Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Starting things off

... or how I begin to torture y'all for a few days.

Years ago when I decided that I had forgotten who I really was, I made one important decision. That I would start making my own traditions and would stop letting others dictate what I should be doing. The easiest of these was Thanksgiving.

When I was in college, I never came home for Thanksgiving. It seemed silly to pay for a plane ticket for a long weekend when I'd be going home in a couple of weeks for the much longer winter break. Besides by then, my mother was never home for Thanksgiving. And things were still pretty strained between me and my dad. I also argued that in the relative quiet around campus, it was easy to get a jump on studying for finals. By my junior year, I had started cooking the traditional meal for myself.

By the time that I returned to California after deciding to leave law school, I had spent at least six Thanksgivings completely on my own. Things were better with my dad and so each year he insisted that I show up. After a couple of years, I got tired of spending three to four hours on the road though. Because although things are now better between me and my dad, I am not particularly fond of my stepmother's family. Now I only go up for Christmas. But even when I was doing the drive, I began to miss having leftovers at home. I mean that is the best part of the holiday, in my opinion.

So I started cooking again. And by this time, I had acquired quite a few cookbooks and cooking magazines. Cranberry sauce from the can? Nope. I should make my own. Turkey? Nah, let's try a duck recipe. Makes much more sense for one person than a big ole turkey. And besides, I also get the opportunity to partake of one of my favorite pastimes -- list-making.

Now I spend the day at home alone. And I like it that way. I cook loads of food. I read some books. (And if I don't already have enough books around, I have been compiling yet another list of more stuff that I would like to read via Project Gutenberg.) Maybe knit a little. All in all, it is a stress-free day of relaxation for me. (Yes, cooking is relaxing.) And so this year, I decided to take the whole menu concept a little further. This year there will be appetizers and a soup course.

Blue Cheese and Carmelized Onion Squares.

Baked Oysters with Bacon and Leeks.

Pumpkin and Shrimp Bisque.

I made up the squares on Monday because I figured that they would keep fine. They did. Last night I made a small amount of the oysters to make sure they were as tasty as I thought they would be. I also made the soup but only cooked enough of the shrimp for tasting/photographic purposes. I liked all three but I think the oysters were my favorite. Probably because they contain two of my absolute favorite ingredients -- bacon and cheese.

Tonight will be work on side dishes, marinating meat, and dessert. Because there is always dessert.

And now another part of my tradition is that my aunt usually helps me to consume some of the leftovers on Friday. I know that this is something that I will continue to do for years to come. And maybe one day I'll get wild and crazy and stop being such a hermit and actually invite other folks over. But we don't want to get too crazy there. But if some of y'all are hungry and in the area over the weekend, let me know. I'll probably have some leftovers for you as well.

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