January 08, 2010

The Turkey Pot Pie


There might not be anything so treasured in my generational family as Thanksgiving left-overs. I may be overstating this, but I've seen an uncle count the hours until he could make a cold turkey sandwich following the big meal. I once participated in dividing a carcass so more than one pot of turkey soup could be made. And every year I carefully, carefully, dole out the remains in three lots with greedy eyes at what could be done if it were going to only one refrigerator. This year, I decided to think of the turkey as just a big chicken and roast another. The bird sat frozen until it looked like the opportune day was coming. It turned out to be the day we deChrismafied the house. It was a simple undertaking really, largely because the bird was the focus. I roasted this man with just celery, onion, apples and a lemon in the cavity and a little herbed butter under the skin. I didn't reserve the innards for gravy - I doctored the Trader Joe's boxed version. And I served the beast with a little stuffing, cranberry/orange relish (also from my Trader Joe's), boxed garlic mashed potatoes and a green salad.

The results we heart-warming. We had a memorable good-bye to the holiday and we had glorious left-overs. Everyone had turkey sandwiches for lunch Tuesday and Wednesday. One with stuffing and cranberry relish, even. And the soup stock occupied two big bowls - the gelled juices from the roasted bird and the soup stock from the simmered and simmered bones.
From the minute I put the roast in the oven a particular memory began to peck its way into my plans. I have this rich remembrance of a Saturday alone in my mom's kitchen when I was about 20 or so. I'd purchased GOURMET magazine (or it might have been Bon Appetite) with wonderful after Thanksgiving turkey ideas and set out to make the most wonderful deep dish turkey pot pie I'd ever heard of or tasted. And it was magnificent. Flavors, texture, comfort, parsley, sage and thyme, all in an old blue and white pie dish I can't seem to find at the moment. 
Finally today I was free to fly. Off to the computer I went to search for the recipe. I was stumped by what I found. No GOURMET recipe and nothing else that really reminded me in the least of The One. The perfect. None. I read and read. Through Food Network, All Recipes and Cooks. I took a quick spin through the JOY OF COOKING (gravy!) and finally I figured I'd have to conflate a couple to get close. I started with Cooks.com's version*, which really is quite good, and ended up with something a la moi (l'influence francais intentional).
It went a little like this: Melissa D'Arabian's crust (ah!), a minced onion with a couple of stalks of celery sweated in a bit of olive oil, chopped carrots and thawed frozen peas then a flour, butter and garlic roux (I cut the butter and flour in half - no deep dish here) with milk, salt, pepper, thyme and a pinch of cayenne. Load, bake @ 425.
My starving crew had to wait for the cooking and the cooling but oh, when the pie was open that crew began to sing. There was left over salad but not a crumb from the pie. My eldest was requesting we have this at least once a week, while my youngest was using a finger to get the last stitch of the sauce from the dish. Everything baked in a pie and into our new year's memories.

All from a thought of a big fat pie dish consuming the remainder of the turkey and perhaps the aromatic fragrance of something from the past.


*recipe: (http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1939,139167-233202,00.html)

January 07, 2010

We inhabit each other's lives.

This morning I set out to make a Daddy Sandwich in the off-to-school clattering of the morning. As we were discussing the choice between this and turkey, I heard this voice, "Whose daddy likes that? Our dad doesn't eat peanut butter." I had one of those deep diving moments of gratitude when I realized that this daddy is my friend Krissy's daddy who has been gone for fifteen years. And who I never knew. But because of Kris and her big, juicy family and her cool husband, with his own version of the Daddy Sandwich, I know this sandwich as if they were from my own address. (My father loved many a tasty bite, but my sandwich memories of him revolve around braunschweiger and I just can't walk that road.)

My thoughts then, drift to the adoptions of our friends and friendships and their moves and manner. My son almost always touches on revere when he eats a peanut butter and honey sandwich like the first our friend Seth made for him when he was four. It became our confidence. I heard over and over as I prepared lunch, "Is this like the one Seth maked for me?" My own culinary arts certification and practices became irrelevant in this venture, because it was in their home that the discovery of this perfection had been made.

I often find myself rearranging furniture to suit the mood during the gathering of friends because Jemma brought that freedom to recreate as we go, in my visits to her home. She also urged me to collect the heart shaped rocks I find on the beach. I don't know where I picked up the thought to tuck a seashell into the garden pot to give company to the flower. But I light the candles near the garden's white flowers because Mary did that first. I use a very specific method of binder clips, rubber bands and sticky notes that keeps me in the presence of my friend Anna and her marvelous organization. Early, early morning is my quiet time, more of Krissy and perhaps a little of my Gommie, who I watched each day in study. And conversations often start with "Hi beautiful girl" because Aunt Nancy gave me that grace in each of our encounters.

We are creatures of relationship. And without trying to hard, I am grateful to see the inhabiting of my life.

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