Thanksgiving At Boo Manor

October rolled on surprisingly quickly, leaving us on the verge of our very first Thanksgiving in Boo Manor. Of course, this requires food. And wine. And food. And did I mention pumpkin pie?

Three pie pumpkins await their fate. The knife is admittedly gratuitous.

Three pie pumpkins await their fate. The knife is admittedly gratuitous.

Some years ago, when we last lived in Ontario, Dianne and I had been out in Bayfield for a long weekend, and driving back through Seaforth we passed a little kid selling pumpkins. Pie pumpkins. Wee, little bundles of orange goodness. It was an enjoyable experience pulling over in a (rented) Lincoln Town Car, popping the trunk, giving him a couple of twenties and saying “We’ll take the lot.” The look on his face was priceless. And we had a lot of pumpkin that year. In fact, it lasted for about two years, if I’m completely honest.

Pie remnants. Or, if you prefer, the pre-measured makings of eight pies.

Pie remnants. Or, if you prefer, the pre-measured makings of eight pies.

This year, I’m pleased to say that I’ve learned restraint. Well, sort of. Out for groceries, I stopped at the Woodstock farmers market for some baking pumpkin, and picked up three of them. Which seemed entirely reasonable and manageable. Except either the pumpkins have grown, or I’m not remembering well how much a pie pumpkin actually produces.

This used to be a rosemary bush. Well, it still is a rosemary bush, if you want to be technical about it.

This used to be a rosemary bush. Well, it still is a rosemary bush, if you want to be technical about it.

Now, if you’re wondering how to actually do this, it’s achingly, brainlessly simple to do. Take a pie pumpkin, wrench off the stem, cleave it in half and scoop out the stringy pulp and seeds (an ice cream scoop works best for this, in my humble opinion). Place the two halves face down on a cookie sheet, and roast in a 350˚ oven for about an hour (or until it gets ridiculously soft and gooey and the skin is starting to brown). Scoop out the remaining pulp (or alternatively peal away the skin; same net effect) and puree it in a food processor. Bam. Fresh, homemade pumpkin. Which beats canned pumpkin hands down, in part because canned pumpkin is usually actually some form of squash.

When dismembered, it yielded a surprisingly small—yet adequate—supply of rosemary.

When dismembered, it yielded a surprisingly small—yet adequate—supply of rosemary.

Anyway, the net result was that my three pumpkins gave up sufficient yummy goodness to make eight pies (which I subsequently put pre-measured in small freezer bags and, well, froze; it last nearly forever).

Donald and Dianne tackle veggies and smashed taters.

Donald and Dianne tackle veggies and smashed taters.

Thanksgiving, of course, also involves turkey. And, at least the way I do it, this also involves a stupid amount of herbs. Particularly sage and rosemary. Having been to dinner at my mother’s in Guelph just before Thanksgiving, she mentioned that she was actually getting ready to replace her rosemary plant, so I should help myself. Doing what any self-respecting chef would do, i essentially took the whole plant. This looked fairly impressive at first blush, but actually reduced down to a surprisingly small amount of actually usable rosemary. But it was enough, and that was what counted.

All too delighted to know that Thansgiving dinner is imminent.

All too delighted to know that Thansgiving dinner is imminent.

For Thankgiving itself, most of our family and friends were away or otherwise committed to other events, so we found ourselves in a smaller group that we might otherwise welcome. But we were more than happy to have Dianne’s brother, Donald, join us for the day. He and Dianne set themselves to making smashed potatoes and veggies, and I took on stuffing, turkey and gravy. Between us, we produced a pretty damned impressive feast. Although it is always astounding how long it takes to prepare, and how amazingly quickly the meal disappears.

The turkey, she is done. And looking scrumptiously moist and well cooked.

The turkey, she is done. And looking scrumptiously moist and well cooked.

But it was a yummy meal. With family. In our home. And that is what really counts.

The table is set. Let the feasting begin. It will be over surprisingly quickly.

The table is set. Let the feasting begin. It will be over surprisingly quickly.

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