Friday, November 23, 2012

A Very Californian Thanksgiving

The pilgrims might have landed on the wrong coast it seems. It was 60 degrees and squintingly sunny here yesterday on Thanksgiving with both our hibiscus and magnolias blooming. We tried for a laid-back Californian Thanksgiving this year...which to me meant doing as little as possible.



Mr Carson would have my guts for garters on this cutlery placement

Kevin basting Fred, his Ashtanga-practising bird

Kids and Kevin with Dave and Adam

Tallulah in the Uncle's rented Mustang

Jackson, Cy and Grandma Patty

Patty, Tallulah and Aunt Mary, the family historian

Me and Jackson

This might be sacrilege to some but we had a cook-for-hire, Erin, drop off eight sides including my favourite, sweet potato with marshmallows on top; we picked up pies from Market Hall (they had finger holes in them by dawn) friends Mike'n'Kenny made chestnut, celery and apple soup and cousin Mac bought all the wine.

All that was left to do was cook the turkey and I handed Kevin that privilege. We don't cook well together and many is the time guests have arrived and I've said: "We just had a huge marital." Of course I meant big scrap, but I stopped using this expression after a friend confessed she thought it was something totally different...

After much research, Kevin ordered an organic bird a week ahead. Turns out there are five grades of organic and he chose the top-level turkey called Fred who practised Ashtanga in the mornings, followed by a gentle sips of lapsang souchong tea while reading Camus.

The trouble was Fred was too fit and fat-free and without the pumped-in water there was risk of drying out - to brine or not to brine (we didn't).

There was going to be 11 adults and six children including our four. Kevin's father, Bob and stepmother Patty arrived from Pennsylvania, Kevin's Aunt Mary came from Kansas, his brother Dave and his partner Adam flew in from Denver and Kevin's cousin, Janelle, and her family drove from Tiburon.

Great Aunt Mary is the family historian and she told us that our Tallulah, 11, is the spitting image of her great-grandmother who was half Sioux. Funnily enough Tallulah's name is listed as both Irish and Native American Indian for leaping water.

Kevin set his alarm for 8am to start "basting his bird"every half hour (Gosh, how we did laugh about that) We searched that dang creature for the bagged-up innards, found under the skin today.

Grandpa Bob and the Uncles played catch with all the kids, the turkey browned so perfectly it looked like it came from Central Casting and I drank too much of the plentiful grape. Thanks for the Grandpa, for an Auntie who knows every corner of the family and for friends who make soup. And for online friends like you who alway bring those magical sides.

"Awesome101"... that's Tallulah-speak for Awesome All Day Long.

35 comments:

  1. Glad you had a beautiful Thanksgiving! Nothing wrong with cooks for hire to eliminate the added stress, in my opinion.

    Your family looks lovely and I agree with you, organic turkeys takes some getting used to, since their meat is so much tougher than the 'factory' farm ones.

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    1. Sadly Rose - Fred the yoga-doing turkey did turn out to be tough...(thought nothign that lashings of gravy couldn't fix) sounds like we'll have to do the steam roasting ....see below from WellFredFred. Yes organic apples have the worms and are a bit lumpy bumpy and organic turkeys need more attention it seems.

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  2. Lovely photos ... sounds like you had a fabulous day with family:) Very jealous of your sunny weather!
    ~Anne

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  3. Well as I sat here in my centrally heated house, with a fire lit and wearing an extra cardigan, my brother (also in California) via the magic of skype showed me the pool and the sunshine so I could see their Thanksgiving and what I was missing....brothers never stop teasing do they..even when they are over 60! and reading about your fab day made me wonder why I didn't start saving now so that we could visit next year....

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    1. Yes and you can pop in and see us on the way through - a mini bloggy convention!

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  4. What a great day! You had me laughing throughout! It must be so wonderful to be able to throw open the doors on days like that! Here we call such spats "domestics", as in "B and I had a domestic about.." Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

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    1. I'd forgotten about the "domestics" - yes might start using that too - though bods here might think its something to do with Cook and O'Brien.

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  5. What a gorgeous family you have, lovely photos, the light and and colors look so California.
    Laughing about your "maritals" as opposed to "scraps", like WMM we call them domestics around here!

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  6. I just call it " a Big Fight". Sounds like a wonderful family celebration.

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  7. I love the way you do thanksgiving. I have to say, the pilgrims would have been very comfortable over here on the east coast this year. We had 60 degree temps too. The whole day was awesome 101 for us as well. now fingers crossed for christmas :)

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  8. I think I want to come live in your house! All your photos look like they've come from Central Casting. We're off to Boston for Xmas ... we're leaving rainy Ireland and all fingers are crossed for a White Christmas.

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  9. lovely family, lovely table, lovely day! We had a small organic turkey and I was truly afraid it would turn to turkey-flavored string, found Jacques Pépin's directions for steam-roasting (much easier than brining), followed slavishly, it was delicious! One teeny complaint, the old way of roasting gives you more gravy.

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  10. Wellfedfred- the turkey was dry to tell you the truth - don't repeat that to my husband or there will be a Marital! It def needed to be brined or steam roasted ...must find out what that is!

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  11. God your family are one helluva good looking bunch. Am loving Tallulah's get up with Patty and the clever Aunt. Obvs we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK but I did manage to squeeze in a domestic with the husband. When do you leave for NZ? One day hopefully we'll be there at the same time and we can sit in the beachy cafe in Ohope wearing high heels and full make up and drink vats of savvy x

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    1. The first friday arvo meeting of the Sauv Blanc Demolishing Group (Ohope Beach chapter)

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  12. Fantastic old American tradition of you!! i believe I saw a paua shell on the table? Makes me miss SF given the weather we are in for here on the East Coast!! Miss my night blooming jasmine ... sigh

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    1. Yes, a paua shell, which I guess they call abalone here?

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  13. Sounds like the perfect holiday! The Camus reading bird is hysterical. I hope the basting paid off!!

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  14. Thanksgiving is not as deep and meaningful to me, obviously, as it is to the natives, but I do like the sentiment behind it - stop, count our blessings and give thanks. Of course, to me it's sacrilegious to have turkey at any other time of the year but Christmas - so I roasted a leg of Larry the Lamb!

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    1. We're having his Kiwi cousin Trevor when we Christmas in NZ

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  15. Oh sounds like you had a really blessed fun day and the food sounds great!

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  16. Sounds like you had a stress-free day, so you could enjoy it too.

    One way of tackling potentially dry meat is to cook the bird upside down and turn it the right way up to brown. This might be a bit of an issue if the bird is BIG though... Another way is to cover the breast in new J-cloths soaked in melted butter.

    Funnily enough, I just wrote about a domestic that we had on holiday. :)

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  17. This sounded wonderful..am really happy everyone had such a great time!! Enjoy your new week :) xx The sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top sounds brilliant :)

    La Femme Nouvelle

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  18. We never have domestics over cooking *smug face* because the shah does feck all in the kitchen. It's the way to harmony in a marriage! It looks like a fab party - I'm all in favour of family historians -ask all the questions you need to before it's too late.

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    1. Divsion of labour - is he the cleaner upper?

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  19. LOL! Fred the turkey that practised Ashtanga!! Oh yeah, we've had plenty of "marital" cos the favorite spot for the hubby during Christmas is in front of the TV. Would've gladly put HIM in the oven instead of the turkey.

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    1. That's an option I haven't thought about - and would be tender too!

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  20. Wow! What a spread (and I don't mean the 'marital' that didn't happen) and no, I don't think it's a cheat to get help in whatever way with the food. Food is food, for pete's sake! It's all about getting the people together and this sounds great. I love that you have a 'family historian' as well. My Kevin was in charge of the turkey as well this year, and yes, there was one moment when I said something about it, got a look, and backed away.

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    1. Yes. I found through the years the "back away from the turkey-lamb-chicken" has prevented many a squiffle...

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  21. It looks like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Jody. Family reunions are the best.
    Ada

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  22. Whoops! I must have missed this post! It looks like a thoroughly fabulous -- and very warm! -- holiday. xo style, she wrote

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