And that's saying a lot! Initially, the plans were for my small extended family (8 of us all together) to join us in Ventura for the Thanksgiving celebration, but everyone's health seemed to indicate otherwise. My grandmother had a cold, and my uncle had just done heroic battle with kidney stones and was not yet fully recovered. They were obviously not thrilled about the prospect of a long car ride! I had already done all the shopping, so we quickly formulated plan B. We decided to have the actual MEAL up north on Friday so that we wouldn't have to do our driving on the worst possible day. I cooked as much as I could on Wednesday, and we hit the rode about mid-day on Thursday - right about when we figured others were getting ready to sit down and stuff their faces.
My aunt and uncle graciously agreed to let me, Jerry, and the terror stay with them at their home in San Jose. I was the cooking project manager on Friday, and I received incredible help in the kitchen from Jerry (the best cooking co-pilot ever!), my aunt, and my mom. I planned a basically traditional meal with a slight southwest twist:
- Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Crema and Pepitas (super yummy! how did we get away with no leftovers of this?!?)
- Roast Turkey with Apples, Onions, Fried Sage Leaves, and Apple Cider Gravy (this is my all-time favorite turkey recipe - the turkey gets roasted with pearl onions and lady apples, and the presentation on the platter is incredible!)
- Apricot Pecan Cornbread Stuffing (I get picky about this and make my own cornbread, and I use chorizo for the sausage. My favorite!)
- Cranberry Orange Relish (I just buy the perfect pre-made version from Trader Joes)
- Sweet Potato and Yam Galette (we used just sweet potatoes and baked it in the cast iron skillet. It didn't invert perfectly like I had hoped, but it was super delicious nonetheless. I should have doubled the recipe - we had no leftovers!)
- Green Bean Salad with Tamari Almonds (Thanks to Martha - a lovely side dish. I bought my tamari almonds at Trader Joes rather than making my own!)
- Sparkling Pomegranate Juice (another must have from Trader Joes!)
- Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake (yes! the Martha cake - review to come in separate post!)
- Apple Pie Cake (yes! the *other* Martha recipe for November - look for review tomorrow!)
I know that I'm no photographer, and certainly not a food stylist, but here are some photos of the spread nonetheless:
basting the turkey!
soup, turkey, sweet potatoes... yummy!
We planned on driving home on Saturday, but I was itching to get to San Francisco to see the new De Young and catch the Gees Bend exhibit before it leaves at the end of December. We made the drive up and caught the museum just as it was opening. The museum re-opened just about a year ago following the incredible Herzog & de Meuron design - wow! The building is incredible - clad in irregularly perforated copper sheets - and will change its appearance as the copper ages. The highlight for us was the observation tower, which appears to balance precariously over the narrow base. The tower features an incredible 360 degree view of the city and the bay - I could have stayed up there for hours! Some great pictures of the building here.
With Brynne along, I was not able to dawdle through the Gees Bend exhibit as much as I would have liked, but I can echo what I have read by others: the quilts are incredible and inspiring, and the stories behind them even more so. I haven't done any research on the after-effects of the recent attention paid to the Gees Bend quilters, but I can only hope that money is finally pouring in to this long neglected, but culturally invaluable community.
After the museum, we wandered through the Botanical Gardens hunting for lions (!) and ate lunch at the museum cafe. Then we drove out to the Golden Gate so that Brynne could get a closer look. We tried to take a self-portrait of the 3 of us in front of the bridge, but it wasn't quite pointed in the right direction, and then my batteries ran out! So, imagine the gorgeous bridge added to the top right side of the photo and you'll have a better idea. It was the perfect SF day - clear skies, brisk, and slightly windy.