Charles Siskin: Thanksgiving Blow-Up

  • Sunday, November 20, 2022
  • Charles Siskin

My wife has a love affair…wait for it… with balloons. Not just a red one as in the French movie, Red Balloon, circa 1957. Rather she enjoys balloons for special occasions like the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Recently we traveled to an anniversary celebration for a couple who were married 16 years. These particular balloons were a fortuitous decision made by my bride and carefully driven to the event past gawking motorists who apparently had not seen balloons bouncing around in the back of a SUV. Silly people thought only small children bounced around back there.

Another surprise was for friends who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary here in Destin. When we arrived, where we were dining that evening, the parking attendant opened the back of our car and out popped two large balloons. “Surprise” I wanted to shout out but decided he didn’t appear as amused as I was and I wanted our car to return in the same condition we left it with him.

Luckily I happened to know the young man- gym buddy- and he took them inside the restaurant passing them along to the hostess. She in turn quickly showed us to our table. Take note that two large balloons will get you immediate seating.

In this particular restaurant tables are hard by the table next to you and the people dining there. Destin being a vacation paradise, we immediately became best friends with those people. It appears they didn’t seem to mind that those good size letters were flopping behind our table and “just a little bit” behind theirs. However as I remember, they did finish their dinner quickly and left. Too festive, I guess.

Let me tell you that these balloons are not small. Could be they take a bit much helium. Manipulating them in an elevator is a story in and of itself. I can relate that you will not have to share the elevator with strangers or even close friends and relatives, so it does have its plusses. Besides it sped us on our way up to the top floor post haste.

All that aside, my wife looks forward to Thanksgiving so she can bring out this enormous turkey balloon that has over the years become a staple at our holiday table. Actually it is so large it is more than a staple it is the Godzilla of turkey balloons.

Our little dog, Madame, now 14 and yet to be told she is a dog, enjoys the turkey as it sways back and forth on our dining room table. She must enjoy the balloon so much that she cannot stop barking at it during all our waking hours.

Madame is also not too keen on guests and spends much of the day shut away in her room. Yes Virginia, Madame has her own room, but wait, doesn’t every dog? Remember she is family and has been with us since she was a year and is older that Mr. Turkey who only appears on that special day when we give thanks for all our family, friends and animals and of course Mr. Turkey who will pop up again next year.

As I’ve gotten older and hate to admit it, but cooking for everyone is not the fun it was for many years. Now I will make one or two special dishes and leave the rest to the invited family and friends. However one thing that I do like to make is my cranberry relish. I make a pretty big amount because it easily stores in the refrigerator and can last for quite a length of time.

I use fresh cranberries which are in abundant during the holidays and add brown sugar and cinnamon sticks and raisins and balsamic vinegar and sometime some diced sweet Vidalia onions or walnut pieces and let it simmer on the stove until the cranberries have turned to a jelly like consistency and all the other ingredients have combined to make it a tangy relish perfect not just for turkey but great with pork and lamb and of course chicken.

For the Cranberry Relish you will need the following:
2 16oz packages of fresh cranberries
1 cup packed brown sugar (more or less depending on your taste)
2 or 3 sticks of cinnamon
½ cup balsamic vinegar (again more or less depending on your taste)
½ cup dried raisins
½ cup walnut pieces
2 tablespoons diced sweet Vidalia onion (cook’s option)

Toss cranberries with brown sugar and add enough water just to coat berries
Place in pot and put on low flame until you hear berries popping.
Add cinnamon sticks, vinegar, onions and raisins and cook on low heat until mixture begins
to thicken. Also add more liquid as needed.
Add walnuts toward end of cooking cycle. Once all ingredients have cooled place in several jars and store in the refrigerator. Be sure you taste mixture and add whatever of the ingredients you feel is
necessary. Don’t forget to take out the cinnamon sticks.

One other thought, makes a great holiday gift. Also could tie a small balloon to your bow when gift wrapping. Like I said..Just a thought!

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