Thanksgiving Aloha

Hawaiian Sisters
 Like any well-planned marketing activity, preparing a holiday meal is quite an undertaking. It requires organization, logistics, supply chain, procurement, finance and a spark of creative juice. 

In 2012, our family was fortunate to be with our oldest daughter Sarah in Hawaii on the island of Oahu where she lives. Also joining us was our younger daughter Fanny who lives in Wilmington, N.C. but was able to get away from her job as Director of Catering for a brief sojourn. 

One of Sarah's co-workers family needed someone to house sit and take care of two sweet animals: Charlie Potato (AKA the cat) and Rusty (AKA the dog). The home had a kick ass kitchen so it made for a wonderful venue to hold our Thanksgiving.

As a record of what we prepared, I thought I’d post a few photographs and descriptions to remind us of the abundance and riches that we have every day if we can pause long enough to savour each moment.

The Plan

Meal plans
Just desserts
Fanny (my younger daughter) and I had started kicking around ideas and flavor combinations a few weeks before we arrived. We wanted to find some unique way to honor our location but to stay close to the beloved meal that includes our family food traditions. Upon arriving at the house, I started to write down the plans so that everyone could amend, tweak or garnish with input. This also allowed me to do something I like to call “cooking in my head.” This gives me a chance to think through the timeline required to get everything done. 

How can I shop for everything without being in a store the day before Thanksgiving when half of humanity is in line to buy a last minute can of yams?  We shopped over two days procuring everything required carefully selecting the best produce and freshest herbs. Fortunately we were in a house with 3 refrigerators which is an amazing advantage when you are entertaining. We had eight guests or eight and a half since one friend of Sarah’s was pregnant.

I think that Fanny and I each spent about ten hours planning, shopping, prepping and cooking this meal. We had lots of help by Ra El and Sarah from table setting, finding platters to serve on and helping organize the big meal. It was a lot of work but we only do it once a year and we had some great helpers (Sarah's friends) to help clean up. 

 The Menu

Cranberry Relish: (Fresh organic cranberries, orange, sugar, water and vanilla)

Simmering the cranberries and oranges into a tangy tart relish
Tropical Stuffing:  (Bread crumbs, coconut milk, shredded coconut, black mission figs and dried apricots, sauteed leeks, onions, celery and parsley with a pumpkin seed, oatmeal and brown sugar crunch on top)

Tropical Stuffing - Award First Prize by the judge (me)
Twice Stuffed Potatoes: (Baked potatoes that are scooped out and put through a mill as we add milk, butter, sour cream, roasted garlic, salt, pepper and fresh dill).

A family tradition
(Charlie Potato was not harmed in the making
of this dish)
Roasted Root Vegetables: Beets, butternut squash, parsnips, turnips, garlic, yam and carrots tossed with olive oil, fresh rosemary and kosher salt.

Rooting for success
The Turkey:  Fresh orange juice, orange zest, sage, agave, brown sugar, butter and olive oil glaze. Cooked a 14 lb. turkey for three and one half hours until thigh was at 165 degrees and let it sit for one hour before carving.

Turkey Gravy: (Water, carrots, celery, onion, sage, turkey neck and giblets cooked for 5 hours; pureeing about three quarters of the vegetables. Add pan drippings from turkey)

Orange glazed roast turkey with sage and agave
The Salad: Sliced fennel, wild arugula and frissee greens tossed with currant cherry tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and freshly grated parmigiana reggianno.

Fennel, arugula and frisee salad
Wines:  We enjoyed Kendall Jackson Chardonnay Reserve, Santa Margharita Prosecco and a J Lohr Merlot. Some local beers were also part of the celebration too.

Jeffrey Slater, Fanny Slater, Sarah Slater and Ra El Remez
Thanksgiving in Hawaii 2012 

SarAPPLE pie (baked apples, lemons, cinnamon and vanilla with graham cracker, butter and brown sugar crunch.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie in an oatmeal walnut crust with fresh whipped cream

Pie squared
I got so excited with the pies I forgot to take their picture before we cut into them.

That's what friends are for...
The Guests: Sarah's friends Marta and Taylor, Tiff and Matt, Ra El, Sarah, Fanny and me. (Charlie Potato and Rusty were hanging outside for the meal). 

The Blessing:  Ra El gave an eloquent prayer of thanks for all of us to acknowledge our gratitude for all of the blessings and gifts in our lives.

Blessings by Ra El Remez 
Dinner Question: Like most family meals, I had to ask my dinner question. Tonight’s question: 

A woman knocks on your door and when you greet her she tells you she is from 300 years in the future. In her hands is a gift box. What is inside the box that she has brought to you from the future?

We had some inventive ideas. Matt told us a long story about how he always gets less than interesting fortune cookies from Chinese restaurants so his Mom sent him a box of fortune cookies. We pretended she came from the future to give him this gift box. 

Sarah’s friend Tiff who teaches physics at Punahou had a remarkable answer involving folding the universe into the string theory of interstellar light travel. I must admit that Ra El really enjoyed her answer. Her answer was over my head since when I was in college and should have been studying physics, I think I was busy cooking, taking photographs or listening to Frank Zappa. 

TryptoFAN: What happens when you eat too much turkey? You get sleepy. They say it is the tryptophan. Our version of the TryptoFAN effect is depicted below. 

Trypto Fan Slater 
Giving Thanks
Like most people at this time of year, it is easy to stop and give thanks for our abundance. The real trick is recognizing and being aware of that same feeling every moment of each and every day. Time is the most precious commodity of all- savior it’s wonderful fragrance that breezes by so quickly.

Life is a beach
P.S. to my story...

Two days after Thanksgiving, there is a knock on the door of the home we are staying and a woman named Linda shows up. She tells me she is a neighbor and wanted to welcome us for our stay. She is a friend of the owner. She brought us hot malasadas from Leonards, island treats that are always served warm and are like donuts. Light. Airy. Scrumptious. 

I know the truth. She was from the future bringing me my gift. 

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