Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WIAW #7: pre-holiday parties!

It's time for another What I Ate Wednesday! Head on over to Jenn's blog to see what everyone else ate this week.

I had a few WIAW-worthy events this week. I made the most amazing recipe for brined pork chops with sauteed apples that I need to share very soon with a large audience, because all pork lovers need to make this recipe (stay tuned! I'll post it soon). I also strongly considered sharing my Monday, when I went to soup supper, bringing a Thai Pumpkin Soup, but due to several wrong turns and a water main break, I didn't make it. The soup was still good, however. I'll share the recipe soon and add the link. Clint had intended to make beer that day, despite my absence, but he didn't get around to it in time, which ended up being good because of the water main break. Now our water's back and at its regular pressure, but we have to boil it before drinking/using, which is somewhat annoying but not too bad. I set a few big pots boiling in the morning it's enough to use throughout the day. We're trying to hold off washing dishes til we get the all-clear- luckily, we did a load off just hours before the break, so it's really only the pots and pans we have to worry about, not cups/plates/silverware.

But anyway. I'm going to share with you my Sunday, which is probably the food-day I should share anyway. I don't have any recipes from Sunday, but I had some very exciting food.

First off, breakfast. I had the last of my portuguese muffins, with lemon curd (homemade, of course, although this batch didn't quite set- I used frozen egg yolks, which is maybe why), and my usual egg, coffee with skim milk, and water.

Then we headed down to Wethersfield, CT to the Colonial Dames' 2nd annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

These meal was not only delicious, but educational. My mom and I recently joined the Dames, and my mom attended this dinner last year and raaaved about it. She was right.

The dinner was based on a 1770s Thanksgiving Dinner. A girl in western CT wrote a letter to her cousin in NY and described who was there and what they ate. Our meal matched their menu as closely as possible.

One interesting tidbit was that Thanksgiving was a big deal in CT and MA, but not so much in NY, where Christmas was bigger, because of the Dutch heritage of NY. The Puritans, of course, eschewed Christmas, but they didn't avoid all feasty celebrations. Thanksgiving, as we all know, was a big Puritan thing, but they had been having Thanksgiving feasts long before they came to the New World. Apparently they could pretty much find any reason to have a Thanksgiving feast, thanking God for whatever they thought was truly awesome. The Wampanoags, the MA/RI residents they encountered in Plymouth (btw, if you're interested in this history, The Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick is really good), often held harvest feasts in late October/early November. And as we all know, when the Pilgrims had that first good harvest, they combined their tradition of giving thanks with a big feast and the Wampanoags' harvest festival tradition and had the big Thanksgiving that ours is loosely based on ("loosely" in terms of menu, since they didn't have cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or apple pie).

The Dutch, on the other hand, didn't really care about Thanksgiving, but Christmas was their thing. Maybe that's why everyone dreams of Christmas in New York City? (not me, NYC is too warm, they rarely have a white Christmas.)

Anyway, in my family, Thanksgiving's always been the big deal. Christmas is a big family celebration, and it's starting to be more important than it used to be, but when I was a kid (and definitely when my mom was little), Thanksgiving was THE holiday. Christmas was a little piddly thing. I always wondered about this, but I finally put two and two together at this dinner- my mom's side of the family is 100% old Yankee. My ancestors arrived in northern CT in the 1630s and stayed put. Of course we'd maintain the old Puritan tradition of the big Thanksgiving.

But anyway, you want to hear about the food!

The feast started off by visiting Mr and Mrs Silas Deane at his home in Wethersfield (not really them, of course, they both lived during the Revolutionary War). We were offered wine or Madeira and there was quite a selection of cheeses to sample. And that's my cabernet on the table. Clint had the Madeira (which was much sweeter/stronger than I remember).

 I did not intend to take this much, but the hard cheeses were tough to cut. This was for both Clint and me. There was a smoked gouda (on the bottom, you can just barely see it, it's the yellowish one), some sort of hard sheep's cheese, a reggiano kinda thing, and something else that was very salty and hard.
 We listened to a musical group playing a recorder and dulcimers, then they rang the bell and we were herded like sheep over to the barn.

I say "barn", but this is the kind of barn where you'd have an elegant wedding. It's quite lovely! Here's a little view.


The table was set very elegantly.


Here's the menu.
Pottage of cabbage, leeks and onions- with bacon. This didn't look too appetizing, but was really, really good. Probably because of the bacon.
In the girl's 1770s letter to her cousin, she mentioned chine of pork (essentially pork loin), venison and chicken pies, goose, turkey and this very fancy new vegetable that her uncle grew from seeds ordered from England, called celery. And you eat it raw! Apparently raw vegetables was a complete novelty at this time.

 Cabbage, leek and onion pottage- see how unappetizing it looks? Don't be fooled! I could have eaten 2 more helpings!


 The rest of the meal was served family style. Here was the turkey, all cut up for us- and they didn't give us any dark meat! boo.
 Creamed onions. I was not familiar was creamed onions, but it's basically like onions with cheese. Again, doesn't look too appetizing, but oh it was delicious!
 Here's my plate. Turkey, cranberry sauce (which the Pilgrims did not have, since they wouldn't have had enough sugar to make it palatable), butternut squash, VENISON PIE omg, pork and the onions in the middle. The venison pie was by far my favorite thing. And we got really lucky because Mom and I went in the the kitchen to ask the caterer what the delicious flavor in there was (some sort of herb- maybe tarragon?), and they had 3 chicken pies (which I did not sample, everyone agreed the venison pie was better so that was good enough for me) and 4 venison pies left. I took a venison pie home! It's been the most delicious leftovers.
Then we looked down the table... and saw a turkey. ooh we want the turkey down here! Well, it arrived, and friends, get excited. This was not a turkey, but a GOOSE! ooooh. I haven't had goose since I was a kid. Unfortunately, they forgot to give us a carving knife, so some resourceful fellow whipped out his swiss army knife and we all got to work. I really, really love goose. I think Clint and I might start trying to incorporate more goose into our diet- of course, Clint's spoiled because he and his dad used to hunt geese, so he's used to delicious Canada geese whereas I'm sure all we'll be able to get is farmed geese. I don't know the difference (yet). We may toy with the idea of hunting... or finding friends who hunt.
 Then it was time for dessert. Apple pie, pumpkin pie, and Indian pudding, all incredibly delicious- and that's unusual for me to say, since I am a complete pie snob. The pumpkin pie had the perfect flavor, and the apple pie had a crust worth eating! And I need to make Indian pudding more often.

 So that was fun.

Then we had to run home to go over to Nashoba (the winery where I work) for their Artisan Guild Holiday festival thing. We went to this a few years ago, when I was still working full time and we did really well buying Christmas gifts. It's a nice event, 16 artist/crafters set up tables in the wine shop and sell their goodies, and there are hors d'ouerves provided by the restaurant and free wine. It's $5 per person, and this year there was also a raffle (which I assume we did not win since no one has called us, sad!)

When we arrived, it was super busy, and our store when busy is very difficult to navigate. I was tempted to take all the "employees only" routes but I did not, since I felt I should behave as a customer, or else other customers would get the wrong idea and start using the same routes. The ticket takers explained the raffle: we had to visit all the booths and get our raffle cards stamped, and only if you collected all the stamps could you enter the raffle. It was about 6:45 by then (and it closed at 8) so we started in on the raffle ticket stamps right away. On the way, Clint grabbed an Imperial Stout and I got a glass of blueberry merlot. We also split a serving of apple crisp that was set up at a table near the back tasting bar.

 After we got all our stamps (which took a while, it was hard to get the attention of the person running each booth most of the time), we each got a slider and another glass of wine- cranberry apple this time, and I added bleu cheese and caramelized onions to my slider.

I also had a few pieces of smoked gouda, and a prosciutto-wrapped duck breast stuffed with gouda. These were served at the event I worked at on Thursday, and it was so annoying to not be able to grab one of the tiny delicacies off the plate. I decided then and there I never want to work for a caterer and be surrounded by food and not be able to taste it. I guess working at the tasting bar is kind of the same thing.

We did well on the shopping, we each got something for our moms and Clint got something for his sister. I can't tell what they are in case it spoils the surprise! But they are a combination of adorable, beautiful and incredibly clever/innovative.

By the time we got home, around 8:30, I was very ready for a big pot of tea and a good episode of the Walking Dead.

My good habits today were that unlike on real Thanksgiving, I was not stuffed to the gills. I was comfortably full (although the second piece of apple pie was not a good habit).

1 comment:

Elyse said...

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