11.07.2005

It's Turkey Time Again

Well it's time for people to start talking turkey. I don't live near my family, so Thanksgiving means something completely different to me than it did when I was a kid. Everyone still gathers in Ohio--every aunt, neice, nephew, uncle, baby, cousin and grandparent-- while my 'boysband' (long-term live-together boyfriend who's like my husband) and I relax in our PJs most of the day and gorge on whatever I make here in Pasadena. Sometimes I miss being with everyone back east; other times it's just enough to be passed around the room to speak to every relative I haven't spoken to since last Thanksgiving on the phone. But I do miss it. So one way I make up for the family's absence is in the food I cook, especially on a holiday like Thanksgiving.

I make a turkey, but I brine the bird, which my mother or grandmother never did. I make fluffy stuffing laden with butter, celery, onions and fresh herbs. We always have sweet potatoes baked with an orange-brown sugar glaze, mashed potatoes, green beans (my family) and corn (his family). When I really want to taste home, I make my great-grandmother's 'kiffles'. Kiffles are these handmade crescent rolls, rich with sour cream and butter, topped with a crunchy Kosher salt and caraway seeds. When made right, they are addictive. Ok, even made so-so, they are addictive! Only a few people in the family have mastered it: my grandmother (the daughter-in-law of the original recipe holder) and her son, my Uncle John. My mom makes them OK, but her forte is in cake baking, not yeast breads. My brothers have attempted, but I wasn't around to taste them. It's a time consuming task, making the kiffles, but it's worth it.

I don't know where my great-grandmother's recipe came from. Anna was my grandfather Edl's mother, a stout, terse Austrian woman who treated us to Quaker Oats apples and cinnamon oatmeal every time we went to visit her. When I think of her, I see plum trees in a big grassy back yard, taste her short bread cookies with walnut topping, and smell a kitchen permeated with the yeasty, buttery smell of kiffles.

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