This time of year makes me think of her.
It was Halloween night, a few years ago, and it was raining. Rain on Halloween is a sad sound. I remember thinking that as I sat at the kitchen table. It was late and Chloe and Harris were asleep- it had been a hard day. All the pressure and strain of Halloween had broken them down by the joints and not even their bright orange pails filled with candy were a comfort by the time night fell. I sat at the table and sorted through the load of sweets on the table. There would be noticeably less candy in the morning, a few into my pocket, the rest into the trash, and I hoped they wouldn’t notice.
On other nights, I might have the radio on but holidays were different. On holidays there was something about the silence that felt right, it felt like something I deserved. I can remember what I wore, how the skirt pinched at my waist and the hem brushed against my leg and made me want to scream. I sat at the table with clenched fists, a pad of paper before me, the torrent of things left to do, left undone, stuck inside me, bottlenecked.
She must’ve come into the kitchen for some water. I don’t remember the reason. All I know is I heard her shuffle in and pause and knew that she stared at me, my grandmother, in her robe and slippers. I would’ve wondered if she recognized me at the table, perhaps I would’ve froze, not wanting the ache of her forgetting, not able to bear it on top of everything else.
But instead, she moved toward me and placed a hand over my fist, her skin like paper, and she leaned down and felt her lips on my forehead. “Just start with one thing,” she murmured and when I looked up at her, she nodded to the pad of paper. She had never shown me such affection before. I wondered who she thought I was, in that moment. I remember that I didn’t care.
Thanksgiving is the best. You know that, right? We’re all in agreement on that point? Good. I figured you would. Family, gratitude, football and an epic meal. I cannot wait. And yes, okay, it makes me a little sappy. The stories around here are going to be taking a wide left turn from spooky-ville. I can’t help it! There are lists to make and food magazines to flip through and old episodes of Nigella to watch (and promptly ignore half of the recipes because they’re a little weird) and thick socks to wear and travel plans… LET’S DO THIS.
Nicole’s review of Multicultural Stuffing: “I’m not sure if I’m going to use this stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving; it was good but not as good as the one we’ve used in the past. I added some salt & some cranberries afterwards and it was better- it would be good with crispy, salty bacon.” (I mean, everything is better with crispy, salty bacon.)
The SKS Thanksgiving recipe collection
Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows | Butternut Squash Soup | Sugar and Spice Cocktail Nuts | No Knead Dinner Rolls | Apple Crumb Pie | Mad Easy Chocolate Pecan Pies | Apple Crisp | Almond Crunch Pumpkin Cheesecake
Timing Note: This recipe recommends that you take a loaf of challah bread, cube it, and set it out to dry for 2-3 days
7 Tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon of sesame oil
3 Small, yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2-7 Cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Bunch of celery, ribs separated and chopped
1/2 Pound of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps diced
One 1-lb loaf of challah bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and set out to let dry for 2-3 days
1 and 1/2 Cups of jarred, peeled roasted chestnuts, diced
1 Cup of canned water chestnuts, drained and diced
1-2 Tablespoon of sesame seeds, toasted
4 Teaspoon of sweet paprika
1 Egg, lightly beaten
Leaves from 1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 Teaspoon of chopped leaves of one fresh herb or a mixture (thyme, oregano, savory, tarragon and basil
1/2 – 1 Cup of chicken stock, warmed
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Place a large skillet over medium heat and heat 6 tablespoons of the butter and sesame oil.
3. Add onions, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft (about 8 minutes).
4. Increase heat to medium-high, add celery and cook, stirring often, until celery is softened (about 10 minutes).
5. Add mushrooms and cook until most of mushroom’s liquid has evaporated (about 3 minutes).
6. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl, add challah cubes, and toss with a kitchen spoon until well-combined.
7. Add chestnuts, water chestnuts, sesame seeds, paprika, egg, parsley and fresh herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper, toss well.
8. Set 4-5 cups of the stuffing aside (if stuffing the turkey). Mix in just enough warm stock to stuffing in bowl to make it moist but not dense and packed together.
9. Grease a medium baking dish with remaining butter. Spoon stuffing into dish, cover with heavy-duty foil and bake until hot (about 30 minutes).
10. Uncover baking dish and bake until golden on top (about 15 minutes more). Garnish with parsley.