We had a lovely Thanksgiving, which is always nice, but it was especially so this year. This was the Thanksgiving that almost wasn't. Several wonderful surprises happened that made it possible.
Ethan was in Mexico and it was not clear when he would return. I had to prepare myself for the idea of Thanksgiving without him. He is grown up now, and I know that I will have to get used to holidays without him; he has his own life to live. However, that does not mean that it will go smoothly for me. I am not as graceful about this kids growing up stuff as I wish I was. Ethan was ready to come home and was expected to come home on Tuesday. However, on Sunday Larr came home late in the evening and 30 seconds later Ethan followed him in. I had not guessed that such a surprise was up and when I saw Ethan, I cried while I hugged him. It was such a joy and relief to have him home. I had missed him so, and been so worried about his safety. Everyone else was happy to see him, too. I think Kohlton missed Ethan as much as the rest of us.
On Monday, Larr went to see Don in the hospital. The hospitalist came by to inform them that Don was to be discharged in two hours. Larr called me to inform me and asked me to go over to his house to finish the cleaning that had yet to be done. Once they arrived, Don was happy,but exhausted.
Over the course of the next few days, Larr and Ethan took care of Don. Ellie and Kohlton helped me clean and prepare for Thanksgiving. I also did a lot of cooking. By Wednesday, we were unsure whether we could pull off Thanksgiving. I even considered cancelling it. We were not sure that Don would be up for coming over for Thanksgiving. That would mean that he and at least one other member of our family would not be there and I was way behind on my preparations as Larr and Ethan were busy taking care of Don. In the end, we decided to have the feast and be happy with it. Don would feel bad if we had cancelled it due to his situation.
Wednesday evening Ellie pulled out the autumn garlands that Natalie had given us. The items (the wooden forest creatures from Crate and Barrel, as well as some candles) I had gathered to decorate the table were already in place. Ellie and Kohlton got out our fancy china, table clothes, etc. and Ellie worked her table decoration magic. It is always exciting to see how she will set the table each year. We both really enjoy a lovely table.
Ellie, who loves to bake, modified a recipe to create lovely pizzelle tubes filled with a twist on French Cream. (I've included her recipes below.) She is so talented.
On Thursday morning I put the turkey in and then we began to get the rest of the party set up. We had two spots for visiting and enjoying appetizers.
Our guests arrived and we visited. Ethan carved the turkey. Even Don was able to join us for a while.
Over the course of the last few days, Remmie had gotten really wound up. He was a bit too excited and was a bit too energetic. Part of the time he was good, part of the time he had to regroup while in the van, away from the party.
I am thankful that we were able to come together and have a nice party. In addition to our little family, we were joined by my mother, Aunt Kathy, Grandpa Don, Mark, Lilia, Mark (Kohlton's father), Martine (his girlfriend), Britt (Kohlton's mother) and Linda (Kohlton's grandmother).
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup margarine, melted and cooled (we used salted butter)
2 tablespoons anise extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the melted margarine and anise extract. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir in gradually. Dough will be sticky.
Preheat your pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drop batter by rounded spoonfuls onto the iron. Close and cook for about 90 seconds, or until steam stops coming out of the iron. Carefully remove and cool. Store in an airtight tin at room temperature.
To make the tubes Ellie created a form using foil and a drum stick. We would pull off the hot pizzelle from the iron and wrap it around a form, holding it in place with a chop stick or folk. She found that you needed to move as quickly as possible, or else it develops cracks. I needed to wear rubber gloves because the heat was hurting my fingers.
Pastry Cream (modified by Ellie)
via: Olga's Flavor Factory
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
¼ cup water
1½ cups half and half (Ellie used 3/4 cup 2% milk and 3/4 cup heavy cream)
5 large egg yolks
⅓ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ Tablespoon hazelnut liqueur, optional (Ellie did not use this.)
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1-2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside until the gelatin softens.
In a small saucepan, bring the half and half to a simmer. Do not boil.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until smooth.
Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
When the half and half is just barely simmering, slowly pour a ladle of the hot liquid into the bowl, while you are whisking at the same time. This is called tempering and means that you are slowly heating up the egg mixture to make sure that the eggs don't scramble. Whisk in another ladle of hot liquid and then return everything to the same saucepan and cook on medium or low heat until the mixture thickens and you see big bubbles bursting on the surface. Remove from the heat.
Add the butter, softened gelatin and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Place some parchment paper right on top of the pastry cream, which will prevent a skin from forming on top. Chill in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.