I’ve never met a turkey I didn’t like. Even dried up old curmudgeonous fowl can be artfully disguised in a lovely soft roll slathered with gravy or cranberry sauce. But, turkey and all the trimmings are not “our” holiday, so we often find ourselves aproned and whisk at the ready in someone else’s kitchen.
I now travel like Strega Nona with an apron and my favorite whisk. Please don’t think you are imposing if you ask me to make the gravy. I was taught by the masters (or mistresses) and make darn good gravy. The secret, said one grandmother, is to keep it HOT. The secret, said another, is to brown the flour. I do both. And when it’s hot and bubbling, the quart or two or three stays piping hot in a slow cooker or large thermos jug.
I also bring my own basic ingredient — raspberry jello (hard to find in London). What’s Thanksgiving turkey without Auntie’s Cranberry Jello Salad? It’s just another dinner. Don’t like jello? Don’t worry. The traditional American cranberry has enough pectin to congeal in any mold! Cook with sugar and orange peel until thickened and place in a stoneware mold to chill.
The best part about Thanksgiving dinner, I think, is that everyone in our family expects a traditional meal — turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans, pumpkin pie. One pie per kid.
My earliest memory of Thanksgiving is a confusion of people and tables and chairs all set up in my grandparent’s front room. I don’t remember anything about the meal except I didn’t want to eat it. My wise grandmother Arline disappeared into the kitchen and returned with the can of Reddi Whip. Dessert hadn’t been served, but she simply filled my plate with whipped cream and sat down at her own place. Now that was a meal to remember.