Sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to spot. Take for example Thanksgiving. It’s supposed to be about breaking bread with friends and family, giving thanks for all the things in life that keep you going and enrich you. Somehow in our household it slowly turned into a gourmet competition, a chance to see how many new recipes we could debut in the assumption that five side dishes is five times better than one. This year we wanted to keep it simple. Truly.
Despite a massive amount of bread baking, I did most of it over the first half of the week, leaving me with just two loaves to bake before Thanksgiving, a pair of simple white bread beauties to cut up into bread crumbs for the stuffing. Oh white bread, how I’ve missed you. I had to have some of this as toast before it got mixed up with the veggies, sausage, herbs, and stock for stuffing. I nommed, and lo there was eye-closing and a murmur of approval.
Because once or twice a year I try to do something clever, I planned ahead and baked a loaf of sourdough on Tuesday to go with dinner and, miracle of miracles, managed to get a nicely-formed ear on the loaf.
Should I attribute this to using a banneton, adjusting my steam pan regimen, or scoring with one long cut rather than three? Beats the hell outta me. This is what I love about making things by hand—the possibility for success rests on so many variables that you’re constantly learning, adjusting, experimenting. It tasted good, as did the rest of our meal, from ricotta dip to turkey, onion and broccoli tarts to cranberry sauce.
For my part, I gave thanks for my wonderful wife and daughter, good friends, and health and happiness. Oh, and I gave an extra ‘woop-woop aw-yeah’ shoutout to my wife for keeping Thanksgiving simple this year, letting us eat and enjoy company rather than working ourselves to a sweat in the kitchen. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and on Monday, we’ll see that Black Friday came early to our house, and in a more colorful fashion.