First off, I am going to start with how I survived Thanksgiving. Lists. Multiple detailed and refined lists.
I live in spurts of organization. When things are going well, I am very loosey goosely about well, almost everything. I don't like to be bothered with details (unless I feel like it). However, things have been a little stressful lately. Ok, a lot stressful. Between work travel, X-C post season, life in general, things were accelerating off the circle of control and with a fast track toward the tangent of insanity.
This brings us to Tuesday afternoon. Two days before Thanksgiving. And beyond the fact that I was planning to cook, I had no plan. Nada. Zip. I had a turkey in the refrigerator. I knew I had lots of staples. But beyond that, I really had no clue. Somewhere around 2:00 the clenching feeling started clenching its icy fingers around my chest and moved into a sick feeling in the bottom of my stomach. Uh oh, I was starting to panic. But there is no time for panic in Thanksgiving. (I wish I had a cool superhero-like noise to insert here - along with an action sequency of a man with a mask and a cape, and maybe a goofy sidekick).
When the going gets tough, my theory is to make a list (or a series of lists). Break it all down into manageable pieces. Come up with a plan. I suppose this is where that fancy schmancy degree in Middle European History finally serves some usefulness (says the girl who "plays" with trains and trucks and ships for a living) - I have found that those skills I used "back in the day" to write forty-page research papers are not too far from the ones I now apply in both my personal and professional life. (Minus the ability/ need to read 200 pages of a textbook covering the role of women in circa 1600 Dutch society in one evening, thank you very much).
I started with my draft lists. (My momma, the English teacher, would have been so proud.) Broke down the food categories. Potatoes, turkey, bread, stuffing, dessert... Then started a new list where I determined out how I was going to prepare each category. With each pen stroke, the fingers wrapped so firmly around my inner cavities loosened ever so slightly. I took my second list and created a shopping list. I also took the second list and created a timeline (I was very tempted to put it down on a Gantt chart, but that may have been taking things a little too far). And gathered all of the lists and created my three final lists: 1) Menu, 2) Timeline/ To do list (broken out by day) and 3) detailed Shopping List (including which section of the store items could be found in, since I planned to have the dude handle the shopping portion since I had to run #2 out for a doctor appt).
I know it sounds a little A-R, but those lists saved my holiday. In a big way. First of all, they put structure into my preparations. Secondly, they helped me keep it real - I knew I had to get X, Y and Z done by G time or issues would abound. Finally, it gave me the illusion of control - when an item was completed, it was scratched off. The more lines, the more I had done, the more "in control" I felt. By the time Thursday morning rolled around, I was about as carefree as a sixteen year-old breaking curfew...
Moving on... I am pretty psyched because I have stumbled upon what I think is going to be a new favorite dessert for the table: Bon Appetit's Cranberry & Wild Blueberry Pie. I would never have thought to render blueberries & cranberries into the same dessert. But it makes sense and the result was absolutely heavenly and fully deserving of it's role in the Holiday Lineup.
I wish I had all sorts of wonderful and clever things to say about it. Maybe I could write an "ode". But words fail me. It was good. Just plain 'ole, down home good. I could see myself sitting in a diner in Maine eating this for breakfast with a cup of coffee. It was dessert that just belonged. Probably the only technical issue I had making this pie was of my own doing. I started the filling before I had to run some errands and left it to cool while I was out) Three hours later when I came home assembled the pie, I forgot one crucial detail.
I was somewhat embarrassed when my #2 pulled out a long sticky thing from her piece of pie. Yeah, I forgot to take out the cinnamon sticks from the filling. D'oh. (Slaps forehead while having a Simpson moment) So, my one piece of advice to any potential pie makers: Don't forget to remove the cinnamon sticks from the filling! You may not always be lucky enough to have your own flesh and blood discover the error of your ways while in the privacy of your own home. Just saying...
I know this pie passed muster, because my FE (fussy eater) liked it (alot). Hey - that girl is on a tear trying new foods lately. Maybe there is hope???
C'est la vie!
Cranberry and Wild Blueberry Pie
• 16 ounces frozen organic wild blueberries (do not thaw)
• 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw; about 3 cups)
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
• 2 Pie Crust dough disks
• Heavy whipping cream (for brushing)
• Freshly grated nutmeg (for sprinkling)
• Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and begins to boil, stirring occasionally, 12 to 14 minutes. Continue to boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer berry mixture to glass or ceramic dish; cool completely (mixture will thicken). DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; chill.
• Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°F. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer crust to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish; trim dough overhang to 1 inch. Remove cinnamon sticks from filling; spoon into crust. Roll out second dough disk to 13x10-inch rectangle. Cut dough lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide strips (11 to 12 strips). Arrange half of dough strips across top of filling, spacing evenly apart. Form lattice by arranging remaining dough strips at right angle to first dough strips and weaving strips, if desired. Trim off excess dough from strips. Brush edges of bottom crust lightly with whipping cream. Press dough strip ends to adhere to bottom crust edges. Fold edges of bottom crust up over strips, pinching to seal. Crimp edges decoratively. Brush edges and lattice lightly with cream. Sprinkle lattice strips lightly with nutmeg. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling thickly, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool pie on rack. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
• Serve pie at room temperature.