Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving: The Recap

I had a lovely Thanksgiving and hope you did too. I cooked this year, because I enjoy doing it and because we finally, thankfully, have a place large enough to host more than a couple of people at a time.

I took and would post pictures, but I’m having a HECK of a time with my computer. It has ceased to function normally and has somehow downloaded some new operating system (or something) and keeps having pop-ups about “phishing” whatever the hell THAT is. I am fighting the urge to chuck the whole damn machine out the guest room window so I can watch it land with a satisfying deadly crash on top of the giant semi trailer that is still parked in our back yard.

Anyway.

My favorite new recipe to come out of this year’s dinner has to be Caramel Pecan Pie. It is delicious, decadent, and as my Mother put while enjoying a piece for T-giving dessert, “Sweet enough to make you swoon.” It is from my friends at Southern Living, the only people I trust enough to make use of an untried recipe at perhaps the most important dinner of the year. As usual, they didn’t let me down (I also made, for the first time, their Candied Sweet Potatoes—delicious, which came from a “Best of Southern Living” cookbook I received for my b-day from Christa—Thanks Christa!).

Here’s the pie recipe:

Caramel-Pecan Pie

Prep: 20 min., Bake: 38 min., Cook: 7 min.

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
28 caramels
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted Chocolate-Dipped Pecans (optional) Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork.

Bake piecrust at 400° for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned; cool on wire rack.

Combine caramels, butter, and 1/4 cup water in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until caramels and butter are melted; remove from heat. Stir together sugar and next 3 ingredients. Stir into caramel mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in pecans. Pour into prepared crust. Bake pie at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°, and bake 20 more minutes, shielding edges of crust with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove pie to a wire rack to cool. Top with Chocolate-Dipped Pecans, if desired.

***

After our guests moved on, Satan and I enjoyed a leisurely viewing of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” during which we debated the merits of Joan Fontain versus Olivia DeHavilland (they were sisters) and speculated on the supposed sexual orientation of Mrs. Danvers (we both concluded that she was crazy, not gay).

On Friday, I had plotted a secret mission with my friend, Julie, to procure, for the first time in my married life (ten years if you’re counting), a flocked Christmas tree. And here I suppose I should interject some back-story. At the time I married Satan, I had a lovely fake but VERY REALISTIC (mind you) Christmas tree that had served me perfectly well for several years.

Shortly after we moved in together, Satan and I—well really just Satan, decided we should have a (I shudder at the very phrase) “yard sale” in order to get rid of the overflow that resulted from combining our two households. My perfectly lovely and serviceable, but ultimately defenseless, Christmas tree was packed away in its storage box and parked in a dark corner of the garage with items that were DECIDEDLY NOT for sale.

Satan, being, well, Satan, and believing that fake Christmas trees are a sin against nature, dragged out my defenseless fake tree during a time when I was away cringing in the house from sheer embarrassment (I spent a lot of time doing that while perfect strangers pawed through my crusty old junk in the driveway) and sold the tree to one of our first customers FOR A DOLLAR.

One Dollar.

It’s been downhill from there as far as the Christmas tree goes.

It’s generally a struggle every year to agree on the type/size/and d├ęcor of the tree. According to Satan it must be a) REAL and b) NOT FLOCKED. Last year, in one of my worst Christmas tree defeats EVER, he finally wore me down, convincing me that it would be a REALLY GOOD IDEA to decorate the spindly branches of a live Norfolk Pine houseplant we have.

Ya’ll. It was ugly.

I resolved at that time to do better this year and, to that end, had conspired with my friend Julie to take a trip out to a local nursery and order up a BEAUTIFUL tree and have it flocked, festooned with lights, and delivered. Our plan was to meet up the Saturday after Thanksgiving and head out to the nursery together to pick out The Perfect Tree.

As it happened, on the Saturday in question, Satan and I had just gotten in from a lovely long walk to the river and back when it came time for me to head out to the nursery. As those who know me well know, Satan almost never accompanies me on outings with my friends and so, when he asked where I was going, I didn’t give it a second thought and told him.

Evidently, his evil satan senses were working overtime, because this time, of ALL TIMES, he decided he’d just come along.

Which is how I found myself at the nursery, with Satan, my friend Julie, and my friend (and nursery employee), Sherry, surrounded by beautiful Douglas Firs as far as the eye could see with Satan loudly proclaiming to everyone in the vicinity that, should he find a flocked tree in his house, he would, “throw it off the balcony”.

At which point, I had no choice but to turn to my friend Sherry and say,

“Obviously, he’s just determined not to get flocked this holiday season.”

To which she replied,

“I see that.”

The good news is that I picked out a beautiful three that will arrive on Friday. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to post a photo.

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