It's looking very fall-ish around here as I've gradually been getting the house ready for Thanksgiving. My in-laws will be arriving on Thursday and staying through the weekend, and it will also be their first time to meet their new grandson.
Other than Christmas decorations, I don't have much seasonal decor, so our house pretty much looks the same year round. But I love to make the holiday special, and that starts with setting the table for dinner, because a holiday shouldn't feel like every other day of the year. My husband designed and built our beautiful dining room table last year, and I collected the mismatched chairs, mostly from antique stores.
Like I did last year, I dried a handful of leaves from the trees in our backyard before the wind stripped them completely bare, and scattered them down the length of the table. A few branches cut from our maple tree, leaves still clinging stubbornly and arranged in a vase in the center of the table is really all the centerpiece I want. After Thanksgiving, I'll keep the same arrangement for Christmas, and hang a few ornaments from the branches. I think it's dramatic and beautiful in its simplicity.
The rest of the fall touches throughout the house are simple. The red lantern on the coffee table. Warm quilts and vintage wool blankets. Pretty copper mugs, cinnamon sticks and mulling spices on a silver tray, all ready for mulled wine. My kitchen chalkboard that I doodle on each season. Bowls heaped with fruit and vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner. Candles, nuts for cracking, and homemade rhubarb liqueur that I made in the summer and is now ready for pretty pink cocktails on cozy evenings by the fire.
Although our baby boy occupies most of my time during the day, as I have a few minutes here and there, I've been trying to get ahead on the meal preparations for anything that can be done in advance. I simmered cranberries and raspberries with sugar and spices for a wonderful, jammy cranberry raspberry sauce. I cooked the custard base for molasses ice cream, to which, after churning, I'll add a buttery brown sugar swirl. I think the ice cream will pair beautifully with the pecan pie and blueberry crumb pie I'll be baking tomorrow.
And lastly, our menu! We're pretty traditional, although I rarely make pumpkin pie, because it's just never been my favorite...
- Turkey, of course (My husband is in charge of the turkey prep, brining, seasoning, roasting, etc.)
- Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
- Cranberry Raspberry Sauce
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel (never with marshmallows)
- Cabbage Rolls (This is a traditional North Dakota dish my husband makes every year, that his grandma made every year... cabbage leaves are steamed until soft, filled with a mixture of rice, bacon and vinegar, then rolled up and baked. It's delicious.)
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Leeks
- Stuffing? still undecided, since it's not a dish I usually make... Same with rolls - they seem unnecessary to me with all the other wonderful side dishes to eat...
- Upside-down Cranberry Chocolate Cake
- Pecan Pie
- Blueberry Crumb Pie
- Molasses and Brown Sugar Swirl Ice Cream