Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Splendid Table

I'm so excited that Lynn Rossetto-Kasper's show, "The Splendid Table" is now available in its entirety as a podcast. Until this past show, all we heard on the podcasts was the call-in portion of the show.

Foodies everywhere, delight! It's a great show!

So what are ya'll making for Thanksgiving?

I'm doing my traditional turkey, a new cornbread stuffing, a green bean dish, mashed potatoes, cole slaw (like Mom makes it - SO good on turkey sandwiches later in the weekend), sourdough rolls, and cranberry relish/sauce (a congregant makes it for me every year and it's the yummiest!). I think I could do one more vegetable but I am as of yet uninspired. A lot of the magazines are featuring roasted veggies (blah) and things like creamed onions, which I can't stand. Why would anyone want to eat creamed pearl onions or whole baked shallots? Also, please don't recommend brussel sprouts. I've given them many chances and I just don't like that they taste like dirt.

Dessert will be the usual pumpkin and pecan pies plus something chocolatey and boozy in the form of a trifle. If you have a dark chocolate boozey trifle recipe I'd love to hear about it. I usually make a kind of boozey custardy trifle with ladyfingers and raspberry jam, but this year I feel chocolatey.

My big question is, if I have to break up my dinner guests into two tables,
(1) am I required to get a long enough table cloth to hide the legs of the fold-out card table and (2) do I put out place cards or let people select where they sit?

I hate not having everyone at one big table but my dining room table seats six, maximum.


Anonymous jinnis said...

Yay Thanksgiving - such good food.

As to your questions - first about the tablecloth. The essential question is whether the card table is the same height as the dining table. If so, you may do well to find a long cloth. If not, I would avoid that "tent" look that comes from trying to hide the different heights and use two tablecloths. Either let the difference stand alone without drawing attention to it, or play with it for the table setting as if, of course, you meant to have two tables.

As for seating arrangements - if all seating was at the same table, sure, use placecards. Given that there are different tables, let the guests sort it out - then you won't have to wonder about status in relation to you as host or what have you.

For the food - why not creamed onions? And not something made with pearl onions. Think big thick slices of them baked with cream and butter and flour - something like onion rings without the batter. A wide, shallow baking dish allows for lots of crispy bits. I will be missing my family's casserole this turkey day.

Blogger Chalicechick said...

1. You're not REQUIRED, but it would look nice.

2. I HATE to sit on an end of the table, so I like assigned seating so I can assign myself someplace to sit in the middle. When I'm too lazy for that, I just leave a half-full glass of water at my own place and people get the idea. Whether you assign seats probably depends on how formal you want the meal to be. Personally, I would not want to sit at the card table and would feel mildly slighted if I had to. Better for me to feel slighted by chance than by my host.

We're doing turkey, baked sweet potato coins with curry, and rolls. The ChaliceRelative is bringing ambrosia and the ChaliceMom is bringing stuffing. I may do stir-fried broccli or that dish with the carrots cooked in beer, theCSO really likes both. I'll probably pick up a dessert from Wegman's.


Blogger John Plummer said...

We are going to Buffalo for Thanksgiving (family) butare having a Thanksgiving-ish dinner party on Friday of this week. I am drawing partial inspiration from Isa Moskowitz - you might consider the truly excellent salad:

Blogger Elizabeth said...

Our traditional family Thanksgiving dinner of chili and pie, with a generous helping of donation to the local Food Bank on the side. There aren't very many of us, and we're not all that fond of turkey (and I'm not all that fond of ham - and I'm cooking, so no ham!).

I would only do one long tablecloth if the card table is *exactly* the same height as the dinner table - otherwise you get the "tent" effect, or people will inadvertently set things on the edge where the two tables meet, and things will get spilled.

I also agree with letting people choose their seats. Otherwise you get people wondering why you sat them at the card table, when they might have been perfectly happy to choose a seat at the card table for themselves.

Blogger Obijuan said...

I must be one of the few who craves creamed pearl onions (mmmmm . . . grandma cooking memories). No one else in the family believes me when I say they're real food.

We'll go to my in-laws in Iowa for turkey, sausage and apple stuffing, sweet potato-pecan gratin, "Not your mama's" green beans (yum), and some other usual fixins.

And a chocolate boubon pecan pie.

That I will eat for breakfast.

Blogger Ellis said...

I think no tablecloth should hang down too far; too many plates have been spilled at my house when tablecloths get caught on people's knees.

As for the seating, I think that if you're having couples over, you should assign placecards, seating them apart from each other. That way they get to have separate conversations, which avoids the annoying mutual storytelling effect, and gives them something to talk about when they get home. They may make a fuss at first, but when they find out how nice it is, they'll be glad you did it. In Victorian times, it was considered unseemly for couples to want to sit together, as though they were inappropriately lovey-dovey and also uninterested in the other guests. At a small table it may make no difference, but at two tables it will.

Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

Yay; Splendid Table podcast for free!

I have three Thanksgiving dinners to attend. To one I'm bringing sausage stuffing, another cranberry sauce and veggies (I will probably do some roasted veggies + my carrot and brown sugar dish); to the third I am not sure yet.

Anonymous Melissa J said...

This is my favorite meal to prepare every year. Even 34 weeks pregnant, I am looking forward to spending the day in the kitchen.
Our menu…
Fried Turkey (Turkey will sit in brine for two days prior. We had a lot of fun doing this last year.)
Roasted Turkey breast
Spinach Salad with apples, clementines & red onions w/ Dijon vinaigrette
Mashed Potatoes made with cheeses, sour cream and fresh chives
Stuffing with our very own garden herbs
Cranberry sauce with orange and cinnamon (love cooking those berries down and hearing them pop)
Fresh green bean casserole
Hot rolls of some kind
Sweet potato casserole
Pumpkin Cheesecake

I agree with the comment above. If the tables flow together use one cloth, if not go with two. I would skip the placecards. If guests seem confused when getting ready to sit just offer verbal direction.

Blogger boyinthebands said...

Your menu looks yummy. If I'd add a vegetable, it would be either a yellow-squash/cream-of-mushroom/bread-crumbs/cheddar-cheese casserole or baked acorn squash quarters. (I'd avoid butternuts for the occasion; they take too long too peel.)

I can't quite picture how your tables will relate to one another. Will this be in your dining room or set up elsewhere? Will the main table spill into the card table?

I don't recall it if would fit, but I would almost be prone to push the main table against a side wall, making it "the groaning board" and set up three card tables with reasonable cloths for dining. Sort of a Jackie-O v. State Department protocol situation.

Or if that's radical, at least don't append the card table along the long axis of the main table. If you have two card tables, they can can be set up (space allowing) as a very shallow horseshoe. See, I agree with CC about the second-class status of the card-table. We've all been there, and I would do as much as possible to make the card tables (redubbed "small tables") a feature rather than a liability.

Blogger Jess said...

Carrots cooked in bourbon, orange juice, and butter are always good.

Blogger Princess Pinky said...

your menu looks yummy. I agree that placecards when there are two unequal tables is not the best idea.


My brother in law is vegetarian and no one but me wants to be accommodating. Could someone suggest a hearty and yummy non meat dish that would substitute for turkey?

Blogger Siobhan said...

I'm a big fan of "The Splendid Table"- and am proud to claim her as a sister Minnesotan! Love the show, and love her!

For Thanksgiving- see the current issue of Real Simple for ideas on seating--great ideas for who to sit next to whom- and which personality pairings to avoid.
We are gathering with a group of friends- we take turns hosting (those who have room!) and everyone brings something for the meal. I'm contributing my now-famous green beans with carmelized onions and Dijon-balsamic viniagrette, and we'll also have a friend's homemade organic cranberry sauce, twice baked sweet potatoes, baby peas, a wonderful green salad with sliced pears and pomegranate seeds, and all the usual trimmings. Then we'll all go to another friend's home for dessert buffet. Then, because we miss the leftovers for great sandwiches, I'll roast a turkey breast over the weekend!

Many blessings of abundance to all during this season of gratitude.

Blogger powderblue said...

My partner and I are returning to the Chicago Diner for its 24th annual Thanksgiving feast. You can see pictures of the meals it serves at

(If anyone is interested in going, now is the time to make reservations for the sittings that begin at noon and go every two hours after that throughout the afternoon. They always sell out.)

It's a surprisingly connecting feeling to sit in communion with families and friends we do not know, everyone enjoying themselves and a delicious meal of peace and thanksgiving for all.

This link has some good holiday recipes for those cooking at home: Once you’re there, click on "Celebrating a Vegetarian Holiday".

May peace be in our blessings and on our plates this holiday season.

Blogger Chalicechick said...

My mother-in-law does amazing things with Tofurkey, Princess Pinky.



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