Thanksgiving was a joy, a symphony of smells in my tiny, steamy kitchen. "It's a matriarch's holiday," I thought to myself with probably a little too much smugness as I puttered from one kitchen surface to the next, the sole cook for my hungry little family. I had woken up that morning at four to feed Ainslie and found myself actually disappointed (for once) that the local(-ish, Juneau doesn't have a local news station) channel actually paid attention to the four-hour time difference between here and the East coast and scheduled the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade at 9am Pacific Time instead of Eastern. I would have to wait a few more hours for my favorite part of Thanksgiving. And wait (impatiently) I did, but soon enough Kip, Ainslie and I were sitting on the couch in our pajamas eating cinnamon rolls and critiquing (and I use that term loosely...it was more like Kip criticizing and me defending) the pre-parade entertainment. And the world was right.
For the first time ever, I made cranberry sauce from scratch. Why I thought it was going to be difficult, I have no idea. Turns out it was actually easier than opening the can of jellied sauce I'd bought just in case mine didn't work (and I'm not making that up, do you know how hard it is to be left handed and try to use a right handed can opener?). I had a few pears lying around that were about to go bad and conveniently found a recipe variation for cranberry sauce with pears and ginger, so I gave it a try. The result? Delish!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Pears and Ginger
1 bag fresh cranberries, picked through
2 ripe pears, cored peeled and diced
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
Combine the sugar, ginger and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to ensure the sugar and ginger dissolve. Add the cranberries and pears, stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Lean over the pot and take a good, deep sniff. Allow the mixture to simmer until the cranberries begin to pop (or until you begin to salivate, it happens around the same time), cook until slightly thickened then turn off heat. Cool and serve at room temperature if you can resist eating it until then.
It. smelled. divine.
Per the deal that Kip and I made on Thanksgiving Eve, as soon as the parade was over, he got to watch football. He took the opportunity to tutor Ainslie on the finer points of the game while I set to work in the kitchen.
Eventually, after six hours of cooking, one mid-afternoon phone call to Mom ("Well, when this morning did you put the turkey in the oven?" "I haven't yet" ::long pause:: "And when were you planning on eating?"), and three guests (including one on-duty officer who refused my appetizers but wanted to see the score of the Cowboys game) later, Kip and John (one of the aforementioned guests) stood over our turkey scratching their heads. They eventually figured out how to carve it about seven minutes before I dropped the crescent roll I'd been transferring to a basket and cried, "Oh no! We forgot to take a picture of Ainslie next to the turkey!" They decided that there had been greater tragedies in the world and set back to their task while I swore up and down that we couldn't forget to do it at Christmas.
Then came the inevitable silence for ten minutes as we all ate, followed by a group staring contest with all the dirty dishes. The dishes won big time, and they sat in dirty splendor on the counter all evening while Kip, Ainslie and I collapsed on the couch in a family tryptophan coma and the neighbors down the street lit a wood fire that made the entire neighborhood smell like home.