Thanksgiving was four days ago and I’ve avoided the hollowed out 20-pound turkey carcass waiting in the mudroom littered with pie crumbs. Others went to the trouble of picking off the extra meat before packing it in a stockpot to set on the stove the next day to make stock for future pots of turkey soup. As a non-meat eater, I tend to let turkey clean up slide.
More than a little. I will outright ignore the once edible now science project as I slip my shoes on and off next to it. That’s exactly what happened. The fridge was already stuffed with leftovers so the turkey pot stayed out with the pies. The turkey stayed, the pies disappeared.
My mister cleaned and prepped the still frozen bird with a lemon sage-butter rub while I wrestled the stiff turkey legs and bound them with string, the wings wouldn’t budge enough to tuck them in. We let it rest an hour before setting it to roast.
It’s not as if we had a big gathering this year, seven total. I barely stopped to eat during the two-day kitchen marathon. I sipped wine or bourbon, depending on the dish, and cooked straight through. I made fresh pomegranate juice and didn’t get the spritzer to the table in time.
My grandmother made the whole day look effortless as if she walked off The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet T.V. set. She wore a dress, heals, and lipstick. She served drinks and appetizers and brought out the fine china. She sliced and plated jarred pickles, canned cranberry sauce, and molded jello salads. Platters of cheese and olives, warm clover rolls, buttery mashed potatoes. All to the tune of family chatter.
I drank and sweat and turned up the crazy mixed-up playlist (Beethoven, The Birthday Party, Robert Johnson…) and didn’t dance quite enough as I cooked straight through. I wore blue striped pajamas, house shoes, and chapstick to dinner.
Yet, in some ways Thanksgiving is simpler than Grandma’s or Harriet’s day. One of the many things to be thankful for. We’re more relaxed at the table. The feast is larger but still has a minimal appeal with three candles, everyday dishes and flatware, and clementines as decoration. We come to the table as we are. Messy, disheveled, ironed, polished. Water or wine in glasses in hand. Napkins sprawled out. Aprons tied on. This is Thanksgiving these days.
We passed around cups of butternut squash soup with rosemary spelt biscuits followed by plates of lemony brussels sprouts, browned turnips, roasted green beans, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, herb stuffing, lemon-sage turkey, gravy. Then pie. Maple walnut, pecan, apple, pumpkin. With whipped cream.
After the dishes were washed and put away, I remembered the minty-lime pomegranate spritzer that didn’t make it to the table. Fresh pomegranate juice, honey syrup, lime, mint, seltzer water. You could add a shot of vodka to the lime and sugar rimmed glass or drink it as is. Either way is good. It was another perfectly imperfect holiday dinner.
As for managing what’s left of the bird, I’m ready to bag it. There’s always next year.
Minty-Lime Pomegranate Spritzer
Yield 1 quart (4 cups)
1 cup fresh pomegranate juice (2 pomegranates)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 lime (divided)
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
2 ½ cups sparkling water
fresh mint leaves
optional: serve the spritzer in glasses rubbed with fresh lime then dipped in sugar
Cut the fruit in half with a sharp knife then cut each half into quarters. Place the pieces in a bowl of water (to help loosen the seeds from the white membrane). One at a time, break each piece apart, fold the skin side of the pieces inside which will loosen up the membranes, and scoop the seeds in the bowl of water. Discard (or compost) the membrane and skin that float to the top, collect the seeds in a strainer, and pick out any remaining bits of membrane.
Process the seeds in a blender or food processor then strain the juice through a fine-mesh strainer.
Dissolve the raw honey in water in a small saucepan over low heat. Let the syrup cool. In a quart-size jar, combine the honey syrup, pomegranate juice, mint leaves, and sparkling water.
Cut the lime in half. Juice half the lime, use other half to sugar the serving glasses.
To serve, pour sugar on a small plate. Rub each serving glass with lime. Dip the glass in sugar. Pour the pomegranate juice mixture in each glass. Garnish with extra mint leaves and a small pour of lime juice, to taste.