With less than 24 hours to go before the locusts descend, how best to protect the crops? Prayer is always an option for some: “Oh, Great One, smite mine enemy!” Lacking the religion gene, however, my calls sound hollow and I am left with other plans. You pray, go ahead, see what it gets you. Talk about gods, talk about underachievers. Or maybe He has ADHD and is simply too distracted to follow through.
Anyhow, The Big Holiday: Tips, plans, remedies.
First: Get up early and take a long walk, preferably with a dog, and think of all the things you have to be thankful for. That ought to get you down the first few steps. If need be, think of all the things you don’t have: Like incurable disease, etc.
Back after a loop around the block, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat up a big pot under high flame and put in as much butter as you can stand. Pretend you’re on Death Row and this is your last meal as you add the butter. That should loosen things up. Chop a couple of red onions. Throw them in the pot. Chop up three celery sticks. Throw them in, too. Did I mention making corn bread the night before? Make corn bread the night before. Crumble up about a ton of that and toss it in the pot. Add six raw eggs, lots of salt and black pepper, mix. Stand back and let it cool.
Take two birds out of the fridge. Don’t wash away the blood. The blood adds flavor. Ask Jason Stackhouse. Anyway, stuff the birds. If you want sausage stuffing, too, you’ll have fried some up by now. Take half of the cornbread stuffing and add to the ground sausage meat. Once birds are stuffed, take a stick of butter per bird and place squares of it all over: Between wing and breast, under skin, you get the idea. Salt and pepper the suckers. Cover birds with cheesecloth and throw them in the oven.
Sides: Baby Brussel sprouts, squash, Japanese pumpkins, eggplant, etc. Cook them like this, respectively: Poach in butter; roast with olive oil; roast with olive oil; and, roast and then chop up with mustard, olive oil, and garlic.
About four hours later, besotted, remove cheesecloth and crank the heat up to about 475 or so. Skin will crisp. In 35-45 minutes, remove birds from oven and cool before slicing. Add salt to taste. Chop up fresh sage and rosemary and sprinkle over the birds so that it looks pretty. Let’s hope, too, that your spouse has made gravy. Serve the gravy on the side.
The whole thing, except for the time in the oven, should take no more than 30 minutes. If it takes more time than that, you are doing something wrong. Dreadfully wrong. Seriously. And you know what? That is really sad.
Frankly? Frankly, it takes more time to set up and clean up than it does to cook a Thanksgiving meal. The reason this meal is so popular across this great country of ours is–here’s the secret–it takes no time or skill whatsoever. Hey, it’s harder to make a good pasta dish, a good fish dish, or a great salad than it is to roast a couple of turkeys with stuffing. This meal started at least as early as 1621, maybe even earlier. In terms of technique, we’re talking The Dark Ages. A caveman could do it.
And another thing: It brings out the kitsch in so many. The sermonizing, the faux introspection, the cues to be real. Why not just eat?
About besotting: Blood Mary’s, any wine under $10, and gin for the hardcore folks. The trick here is titration: Serving precisely the right amount needed to numb and silence the whack job’s in the group, but not enough to push them over the edge. You’ll know you’ve scored a home run when everyone over 40 is asleep in front of the fire and the wise crackers who are younger have slipped out the door to find the parties, but not before cleaning up. I mean, hello, does this look like a hotel?
After we get to hear:
Guest X’s philosophy of music and hypnosis…and all other tales of books, the weather, sports, and pets…the spell will have to be broken in time for pies.
Pecan, pumpkin, sour cherry.
Is this a great holiday or what?
Now as for remedies: Chinatown is a surefire option. I’m not saying you should go, but it’s there if you need it.