Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Taking Stock

Taking Stock

I have never cooked a turkey. It seems a somewhat shameful admission at my age, but there it is. At Christmas, my brother-in-law makes a mean paella. As for Thanksgiving, for the last 20 years, ever since my daughter was two, we have spent the weekend at the vacation home of our oldest friends.

Not only do I not cook the turkey, my opinion is never solicited regarding roasting methods, stuffing ingredients, or doneness. My turn comes the next day. I am the turkey carcass soup expert. We use the recipe from the Good Food cookbook, by Jane Brody. It’s a two-page, two-day affair which requires several long shifts of chopping vegetables, first for the stock and then for the soup. Cheesecloth is involved. It’s a serious business. I was introduced to Jane Brody at a party once, and I told her about our turkey soup ritual. I think she was gratified—and also somewhat amazed—to meet someone who spent the better part of two days a year following her recipe to the letter.

We do not hold with shortcuts. We make it just like it says in the book, and it is delicious. We eat it on Saturday night, which is also the night we celebrate my birthday, even in years when my birthday is nowhere near the date. The dessert is always birthday cake, made from a mix by the kids and decorated with more enthusiasm than finesse. That’s how it used to be, anyway. In recent years the finesse has increased, but my daughter assures me the enthusiasm has held steady.

I love it that the children are still willing to participate in our cozy family holiday. It won’t last forever, I know. But as long as it does, I’ll continue celebrating my birthday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, even when it’s not my birthday.

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