Things Nobody Tells You: Four-Year-Old Edition

Beautiful Plumage

Noah's school was thoughtful enough to provide a timely craft this week, in the form of this tasteful, understated centerpiece:


I feel like it's either going to take a candy-colored shit on the table or hold us up at gunpoint for some stuffing.


Have I told you that Thanksgiving is pretty much my favorite holiday ever? While it used to be the thing I barely tolerated as a kid, a stupid holiday with no presents or candy, it's now BY FAR the best day of the year. I spend the day awash in butter and heavy cream and carbohydrates and the first bottle of wine gets opened at 11:30 in the morning because I need to "deglaze" a "pan." Plus, not to brag or anything, I make a fucking amazing turkey. The secret is basting with my secret basting baste of awesome every 10-15 minutes or so, and really the only hard part about that is not drinking all the melted butter directly. Some is okay. I mean, it is a special occasion.

Also on the menu this year: roasted elephant garlic with French baguette, assorted fancy cheeses, Jason's mushroom, leek and challah bread stuffing that is pretty much the reason I married him, mashed sweet potatoes with orange, a broccoli and cauliflower gratin that does absolutely UNSPEAKABLE things to the vegetables, and some kind of apple crumb-top pie that somehow managed to survive a full 12 hours last year before we all ate the rest of it for breakfast the next morning.

(I should probably clarify that yeah, it's totally just the two of us, plus the kids. If we are lucky, Noah might eat the crunchy burned bits off the edge of some stuffing, although I worry that Ezra might SERIOUSLY cramp our style and put quite a dent in our coveted stash of delicious leftovers.)

Anyway. I am jazzed. I am antsy. I keep going to the basement to coo at our very-recently-murdered turkey and out to the garden to talk shit to the heads of cauliflower. YOUR HOURS ARE NUMBERED, BITCHES. IMMA GONNA FUCK YOU UP WITH SO MUCH CHEESE YOU'RA GONNA THINK YOU CAME FROM A COW. 

(I wonder why none of the neighbors asked us about our plans for the holidays? Hmm.)


The Crazy-Eyed Peacock Octo-Turkey Bandit hopes you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I do too, but, you know. Stay away from my house. I have no food for you. All for me. NOM NOM NOM, etc.

Okay, since a bunch of you asked, and I am procrastinating on making lunch for my children because peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are NOT AS FUN AS THANKSGIVING, here's the recipe for the cauliflower and broccoli gratin. This is kind of a hybrid of a bunch of gratin/casserole dishes I've made over the years and have never actually written the exact current incantation down, though it's mostly this one. Either way, it's still stupid easy and basic and delicious.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Gratin with Horseradish Topping

1 head of cauliflower, 1 head of broccoli, average size (specifically: not huge) cut into florets.

1/2 stick butter

2 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups of whole milk (you can also sneak in a little cream or half & half if you want to kill people)

2 cups of grated cheese (I like a combo of cheddar and something like smoked gouda or pepperjack or...hell, anything. IT'S CHEESE. IT'S ALL GOOD.)

A biggish handful of finely chopped garlic chives (1/4 cup? Maybe? Eh?)

20 crackers (Saltines, Ritz, matzo, whatever)

2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish

Salt, Pepper

OPTIONAL ADDITIONS: roasted chestnuts, par-boiled & halved Brussels sprouts, cooked pancetta/ham/bacon, scallion greens

Preheat oven to 450 (or whatever you're cooking other dishes at, not super important), butter bottom and sides of a casserole dish (shallow is best, but it probably depends on the size of your heads of vegetables)

Boil a big pot of water, salt it, add cauliflower. After 3-4 minutes, add broccoli and cook until JUST tender. Drain, dump in casserole.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in saucepan over moderately low heat. Whisk in flour and make a roux, 3 minutes. Whisk whisk whisk. Pour in milk and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer and let it thicken, whisking occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chives and cheese, season generously with salt and pepper. Once cheese is melted, pour over the vegetables. (This is also when you can add in other optional things, just make sure they are mostly cooked, as the oven time is really just enough to brown the topping.) 

Crumble crackers into a bowl. Melt the rest of the butter and stir in the horseradish. Pour over the crackers and toss lightly, then evenly distribute mixture over the casserole.

Brown in the oven for about 10 minutes.

If you need to make this ahead of time or transport it to someone else's house: do everything EXCEPT putting the topping on. Stick the topping in a plastic container and put the casserole in the fridge. Let it warm up in the oven for 5-10 minutes or so (just to soften the cheese sauce up) and THEN put the topping on to brown. 

Ta-daaaaa! This also microwaves beautifully for a late-night dairy-fat binge.

(OCD note number 2,430, Or Why I Could Never Write A Coherent Cookbook: You might notice that the original linked-to recipe calls for just one large head of cauliflower with the same sauce measurements. I usually use smaller/medium heads of both vegetables so the sauce amount is okay. Sometimes I up the sauce if I feel like I have a lot of veggies. Not doubled, but...upped. Ish. Anyway. You probably aren't a moron and could figure that out. Sorry.)

(I'm sorry I don't know the stuffing recipe, as that's squarely in Jason's domain. I know it involves stale challah, leeks, celery, mushrooms, poultry seasoning, eggs, two dozen sticks of butter and probably BLACK MAGIC. Sometimes sausage, though we always endlessly debate over whether we like that addition. I shall try to take notes this year, perhaps.)



Am I the first comment? Hurrah. Now I'll read the post :-)


Ok, read it. Sounds very, very nice. Fancy posting recipes? I need to cook a turkey for the first time at Christmas (we don't do thanksgiving as we're in the UK) and I need something foolproof so the turkey is nice and moist and doesn't stick to the roof of your mouth!


Please please please share the recipe for the cauliflower and broccoli gratin? I'm on the hook to bring a veggie this year, and my family recipe-stash is short on veggie dishes and high on dishes involving two sticks of butter and bacon grease (preferably simultaneously).


REALLY? Really with the first comment that hasn't read the post?





OMG- I need the recipes to all the shit you are cooking tomorrow, my tongue is hanging out of my mouth now. PLEASE! At least the broccoli and cauliflower gratin....


Heh, I loved this post. Even though I'm Canadian so we had Thanksgiving a month and a half ago, and the delicious leftovers are but a cherished memory now.

Enjoy your feasting.


Okay. Now I'm hungry and jealous. That sounds so yummy. I want recipes.
Plus I love the centerpiece. Am wondering if I have enough supplies to have J recreate one for our house.
Have a happy happy butter filled day!


Hmmm - you must (must, I say) share you recipes (please).

Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and all your wonderful readers!


Happy Thanksgiving! Your food sounds fabulous and I really want some cauliflower that came from a cow...


Of course that should say "share YOUR recipes". Sigh. Don't even have Thanksgiving Day wine to blame:-(


If that's how you treat your cauliflower, I wonder how you talk to your sweet potatoes :)


The stuffing recipe, the stuffing recipe! I'm supposed to bring stuffing to my mom's house tomorrow and I still don't know what I'm going to do. Help!

That it was staring at me while I ate one of its brethren...I'd be very afraid.


Best Thanksgiving post, ever.


Jennie - TURKEY: try to buy a fresh, local, non-frozen bird. Put it on a rack in a metal roasting pan, put lots of veggies and fresh herbs in the bottom for the gravy, baste turkey with mixture of melted butter, honey, chopped fresh herbs, whatever spices you like, stick pats of butter and garlic cloves under the skin. Baste the shit out of it every 10-15 minutes the entire time it cooks, tent with foil as soon as the skin gets dark enough to your liking (I usually tent the legs and breast separately, at different times.), gauge done-ness with both a a good digital internal temperature gauge AND one of those plastic pop-up things, in case one malfunctions.

I will have to think about the gratin recipe because it's not one of those things I've written down -- kind of a hybrid of recipes that I just MAKE, though it is pretty simple. Please hold while I try to remember measurements and such...


Really now. It would just be cruel not to share a recipe after all that hype.


My "Noah" is now 16, and still his Thanksgiving "feast" consists of as many white rolls (NO WHEAT, DON'T EVEN TRY FUCKERS!) and mashed potatoes (NO GRAVY WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?) as he can force down his gullet. Last year I made him eat one piece of turkey breast because, DAMN.

Luckily, his food aversions also extend to all types of pie, so. . .Yay! More pie for me!

Yum. Pie.


Totally agree that Thanksgiving is the BEST holiday! No presents, no guilt, tons of food and family. You just can't get better than that.


Please, for the love of all that is holy, share your broccoli-cauliflower gratin recipe! :-) (And, of course, any of those others that you'd like to share with us...nom nom nom fo sho!)

She Likes Purple

Happy Thanksgiving, Amy!

It's now a life goal to be invited to a dinner party at your house.


Oops, sorry, just saw your post from a few minutes ago. *will wait patiently for gratin recipe if available* :-)


Happy Thanksgiving! I do not get to cook this year, since we are leaving to drive "home" at 4am tomorrow morning and hopefully arriving around noon. This is so that driving out of Los Angeles does not cause a murder in our car this year (last year, the drive from LA to the Bay Area took 14 hours instead of 7 because EVERYONE ELSE was doing the exact same stupid drive on Wednesday).

So although I don't get to cook, I do get to stuff my face with my mom's cornbread, leek, mushroom, gorgonzola stuffing and my MIL's butternut squash/cheddar bread pudding. Not carb overload there, no.

Aunt Becky

*drools* *drools*

Also, that is HIGHLY understated.


Excuuuuse me, what?! I mean not only do you HAVE a garden, you have a cauliflower in this garden? Who are you? Martha Stewart!


It all sounds yummy and way too complicated. I too got a great centerpiece from school but it isn't half as colorful as yours.

Mrs. D

Oh my god that sounds freaking amazing. Another reminder that I am a sad sad failure when it comes to Thanksgiving. Oh well.

Love the centerpiece! Happy Thanksgiving.


Thank you for today's yummy-sounding post! Good palate cleanser after yesterday's snot-filled extravaganza. Although it was entertaining, I almost puked on my desk. LOL


I hate hate hate Thanksgiving, generally because most people cannot cook a turkey to save their souls and - bitch, puhlease - mashed white potatoes? Wake me when it's over... but YOU with the gratin and the sweet potatoes and the local bird and the stuffing... that's my kind of meal!

I'm also totally jelus that it's just you guys - no ILs or family crazies coming out of the woodwork...

die Frau

Is that a Norwegian Blue turkey, by any chance?

Alas, my mom and sister are both lactose-intolerant, so we don't get anything "gratin" anymore unless it's goat cheese or extremely aged Parmesan--and then only a little bit. But you sound like you have mad skilz and I hope you have a lovely holiday!


I have always HATED thanksgiving food, but maybe I've just been eating at the wrong house. I am willing to reconsider my feelings if anyone would like to cook any of the above dishes for me.

Jen L.

The Peacock Octo-Turkey looks like I made it. Seriously, I am NOT crafty! We made a potato turkey for our table. It's kind of pitiful, but it'll do.

You MUST share the recipe for that gratin because our menu is seriously lacking in cheese.

I cannot wait to hear how much Ezra eats. Have a great Thanksgiving!


Somehow, a turkey centerpiece did not make its way home this week. Though I do still have the stuffed paper bag with beak and feathers turkey from a couple years ago.


(Post has been updated with the gratin recipe after the jump. I could have probably just linked to the Epicurious recipe and been like: add broccoli and some other shit to this, but that would have been too easy. For you. Sorry. I'd be a horrible food blogger.)


mushroom, leek and challah bread stuffing?!? i would've married him too!

haitian american family of three

This is off topic-but are you glad that you started preschool when you did? I am a bit unsure if I want to start my three year old now or wait another year...


That all sounds wonderful. I have a ten year old who stakes his claim on the stuffing-it's all his! The older one will eat the turkey and the cranberry and none of that weird stuff, which means more for three of us.

This year, though, in addition to bringing, we'll be doing the turkey in a trash can. Now that both boys have experienced their scout troop's turkey this way, they insisted I had to make it. I'm wondering if there will even be leftovers.


After I read your entry I had to run to my kitchen to EAT SOMETHING before I could even comment. It all sounds awesome. OMG, I am even more excited for my food fest tomorrow. Yay!


I am going home to recreate that centerpiece right now. Because I am left-handed and domestically disabled and the only parts of the meal I'm allowed to help with are the stuffed dates.

And the placecards.


hahahaha. You get dem cauliflower heads, Amalah.


I'm dying for the recipe to Jason's stuffing recipe. It sounds fabulous! Would you mind sharing it as well?


Ezra is totally going to screw you out of leftovers.

Good job on the Crazy-Eyed Peacock Octo-Turkey Bandit, Noah!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Hahaha! I am thankful I found you blog because you, my friend, are hilarious. Happy Thanksgiving!


Did you see the movie UP? Noah's centerpiece looks a little bit like Kevin! (maybe it's just me)

We did a practice turkey a couple of weeks ago, trying out the brining recipe from Kikkoman's. Soaking a turkey breast overnight in kosher salt and soy sauce and then letting it sit for about an hour in the turned-off oven so the juices can settle back into the meat? UNBELIEVABLE. We practically ate it with our bare hands.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Storches!

Parsing Nonsense

You just made my mouth water and turned my previously fine minestrone soup into a blah excuse for the utterly forgettable.


Yay Thanks for the recipe. We may even try it tomorrow if I get industrious enough to try something new! Enjoy your Turkey day!

Loretta S.

I laugh out loud 2 out of 3 times that I read this blog. Love it!

Sprite's Keeper

The mushroom leek and challah stuffing made my mouth water and I hate stuffing. Thanksgiving cannot come soon enough! Have a happy holiday!

Inner Fat Girl

That turkey is truly a masterpiece of design. Noah will have an HGTV show before you know it.

Laura McIntyre

Now i am hungry.

Im in the UK so no thanksgiven for me but i did spend a thanksgiven in Canada before and i still dream of all that tasty food. Tried recreating it here but was not the same


Would never tell you what to do, but sweet potatoes with blue cheese is heavenly. If you're into that kind of thing. And it seem you are.


You, my hilarious dear one, had me at challah. You must extract that recipe from Jason or face a lynch mob. Okay, maybe not a lynch mob because we will be too full of the gratin. CHEEEEEEEEEEEESE!


I'm gonna try your basting advice. My first time making a turkey-- yikes! Wish me luck.

Jamie the weinerdog lady

I must be the only Southerner in here that doesn't do stuffing. If you don't like Thanksgiving it's because you haven't had DRESSING.mmmmmmmmmmmm


Someone above me mentioned the word brine, and I agree, that's the way to do it. I tried it two years ago for the first time using Alton Brown's method, and it is fantastic!


Bahaha! "secret basting baste of awesome"! I loved this post. I've got nothing witty or especially funny to say except you rock! And food rocks!


I'm just wondering which dish is coming from the microwave.

Amie Simmons

You are SO lucky to have you and your family alone for Thanksgiving. Sounds incredibly wonderful. Enjoy the centerpiece and all of the wonderful food AND THE WINE. I'm pregnant so no wine for me this year. Drink an extra bottle for me. I think the centerpiece is kinda cute :)


I married my husband because of his spaghetti sauce. Two other women married him because of that too, but now I got all of the good stuff... and his sauce.

OK - I didn't mean that to sound as dirty as it came out. And... well... again... but we are trying to make a baby! Does that make it less dirty? No? Sorry.

His SPAGHETTI sauce is incredible. Fer serious.


im gonna need the recipe for the mushroom stuffing. im sorry to be demanding, but seriously! (please?)

Bachelor Girl

Dear God almighty Jesus. I could not even tell what that thing was until you told me. Not by any fault of Noah's, understand. POOR DESIGN, PRESCHOOL TEACHER. POOR DESIGN.

Until you actually used the phrase "Crazy-Eyed Peacock Octo-Turkey Bandit," I had it pegged for one of those "tickler" sex toys.

I couldn't figure out the eyeball, though.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Shannon G

oh mah gawd I NEED that stuffing recipe! I'll trade your for my cranberry bread recipe, which is the best bread in the universe. No kidding.


Holy hell, you made me hungry.

Why do schools feel the need to produce an art project for every holiday? Especially a turkey out of styrofoam?

At least it wasn't glued-on cotton balls. I HATE cotton ball art. It's a pet peeve...


The BEST part about Thanksgiving is the leftovers and making Turkey Sundaes! Just start to layer: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans (or broccoli), turkey. Cover with gravy and a dollop of cranberry sauce as the cherry on top! Yum!

stacy in europe

I am SO with you on Thanksgiving being the BEST holiday!!!! Yay fooood! (or as Jenna in 30Rock would say ME WANT FOOD). I started making the whole dinner when it was impossible to fly home my first year out of college, and I have made the entire dinner, from scratch, every year since. No matter if it's just us 2, or 11 (this year). I actually make exactly the same amount of food, haha. That's how I roll. I'm getting pretty darn good at it, and though moving to europe kinda screwed things up a bit, I'm on year 4 here, so I'm getting back into the swing of things. For example, did you know that IKEA sells fried onions (for the green bean casserole). Yes. I don't know what Swedish people do with them, considering that most Americans only eat them once a year, making poor little Durkee brand base it's entire profit margin on 2 weeks in November -- but whatever. I mean, they're Swedish, so who knows what's going on there.

Anyways -- my favorite part of this post is Noah's centerpiece. I especially love the bizarre irregular styrofoam block body. The neon feathers are a nice touch as well. It's like they got the materials by raiding the dumpster behind a strip mall where there is both a Mailboxes Etc. and a "Cabaret." But it's cute anyway...

Oh and that you grow your own cauliflower? wtf? That is awesome!! photos photos!

happy turkey day Amalah Famalah! gobble gobble!


My grandson's day care had them produce turkeys made of pine cones. I am not really sure if someone 15 months old appreciates his creations, but it makes Noah's turkey look extremely sophisticated. Will's looks like the usual dust bunny got a pine cone caught in it. His big sister, though, thinks it's wonderful so I guess it deserves pride of place.


What, no microwave-cookery version of your gratin?


I'm completely jealous. We are not having turkey this year because I'm the only one in my family who likes turkey. We are having baked stuffed red snapper instead. So sad.


"YOU'RA GONNA THINK YOU CAME FROM A COW." Hilarious :) Happy Thanksgiving!


We had some fancy cheese, too, and caviar, and pate, and it was devine!! and it was just us, as well :) The In-Laws turned their noses up at my treats, but they only showed up for dinner, so more for me!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Storches, enjoy the food!!and the kidlets :)


That sounds amazing. I will try it soon, thank you.

Sugared Harpy

I made your broccoli and cauliflower cheesy goodness for Thanksgiving, and it was the first thing gone!! Thank you for sharing it, that's a lovely simple, delicious dish.


I adore the understated centerpiece. No one dripped any butter on it. Impressive.

I spent the day awash in butter and heavy cream and am one carbohydrate away from a carb-induced coma. Yet I can't stop myself from reaching for more potatoes.

Happy Thanksgiving. Make it last!


Any ideas for the topping that do not include horseradish? Extremely, unbelievably allergic, but the rest sounds AWESOME.


So my new excuse to opening the bottle of wine early in the day is to start it decanting. The expert wine people tell me it is a must. Unfortunately, it usually is drunk (or I am semi-drunk) before the wine has properly breathed. But it sounds good to any potentially judgmental guests (although I usually don't invite people like that over).


Just wanted to say I hope you and yours had a very joyous deglazing. It's my favorite holiday too, lately. None of the Hallmark cards, all of the stuffing. What's not to love?

Mrs. Flinger

I have a chucky turkey here, too. But because my daughter loves us SO MUCH it has to be in our room.

No chicka-chicka-bow-wow until that thing dies. Tonight.


I'm just so proud of Noah. As I try to convince my preschoolers to participate in today's "project" so their parents can see we do something all day, I always think of the wall of Noah's projects from his old school--and you commented that his lack of enthusiasm for them was so sad and so apparent. Well, that turkey in all its neon glory seems to shout enthusiasm! I hope Noah was appropriately proud!


oh my God, I thought that said "buttered horseradish," and I was like DAMN, they even butter, the HORSERADISH, this is gonna be GOOD.

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