I’m a little behind, only now posting about how my awesome Thanksgiving was. I enjoyed a long, relaxing morning of cooking. Friends came over and brought delicious food. We drank a lot of wine – a lot. And, aside from a little school work that morning, I focused on being present in my life.

It was wonderful, but then I had to jump back into the thick of school. I just finished up the term – all went well – and I’m back to you fine readers!

We saved the flight feathers from our butchered bird, cleaned them up, and used them as the centerpiece for the table. I still have them in a couple vases around the house and just can’t bring myself to throw them out. They’re too pretty! I even dusted off our bone china to make things extra fancy.

The turkey recipe was based on this one from Epicurious, which used lots of shallots, butter and herbs. The bird turned out beautifully. I have to admit it is hard getting used to non-industrial turkeys. This one was a heritage breed, so the meat was darker which made it almost look not quite done. The meat was richer, but also stringer from the texture of the birds moving around and exercising their muscles. And the skin seemed a lot thicker – not the kind that is fun to eat. But it probably added some nice richness to the bird as it melted into the meat while cooking.

We think of a good turkey being moist with fine grains, which mostly comes from redistricting their movement so muscles stay soft. I think next year I will opt for a bigger bird which may have some thicker mass. Our little girl was only 10 pounds, which seemed like the perfect amount for a small group.

The gravy was the absolute best part of this recipe. I have never had gravy so savory and rich tasting. I kept the turkey organs and neck simmering on the stove with an onion, celery tops and other miscellaneous vegetable scraps from the cooking. I just kept adding water when things got low and used the stock as needed.

We also made the delicious stuffed pumpkin recipe that we tried out a few weeks ago. This time we used a small pie pumpkin which was more than enough for a small group. It was just as delicious and impressive as the last time we made it.

In addition, we had mashed potatoes and a hazelnut and mushroom stuffing. Our friends brought some amazing dishes like a vanilla infused cranberry dressing, an autumn pear salad, yeast rolls made from scratch and this rich and decadent chocolate pecan pie. I couldn’t imagine a better line up of food.

I missed my family, but was grateful to spend four hours cooking at home instead of four hours in the car. School makes it pain to travel for the short holiday since it is so close to my final. The rest of the weekend was spent jamming on my design work. But for this day, I had a full glass of wine in my hand, good music playing, and really nice friends to laugh with. It made me very thankful to have a full life surrounding me, filled with loved ones and good food.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson