Thanksgiving Tales, Part Two

My own tale of Thanksgiving starts on Saturday. Lisa and I compared schedules, lives, and various other things and realized that we would be best-served for her to fly down to San Francisco on Monday evening. That’s fine, and it made a lot of sense (I won’t bore you with the details), but it left me with a very interesting adventure – two full days of driving with El Poocho. Everybody knows that Sasha is a Good Dog, but we were about to find out if she was Amazing.

Sunday morning, I get up with Sasha and take her to a field where we can run and play for 45 minutes or so – a good long game of Chuck-It, catch, and so on. I bring her home, and while her heart rate returns to normal I finish off some packing. She eats, and then we’re off! Getting her in the car is no problem; like all dogs everywhere (as far as I know) the words “go for a ride?” are pure magic. We drive up the hill and come to the I-5 interchange, where the same feeling always comes over me. I hit this interchange several times a week (it used to be essentially daily, for a couple years). I go North greater than 99% of the time – basically, I go South once a year, to go on vacation to Ashland. I figure that’s why going South that day gave me the same weird sense of calm and relaxation even though I wasn’t technically going to the Festival.

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Thanksgiving Tales

I’ve got a pretty good family when it comes to working out the holidays. Over the years we’ve all gotten comfortable with making sure we ask for what it is we really need, and make it clearly different from what we just want. (Which, I feel, is the secret to a good family gathering with a minimum of drama.) My sister had a very specific desire: to introduce her son C to Sasha so that she could begin her campaign to get a dog. (It seems that he’s had a few scary experiences with dogs coming right up into his face and he’s on the verge of being AFRAID of all dogs.) I had a desire to see the two of them interact. My mother wanted to spend time with the family as a group and with me individually. Overall, I think we succeeded, but the highlight was the boy-dog interaction. (And Sasha’s first trip to the beach, but that’s another post.)

C. was definitely weirded out by Sasha. Her head is literally at the level of his head, so he consistently gets a clear look at her big mouth of teeth. And he tends to carry food around in his hands, so he’s a big attractant for her. But C. pretty quickly got over needing Mommy to hold him whenever Sasha came near and on day two got pretty good at saying “Sasha, NO” when she got up in his face. For our part, J and I just paid a lot of attention to where she was and what she was doing. A gentle “leave him alone” was all that was needed to turn her aside, even when it was a plate full of his food. What she loved to do most of all was sneakily kiss him. She’d just lope quietly from across the room and then then — slurp! — lick him upside the face. At first, this freaked him out. (See comment earlier about the big mouth of teeth.) Then he got used to it, or resigned to it, and he’d just wipe his face and go back to playing. Breakthrough on day 3 — she went to sleep on her bed and he played at his train table while the adults had dinner.

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Heaven in a Bowl: Lisa’s Winter Stew

A few weeks ago, I’d asked J. to pick up a mix of root veggies so we could have them with various upcoming meals. He got a couple of sweet potatoes, garnet yams, russet potatoes, yukon golds (about 1 lb) and a couple of butternut squash. The law of cooking being what it is in my household, we ate one butternut and just haven’t gotten to the rest.

(Yeah, I know “just haven’t gotten to it” is a very lame excuse. It’s only redeeming value is that it is also true.)

Yesterday morning I quickly glanced through our pantry and fridge to make sure we weren’t going to have a lot of rotting things greeting us when we return from SF. (Virgo, aka A/R, alert: We’re not leaving till Sunday, so this meant I could use up stuff over the course of 4-5 meals.) The sight of all that lovely starch made me very sad and I resolved to do my best to do something with all of it before we left.

At first I was tempted to just cook it and mash it, because $5 dinners did it. But then I realized I wasn’t sure how well it would freeze. So when I ran to the (fantabulous) Metro Market for lunch, I tried to think of something to make. A row of fresh-pressed apple cider caught my eye, and I decided to cook a pork roast with cider and use the sweet potatoes and yams (don’t you know its a fundamental precept of the universe that pork+cider+sweet potato = YUM? It is. Unless you’re a vegetarian.)

A quick chat with the lovely meat lady, and I was handed 4 pounds of pork shoulder. “Do you have anything smaller?” I asked, “it’s just my partner and I.” No problem, she just cut it in half. I added that cider to my basket and went home. (Lunch, if you must know, was lox, bagel, smoked gouda, and an apple.)

Once home I started looking for a recipe, but ended up combining two. One was a Pork & Pumpkin Stew (from Gourmet magazine, October 1991) and the other my old favorite Winter Squash and Chicken Stew with Indian Spices.

My recipe is this:

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Cake Wrecks

I promise you that you will enjoy this reference — even if you aren’t thrilled with the idea of clicking around on the web.

http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com

Its a blog that is only pictures of cakes that have been — usually hilariously — wrecked. Misspellings. Poor taste in concept. A lack of decorating skills. You name it, and its happened. And this site captures the evidence for us all to see.

Enjoy.

( I read it every day, it’s my morning giggle.)