Last year’s Thanksgiving involved a horrific return journey from Alexandria to the Valley, during which we broke down twice with our sometimes spastic dog and 8 month old baby. The 2nd time we broke down was at some sort of park and ride/goat pen/used needle depository.
The dog was absolutely convinced the goats were going to attack at any moment. And we couldn’t really calm her down with a walk, because of all the sharp objects laying around. Finally Grandpa saved the day by picking us up and driving us back to Harrisonburg. Though we had set out early that morning, darkness was now rapidly approaching and college students were due back at their dorms. Just as we were entering the parking lot that is I–81 traffic on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the baby had a volcanic eruption of spew. I bathed him in a McDonald’s restroom. Hours later, our towed Subaru Forester was pronounced dead upon arrival at the shop.
SO this year everyone agree we needed to make a change. Thanksgiving day was at my parent’s house and we avoided travel on problem days. Then the in-laws came to my house for a Saturday Thanksgiving day trip. Much better. But now I had to cook like a functioning adult family member. And heck NO to turkey. There is just so MUCH of it and I only want a few pieces of dark meat and then I’m done. So I took to Pinterest to recipe search and was pretty happy with my plan.
Main Course – Pork Shoulder Ragu from Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table by Jenny Rosenstarch. I recently purchased her book after falling in love with her blog and it’s worth every penny. I do not have the fancy Dutch oven this recipe calls for. Mainly because every time I shop for one of those beautiful Le Creuset’s I see the price and then I spit out my drink all over the laptop and then I get sticky keys and every time I type a ‘t’ it opens a new tab, ‘h’ shows my history, ‘p’ goes to print, etcetera etcetera. So I don’t look anymore and will just register for one the next time I have a wedding. I’ll letcha know how that works out for me.
Anyway, since I didn’t have a dutch oven, I just used a 4 quart lidded casserole. My only other recipe modification was that I was cooking for 9 people so I got a 4 lb pork shoulder, but left the rest of the ingredients at the same amount. I also passed on the noodles in favor of french bread, and we ate ALL of it. It worked great because the meat was braising in the kitchen all day, so I could hang out and relax with family. It also made the house smell amazing. Get the Pork Ragu recipe and other great family meals on Rosenstarch’s excellent blog.
A side I made both at my parent’s Thanksgiving for vegetarian family members and for my guests was this Crispy Kale Salad with Coucous, Grilled Chicken and Pomegranates from Half Baked Harvest. The bright red pomegranates and bright green kale really made this a beautiful holiday dish. Plus it was so delicious, that my almost two year polished off the leftovers on his own. This was my first time trying a recipe from Half Baked Harvest, but I’ll be checking out her blog again. The modifications I made were to leave out the chicken and avocado. I subbed quinoa for cous cous and used toasted almonds instead of the more expensive pine nuts. I also left out the tahini and used sesame seed oil instead. My sister in law was cooking bacon for a recipe she made and we decided to chop it up and add it to the dish, as we had no vegetarians at my Thanksgiving.
PS She was cooking bacon to toss some brussel sprouts in the grease and bake with Tamari, walnuts and a molasses finish.
Finally for the morning after Thanksgiving day. I alternated helpings of left over sausage stuffing and mashed potatoes into muffin tins. After these set in the oven, I dropped whisked eggs over each and baked a bit more. Cheese and chopped bacon were also involved. Another idea I got from a DALS post: the Morning After. My dad declared it a new Thanksgiving tradition.
So thanks for reading… this is my very first blog post. wince. I look forward to sharing adventures in craft beer, amateur photography, music selections, and whatever parenting shenanigans I may get into.
I’ll leave with (now) funny memories of last year’s Thanksgiving break downs. I really should be thankful the dog and baby were on their best behavior… things could’ve gotten ugly. Happy Holidays!