Friday, November 26, 2010

A California Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a happy and food-filled holiday, however you celebrate it! So far I've heard everything from traditional turkey to Indian buffet..

For me, Thanksgiving in California has come to mean one thing: first-of-the-season crab! Originally we thought about doing cedar-plank salmon this year, but with Dungeness crab at $6 a pound, that seemed like the obvious choice. The sides were more traditional: pumpkin bread, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce. All of which go surprisingly well with crab!

Pumpkin bread

Crab meat, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, pumpkin bread,
cranberry sauce, and Firestone 14
Somehow the cooking process this year was unusually easy and short, but we also don't have a lot of leftovers. I guess that's the trade-off.

I made the green bean casserole from scratch, really just meaning using a roux and broth instead of canned mushroom soup. I haven't had this dish a lot, so I don't have much to compare it to, but it was pretty well received. I used this recipe at For the Love of Cooking.
The cranberry sauce is one of my favourite Thanksgiving foods, and I love making it. It's so simple, so variable, and makes the kitchen smell awesome.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar (I used half brown sugar and half turbinado)
  • 1 cup water
  • 12 oz cranberries (1 package, usually)
  • the fun part: orange zest or peel, chopped walnuts or pecans, chopped dried apricots or other fruit, cinammon, nutmeg, etc.
  • Dissolve sugar into boiling water
  • Add cranberries, bring to a boil; reduce heat, stir occasionally 
  • When cranberries begin to pop, stir in additional ingredients
  • Continue to simmer until it is no longer 'soupy'
  • Remove from heat, cool at room temperature, then chill in fridge before serving

The beer was Firestone 14, a special annual blend from Firestone Walker. It's a tasty beer but the alcohol taste comes on a little strong. Mark is aging a second bottle, we'll see if it mellows out.
All in all, a relatively low-stress, high-carb Thanksgiving-- as it should be! Happy holidays!