This one in particular, it’s all about getting together with family, either the blood relation kind or the one you build yourself, eating things we don’t normally eat at all. To excess. Nothing exceeds like excess. Too much is never enough. Anyway. This year, I have no family within reach, either relatives (they’re all far away) or the family I chose to build. And so I celebrate alone, with a cat who’s sleeping contented in his corner in the kitchen where it’s nice and warm. He was fed at dawn, so he’s happy for the time being.
Some weeks ago I settled on the plan of roasting for myself a Cornish game hen, which is about the right size for one person, with minimal to no leftovers. There’s an apple-sage-sausage stuffing toxicfur liked to make, and so (with the aid of her recipe and Cooks Illustrated) I’ll attempt to do that. And I have some parsnips and carrots and potatoes and sweet potatoes which might find their way into the roasting pan.
I also made a roasted pumpkin with cranberries and a sage brown sugar butter glaze. I got the recipe from the Boston Globe Magazine a few weeks ago. Since the landlady in Vermont gave me a pumpkin when I left, I put that together weekend before last, froze some, and put the rest in the fridge. I’ll warm that up. The first serving was tasty. I also made the cranberry sauce I do every year, the recipe (again from the Boston Globe Magazine) that calls for a pomegranate (half juiced, half included as whole berries for their crunch), a tangerine, and minced fresh ginger root.
The joke when we moved in together was that if I was unsure about whatever she’d cooked, I’d bring cranberry sauce to the table to go with it. That’s not entirely fair, but I do like cranberry sauce.
Right now (nearly ten in the morning) the bird is brining in the fridge, the bread cubes have been toasted in the oven, and in an hour or so I’ll put together the stuffing and put the bird in the oven.
And in the midst of all the cooking and the eating, I’ll be carefully trying not to think about the people who aren’t here. I’m sure I could have pried an invitation out of someone, and by the time friends began to realize I’m alone this year, I had already bought things for my dinner. But it’s a time for families to be together. Which leaves me, here, alone, carefully not thinking about all this.
Not thinking about Simon, the cat who lost his battle with congestive heart failure the day after Thanksgiving in 2007, three years ago now. Or the others, feline, canine, human, who are no longer living here. The human, mercifully, very much alive but elsewhere, with many of the critters.
In some ways, it’s like hunkering down for a storm, though the weather is fine for this time of year. The day is much like any other, except for the unrealistic expectations we bring to it. I will be here, hiding from the blizzard that is entirely within my own head.
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