November 27, 2006

856 miles to make the giblet gravy?

I managed to make the journey between Baltimore and Boston again in November, avoiding the worst of the holiday traffic and experiencing none of the foul weather of the previous trip.

Thanksgiving with the family was stressful at times and occasionally blissful. About average. As my uncle Jimes was up in Maine, I filled in at the gravy station, a position of both great honor and great responsibility at the holiday meal. While the turkey in inarguably the centerpiece of the meal, the gravy has often taken center stage. It's been that good, giblets and all.

Meeting that bar took both time and plenty of reference to elder generations' palates and craft. After we put in the bird at 11 the previous evening to roast for more than 14 hours at 250 degrees, the neck and celery cuttings, half an onion, three cloves and a bay leaf went into a stew pot to simmer quietly for the night.

I used that stock to consitute the gravy, along with chopped sauteed liver, heart and mushrooms. Adding port during the process felt vaguely decadent, but I did it anyway, along with the jus I'd reserved cooking the mushrooms.

Watching my family members told me I'd at least cleared that bar, though I think that my uncle's roux is still superior.

My mother and I took some long walks in the mornings, making the most of the abundant late fall sunshine in Maryland along the quiet streets of Towson. Friday morning, we walked along the banks of Lake Roland in Robert E. Lee Park and into the woods, logging three miles nearly to foot with the help of my GPS.

Here's the spot, embedded below from Wikimapia:

Highlight: watching my mother identify a flicker by sound and then finding it and pointing it out to her with the binoculars.

Boston seems cold, grey and harried by contrast, as everyone seems only to have shifted into a higher gear on and off the road. I've heard and seen that Bostonians walk, talk, speak, drive and shop at higher speeds than elsewhere in the country. While that's not uniformly true, as, in fact, few things are, I'm noticing a hum in the air.


I wish I wasn't experiencing it myself, but inevitably balancing work, family and some semblance of a personal life, to say nothing of spirituality in this season of consumerism, has caused a not-so-subtle adjustment in my own timing.

I do wish it wasn't getting dark so damnably early.

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