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Monday, November 29, 2010

A Very Southern Thanksgiving

THIS year was my first Southern Thanksgiving ever; it was spent at my sister-in-law's house in Columbia, South Carolina.

After my brother-in-law, Brad, picked David and I up from the Charlotte airport, we were welcomed by Christy and David's nieces, Emma and Jane with a late-night spread. Amongst the sunflower bread, rare roast beef and kalamata olives was a new discovery for me: pimento cheese.

Pimento Cheese

Cheddar cheese (you may use grated)
Jar of diced pimentos (drained)
Dash of garlic powder, salt & pepper (optional)

The amount of each of the ingredients will depend on your taste preference. Start with small amounts of each, then add more, as you see fit...

  • Beat the cheese using an electric mixer at medium speed (or in a food processor) until fluffy.
  • Mix well: the remaining ingredients, along with the cheese, in a bowl.
  • Serve on crackers or bread.

Also on hand, were Jane's spiced mixed nuts.

Spiced Mixed Nuts

Shelled Walnuts, pecans and almonds
Maple Syrup

  • Very finely chop: sage, rosemary and thyme; stir the spices together in a small bowl.
  • Combine nuts in a large bowl.
  • Add "just enough" maple syrup to lightly coat the nuts.
  • Sprinkle in spices, stirring thoroughly, until the nuts are "lightly dusted."
  • Spread the nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 250° for 20 minutes, or until lightly toasted.

THE next day, we went to "Five Points" so I could taste some authentic Southern grits from Mr. Friendly's. David recommended I try Low Country shrimp & grits with blackened shrimp, creamy grits, andouille sausage and creole sauce; it was great.

Afterwards, we walked over to The Gourmet Shop; I could have taken home the entire stock...

First things first: chocolate. David found his favorite, Côte d'Or.

White truffle cream, $24.99.

Sweet potato crackers. Who doesn't love sweet potatoes?

Blood orange mascarpone cakes...

and blood orange sparkling juice.

Vosges (bacon) chocolate bars.

'Brix' chocolate for wine.

Blueberry açaí chocolate bars.

All kinds of German wines from Qualitätswein to Spätlese.

Of course, Beaujolais Nouveau.

And to make me feel like I'd never left work,
Pellegrino's Missoni-labeled bottles.

Later that night, Brad stoked a fire in the backyard while chili simmered in the kitchen and later, sweet potatoes, wrapped in foil, were thrown into the fire for us to enjoy as well...

Brad designated him and myself and the only two "allowed to mess with the fire."

Homemade chili with green bell peppers, topped with grated cheese and cilantro.

Post 'hot-potato-one' carnage.

THURSDAY morning, Thanksgiving arrived and Emma had finally completed all the prep work for her homemade pumpkin pie.

Everybody loves pecans.

A leisurely walk and a few boardgames later, Brad's Heritage Turkey was in the oven while we all relaxed with a glass of Foris, pinot blanc, Rogue Valley, Oregon.

(While we were picking out wines for Thanksgiving in Five Points, I'd told Christy that Oregon generally produces some nice American wines.)

By 8 o'clock the turkey had finished cooking and DeeDee (a house guest who's currently dancing with Emma at the Columbia Classical Ballet company) had ladled out her magnificent vegan butternut squash soup with ginger purée.

For the second course, also prepared by DeeDee, was a wonderful wheatberry salad.

After salad, there was a brief pause while Brad carved the turkey and Christy spooned cornbread stuffing and roasted vegetables into serving dishes.

Awaiting the main course...

Heritage Turkey with cornbread stuffing, gravy,
roasted vegetables and cranberry sauce.

It was the best turkey I'd ever had; completely moist and full of flavor. As we neared the end of the main course, going around the table, we all attested to what we were thankful for.

AT last, it was time for dessert. DeeDee had also been making preparations for a vegan cheesecake which was absolutely flawless; I'd never known vegan food could taste so good!

Also on the dessert menu was a surprise birthday cake; I'd told David not to tell anyone it was my birthday...

(but I never can resist a surprise!)

Followed by the cake was also a surprise gift.

Fruitcake: Heirloom Recipes and Memories of Truman Capote and Cousin Sook. I couldn't have asked for a more personalized or perfect gift!

I already finished reading the book which is full of delightful anecdotes and recipes straight from Cousin Sook's cookbook! I've already decided upon "Civil War Fruitcake" as my first fruitcake-making attempt, perhaps with "Fruitcake Flaming"--a brandy dressing lit with a match!
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