November 26, 2009

Thanks for the Meat and Heat
Thanksgiving in the Park

The view from our house. Click on image to enlarge.

Woke up this Thanksgiving to dense fog. After a little breakfast in the peace and quiet of the early morning I put my coat on over my PJs and walked a few feet out our front door to take this photograph. The last of the colorful autumn leaves was a great counterpoint to the atmospheric mist just above the forest path. To my Southern California friends who are expecting an 80°F holiday, eat your hearts out. This is what Thanksgiving is supposed to look like!

Now that everyone is up, Susie and the girls are making a pumpkin chocolate chip pie (yes, you heard me, chocolate chips!). The girls refuse to take credit for this artful derivative of the Thanksgiving classic (and so do I). It was all Susie’s idea. I will report on her success later. Much later.

Another first for this holiday: the Gates/Krasnican household, for the first time ever, is hosting a piece of pork for tonight’s dinner (in addition to our turkey). A smoked ham. This, too, was my wife’s idea. (What’s gotten into her? She was once an ardent vegetarian.) And while she still refuses to eat that porker, just having it in our house is an odd treat for the rest of us.

However, a few minutes ago, I was called into emergency service. All of a sudden, Susie began to think this ham needed to be soaked for 24 hours before eating. In addition, we couldn’t tell if the ham just needed to be warmed up or fully cooked. The thought never occurred to us that it wasn’t “heat and eat.” What do we know about preparing meat? After surfing the ham manufacturer’s Web site we still couldn’t tell. I ran to the market and enlisted the aid of the meat guy who filled me in. “A few years ago, your ham was fully cooked and advertised as ‘ready to eat.’ But meat safety became an issue and now the packages say the hams are cooked but need to be even more cooked. So put it in the oven for about an hour, hour and a half, until the inside temp is about 160. Then it will be ready to eat.” I bought a meat thermometer (another family first) and headed home.

As for me, I’ve been granted a temporary leave from the kitchen. I’m now sitting in front of the computer writing this missive while listening to Sarah Vaughn’s rendition of Summertime. Yes, it’s a cozy and cool late November day, just what Thanksgiving is supposed to be. But that doesn’t mean I’ve completely sworn off a fully-cooked, baked-to-perfection holiday with a bit of summertime heat.

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