This weekend I traveled home for Jones Thanksgiving. I call it that because for the past few years, my mother has insisted that we have it a few weeks early to spare relatives the holiday traffic.
Read on for a photo gallery!
As I recall, it began one year when everyone’s schedule left only one early weekend free in November. So, we went for it. The holiday police are never going to find out that we’ve roasted a bird, concocted some cranberry sauce and made pumpkin pie just a little early, and we’re all just as thankful to slip into a turkey-induced coma after the meal.
I used to really get put through the ringer doing all the prep work in the kitchen. Still in pajamas to spare my good clothes from smears and splatters (but with clean hands, of course!), I’d sit down to a pile of assorted produce. Moving from my seat meant there was a risk of getting in the way of the hustle and bustle, so I usually stayed put and chopped, peeled, sliced and diced. Ronco approached me about an infomercial deal, but I declined.
Now that I’m more adept in the kitchen, mother gets the turkey in the oven and we divy up the tasks required to prep the oh-so-many sides. The tag team effort means that as the bird comes out, about 6 or 7 casserole dishes get crammed in and the remaining 40 or so minutes is used to set the table and carve the bird.
This year, I captured as much of the kitchen magic as I dared with my new camera. I’m still getting the hang of it but I hope you enjoy the pictures. In the meantime I’ll work on snagging some of my mom’s recipes before I have to leave on Sunday.
Here’s what you’re looking at: cornbread (bottom left), gravy (bottom right), cheesy mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, “company corn,” a heaping plate of turkey, cheddar vegetable medley, stuffing and the hands of my very hungry brother, Patrick.
Meet Merry Jones. She is relatively camera shy, especially when she’s trying to blitz through a menu’s worth of casseroles and sides. That’s her “This is nice dear, but we’re in a race against time” look. I’ve been told I have a similar one.
The revered stand mixer! I got to break it out while whipping up the sweet potatoes for a casserole.
Here she is, chopping away at some red potatoes for the cheesy oven-baked mashed potatoes with scallions and sour cream.
Stuffing, pre-sausage. My first task for the day. The onions were supposed to all go in with the sausage to sweat for 10 minutes, but a slight miscommunication left some unsweated. It didn’t harm the dish at all though.
Remember “Fat man in a little coat” from “Black Sheep”? Well, I sang a special rendition until my mom handed over a bigger frying pan. Something like – “TOO MUCH SAUSAGE IN THIS LIIIITLE PAN!”
I finally negotiated an upgrade to a larger pan, despite the impact this would have on the growing pile of dirty dishes.
Here we’ve got cranberries, a little water, lots of sugar, ginger and nutmeg. Can’t quite remember the other spices, but it smelled heavenly.
Still a little too blood red for my taste.
Now THAT looks more like cranberry sauce.
The stuffing finally came together, despite some tribulations. I kept snacking on it.
Mushrooms, squash, broccoli, cauliflower in my homemade cheddar sauce and Italian flavored panko breadcrumbs. The panko was my idea.
Corn, onions and celery. This later also got some sour cream and cream of something soup added into it.
The bane of my poor paring knife. Sweet potatoes, for all their deliciousness, are a PAIN to peel and chop.
We went on a hunt to find the perfect brownie pan for these “brownie cookies.”