Last night they stayed at the posh Willard hotel in Washington.
This afternoon they fly first class to California, where they will be honorary grand marshals for Disneyland’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Flanked by his daughters, Malia and Sasha — who he said lobbied for the pardon — Obama said the two turkeys had been spared the "terrible and delicious fate" of being served for dinner. You could tell he was tempted to eat Courage. As for his daughters, Malia observed astutely that Courage looked like a big chicken.
"There are certain days when I’m reminded why I ran for this office," Obama quipped. "And then there are days like this." On a more serious note, he called Thanksgiving a quintessentially American holiday, and an occasion to give thanks to soldiers separated from their families by war. You can read his remarks below.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON PARDONING OF THE NATIONAL TURKEY
11:41 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Welcome to the White House. On behalf of Sasha and Malia and myself, we’re thrilled to see you. I want to thank Walter Pelletier, chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and Joel Brandenberger, its president, for donating this year’s turkey. His name is "Courage," and he traveled here from Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he was raised under Walter’s own precious care.
THE PRESIDENT: There you go. (Laughter.)
Now, the National Turkey Federation has been bringing its finest turkeys to the White House for more than 50 years. I’m told Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson actually ate their turkeys. You can’t fault them for that; that’s a good-looking bird. (Laughter.) President Kennedy was even given a turkey with a sign around its neck that said, "Good Eatin’, Mr. President." But he showed mercy and he said, "Let’s keep him going." And 20 years ago this Thanksgiving, the first President Bush issued the first official presidential pardon for a turkey.
Today, I am pleased to announce that thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha — because I was planning to eat this sucker — (laughter) — "Courage" will also be spared this terrible and delicious fate. Later today, he’ll head to Disneyland, where he’ll be grand marshal of tomorrow’s parade. And just in case "Courage" can’t fulfill his responsibilities, Walter brought along another turkey, "Carolina," as an alternate, the stand-in.
Now, later this afternoon, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will take two of their less fortunate brethren to Martha’s Table, an organization that does extraordinary work to help folks here in D.C. who need it the most. And I want to thank Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, for donating those dressed birds for dinner. So today, all told, I believe it’s fair to say that we have saved or created four turkeys. (Laughter.)
You know, there are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this — (laughter) — where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland. (Laughter.) But every single day, I am thankful for the extraordinary responsibility that the American people have placed in me. I am humbled by the privilege that it is to serve them, and the tremendous honor it is to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the finest military in the world — and I want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to every service member at home or in harm’s way. We’re proud of you and we are thinking of you and we’re praying for you.
When my family and I sit around the table tomorrow, just like millions of other families across America, we’ll take time to give our thanks for many blessings. But we’ll also remember this is a time when so many members of our American family are hurting. There’s no question this has been a tough year for America. We’re at war. Our economy is emerging from an extraordinary recession into recovery. But there’s a long way to go and a lot of work to do.
In more tranquil times, it’s easy to notice our many blessings. It’s even easier to take them for granted. But in times like these, they resonate a bit more powerfully. When President Lincoln set aside the National Day of Thanksgiving for the first time — to celebrate America’s "fruitful fields," "healthful skies," and the "strength and vigor" of the American people — it was in the midst of the Civil War, just when the future of our very union was most in doubt. So think about that. When times were darkest, President Lincoln understood that our American blessings shined brighter than ever.
This is an era of new perils and new hardships. But we are, as ever, a people of endless compassion, boundless ingenuity, limitless strength. We’re the heirs to a hard-earned history and stewards of a land of God-given beauty. We are Americans. And for all this, we give our humble thanks — to our predecessors, to one another, and to God.
So on this quintessentially American holiday, as we give thanks for what we’ve got, let’s also give back to those who are less fortunate. As we give thanks for our loved ones, let us remember those who can’t be with us. And as we give thanks for our security, let’s in turn thank those who’ve sacrificed to make it possible, wherever they may be.
Now, before this turkey gets too nervous that Bo will escape and screw up this pardon — (laughter) — or before I change my mind, I hereby pardon "Courage" so that he can live out the rest of his days in peace and tranquility in Disneyland.
And to every American, I want to wish you, on behalf of myself, Malia, Sasha, and Michelle, the happiest of Thanksgivings. Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
But if the president thought the event a little light, the young aides in his White House were so tickled by its role in this odd tradition that they posted this preview on whitehouse.gov.
‘Courage’ in his hotel suite!
The silly tradition is often attributed to President Truman, but the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum says it can find no documentation of that. In fact, says the presidential library, "Truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table." In fact, what probably accounts for this rumor is that the National Turkey Federation started giving a turkey to presidents in a White House ceremony beginning in 1947.
In fact, most historians believe the tradition of a formal pardon began with Bush’s father, 41, the first President Bush.
Presidential pardons for turkeys are rare. According to the folks at the National Turkey Federation, an estimated 273 million turkeys were raised this year for consumption on American tables.
Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, I’m doing a double post today. I hope you find this one useful.
Last-minute Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres, or as I call them, Horse Divers!
Your holiday menu is in hand. But what about hors d’oeuvres? Here are 25 last-minute appetizers.
Appetizers? Before Thanksgiving dinner?
Yes. Yes. And yes (in answer to your next question: "But will I have time to make them?").
The main event might be the big golden bird, but a thoughtful appetizer or two goes a long way toward making dinner special — to say nothing of keeping your hungry guests occupied while you’re putting the finishing touches on the real food.
With so much of the Thanksgiving menu scripted in stone, this is your opportunity to put something on the table that’s unexpected: Wedges of Fuyu persimmon wrapped in prosciutto; servings of avocado mousse topped with crème fraîche, caviar and a little pistachio oil; or olives warmed with crushed red pepper, fennel seeds, lemon peel and garlic.
Here are 25 easy-to-make appetizers, most of which you can prepare in the time it takes to mash potatoes. They require little or no oven time. The only special equipment you might need is a blender or food processor. A couple — the quick-pickled radishes and shishito peppers — need a day’s marinating; that calls for no extra work from you, just a modicum of forethought.
Cold seafood platter: Marinate cooked shrimp in orange juice and a little red chile. Arrange the shrimp around the outside of the platter and heap cold cracked Dungeness crab in the center.
Avocado mousse with caviar: Purée avocado with a little milk or cream until it’s the consistency of pudding and season with salt and lemon juice. Place a couple of spoonfuls in a martini glass or small bowl, top with crème fraîche, caviar and a drizzle of pistachio oil.
Shaved fennel with slivered Parmesan: Slice the fennel as finely as you can, then toss it in a bowl with very good olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Use a vegetable peeler to shave sheets of Parmesan over top.
Roasted pepper bruschetta: Roast and peel red bell peppers (or use good-quality bottled ones). Dress them with olive oil and arrange them on toasted bread, then strew minced preserved lemon over top.
Fried sage leaves: Rinse whole sage leaves and pat them dry with a paper towel. Dust with flour and fry in 2 inches of hot olive oil.
Fingerlings with anchovies: Steam fingerling potatoes. When cool, slice them in half lengthwise and top them with salted anchovy fillets that have been rinsed and patted dry. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
Jicama salad: Cut jicama in matchsticks. Purée fresh cilantro, lime juice and vegetable oil in a blender. Dress several handfuls of baby greens with some of the dressing. Arrange the jicama over top and drizzle with a little of the remaining dressing.
Quick-pickled radishes: Salt a couple bunches of trimmed radishes and soak them in ice water to crisp. Make a pickling liquid by simmering three-fourths cup rice vinegar, one-half cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar and some whole black peppercorns and mustard seed. Place the drained radishes in a sealable container and pour the hot liquid over. Pickle for 1 day before serving.
Spiced almonds: Sauté raw almonds in a hot skillet with one-half teaspoon olive oil until they are fragrant. Remove from the heat and season with coarse salt and a dash of smoked paprika or minced fresh herbs.
Home-cured olives: Season black or green brined olives with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, fennel seeds, lemon peel and sliced garlic. Warm them briefly in the oven or on top of the stove and serve.
Stuffed piquillo peppers: Drain the peppers and pat dry. Spoon a little fresh goat cheese inside and arrange on a platter with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of minced garlic and parsley.
Orange, red onion and radish salad: Peel oranges and slice crosswise. Sliver red onions and thinly slice radishes. Combine in a bowl with pitted olives and dress with good olive oil.
Spiced breadsticks: Roll prepared pizza dough and run it through a fettuccine cutter on a pasta machine or cut it by hand as thinly as you can. Brush lightly with beaten egg white and sprinkle with a mixture of coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper and allspice. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.
Lavash crackers and muhammara: Purée until smooth three large roasted red bell peppers with a garlic clove, a little toasted cumin, lemon juice and a spoonful of pomegranate molasses. Grind in 1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts and 1/3 cup breadcrumbs until chunky. Season with salt and ground red pepper and pulse in olive oil to make a chunky paste. Serve in a bowl with lavash crackers alongside.
Charcuterie plate: Slice a thin dried sausage fairly coarsely, and a fatter dried sausage as thinly as you can and arrange them on a platter with prosciutto or Serrano ham.
Croustade with tapenade: Toast bread rounds, spread them with prepared tapenade and top with a dot of fresh goat cheese.
Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese: Slice dates open and remove the pits. Stuff with a chunk of good blue cheese. Wrap with a quarter strip of bacon and bake at 350 degrees until the bacon is crisp and the cheese is melted.
Quick-pickled peppers: Cut a slit in each of three-quarters pound of shishito peppers and blanch them briefly in boiling water. Simmer 2 1/2 cups rice vinegar with 2 cups water, some sliced garlic and onions, a couple of teaspoons salt, a tablespoon sugar and whatever whole spices you like. Place the blanched peppers in a sealable container and pour the hot liquid over. Pickle for 1 day before serving.
Cranberry bean salad: Dress cold cooked cranberry beans with lemon juice, olive oil and a fresh herb such as basil.
Smoked trout mousse: Purée smoked trout in a food processor with just enough softened butter to make a silky smooth consistency. Spread on crackers and dot with capers.
Candied walnuts: Stir walnuts in a bowl with just enough corn syrup to lightly coat, a little sugar and some salt and black pepper. Spread on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees until toasted and fragrant.
Prosciutto and Fuyu persimmon: Quarter the persimmons and remove the core if it’s woody. Thinly slice and wrap with thinly sliced prosciutto or Serrano ham. Spear with a toothpick to hold in place and make serving easier.
Herbed puff pastry sticks: Thaw frozen puff pastry, butter one side and top with chopped fresh herbs. Use a pizza cutter to slice into thin strips, twist them, then bake at 375 degrees until puffed and golden.
Onion sandwiches: Slice red onions as thinly as possible, rinse under hot running water and pat dry. Generously butter thin slices of high-quality white bread and strew with the onions. Top with more generously buttered white bread and cut into serving pieces. This can also be done with radishes.
Date sweetmeats: Slice dates open and remove the pits. Roll a chunk of marzipan or almond paste mixed with a little orange zest into a ball and place it in the date cavity. Press firmly to seal.
I know that alot of these sound very exotic but they are all easy and GOOD!! I really like the pickled radishes, the candied walnuts and the pastry sticks!************************************************************************************************************************
A thought for Thanksgiving:
God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “Thank You”?
William A. Ward
I hope you all have a Wonderful Thanksgiving