Cooking, writing, writing, cooking

By Mir
November 26, 2008

Today is prep day. In order to prevent myself from having a nervous breakdown tomorrow, today I have to not only get enough work done that I can more or less stay offline for the day (as running off to check my email when we have a houseful of guests might seem rude) (though perhaps I could slip my iPhone into my apron pocket…), but I also have to cook a whole mess of stuff (yes, that’s the technical term) so that tomorrow I can concentrate on the turkey and our company.

And the wine. Of course.

So this morning I got up and threw some cranberries into a strainer in the sink, and did some work, and made some cranberry sauce, and did some more work, and made some more cranberry sauce, and… well, that’s sort of how the day is going to go.

I did take a break from the preparation of TOMORROW’s food to whip up a batch of buttermilk pancakes for breakfast. This is because my long-suffering husband went to the grocery store for me without complaint when I was freaking out about everything I had to do, yesterday, and I made him a list and wrote “BUTTERMILK” on it. “I think,” I told him, when I handed it to him, “that a pint of buttermilk will be more than enough. But I don’t know if you can buy it in a pint container. If not, a quart is fine. I can always make something with the leftover.”

So he went to the store and came back with a HALF GALLON of buttermilk.

(Sometimes our house is a lot like that movie “Lost in Translation,” except that—unlike Scarlett Johansson—I don’t often lounge around without pants. Okay, maybe it’s not like that at all.)

When you need something like a cup of buttermilk for your recipes and your husband presents you with half a gallon of buttermilk, but has done so without complaint so that you could take care of other things, you only tease him about it a little. And then you make pancakes.

After breakfast (and the second batch of cranberry sauce) (and yes, before some wiseguy says it, I am making more than cranberry sauce and no, I’m not making twelve different kinds, just two—one traditional and one spicy), I did some more work, and now I’m doing this, and after I finish one more thing I’m going to go peel potatoes.

My life is glamorous. (P.S. The buttermilk is for the mashed potatoes. Anyone know how many potatoes I’d have to be mashing to need an entire half gallon…?)

Scenes from this morning (photos courtesy of Otto):

Mmmmm… exploding cranberries. (This is the traditional one. The other one has fresh ginger and cardamom and hunks of tangerines. In other words, the other one is for the grown-ups, and this one is for Chickadee.)

This is the maple buttermilk cornbread (oh yeah, I did need some buttermilk for this too, I guess…) that will be magically turned into stuffing, tomorrow. Great stuffing starts with awesome from-scratch cornbread. That little nick out of the edge, there? No idea how that happened. Nope. None. (But if you can resist that cornbread, straight out of the cast iron… well, you’re a stronger person than I.)

The children are bouncing around upstairs, and although I’m feeling a bit scattered, all of the smells from the kitchen wafting into my office are making it a very pleasant day, indeed.

Perhaps we’ll have a turkey tragedy or something, tomorrow, to make it all a little more interesting and less idyllic. You can hope, I suppose.


  1. Deborah P

    Happy Thanksgiving and I hope any food-related mishap is only bad enough to be funny and fodder for the blog.

  2. Courtney

    maple buttermilk cornbread? Where would one find that recipe? It sounds and looks delicious.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  3. Kelly

    I am envious of your cranberry sauces. Where I am going for the holiday, the cranberry has to make that sucking noise coming out of the can or there is much pouting.

  4. Mit

    I agree 100% on the homemade buttermilk cornbread. You can also make salad dressing with it (for dipping the pre-dinner dining veggies) …

  5. lmerie

    Oooh, looks great! LOL, I am there with Kelly – where I go, it too makesthe sucking noise!

  6. Megan

    Yipes. You just burst my bubble of self delusion that this is NOT the day before Thanksgiving and I do NOT have to go the grocery store because somehow I have managed… erm… not to do any shopping at all since last week. Self delusion is a happy place until it all comes crashing down and finds you in the aisles at Safeway after work wondering why you decided on Brussels sprouts with pecans when any normal person would sling some frozen beans in with a bit of butter and lemon and call it done.

    For some reason buttermilk pancakes with a nice cranberry type sauce sounds really, really good… slightly tart, not too sweet… mmmmmm…

  7. Fiona

    I’ve been told you can freeze buttermilk. Then you can have your cups worth at almost anytime.
    Love the sounds of the spicy cranberry sauce. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday with out any turkey tragedies!

  8. ImpostorMom

    man, all that almost makes me wish I was cooking and not merely driving across town to my MIL’s house. Almost.

  9. kd@abitsquirrelly

    I am glad I don’t have to do anything but rolls, salad and dessert, because my stuff would not be nearly as awesome as yours.

  10. Scottsdale Girl

    Happy Thanksgiving to the MIR fambly. :)

  11. Sillycakes

    Oh…my. I never thought of buttermilk for mashed potatoes. I always used just regular, full-fat milk, but…oh, I MUST try that! Thanks, and happy holidays. :)

  12. exile on mom street

    Squee! I love the holidays! I too have been making cranberry sauce today. Only the traditional kind, but I’ll have to add the spicy type for next year.

    Also, Pumpkin-Gingersnap Tiramisu…who needs pie?

    Have a wonderful day.

  13. The FringeGirl

    Looks yummy so far! I’ve already made one pecan pie incorrectly and am going for round two. I also messed up a wild rice and corn recipe that I’m making over…it’s a little like ground hog’s day in my house.

  14. Jess

    Seriously, maple buttermilk cornbread! That sounds so amazing! Please, share the recipe. :)

    Oh, yeah, and happy Thanksgiving. Ironically, I don’t do my cooking til the day afterward, as my side of the family gets together the Saturday after. Woo.

  15. JennyM

    Yay. I’m getting ready to leave work to go home and commence to baking. I’m organizing desserts this year. So far on tap: pecan pie, cranberry-pear cake, chess squares, apricot bars and divinity fudge, pumpkin cheesecake and white chocolate chip-cranberry cookies (the latter two, contributions of my sister). And already, my pants don’t fit.

  16. Ariel

    I like to soak chicken in buttermilk before I coat it in stuff and bake it. (I suppose one could also fry it too…):)

  17. Tammy

    Y’all are making me hungry…

  18. laurie

    starving now. We are celebrating Thanksgiving on Sunday due to the divorce thang and all…so on Saturday I will totally relate to the cooking panic.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  19. maris

    Your cornbread sounds ammmmazing. Where did you get the recipe?

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. Half Assed Kitchen

    I like to lounge around with no pants while sipping buttermilk from a goblet. Mixed with Cristal. You should try it.

  21. bec 38

    Mir, since you so kindly passed on your stuffing recipe to me last year, I am making it tomorrow. But, not with from-scratch cornbread–I bought a mix, not Jiffy with the lard in it, but something somewhat healthier…I’ll let you know how it comes out! Happy Turkey Day!

  22. EmmaC

    Hi, Mir!

    FYI, buttermilk freezes really well. You can thaw it in the microwave and whisk it with a fork to reincorporate the liquid and solids. (I know, I know, WHY does no one tell us these things?!?!)

  23. Lisa- Domestic Accident

    Whoa. You make the bread that goes into the stuffing. No words for my awe.

  24. jwg

    Yum. Not for today, because I know you are busy, but after the fact could you post the spicy cranberry sauce recipe please. Of course, that will make 2 kinds that nobody but me eats, but the hell with them.

  25. The Other Leanne

    But…how do you get the cranberry sauces into the cans?
    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

  26. Chuck

    I just got done doing test baking for my sister’s dinner tomorrow…I’m bringing the rolls and this year I’m surprising everyone with fresh baked rather than bought at the Kroger’s bakery. They actually turned out pretty well. Bachelors can cook, dammit! We just don’t, very often.

    Spicy cranberry sauce sounds very intriguing. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow.

  27. tj

    Happy Turkey Day :)

  28. Asianmommy

    The cornbread looks really good. Happy Thanksgiving!

  29. Giyen

    that is some hardcore cooking lady. cornbread from scratch? mmmm … this is when i wish i was the cook not the guest. although, around 7 pm tomorrow i’ll be feeling smug and relaxed and will be happy that i am a guest! lol.

    happy thanksgiving to you and your lovely family!


  30. Laurie

    Isn’t every turkey a tragedy on Thanksgiving, for giving it’s life for the table?

  31. Barbara

    No hoping for turkey tragedy coming from here.

    Only the best wishes for your family celebration, my heart to yours.

    I’m thankful for the many laughs you have given me. And in the spirit of Christmas, as in what do I want? More. Mir. Blessings!

  32. Deb

    I just got done making fresh cranberry relish with ginger. MMM…

    But that cornbread– Please share the recipe because well, that sound Yum.

  33. StephLove

    We’re driving up to my mom’s tomorrow and I offered to make a couple side dishes to bring with us but all she wanted was an apple pie, so I made a Dutch apple pie this morning. I’m glad I didn’t need to do more because I’m really, really sick. I wonder if shortly after our arrival I will be allowed to crawl into bed and avoid all my loved ones.

    Happy Thanksgiving. Enquiring minds want to know if Chickadee’s new vegetarianism will survive the assault of the holiday.

  34. Shalet

    That looks delicious. I am regretting my decision to eliminate the cranberries from our meal!

  35. Katherine

    Buttermilk lasts FOREVER in the fridge. I’ve literally used it several months after its date. You might wonder how you can tell if its still good as its already sour – believe me, if its gone bad you’ll know for sure!

    I’d be interested in your buttermilk cornbread. The recipe I’ve used isn’t very good. It’s fine the first night but goes bad by the next day.

    The cardamom sounds interesting in the cranberry sauce. DH made some with candied ginger and OJ. Very tasty.

  36. Aimee

    Yep. Tonight I’m making sweet potatoes (for the sweet potato risott tomorrow) and prepping some of the stuff for the stuffing. That cornbread sounds insanely delicious. Can I have the recipe? Pleeeeeeeeeeease? As it is, my stuffing tomorrow is being made with (actually very good) organic demi-miche bread from Trader Joe’s.

    Also, exile on mom street? Pumpkin Gingerbread Tiramisu sounds like HEAVEN.

  37. Aimee

    D’oh! Happy Thanksgiving, Mir! (I knew I forgot something)

  38. Sherry

    I *hate* that I can only find a half gallon of buttermilk when I only need a cup or so.

    I was thrilled when I found POWDERED BUTTERMILK at the store! Woo and then Hoo!

  39. Celeste

    But the turkey tragedies are what makes the holidays truly memorable! Which Thanksgiving do you always remember… the one where everything went smoothly, and the food was perfect, or the one where KidONE made KidTWO laugh with a mouthful of fruit salad and spray it all over everyone at the table… but not on KidONE. Not that anyone EVER did that at my house. Ever.

  40. Anna

    MIR! YOU MUST make buttermilk pie. It is absolutely fabulous, and I think it’s a southern thing, to boot. Maybe that would explain why they offer a half gallon? Everyone else is making it for Thanksgiving.
    You can google the recipe, but I think it’s just a couple of eggs, some sugar, flour and the buttermilk. A couple of cups, almost.
    My Wooden Spoon has a good version of the recipe. :)

  41. David

    Mir, it looks and sounds purely scrumptious! And that little nick on the edge of the cornbread? Most assuredly the minimum sampling required for, um, proper Quality Control. Yeah, that’s it. Actually, you should probably check it at several locations. I know I would. ;-)

    Kelly, bless you! How well I remember as a kid always trying to get one of the end slices that had the ribs molded in from the can lid. =) Ah, those were the days.

    Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

  42. Lori

    You can keep buttermilk forever. Like Katherine I have used it months after the date. If you go to the Epicurious website and find Apple Buttermilk Custard Pie, you will find yet another scrumptious item to use the buttermilk. All milk and butter can be frozen for later use too. I have been prepping all day too! Have a great day with your friends.

  43. joshilyn

    FOR REALS I need the recipe for maple buttermilk cornbread.


    Love, Demanding pooburger

  44. Daisy

    I love the exploding cranberries! I posted the recipe for 1-2-3- cranberry sauce on Tuesday. We’ve been making it ever since I brought the recipe home from kindergarten. Yes, when I, myself, was 6.

  45. Jennifer Suarez

    Wonderful photos Otto!! Stop by my site and check out our Turkey!

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  46. Swistle

    Happy Thanksgiving! –Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce & Pepperidge Farm Stuffing

  47. Katie in MA

    Yes. Memorable. That’s exactly what I was thinking on Wednesday afternoon after baking pies all day and prepping to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner EVER – when my sink exploded. All over me. And then I had to use my Phone-a-Friend and he was all “Is it an emergency?” and I hemmed and hawed because, well, I knew he meant “Is anyone bleeding?” but to me it WAS an emergency! Really! Thank god for happy endings!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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