Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

My third California Thanksgiving. It seems so unreal!

This year, I was graciously hosted by my good friend N and her family. They have been such a blessing to me, always taking me to the airport, and letting me stay at their house. To my surprise and delight, now they are being accommodating with my food allergies for Thanksgiving! This is way more than a blessing to me. I always worry about going over to other's houses and being able to eat something. Most people don't understand, some people don't even care. But every once and a while us gluten-free people find friends that really go the extra mile. To N and C I will be forever grateful for such a wonderful Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving eve, it was N's younger sisters birthday. We had steak (which they did on a separate part of the grill), baked potatoes with sour cream, chives, cheese and butter, and cooked broccoli. There was also fudge. They were going to make two batches anyway, so for one batch they actually did a "Meagan friendly fudge" using Bakers Chocolate instead of chocolate chips and using butter instead of margarine! It was so delicious, and so nice to have such a delicious home cooked meal where everyone was eating the same things I was! That doesn't happen very often. I can't even describe to you how wonderful it was.

In N's family, the Thanksgiving meal happens at dinner, about 6-7 o'clock. This is very different from my family, where the meal usually is around 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

The day of-
Everyone slept in. Except me, I seem to have a knack for not being to sleep in past 8 or 9. While I had breakfast and they slept, I started blogging.

Around 11:00, the preparations started. The turkey did not need to cook in the oven for hours because it was a fresh never frozen turkey from Trader Joes. 3 -4 hours for I think a 20 lb turkey was all it took. Tommy the Turkey was prepped and went into the oven around 3 o'clock.

N's mom C and I started to get together all the other food. In the dinning room, there were several different plates on the table: "dark chocolate fudge" (the stuff that was safe for me) and "normal" fudge, fresh cut pineapple, 3 kinds of grapes, clementines, raw broccoli, orange, yellow and red bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, hummus and ranch dip, deviled eggs, Trader Joes cinnamon sugar almonds and plain walnuts and pecans, and Tostitos corn chips to dip into homemade guacamole and tomato-onion salsa. C was kind enough to let me make the guacamole. You can find the recipe for the guacamole here. Everyone loved it. The tomato-onion dip was more of an experiment.

We grazed on the table of goodies all day. I was so overjoyed to have safe dip, guac and raw veggies. Can you tell what was one of my favorite platters? I didn't have to worry about lunch at all - I had adequate protein and veggies, my favorite combination!

As the day wore on, more of the family started to arrive and I was introduced to everyone. It was great to be "with family," even though it was not my own.

Next on the agenda were the side dishes. As planned, there was stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, cornbread and cranberries. C's boyfriend D made the green bean casserole (not safe for me). The stuffing, of course, was wheat based. The rolls came from Albertson's (also not safe). But the gravy, cornbread, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and cranberries were all safe! I offered to make the cornbread (you know how I feel about the cornbread recipe I made this summer) and all the other dishes just needed minor adjustments.

The cornbread recipe was my own, which you can find here. The mashed potatoes were just butter, s+p, and half n' half. The cranberries were prepared from scratch with spices and fresh cranberries. The sweet potatoes were just butter, cinnamon and nutmeg (others put brown sugar and marshmallows on top, which I have never been fond of). The gravy, oh, that gravy -- simply chicken stock (Pacific brand organic free range chicken broth), s + p, turkey juices and cornstarch. This was probably the best gravy I have ever tasted, EVER. Naturally gluten free. Gravy does not have to be complicated. It also took about 5 minutes to make.

When everything was prepared, instead of placing all of the food on the table, we set it up "buffet style" in the kitchen. I directly helped C arrange the food, because as we all know buffets can become a distaster for GFers. Cross-contamination. My worries were abated, however, as all the safe things I could eat were awayish from the wheat dishes, including the rolls. There was also a utensil dedicated to each dish, and because of the way the dishes were arranged on the counter I did not have to worry about the "reach over" factor. Straight forward. I did not directly tell C about the cross-contamination issues, because I did not want to seem so burdensome, as they were already doing so much for me, but I think she caught on. Thanks again, C.

Around 7 o'clock, everything was placed out and ready to be eaten. The line for the food started and I was definitely hungry. My plate consisted of: a drumstick (I love the dark meat), mashed potatoes, half a sweet potato, a small dollop of cranberries (they looked interesting, but I had to try it), GRAVY, cornbread, and onions and celery that came from inside the turkey.

We ate our food around the table where the hors d'oeuvres had been previously - we had to clear them away to make room for our places. Then, we ate. We enjoyed our food. We certainly went back for extra gravy.

Dessert did not go so fortunately for me, but I was satisfied with the Thanksgiving meal. There were various pies, an apple crisp, fugde and fresh whipped cream. Not wanting to feel dessert-less, I ended up finding some berries in the freezer and topping them with some cream and fudge.

Then we all talked and relaxed on the couch. It was a good day.

That night, after we had digested a little, we had gingerbread house decorating contest. I will spare you from all the crazy details, you can probably already gather much of them from the picture! Candy mania.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!