Several years ago, I decided I had had it with cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and my husband and I have started “running away from home” for the week. It’s great. We’ve been to Santa Fe several times, and last year was Port Townsend, WA. This year we’re taking the dog and going to stay at the Little River Inn in Mendocino, CA. So we’ll be having whatever they’re serving! But I probably will make a mini TG dinner the weekend before for our daughter and SIL. Have to have those leftovers…
I’m doing similar this year, both for Thanksgiving and xmas/new years. But my partner’s sister has demanded that if we don’t come for thanksgiving, I still have to make her a batch of my milk bread dinner rolls (the king arthur recipe) and a pan of my brownies. She has GENEROUSLY promised to give one (1) to her 5 year old.
Sure. This is for a 12-oz bag of cranberries: Bring 3/4 cup dry, fruity red wine, 2/3–3/4 cup sugar*, the zest of an orange, and a cinnamon stick to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add your washed and picked-over cranberries and simmer until they start to pop. Take the pot off the heat, fish out the cinnamon stick, and stir in 1/4 cup or so minced candied ginger. Cool to room temp and refrigerate.
*The amount of sugar depends on how tart you like it.
It’s been a while … I’ve eaten dinner at Little River Inn and it was always excellent, reasonable cost.
This year, it will be my nuclear family of 4 at our house, plus my FIL and my parents. I always love t-day because until covid, my work was many miles from home, I often didn’t see my husband and sons for days or weeks at a time, and thanksgiving was always a few days to be at home, both working and cooking and being with my people. That was priceless. Now, it’s funny, since covid I work at home full time. I’m always around my family, and always doing some type of cook prep during the day. So it’s not quite the same priceless gem it used to be. But there is something so satisfying about the smells and the heat the oven gives off and everyone underfoot while its cold and dreary outside.
I’ll be good and stressed on Wed, because my older son is making his own way home to us by uber, train, and bus. While this isn’t a huge thing by 20 y.o., he’s on the spectrum, so a lot of things are more challenging for him. So I’ll worry, and stalk him on life360, and not breathe until he’s on his final leg. And then when he does it a second time, I won’t be as strung-out. Also, in the last decade or more, my relationship with my parents has been fraught. A lot of political differences, a lot of harsh words. People are trying to reach out again, finally, but it’s fragile.
So I will try and focus less on the food this year, and more on the family. Believe it or not, I’ve already made the cran-orange relish and frozen it. I always feel just a mite better when some food item is done and checked off. I am letting myself off the hook this year re the bird. No 4 day presalted heritage bird. Too much. I got a boneless breast from costco a couple days ago. My mom always wants an apple tart, which I am happy to oblige. The stuffing is leek and mushroom and is too good to sub out. I think I’ll roast potatoes and green beans with fall herbs. And I’ll ask my mom to make her decades old mushroom gravy, so that we can spend some time together in the kitchen.
There’ll be one day of inside/eating/cooking/football/games/chatting, and then we’ll spend the next day road tripping them to see our glorious snow covered mountains, and we picked an eagle-watching spot to drive by on the way back.
We’ve been going for a few years, and the food now isn’t nearly as good as it used to be. But it’s fine, and it’s nice not to have to drive somewhere for dinner. On the other hand, they have bacon from Roundman’s in Ft. Bragg, which is incredible!
WHOA! Ft. Bragg is actually where I’m gonna be over TG! I had never heard of Roundman’s. How have I not heard of it?
I’m just hoping the Princess cafe has their crab sandwiches. It’s half the reason to go. But given the push back of the start of dungeness season, I’m not optimistic.
But bacon might help ease my tortured soul.
Do you have a recipe for the apple tart?
I don’t. Each year I google for the crust portion - looking for a freeform fruit tart. I peel and slice the apples very thinly and then depending on my mood, I might toss them with some lemon juice, some maple, some cinnamon, some sugar, maybe some sliced crystallized ginger… load it onto the crust, fold it up, bake it. Very ad hoc.
Here’s their website: https://www.roundmans.com/
The also sell some of their products at the Harvest Market in Mendocino.
We’re hoping to go to the Princess cafe for lunch. We haven’t been there yet. We used to go to Captain Flint’s in Noyo Harbor. It’s hard to explain the appeal to people who were never there…
Roundman’s has been marked as a must for the weekend. We may have to bring a cooler and some ice packs. It’s a 4 hour drive.
I unreservedly recommend the crab sandwiches at Princess. In town, Piaci’s serves an excellent pizza with a fairly wide beer selection.
A while back, when restaurants were still limited to outdoor dining, we had an absolutely lovely meal at Luna Trattoria in Mendocino. They turned the back of the property into this beautiful maze-like patio with gas heaters and I had some fabulous gnocci w/ tomato, gorgonzola, and pesto. (red,white,green).
We’re hoping to go back.
Thanks for the recommendations. We’ve been going to Mendocino at least once a year since 1975, and there are always new places to try! And we’re bringing a cooler bag too.
That’s just a good habit to get into, generally.
Trying my best to procrastinate on this beautiful day in Greater Boston. This year, it may just be the 3 of us - me, B, and our 7-year old Spring Onion, who says he’ll try turkey this year. We’ll be hanging out with family in Greenwich/Westchester county NY the week leading up to Thanksgiving so there might be early Thanksgiving meals with them (?)
I loathe dealing with a turkey. As a mostly pescatarian who doesn’t normally cook meat, I am clueless with turkey. In years past, I have had well-documented SNAFUs. But B is a traditionalist when it comes to holidays, so we compromised. I ordered breast and leg and green bean casserole from a reputable local place, Season to Taste:
Herb Rubbed Breast and Confit Leg with Sherry Gastrique • Free-Range Organic Turkey
Their description: Say goodbye to dry over cooked turkey! We marinate the breast in fresh herbs and then sous vide to the perfect temperature. For the leg, we cook it slowly in duck fat until the meat is nice and tender. On Thanksgiving, roast at a high temperature to reheat & crisp up the skin in under 30 minutes. Slice the breast, drizzle with the Sherry gastrique and serve!
I also ordered a lobster pie and gravy from a local chain, Summer Shack
I will make sides…mashed potatoes, Brussels, out of the bird stuffing. Will serve kimchee and rice alongside.
I should cross-post to GBA to see if any of the Boston Onions have experience with either place for takeout Thanksgiving.
I’ll be bringing my former MIL’s heart attack mashed potatoes and green bean casserole made from scratch to my parents’ house. Same as usual. I miss when I used to host the holiday for the family.
It’s just the three of us, no traveling and no visitors (unless my brother decides to hit the road, which I’d give <10% chance of…). I haven’t figured out a menu yet, but unfortunately we tend to (a) have the same dishes every year, and (b) not all want the same sides or desserts. So every year it’s a bit of a struggle to accommodate everyone and yet streamline.
I’m posting now, though, to share a discovery we made a few years ago. Everyone loves appetizers, right? But tons of yummy apps right before a big dinner (with many desserts) is just plain foolish. We now have appetizers for LUNCH. Bring on the pigs in blankets, cheese spreads, etc. early in the day, and then recover in the afternoon (while cooking dinner). It’s been life-changing.
That’s our meal plan for pretty much all of December - skip the meals, bring on the holiday snacks.
Would like to know that recipe. Can’t be any worse than what we do (big-time butter, whole milk, a pat of cream cheese some years).
I ordered my turkey a few weeks ago, but I’m finally upgrading the bird. Ironically, with a family member battling illness, I don’t know what folks will be up for this year but I am likely landing a bird in the 15-18lb range, and I usually go for a 13-14 lb bird. In the last few years, I have just enough leftovers for the folks who want it. I figure this year, every one can take more home, or I get more turkey soup or congee out of the deal.
I’ve also always spatchcocked, but with a bigger bird, I think I’m just going to have to go further and break those parts up. The 14lb just fit in the large pan I had, so this will not work with a bigger bird. The good news is spreading this out amongst roasted veggies and faster cooking time I hope. I need to drastically clean out room in both my fridges to fit this bird for it’s dry brine. stress!
We are staying local this year, not traveling to see family this time, as they are quite far and we just saw them a few weeks ago and are hosting them again in a few weeks for Christmas. I feel some guilt about not going to the Midwest to join the crew (parents and my sister’s family) celebrating there, but i’m feeling particularly worn out this season.
Our plan for just our family of 4 is very traditional and one we’ve been quite pleased with before:
Herb roasted bone in turkey breast (Ina’s recipe)
whipped cayenne sweet potatoes
green beans with shallots
[possible another vegetable – corn or roasted brussel sprouts?]
fresh cranberry orange relish
rolls (we may make these from scratch this year)
There’s very little room for variation here, as there’s so much tradition tied to most of the menu. I make the breast when it’s just our small family and not need for a big bird as when we are with the rest of the family. The sausage apple stuffing is m mom’s recipe and it’s a must for me and my hubby, though the kids aren’t quite as attached to it.
The spicy sweet potatoes are my 13 yo daughter’s signature dish. no one is messing with those. the cranberry relish is one i’ve been making since high school. My 9 yo son has now decided that it’s “his” dish to execute without interference from me.
I raised the idea of a different dessert and was frowned at – apple pie at thanksgiving is ok if it’s a second alternative to the pumpkin, but can’t be the only. with only 4 of us and unlikely to finish the leftovers, i can’t justify making 2 pies just for variety. but i HAVE considered making something like a pear frangipane tart as a nice second option. i probably won’t as i’m the only one that will think it’s appealing, but i’m toying with some mini version just to amuse myself and throw in a bit of variety.