Wednesday, November 26, 2014


There used to be a Fairy Tale about a king who could smell what was cooking in every kitchen, from great to small, from manor to humble, all over his kingdom.   He’d be enticed by an especially delicious aroma, and would invite himself to dinner, surprising many a citizen by his appearance at the door.  

And right now, I would imagine that he’d have had a field day in our

country, with all the lovely scents of Thanksgiving preparations going on.   I imagine the pies are being baked today (ours yesterday, on Caro’s day off), and the vegetables prepared right up to the cooking stage.   Many a bowl of stuffing is being tossed to await the anointment with stock or broth or drippings for baking tomorrow---whatever kind of bread cubes, toasted or left to dry, tossed with their many differing ingredients, according to recipes old and new.

Enough skillets and pans of cornbread are baking right now to feed armies, and the keen fumes of onion, the nuttygreen aroma of celery, the musky curls of sage and those little poufy  dust-bunny shakes from the McCormick’s can, the boiling of stock and gravy---all those scents are rising like praise to Heaven.
There's one charity group in town which feeds 25,000 people tomorrow, and imagining the bubbling pots and laden chopping boards in those kitchens would boggle even that Old King, I think.

Lots of folks like to sauté the vegetables first, and that’s certainly a delicious way to make dressing, with those caramelly onions and celery and perhaps even a mirepoix with carrots.  But there’s a moment there, a split-second of the preparation, when the scent of the cornbread crumbled into the big bowl, and the tiny mince of raw sweet onion and just-cut celery, along with a generous scatter of fresh-ground black pepper and a good shake of the McCormick Poultry Seasoning---leaning over that bowl for the Fall’s first scent of Dressing-in-Progress---smelling those unmistakable, can-be-only-that-one-thing aromas---that’s when the Thanksgiving Dinner begins.

Not when I’ve  polished up the silver, or got out the pretty cut-glass dishes gathered from so many tables not my own, or when the sweet potatoes go in to bake, or folks packing to go to Grandma's, or getting those pies nestled safely into the trunk of the car---but at THAT MOMENT, that inhaling of the scents old as the South, readily available for centuries and compiled of the essence of the dish---THAT’S the instant the clock turns to Thanksgiving, no matter what the calendar says.


GSL said...

My dear Rachel,
If you are anywhere half as good in the kitchen as you are at the keyboard then that old King would be having THAT MOMENT with a surprise visit at your door.
Beautifully done and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Chesapeake said...

Thanksgiving since we began traveling has been a huge group affair at an RV park, with tables and tables of food. The biggest challenge is to try to get a taste of each specialty dish without actually going into a coma from all the food.

Have a wonderful day tomorrow with your family. We will be thinking about you all.

Bev said...

Happy Thanksgiving my friend! Have a wonderful day with your kin. xx

steelersandstartrek said...

This year The Child is hosting the holiday for a slice of the family - me, my Bride, HER mother, and a wonderful friend. Princess came over last night to use our larger kitchen for her prep. The turkey is cooked, and liptauer cheese made, and sour cream potatoes creamed. Sweet potatoes have been shredded for some quick fried concoction she's doing. The dressing is ready to go, and quick pickles made. She left here late in the evening noting the need to make her corn dish, and a salad. This morning I woke hours too early so I went ahead and made my apple pecan coconut cake (the only note in my baking symphony, alas). Other desserts and bread and wine and sides and fill-ins are being brought by us and others. Blessings will be counted and calories decidedly NOT.

We pray in gratitude for you and your family, today and always.

racheld said...

And to all you four well-wishers and happy-sayers, from ME in THIS MOMENT between butternut-squash-in-the-oven and putting on the snap beans, with all those scents and sounds of three people, pots, pans, cutting boards, simmering pots, hopeful dog, tinging timers, that moment of BREATHE between menu writing and TIME TO SIT DOWN---I think of you dear people, you dear faithful readers and friends, in your own celebrations and feastings and joys of the season.

May they all be many, bountiful, and warm.

love and,


A Super Dilettante said...

My dear Rachel,

What a bountiful food! They are sound absolutely delicious. I can smell of your cooking and almost taste the food from the words you describe! I hope you have a wonderful time.

Happy thanksgiving!!

Best wishes, ASD x

Beverly said...

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friend. Sending wishes for continued blessings and love from me to you and those you hold dear.♥

L. D. said...

Your observations through the memories of smells was fun to read. The sage and the turkey are my main clues of knowing it is Thanksgiving time. Sweet potatoes have a great smell that we rarely ever prepare except on holidays. Thanks for sharing all the smells of Thanksgiving.

Emily said...

I almost feel like I am in your kitchen, and right by your side dear Rachel. (Can I come next year?) I don't think I've ever read such a vivid, delight-filled, and superbly written description of a cook in her bustling Thanksgiving kitchen. As always, reading your thoughts always fills my heart with joy and brimgs a smile to my face.

YOU are a treasure.

Wishing you and yours a cozy and memorable Thanksgiving Day.

P.S. I'm pooped, with feet up, and hoping you're doing the same. xo

Jeanne said...

Hello Rachel, The sound of your wonderful preparations for Thanksgiving make me hungry all over again. We did not have butternut squash and I truly love it to pieces. We also do not have cornbread dressing and I love that TOO. We make the bread stuffing my family always makes. I'm afraid my Yankee ancestors did not cook Southern dishes. More's the pity is all I can say about that. I am sure the old King must have found out where you live and helped himself to all of the marvelous food and pies. I know your Thanksgiving dinner was amazing and delicious. Ours was too.

Stay warm and cozy my dear friend. We had snow and the grands made a snowman in miniature because there was not a lot of the white stuff. However, it was glorious to my Florida grands.

Love you bunches,

Jeanne said...

I forgot to say that when our son arrived on Thanksgiving he had "that moment" when he smelled the turkey roasting. "That moment" for me is the day before when the pies are baking. It is Thanksgiving when those smells are in the air absolutely. Big smile here.

Kim S. said...

We are off to lunch in a few minutes to try a new BBQ place that Mike got a Groupon for. I’ve been reading reviews all morning and I was ready for pork and hush puppies and collards and mac n cheese. NOW all I want is turkey, gravy and PIE!