It's come and gone, and here we all are in recovery mode, with plenty to digest on all levels. I read lots of articles and blog posts in this last week about the murky and shameful historical origins of the holiday, and I think good citizenship demands being aware of those. I also think the opportunity to gather and be grateful is one worth hanging on to. I'm all ears if you want to weigh in on this one. In terms of less weighty lingering questions, I rank at the top of the list "what to do with the leftover consequences of a crucial miscommunication regarding mashed potatoes?" See below for the answer. My breezy Thanksgiving report: I am glad I brined the turkey, but sad I overcooked it (not before undercooking it first! I am nothing if not thorough). I am woefully sad about the gluten-free gingerbread recipe that snookered me into buying a $9 bag of weird flour that will languish in my freezer for eons. I am happy about my gravy, and about that ginger-carrot sauce I told you about (thank you, Marisa!).
The gingerbread misstep aside, in general the meal's successes belonged to the sweet table. I made some whoopie pies (more on those later) that were a hit. And my kiddos batted their contributions right out of the park.
First, the ever-popular and vastly underrated Zebra Cake, once the province of our oldest child and now bequeathed to her sister. I am sure there is a way to replicate it without buying a box of cookies and supporting Nabisco, and thanks to my mad Google skills, I have been led to what was under my nose all along. Next year! Meanwhile, she made it the standard way, to grand applause as usual (it is a staple of our holiday table):
The oldest and the youngest collaborated on some hedgehog cookies that will definitely make an appearance from here on out. Said one early adopter, "these are definitely in the top five of all desserts I have eaten in my life."
If you would like to make these yourself, and I urge you to consider it, head right over here for the recipe. We used toasted pecans in place of the walnuts, because pecans are vastly superior to walnuts in every way in our unhumble and unsolicited opinion, especially inasmuch as they are way more woodlandy in appearance than walnuts are. A chopstick with a pointy end makes a fine tool for painting facial features, if you plan to take action on this information.
The other culinary home run of the weekend comes courtesy of my sister, who pointed out, correctly, that the highest and best use of the leftover mashed potato is unquestionably what we have come to call the potato burger.
It's hard to give you something that resembles a recipe. The essentials are: re-mash the potatoes with an egg (per two cups of potato, say); a few tablespoons of finely grated parmesan or other dry, aged cheese; some minced aromatic (thyme was lingering around here, after making the turkey brine, but a case could be made for any other fresh herb, or a scallion, e.g.--whatever it is, about a tablespoon of it); and a tablespoon or two of something savory and pungent and exotic, like (in our case) capers, or (in our imaginations) ham or bacon, or preserved lemons or olives, or so forth. Depending on how seasoned your potatoes were to start with and how flavorful your additions have been, add a little fresh pepper and perhaps a little salt. Boost your holiday recovery with a quarter cup of flax meal, or don't--we made one batch each way, with no obvious differences.
Form patties, and fry them up in a well-seasoned skillet using a good amount of butter or butter and oil mixed, until nicely browned on each side.
I hope you all had a peaceful and plentiful holiday.
Finally, if you are Amanda or Melissa, please send me an email!