Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday. Great food shared with people you love, time to reflect on everything we have to be thankful for and no pressure to attend church or to stress out over finding the perfect gifts. What’s not to love?
I have so much that I’m thankful for this year: a loving, supportive fiancé, a family who I love to spend time with, abundant access to food, a warm apartment to come home to, friends to share meals with, time to spend in the kitchen doing what I love, a healthy body and so many other things. While I often think about all of these things, it’s not every day that you get to celebrate them, so I’m also thankful for Thanksgiving itself.
We spent Thanksgiving with my family in Iowa this year, and the long weekend was full of family time, feasting, wedding planning and relaxing. Here are all the details.
Before leaving town I made a Pecan Maple Pie with Kumquats and Bourbon (recipe from the Tartine cookbook and reproduced here). We only had rye and not bourbon, so I used that (better the wrong booze than no booze, right?). I had an issue with the filling overflowing the shell so next time I would scatter the pecans and kumquats over the crust and then pour the liquid filling on top or just stop pouring the filling when it reaches the top of the shell, but other than that it turned out really well.
We drove to Iowa City on Wednesday night and were greeted with a refrigerator full of Wig & Pen pizza – well worth starving for on the drive down. I stayed up way past my bedtime to await the arrival of my favorite toddler and then woke up bright and early for more playtime, a cold run with my mom and a big Thanksgiving breakfast. When I made bagels last weekend I froze the bulk of them to bring home for Thanksgiving, and by Thursday morning they were thawed out and ready for eating. I couldn’t decide on toppings, so I did half cream cheese and half Oasis baba ganoush with a fried egg – heavenly!
Wedding planning is in full effect, and I’d been anxiously awaiting this trip to Iowa to see firsthand all of the wedding things that my mom has been digging up. My grandma’s detailed notes on all of the events surrounding my parents’ wedding are in this David Cassidy notebook, which I assume is the 1975 equivalent of a Bieber notebook.
I tried on my mom’s homemade (!!) wedding dress, which is a little too ’70s for my taste, but I might do something with her veil once it’s detached from the headpiece. It’s getting real!
Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Nina’s
Grandma plating her Cranberry Jello Salad
This year’s Thanksgiving spread included green bean casserole, ham, sweet potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, cranberry jello salad and Parker House rolls with honey butter and blueberries.
Dessert: my pecan maple pie, Uncle Scott’s pecan pie and my mom’s mincemeat pie
Playtime with Magnus
Our one and only Black Friday stop was a quick visit to Catherine’s. Some of us shopped and some of us spied on people from inside the dressing room.
After shopping and lunch at Atlas, we headed down to the farm just in time for an incredible sunset.
A big, late lunch made dinner more of an afterthought. I assembled a cheese plate with things found in my parents’ refrigerator including cheddar curds and black pepper cheddar from Milton Creamery, Tillamook aged cheddar, strawberry preserves, fig preserves, corn nuts, sliced pear and spicy pickled okra. Not pictured: veggies, hummus and baba ganoush to balance out all that cheese.
My mom’s brother was generous enough to share some of his stash of Backwoods Bastard, which is one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. I love bourbon, but sometimes beer aged in bourbon barrels is too much for me. Not this one, though. The oaky, bourbon presence is more smelled than tasted, and it’s balanced out with a nice sweetness. So good and so strong (10.2% ABV!). It was an early bedtime for me after this beer.
Saturday breakfast: scrambled eggs with black pepper cheddar, pomegranate, pear and pita
Saturday was a birder’s dream come true. On our morning run my mom and I spotted a great horned owl perched in a tree just off the road, and a few minutes later we passed a huge flock of starlings in a nearby cornfield. The starlings eventually made their way to our house where they spent a good twenty minutes flying between all the trees. It was a less creepy real-life version of The Birds. I posted a video on Instagram if you’re interested.
Once the birds moved on, Matt and I took off on the 4-wheeler in search of a wedding ceremony site, and we found the absolute perfect spot as long as we can figure out the logistics. While out tooling around, we spotted two of the coyotes that have taken up residence near the house. They’re pretty skittish, so I was only able to snap some photos from a distance before they ran into the woods. It’s not that often that you see coyotes running around, though, so I’ll take what I can get.
We also made a trip down the lane to visit the neighbor’s goats and their fearsome protector, Sugar.
Happiness is a yard full of goats.
One of our most exciting wedding-related activities of the weekend was an afternoon cake tasting. This was the sunset on the way home.
The only downside of having Thanksgiving at someone else’s house is little to no leftovers, and if Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite meal of the year, meals with the leftovers are a close second. The solution: cooking a second Thanksgiving dinner a couple days after the holiday. My mom picked up a small turkey, and we brined it on Friday and on Saturday rubbed it with herb butter, stuffed it with lemon, thyme and garlic, and roasted it to perfection.
To accompany the turkey we (or mostly my mom while Matt and I were off eating cake) made sour cream mashed potatoes, corn casserole, spinach balls, cranberry sauce and stuffing. No Thanksgiving feels complete without spinach balls and corn casserole, and who can say no to an opportunity to eat mashed potatoes and stuffing?
I had an extra tart crust to use, so I made a Chocolate Hazelnut Tart (also from the Tartine cookbook and reproduced here) for dessert.
I might have a bagel problem.
Sunday night dinner of leftovers after the drive back to St Paul.
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!