It is lovely, dark coffee, roasted until it is just this side of black. And in the store, with its white paneled ceilings and fluorescent lights that looked like standard issue 70s office building decor, its wooden drawers with glass window filled with nuts, the steel shelves stacked tightly with tea and the linoleum underfoot, I felt as if my feet were touching the ground at last.

Banana Pink Jumbo

There is always something from the garden in the kitchen and this being November and all, naturally there is a squash. I got the seeds for this squash, named Banana Pink Jumbo from Territorial Seeds the year before last, but the seedlings came to a bad end last year. This year though, we had two plants that flourished at the feet of some tomatoes and today I baked one in order to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. (I guess most pumpkin pies in the US aren’t made of pumpkins at all; I read somewhere that Libby’s canned pumpkin is made of butternut squash.)
The minute I cut the Banana open, I could smell its kinship to melons. There was such a sweet, fresh smell to it, and the raw flesh was lovely, crunchy, and just slightly sweet. I set aside a wedge of it to make a pumpkin cake that I read about at Rachel Eats (it’s cooling right now and I can’t wait to have it with tea tomorrow morning).
And that’s what’s happening in the kitchen right now. I hope that everyone out there who will be celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday has a good one, with plenty of leftovers for sandwiches the next day.

If you liked peeking into my kitchen, you ought to check out some of the other blogging kitchens out there. Celia at <a href=”http://figjamandlimecordial.com/in-my-kitchen/”>Fig Jam and Lime Cordial</a> has a list of them all!

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