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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Short Long Weekend

Another easy, relaxed Thanksgiving here at the Chalmerses' house; we pretty much made what we'd had last year in Florida because it was all so good then, and didn't knock ourselves out trying to make seven sweets and seven sours or anything like that. We even forwent the stuffing! Mr. Chalmers brined a turkey breast overnight, then smoked it in the backyard while the bug played in her jumper nearby. I made an apple-ginger cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, a lemon buttermilk pie with a lard-and-butter crust, sourdough bread (which was fine but not very sour), the fresh cranberry relish my mom has been making every Thanksgiving for a decade and a half because it goes so well with venison (even better with turkey, and still better with smoked turkey), some snap peas, and roasted acorn and butternut squash with random spices (cayenne, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt). Our friend Jon came by in the evening with a cranberry crumble, and we played dominoes and stayed up late—late for us, anyway.

My old mixer was put through its paces again this year with the three-layer cake batter and a big batch of thick icing. It did just fine.

I don't know why I insist on using 8-inch pans for cake recipes that call for 9-inch. I do kind of like how tall and unwieldy the cake is, though.

Here's the pastry dough I was so excited to try. I used a little more than half leaf lard and the rest butter, and a bit more salt than usual. It tasted great, I think, and was exceptionally easy to work with; baked up, it was sturdy and flaky but not nearly as tender as all- or part-shortening crusts I've made.

That pile of crumb topping in the foreground is John's crumble.

My mom sent a package with more bibs, and two bags full of zwieback for the bug.

We've been going on little daytrips. Friday we took the scenic route to and from Augusta, and yesterday we went to Decatur and spent a couple hours at Your Dekalb Farmer's Market, where we had lunch and bought, among other things, some tiny quail and a couple of bream (bluegill), which we grilled with lemon and basil and garlic and had for supper with the best French bread ever (more on the latter later).

The bug, possibly because of all the fun things she's been getting to do this weekend, has been sleeping very well. She slept from six last night until six this morning—straight through. Yes, twelve hours straight. (And she's napping now!) Mr. Chalmers says he heard her make a few whimpering sounds at one point when he was up anyway, but it wasn't enough to wake me up and that's what really matters. And of course because of all this wonderful sleep she's been in excellent spirits, as have we all. Even Cooper and Wagner are getting along better.


Deborah said...

I totally screwed up my pie crusts. They were much too flaky and made a huge mess whenever I moved them, the sides practically disintegrating like crust dust! I have no clue what I did wrong, I was practically comatose when I made them...

Heidi said...

I only contributed cranberry relish this year, but my mom's pumpkin pie had ground-up zwieback for the crust! It was good.

Mary Jessica said...

Wow, what a spread. So much work! I am in awe of the three-story cake. I think I would like to make a multi-story cake someday; I never have.
Alas, Tommy's all-night-sleep-jam was apparently a one-time affair. Last night, he was up every 2 hours. Oh well. Surprisingly, I don't think I feel more or less tired with any amount of sleep: just the same amount of tiredness, I think.
Hope to see you soon!