When I was a kid Hallowe’en was my favorite holiday, but now that I’m grown up Thanksgiving seems perfect. The food is fantastic and the company even more so—we are very grateful that we were able to share the day with Nonna and Pappy and a couple dear friends, and the rest of our far-flung family and friends are close in our hearts on this holiday too. A day for celebrating the bounty of the land with loved ones…what could be better?
Maybe there’s one thing better: the day after Thanksgiving. A day for just sitting around in our bathrobes grazing on all the leftovers. That’s pretty great too.
Our Thanksgiving menu this year:
slices of Pink Lady apples and Point Reyes “Toma” farmstead cheese
slices of prosciutto and fuyu persimmons drizzled with balsamic vinegar
murderous mashed potatoes (seriously, the mashed potatoes will kill you—I make them exactly twice a year, and they are fantastic, because the Cook’s Illustrated recipe involves a stick of butter and three cups of heavy cream. I always warn everybody beforehand so those with any cholesterol issues know to take them very sparingly.)
pan seared brussels sprouts with bacon
pear-ginger cranberry sauce
BN Ranch heritage, pasture-raised turkey
and in place of stuffing, Judy Rodgers’ bread salad. (My friend Matt, who is gluten-intolerant, usually comes for Thanksgiving, so most of the menu is gluten-free…this is my single “asterisk.”)
sweet potato pie (I use Leah Chase’s recipe, substituting gluten-free flour for the crust.)
flourless chocolate cake
So as you can see, the leftovers are plentiful and delicious.
My philosophy on inviting guests with dietary restrictions is this: I feel pretty okay about gesturing expansively to a table groaning with food and saying “You can eat everything but the strudel,” or whatever. So when putting together a meal I usually allow myself a single “asterisk.” It’s a lot nicer than leading a guest to the same table and saying “This is all poisonous to you, but I made you a special bowl of pilaf.” Matt insists that he’s perfectly happy as long as there’s something he can eat, but I think it’s plain mean to invite a guest if it’s only to make them watch other people eating delicious foods they cannot have.
I joke that when I die I’d like my memorial plaque to read simply: “She ate well.” Thanksgiving is probably the day that we eat best of all, but the day after Thanksgiving features all of the food and none of the work. Best holiday ever? It might be.