My parents usually host Thanksgiving dinner at their house. We weren't sure whether it was going to happen this year with the kitchen and dining room in the midst of renovations. Somehow, the cabinets and counters came in and were installed in time for my mom to call and invite everyone over. Most of the time I just help my parents prepare whatever they plan to have for the meal, but this year I wanted to try out some new recipes and add them to our usual fare.
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I decided to make chocolate panna cotta layer cake. I had come across the recipe for it in the December issue of Bon Appetit. We always have apple and pumpkin pies, and I figured a little chocolate couldn't hurt. The recipe also said the cake could be made ahead and frozen for up to 2 weeks, so it seemed like the perfect thing to make ahead and bring. It's supposed to have a chocolate band around the outside, but because I was short on time and knew things would be hectic in the kitchen at home, I made it without.
On Wednesday, I worked in the morning and then set out to face traffic. I was on the road at 2:40 and all the way to exit 15 on the Mass Pike without hitting much of anything, but the rest of the drive took me until almost 7 o'clock, making what should have been a 2-hour drive 4 hours. To my relief, the cake survived the trip.
I arrived home to find my mom baking bread and my sister making spice cookies. Preparations were underway. We all got up early the next morning to prepare the Thanksgiving meal. We were having 22 people for dinner! The pumpkin pies had been baked. The turkey was roasting. The apple sausage stuffing was made. My dad finished making a chicken and rice soup and started on a butternut squash and apple soup (which actually was my favorite part of the whole meal). My older brother showed up in time to peel potatoes. My mom made candied yams; a fall salad with brown sugar-encrusted walnuts, gorgonzola, and dried fruit; and the mashed potatoes.
It was time for me to try out another recipe. I made brussels sprout hash with caramelized shallots (also from Bon Appetit). Just to make things a little more interesting, I crumbled some bacon on top once the hash was ready. (They were delicious!)
Twelve o'clock hit and we all stopped to listen to Alice's Restaurant, our family's Thanksgiving Day tradition. Shortly after that, relatives started showing up. Added to everything my family made for the dinner were green bean casserole, cheddar carrots, fruit salad, turnip, and apple pie. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.