In case you’re new to my blog, let me introduce you to our in-house chef, Bonnie, and her sous-chef for the day, Laura. You can see what has become our Thanksgiving motto, Let’s Get Stuffed!
Bonnie is the mastermind behind our elaborate Thanksgiving dinner – and happily stuffed we are. In fact, we’re gleefully stuffed full of leftovers (a word that doesn’t do justice to the magnificent flavors) the entire weekend!
She is incredibly organized, starting with her typed up menu and shopping list. The ingredients are lined up on the counter in advance and ready to go – whetting our appetites for what’s ahead.
Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is Baking Night. It’s a family tradition that no one wants to miss, especially those of us who want to lick the spatulas… Bonnie starts by preparing her pie crusts, which is fun to watch. She stands on a stool to get more leverage with the rolling pin when she rolls out the dough. Smart lady.
In past years, Bonnie has made 4 or more different desserts. This year she found a Food Network Recipe for 4 Pies in 1. Why make 4 different pies which you can make only one? You can see the 4 different fillings: pecan, apple, pumpkin and cherry.
Bonnie recruited me to help with the crust since she says I have a particular talent in smoothing down the bumps and cracks. Probably something to do with being an artist, and the practice I had with my mother making apple pies. Glad to help. Here Bonnie is putting the cherry filling into the crust.
I thought the 4 Pies In 1 was done at this point. However, Bonnie still had to put the finishing crusts on the cherry and apple pies before baking.
Since this was a new recipe, Bonnie prepared a backup pumpkin pie for Jay, just in case. And she made gluten-free pumpkin muffins for Laura and I, which somehow I neglected to take a photo of. How can that be?
On Thanksgiving Day, Bonnie was up bright and early. By the time I got up, Bonnie had already prepped several dishes on her 17 dish menu, 20 items with desserts. Several variations of stuffing were included.
The best part of the day is watching Bonnie’s face glow when she takes the risen popovers out of the oven. She loves it so much she does it twice, with and without gluten. No Thanksgiving or blog would be complete without these two popover photos.
For the first time, the gluten-free popovers seemed to rise higher than the regular popovers. Bonnie’s secret is the new 1 for 1 flour from Bob’s Red Mill, which is engineered so you can use the same amount of flour in the gluten-free recipe as in the original recipe – which turned out to be delicious!
As Bonnie started preparing the turkey breasts and I was documenting her progress, things got a little rowdy in the kitchen.
Somehow we went from here…
...to here. Open Revolt!
And then to here (remind you of the Magic Mirror from Beauty and the Beast?). So there is some silliness going on in the kitchen in this behind the scenes view.
At this point, I couldn’t keep up with the dishes and pots and pans. I called for reinforcements.
While the team was in the kitchen, I put the finishing touches on the table.
Bonnie hung the Friendsgiving banner over the mirror since we were having friends over. Somehow Bonnie managed to sneak upstairs, change into a sophisticated outfit, and greet Barbara and Bruce – just in time to finish rolling zucchini with guacamole for appetizers.
One by one the warm dishes moved from the oven to the buffet table as we all enjoyed these delicious appetizers, while trying not to overstuff ourselves before the main meal.
Oh yes, I can just hear Bonnie saying that I forgot the Butternut Squash Soup (which was stored in a Mason jar that I somehow overlooked. I’m also missing a good closeup of the Pumpkin Muffins, but she didn’t notice yet…)
Bonnie got everything on the table, and took a second to sit and enjoy the fruits of her labor.
Finally, dinner is served! The dining room is open. Help yourself while everything is still warm!
After taking a break to make room for dessert in the dessert stomach (an inside joke of the night), Bonnie presented her piece-de-resistance dessert. Turns out I had to move quickly since the tray is really heavy. (Take the photo already, Mom!)
Then the chef could sat down for the night, listen to our rave reviews, and take satisfaction that this was another job well done.
Of course, we marked the end of this wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with our traditional selfie. This time Bonnie set the timer on my new iPhone 8 and put it on a shelf. (Our arms weren’t long enough to include 6 people. I don’t know how you did it, Ellen Degeneres.)
After Barbara and Bruce left, the girls wandered upstairs for sister bonding time. Jay and I spent a while cleaning up, basking in the afterglow of a terrific evening.
We marveled at Bonnie’s ambitious menu and the super human energy it took to execute it. The menu featured distinct flavors, yet everything went well together. Jay and I were especially amazed by her Wednesday night baking adventure, which kept Laura and Bonnie up until 1:30am after both working day jobs.
Up to her elbows in pots and pans on Thanksgiving, Bonnie looked content and happy. Sometimes people ask why she does this every year. The answer is that it is a labor of love for Bonnie – and it shows on her face. She is focused and totally engrossed in the task before her. Everything else falls away. Of course, we are so grateful that she shares the love with all of us.
Later I went upstairs and found Chef Bonnie and her sous-chef.
So maybe Chef Bonnie is human after all…. Bonnie, thank you for making Thanksgiving such a superb eating experience (click for 2015 and 2014 when Bonnie established herself as the Other Food Artist in the Family).
You’ve spoiled me for life.