It dawned on me, as I can best recollect, that this was the first Thanksgiving I spent away from the family.
A bit morose, sure, but thankfully new, and old, friends here in Philadelphia came together to make the holiday one of friendship, fellowship and good tidings.
The Saturday before Thanksgiving, Lisa’s cohorts at UPenn held their own Thanksgiving celebration. Lisa was in charge of cooking the bird, which means I did it. That’s all right. I have plenty of free time.
The first lesson in roasting a turkey is call Dad. Dad has cooked the turkey every Thanksgiving, and has his method perfected. It is one of those things dads must be able to do, along with play catch and build a deck.
Dad’s recipe was short and sweet. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the bird. Stuff it loosely with old bread bits and chopped up onion. Lisa had the idea to put two bay leaves in with the stuffing. Bay leaves make everything taste better.
You smother the turkey in butter. Put it in the oven for 3 to 4 hours. Our turkey was 16 lbs., so I left it in for three hours and 45 minutes. And it is done, golden brown. Not quite as good as Mike McWilliams’ fried turkey, but still good enough for the girls I date.
The problem I had was our turkey wasn’t quite thawed when I put it in the oven, so the wings didn’t cook all the way through. When we got to the party (you haven’t experienced a true Thanksgiving until you take a turkey for a cab ride), we were able to put the turkey wings in the oven to cook a little longer.
Our turkey was devoured within minutes. I was able to find a few bites, and it wasn’t half bad.
I have the playing catch part down, now I just gotta learn how to properly use a tape measurer to build that deck.
On the actual day of Thanksgiving, I had planned to go watch the Philadelphia Ikea Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s not quite the New York City Macy’s parade, but a distant second. In fact, Philadelphia’s parade is the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in America, so they got that going for them.
The parade started at 8:30 a.m. I woke up at 10:30 a.m.
I missed the damn parade. But that is okay. I was sleeting pretty good outside. I caught the tail end of the parade on TV and the people looked pretty miserable.
I drank coffee in my pajamas and watched people shivering on TV. That is my idea of a good Thanksgiving morning.
An old friend Sarah moved from Iowa to Philadelphia a few years back to attend art school. She is now an art school graduate and an art teacher. She invited Lisa and I over for a traditional
I told Sarah we would bring the green bean casserole and a bottle of wine.
Unfortunately, I procrastinated in buying the ingredients until Thanksgiving Day.
This time I had to call Mom to get the recipe. Green bean casserole is just as easy as making a turkey. Just mix to cans of green beans, one can of cream of mushroom soup, half a can of fried onions and about half a cup of milk, and bake at 350 degrees for half an hour. Sprinkle the rest of the fried onions on top of the casserole and bake for another five minutes. Here I was thinking there was some fandangled secret.
Anyhow, our neighborhood was a ghost town on Thanksgiving Day. Normally the sidewalks are teeming with pedestrians and traffic is bumper to bumper. You could have driven a tank down Market Street and the only one to notice would be some bum who would have tried to wash the windshield.
I went to Old Nelson’s Market, which is open 24 hours a day. They had the green beans and the mushroom soup, but no fried onions. The Asian lady at the counter guffawed at me, saying, “Nobody is open on Thanksgiving Day!”
I know. Thank you for your kindness.
A block away was the CVS pharmacy, which is also open 24 hours. After searching high and low, and doing the watusi with some old lady who seemed to need to blankly stare at the exact same shelf I wanted to stare at, I found the fried onions. Eureka!
Hopes buoyant, I decided to search for a liquor store to buy a bottle of wine. Wine and spirits was closed, but Food and Friends, which was another six block walk (it was also raining), was open. Only they didn’t have wine, though they have a grand collection of imported beer. They also had green beans, cream of mushroom soup and fried onions. I could have started here and been done, but where is the fun in that?
I got home and made the green bean casserole, though I didn’t have the right pan size. I had to use a 9×9 square pan, which still worked.
We made it to Sarah’s a little late (we had the worst cabbie in Philadelphia), but she, her husband Allen and friend Zach had graciously waited and had a giant Thanksgiving feast waiting for us.
We weren’t with family, but we were able to spend a quaint evening reconnecting with old friends, meeting new friends and celebrating life.
Happy belated Thanksgiving!
Coming soon: our Black Friday Adventures.