Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

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We were having two sets of neighbors over, today, one of which adopted a Chinese girl nearly three years ago the other is looking to adopt as well, so John and I proposed that, instead of a traditional Thanksgiving with turkey and all the fixings, we'd have roast ducks with all our trimmings. They brought vegetables, pies, and shrimp cocktail appetizers. Yum! We did duck, hwoa tsai, lots of pancakes, hoisin sauce, and dry-cooked string beans. I also did an almond tofu/jello with fruit salad as I remember that a lot from my kidhood, and I roasted the last of the NW chestnuts as I knew that they'd go bad if they sat in the fridge any longer. Besides it was a kind of Festive Thing to do.

Problem was that with this very ambitious menu, I had to have some help and sleep. I went to sleep a little late, got up at 5:30 to "go sleep with" Jet, which actually involved me lying like a lump on one half of his bed while Jet tossed, turned, kicked me in the head, and the last straw was when he tried to lie ON MY HEAD. Arrrgh!

So at 7, I turned Jet over to John, and I went back to sleep until 8:30.

When I got up, though, John was really feeling badly with his cold. He was smart and decided to go to the urgent care; however, the one in Longmont was closed. The only one he could find open, today, was in Louisville, so he went there. Smart man.

But that did leave me with Jet and the menu to tackle. Having already prepped the ducks last night, the worst of it was done; but there was still a ton to do.

Jet helped! He wanted to watch Monsters Inc. three times in a row. Astonished me. When Jet goes to movies with his friends of his age, they're usually out of the movie halfway into it and on the way home. There have been times when the movie has finished and he looks around and asks, "Where did ---- go?" Hee. He's definitely got the movie gene. And here's Jet watching the same movie three times in a row. Yeesh.

He did potty. He did eat, an immense amount. He had cereal, oranges, yogurt, a jam sandwich, a peanut butter sandwich, an orange juice, and his usual chocolate milk. He had five pieces of his Halloween candy (I figure the sooner he gets through it the better), and the funny thing was that halfway through his second piece of candy was when he was asking for yogurt and a sandwich... I think he's making up for the days when he didn't feel so well, or he's going through another growth spurt as he's getting taller. Definitely getting taller.

I cooked. I soaked mushrooms and transparent noodles. I chopped cabbage, ginger, garlic, chicken, green onions, scrambled eggs, and the soaked goods. I then stir-fried all the stuff that needed to be cooked, along with some carrots and bean sprouts, and just tossed it all into a giant Tupperware bowl and put the soaking liquid for the mushrooms in another container. All ready for the Wok at the end.

Of course, in the midst of all that I realized we didn't have bean sprouts, so Jet and I hopped into the van to go to King Soopers and get them. The grocery store was just packed. We got our bean sprouts. Jet wanted the carrots, and I thought that would be fun and useful for the stir fry, so I got them. I also found out that Archway makes pecan wedding cake cookies, which are also probably known by a million other names, they're just the hard ball cookies with lots of powered sugar on 'em. There were only one or two chemical ingredients on them, too, so that was easy for me to get.

Jet wanted Jello when we got back, he really wanted the "sugar jello" which was the almond gelatin we'd made last night. He'd never put sugar in Jell-O before, so it made an impression on him that we'd put sugar in the stuff we'd made last night. But I wanted to save that for later. Still...

So I cut up the almond 'tofu' into tiny blocks, spooned them into a container, and gave him a couple of spoonfuls with his oranges. And he ate them all up. Yum.

John got home with his prescriptions by lunch time, and he went to take a nap. Jet was happily into the third rendition of Monsters Inc. and he'd discovered that the blue circle button would replay Mike's Car short over and over and over... so I was pretty set.

I then prepped all the chestnuts while I put a big pot of water on to boil. When it came to boiling, I dumped all the frozen green beans into the water to boil them for eight to ten minutes. When they were done I dumped them all into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. That went into a big mixing bowl, and on top of that were three containers with chopped Schezuan pickled mustard greens and ground dried shrimp; chopped green onions; and a flavoring sauce with soy, sugar, and wine. All ready for the Big Wok at the end.

The ducks went into the hot ovens at this point. I found out that the garage fridge, because it's already so cold out there, actually froze the skin of the duck! Eek! I did figure out that the freeze was only skin deep, though, as the meat at the cavity was just fine. Whew. I didn't want to get it under water, again, as that would sog the skin. So I just put it on the counter until the ovens were warm, and it gave then, just fine. I did poke holes through the skin, into the fat, but not into the meat. That allowed all the rendered fats to drip out and kind of self-basted the beast as well.

John got up about now. So I went to take a shower. By the time I was out, the house smelled great and John had picked up everything. He felt a lot better with the drugs, but since it was a viral infection, they couldn't really do antibiotics. Which is probably all for the better.

At 3:30, I tucked Jet under a blanket on the couch and told him he had to nap if he was going to party. He resisted until I lay down by him, and put a big blanket over both of us. He hushed fairly quickly, and then went to sleep within 20 breaths. Whew.

4 was supposed to be when people were arriving. Peter called to say that his kids were still asleep. I said, No worries, not all the food's going to get done on time anyway, so feel free to let them sleep through. So they did. Mikayla and her parents arrived at about 4:20 and John coached them on how to cook the pancakes on the griddle. So they took that duty while I rolled and rolled and rolled. John thought we didn't have nearly enough pancakes, so we did a five-cup batch and then a four-cup batch. :-)

The ducks registered as done on the thermometer. They weren't nearly brown enough on top, for me, so I turned on the broilers. Of course, that's when the second batch had to be made... and the next thing I know, the fire alarms go off.


Smoke's billowing out of the ovens. The ducks are exactly right, though, so I'm pretty happy. Plus, there was the added bonus of Jet waking up. Mikayla was getting bored, but she helped Jet get up and peer around as we were trying to get the alarm to stop. I gave Jet a good morning hug and his hair was cutely touselled, and he was sleepy but happier with having had the nap. And with interesting things going on, he had nothing to complain about. Yay!

So that's when it started getting really busy.

Tonya and Tanner came over with vegetables and pies. I started the Big Wok up and did the hwoa tsai pretty quickly. It heated up quick, smelled wonderful, and ended up in a hot dish in the oven. Then I cleaned it with running, hot water, and tossed in the Good Stuff for the beans, stirred quick, and added the beans, and had various people turn that at regular intervals to make sure the beans got good and hot and cooked all the way through and wrinkly on the surface. While they were doing that I carved the ducks onto our Turkey platter, which John had thoughtfully pre-heated in the oven. Yay!

Then it was time to eat. And it wasn't past 6, yet, so everyone was ready. I was glad that the pancakes resembled tortillas enough that the kids plowed through a number of them. Tanner and Macy really enjoyed the duck as well some of the vegetables. Jet refused to eat anything but tortillas. Mikayla didn't eat much, either.

All the parents seemed to love the food! Yay!

Dessert went over well, too. Everyone tried the gelatin and the chestnuts, a few really liked them a lot. The kids seemed to like the gelatin and the pies. Mmm... pumpkin... Macy plowed into my mountain of peeled chestnuts like there was no going back, and she made some good inroads on it. That was really cool to see. She'd also eaten a mountain of shrimp cocktail as well. Hee.

That was fun. Happy people and lots of food and lots of time to talk over the table. I even got to roast some decaf coffee for Dean. He loved seeing the process of that, and I really enjoyed doing it. I can't go through the caffienated stuff so quickly, but the decaf. Yum. Turned out that he was swapping, just this last week, from caf to decaf, and he'd never had a decaf that tasted as good as this, so that was worthwhile doing.

So it was a success. Thanks, Mom, for the recipes and all the memories of the great food you made that resulted in all this.

I also want to offer thanks for my family, for all the things we've been gifted with, for our friends, for the fellowship that we shared, and for the food that was provided for us. Thanks.

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