The Gryphon and I spent Thanksgiving in Central Pennsylvania with my parents. We arrived Wednesday evening, just in time to get some subs at Original Italian Pizza before I had to start my evening assignments.
Thursday, The Gryphon had agreed to cook the turkey for the big meal.
But first, we took a nice, long dog walk. My sister's dog, Emma, was staying for the holidays, since she was doing Thanksgiving with her in-laws, who have a no-pets rule. I took Emma, because she can be a little tough to control, and I'm more used to dealing with dogs. Emma is smaller than our doggie, Una, but is all muscle. She crouches low and pulls with her entire body mass. We joked that she thinks she's a sled dog. At least I got a good workout from it. Almost as good as Pilates.
I know that Emma took obedience classes for a while, but since she didn't have her training collar with her, I had to rely on commands alone. She calmed down as the walk continued, and she did sit on command. Also, I've noticed that her aggression towards other dogs is much better. We walked past several dogs, and she barely took notice, whereas before she might have barked and strained at the leash.
The early part of the day was mild and bright, but it would be the best weather we saw the entire trip. Later that day it turned rainy, and for the rest of our trip it was nippy.
Back from the walk, we headed to the grocery store to pick up an all-purpose kitchen cleaner, some fresh sponges and some bar cloths. We also got some items to have for a light lunch.
We wanted to give the kitchen a once-over before starting to cook. Dad walked in while we were cleaning and complained that he'd already cleaned. We told him we just wanted to give it another thorough cleaning before starting to cook.
"Some of those stains are paint," he told us. He's been repainting his apartment for a while now and was sometimes a bit lax while cleaning the brushes. What can I say: Dad's living in a bachelor pad and has been since he and Mom divorced about a decade ago.
The Gryphon didn't need much help from me, although he called me in several times when he required an extra set of hands while dressing the turkey.
Mostly, I occupied myself, along with Dad, with another task which, while less important, was vastly more fun: opening the coconut we were given at Philcon. Dad got a screwdriver and hammer, and we knocked holes in two of the soft spots at the top of the coconut, draining the milk into a glass. However, we didn't drain all of it, as we would find out during the next stage.
We consulted The Joy of Cooking for how to open the coconut, and they said to bang it against a hard surface until it opened up. We didn't want to damage his floors or counters, so we took it outside.
"This is how a monkey would do it," I said, and leaped around in monkey fashion, exclaiming, "Ooo-oo!" and smashing it on the sidewalk. It opened right up, in two nearly perfect halves. Eek-eek.
The question, then, became how to extract the coconut meat. I made some abortive attempts with a knife before reading further in The Joy of Cooking, which said to bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes at 350. That would loosen up the coconut enough to take a hammer to it and release the rest of the meat.
While the coconut baked, along with some of the Thanksgiving dishes, I took a shower. When I was done, I took another look. The edges of the coconut had browned, and it was pulling away from the husk.
By then, my Mom had arrived, along with The Pastor and The Pastor's Son, who were joining us for Thanksgiving dinner. The Pastor's Son came outside with me to watch the further dismantling of the coconut, this time with a hammer.
We placed the coconut on a clean bar cloth and smashed it with the hammer, gradually releasing all of the meat, which I placed in a plastic container. I took it upstairs and proudly showed off the results. Then I sighed heavily and said, "Now I've got to finish processing it." The Joy of Cooking had suggesting peeling the brown off with a vegetable peeler and then either shred it or chop it into one-inch hunks and put it in a food processor.
Mom stopped me: "You don't have to do that. I know someone at work who brings it in like this all the time. It's a great snack." So I offered everyone a piece and let it be known that it was available for snacking.
My Herculean task over, The Gryphon asked me to go on a flour run. This might have been easier if the grocery store were still open. Since it wasn't, Mom gave me instructions for how to find it in her house. The Pastor's Son came along, and we went on a flour expedition. We were greeted by Mom's two dogs, who seemed to think we were there to spend time with them.
We found several types of flour, including pastry flour, before finding the right one and placing several scoops of it in a container to take back over.
For the past several years, we've had Thanksgiving at Dad's, since he has a better space for hosting. Still, his kitchen is not terribly well equipped, since he's a bachelor who just makes frozen meals for himself. Over the years, we've given him pots and pans, containers and utensils, and Dad just bought himself a very nice knife set, much to The Gryphon's delight.
After we returned from our success flour expedition, I had a bit of a respite to check e-mail until it was time to get the table set for dinner. I also helped with a few other things, as requested. Usually, since the kitchen is so small, the best way to be helpful is to stay out of the way.
Dinner began with a very nice squash soup as an appetizer. Dad poured wine for those who wanted it and apple juice or water for those who didn't.
(from left) The Pastor's Son, The Pastor, Mom and Dad with their appetizers
This course was followed by the main dinner, which consisted of the moist and delicious turkey, along with a yam and pineapple dish, homemade cranberry sauce, a salad, stuffing and gravy.
The meal was a bit simpler than in the past, because we'd talked about it ahead of time and agreed there was no need to go overboard, especially when so many of us are trying to eat healthier.
We moved into the living room, then, to socialize. I interviewed The Pastor for my book, My Wedding, My Way. We talked about what couples should look for in an officiant and how to work with them to develop the ceremony. She also shared creative touches from some weddings she'd attended, along with some general wedding planning advice. I expect it to be very useful in the book.
For dessert, we could select from two possibilities: a pumpkin pie made with maple syrup or a cranberry-apple cobbler. I had a little bit of each, but the cranberry-apple cobbler was my favorite.
I got a little more time to socialize before I had to start my evening assignments. Good thing I didn't overdo it with the turkey, or I might have fallen asleep over the keyboard!
Food prep is always fun when it involves a hammer.