Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. And especially to those who are far away from home and loved ones at this, the most lovely and serene of American holidays. God bless.

We are at home in Washington DC this holiday (I'm not in the picture above, I'm taking it). We have with us my wife's parents and her uncle. I am in charge of cooking the turkey breast and the mashed potatoes. Re the turkey, I decided to go for the breast rather than the whole turkey. I brined it in a way that I hope was not too good an idea by half - brined it in buttermilk. Hmm ... Anyway, I am roasting it with a sauce mixed fruits - prunes, apricots, mango, kiwi, onions, and garlic, seasoned with a vast quantity of herbes de provence. I also have some portabello mushrooms brushed with olive oil and garlic roasting alongside. As for the mashed potatoes ... I take the easy way out, microwave the potatoes in a plastic bin with olive oil, salt, much garlic, chopped up green spring onion, and a little white wine. I leave the skins on and mash them with more salt and butter - much butter - and then I add cream. I try not to mash them too much, to avoid making them gummy, but essentially, when it comes to mashed potatoes, there is no such thing as too much butter and cream and salt. There will be a lot of fruit on the table this year, I guess, as my wife's superb corn bread stuffing has cherries in it, and then she has made a homemade cranberry-orange relish. Cream corn with some kind of speciality dried corn that Jean-Marie gets from a mail order place in Amish country Pennsylvania. Green beans and slivered almonds. Decided to skip the salad as too much trouble and with stuffing, potatoes, and yams, it was hard to see the point of bread. Dessert - pumpkin pie (not my thing) and pecan pie and ice cream. Plus I might break open a box of Michele Cluizel chocolate truffles that I brought back from Paris.

I do not like yams or sweet potatoes, with marshmallows or any other way.

Last night my daughter Renee and I got out our cellos and played Christmas carols - easy stuff from books we've used year after year. But she has gotten good enough that she can really hold her own with me - she'll pass me musically very soon - she played one of the Vivaldi cello sonatas at her music school's last recital and is starting on the famous prelude to the Bach solo suite in G. My level of playing is more suited to oompah basso continuo parts in easy Baroque music. I have more or less finished learning - there are a couple of tricky thumb position sections I will never truly feel confident playing - a lovely Buxtehude gamba sonata in d major arranged for cello, and I recently got through a cello transcription of the Corelli op. 5 violin sonata, No. 7, in f major.

And I am taking a break Wednesday-Friday from my manuscript on global governance and UN reform, and am reading instead Tony Judt's magisterial new history of Europe since WWII, Postwar. (I finished Victor Hanson's excellent A War Like No Other, his thematic history of the Pelopponesian War, a couple of days ago.)

PS. See Christopher Hitchens lovely hymn to Thanksgiving, from yesterday's Wall Street Journal, here.

PPS. And see Roger Alford's thoughts on George Washington's Thanksgiving Day proclamation at Opinion Juris, here.

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