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Richard’s Almanac: Home for the holidays

Now that Halloween is over, it seems like the focus is on Christmas. It’s as though Thanksgiving might be forgotten.

On Sunday I took the grandkids to see the new movie “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.” A pleasant version of the classic, but I must admit I slept through most of  it. I suppose it’s designed to put the viewer in the Christmas spirit but to me it just feels too early for that.

I have never been one to buy Christmas presents early, but I have succumbed to that also. I received an email notice a few weeks ago about the new Hess truck that’s for sale. My youngest grandchild really likes these (I bought him one last year) so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to purchase one for him — this year’s vehicle is an RV with a quad runner on board. And the ad said they run out fast. So I bought a Christmas present in October!

I always like Thanksgiving and the gathering of family that it brings about. I have early memories of visiting  my grandparents in the morning with my father (Mom stayed home preparing the feast) and enjoying a long walk in Prospect Park enjoying the crisp autumn air. I had a strong appetite when I returned and was able to enjoy the dinner in the company of assorted cousins and aunts and uncles.

After I moved  upstate my wife and I became turkey snobs. The boarding school where I lived and worked had a tradition of giving all employees a turkey at Thanksgiving. This tradition went back a few hundred years and was started by the school’s founder who owned extensive acreage in the area. Each Thanksgiving he would visit all his tenant farmers and present them with a holiday bird. So for the longest time we had fresh-killed, free-range delicious turkeys.

When I came back to the Island for the holiday, I decided that I could not eat just any grocery store bird. I would  make the trip to Calverton to Miloski’s Turkey Farm. Some of the best turkeys I have ever had. In recent years my siblings and I, along with various children and grandchildren, would gather at my mother’s house for the holiday. I would always bring the turkey (already cooked) which was fresh-killed. I was fortunate enough to be able to do this until this year. My mother left us in January at 96.

This Thanksgiving I am going as a guest to someone else’s house and not cooking the turkey. I’ll  bring some baked clams and not worry about preparing a perfect bird.

On another food subject, I had some of the best bay scallops last week. I saw Jimmy Hayward at the school on Election Day — I was working as an inspector being hyper-vigilant this year — and he told me that he thought the scallop season was off to a good start.

I visited his shop the next day and bought a pound of the fresh plump shellfish. They were the best. I always just sautee them in butter with a few squeezes of lemon. Then serve them over toast points. And for a vegetable to go with them, I prefer fresh or frozen peas. And a glass of chilled pinot grigio. That’s what I like.