In honor of Thanksgiving, I am thrilled to present this guest post from my friend Lisa Adams, an actress and personal chef. I needed a little inspiration in the kitchen this week so turned to Lisa for advice. Here’s what she said, “In the kitchen, I find I get to tell stories. Making things up as I go along or interpreting someone else’s recipe, I am speaking to your senses. I am speaking to your soul. I cater special events as well as drop off weekly meals for families. It is an honor to cook for my clients. Some I have been feeding for the past 11 years and it is my pleasure to contribute to their nutritional wellbeing.”
Being 37 weeks preggo I’d love for her to cook this up for me this week! Thank you Lisa for sharing with us today…
I am lucky enough to be part of a Gratitude group here in New York City where we email a list of things for which we are gratefulevery day. This has been our practice for nearly 4 years. So when Thanksgiving season comes around we are already 10 months into our year of Thanks. This makes it really easy to focus on the Giving.
My childhood memories some include hand traced turkeys and construction paper pilgrim hats, but they mostly include FOOD! My family participated in the Knights of Columbus Annual Turkey Dinners at my hometown church in Joplin, MO. We were always on some committee: cooking, serving, cleanup, or delivering turkey dinners to shut-ins. Coming together as a family to give all those years ago created a thread of generosity that runs deep with me today. I am so grateful to my parents for providing those opportunities for my Sister Jules and me each year.
Nearly every year, the actual Thanksgiving holiday was spent seven hours away in DeQueen, Arkansas at Ms. Ora K. Adams’ house aka Mamaw (pronounced Maa’ ma) As a little girl, the drive was endless. I can make myself carsick just thinking about those twisty roads and hills we traversed to get there. We were always rewarded with the loving and delicious fruits of Mamaw’s labor. Looking back, the food really wasn’t all that special, but the tradition of the smells and tastes, and the ritual of sharing themwere special indeed.
(Photo: David Loftus)
The highlight was never the turkey; it was the wishbone that my Sister and I wished upon. (To this day she still tries to cheat when we snap them.) There was gizzard gravy with hardboiled eggs that I hated but was one of my Dad’s favorites. There were plates full of Parker House rolls with sorghum and butter, traditional cornbread stuffing, we ate the famous green bean casserole, canned cranberry sauce (my favorite!) Libby’s pumpkin pie with cool whip, and chocolate cream pie finished our feast. Looking back, I don’t think the menu ever changed. My Grandmother passed when I was 18 and that Thanksgiving was the last time we saw her.
As a personal chef in NYC, I have created my own food culinary traditions for my clients. In fact, I have prepared the same meal for a very special family for the last 12 years. It is my favorite meal of the year to prepare because of these traditions I have created and shared. The preparation actually ‘stirs’ up those childhood memories and I offer up my time in the kitchen to Mamaw as well as my parents and Sister. I am my very own Knights of Columbus committee of shopping, cooking, cleanup, as well as delivery.
I’d like to extend a warm thank you to Jill for inviting me to her blog space and community. Also in the spirit of thanks and giving, I’d like to thank you for indulging me in my treasured memories by giving you a recipe from my NYC Thanksgiving menu! Perhaps it will inspire your own holiday meal.
- Butter Roasted Turkey
- Port Wine Gravy
- Blackberry Brandy Challah Bread Stuffing with Apples and Sage
- Traditional Cornbread Stuffing
- Green Bean Casserole
- Pear, Ginger, and Cranberry Chutney
- Sauteed kale and spinach with Caramelized Garlic
Port Wine Gravy
- After roasting your turkey, reserve all of the pan juices and browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Separate the pan juices from the fat by pouring them into a degreasing cup with a spout at the bottom. If you don’t have one, you can pour the drippings into any container. Chill the drippings in the container, and then scoop off the congealed fat and set it aside.
Add ½ cup of the reserved fat to a skillet. As it melts, whisk in ½ cup flour and create a roux. Stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Generously salt and pepper this mixture and slowly whisk in ½ a bottle of port wine. Keep whisking to smooth out the lumps and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Add the reserved juices, and 4 cups of chicken stock. Or if you can find it, demi glace will make it extra decadent (like the port isn’t enough!) Taste and add more port if you are inclined and continue simmering about 10 minutes to thicken. Taste again to see if it needs more salt and pepper.
A couple of tips:
You can swirl in a bit of butter right before you bring it to the table to make it extra glossy and smooth.
Lumps? Strain them, no one will know.
Have a wonderful holiday season!
You can find out more about me at LisaAdamsInNewYorkCity.com
Thanks Lisa! I’m so hungry just dreaming of all of these savory dishes… I especially love green bean casserole. YUM!