This Thanksgiving was different than any I’ve spent in my life in some ways, and in others, not different at all. Traditionally we’ve spent Thanksgiving at my aunts house in Manzanita, surrounded by family and friends drinking a whole bunch of Oregon’s pinot noir, cooking all together, and playing all kinds of board games.
This year, we spent Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends, I drank a whole bunch of red wine, cooked, and played games, so in that sense, it was exactly the same.
This year however, after our cross country move, we decided to stay in Columbus, as we’re going to be in Portland for a couple of weeks around Christmas, which meant this was my first Thanksgiving of my whole life, all whopping 31 years of it, that I wasn’t going to be spending it with my mom, and my family in Portland. After a year of nothing but change, I wasn’t so ready to face Thanksgiving in another state, on the other side of the country, where I still HEAVILY rely on Siri to not spend all of my time lost, driving in circles.
“…even with the best of intentions to plan out my grocery shopping trip strategically taking into consideration traffic around each stop, distance from home, taking into consideration proximity to a Starbucks so I could re up on caffeine, and with a carefully organized-by-category list, I ended up grocery shopping for Thanksgiving the evening before, working off a list in my head….(also known as, the fastest way to make my husbands eye start twitching)”
When my husband and I got together seven and a half years ago my mother-in-law decreed that our holidays with that side of our family will always be the weekend after, to take away any stress about where to spend what holidays, and to prevent any hard choices about which side of the family is going to essentially get shafted. Have I mentioned lately how lucky I got when it comes to mother-in-laws?
So we knew that we were going to Ft. Recovery on Black Friday, and that our big Thanksgiving with the Heitkamp clan would be that Saturday. (Which upon making the decision to stay in Ohio for, I immediately volunteered to handle all of the cooking, and have been super stoked for for months)
However, that left Thanksgiving itself WIIIIIIIIIIDE open. Which I was dreading. Not that I don’t love quiet cozy days at home with Jeff & our pups, watching movies, Netflix binging, and cooking together, because I realllly do. But as this was going to be the first Thanksgiving of my whole life that we were weren’t going to be spending with my family, I was homesick, and anxious about such a drastic shift in tradition.
Enter our friends Vanessa & Bryan.
Vanessa and I met earlier this year at a Rising Tide Society meeting, a community for creatives that focuses on community over competition. She is a kick ass designer, and has the best taste of anyone I know. She runs an online boutique, PaisleyPROPOSAL, which has pop up shops all around Columbus. Seriously, check her out. We have a few of her paisleyPINTS glasses, and they ROCK.
Vanessa lived for the better part of a decade out in Seattle, and knows from first hand experience what it’s like to be a continent away from everything and pretty much everyone you know during the holidays. She and Bryan were over for dinner earlier in the fall, and asked what we had planned for Thanksgiving, upon finding out that our plans for day of consisted of watching football in our jammies and putting a meal of some kind together, invited Jeff and I to join their families. (I’m pretty sure I cried.)
Wednesday had me grocery shopping because let’s be real, even with the best of intentions to plan out my grocery shopping trip strategically taking into consideration traffic around each stop, distance from home, taking into consideration proximity to a Starbucks so I could re up on caffeine, and with a carefully organized-by-category list, I ended up grocery shopping for Thanksgiving the evening before, working off a list in my head.
In all fairness, I did pretty well, not forgetting anything, and only being short on heavy cream, which was easy to pick up later. Many thanks to my sister-in-law Meredith, who ran out to pick some up on Saturday when I realized I hadn’t bought enough.
I hit up North Market, specifically Two Brothers Butcher Shoppe for bacon. The veggie dish that I made for the Heitkamp Thanksgiving is brussels sprouts with roasted hazelnuts and bacon, and I’m kind of a bacon snob. Two brothers did not disappoint. Kick ass quality & super friendly service. Plus, I’m a visual person, and their display is pretty.
Jeff had the brain child of getting Hot Chicken Takeover for dinner for Wednesday, because in all reality, cooking wasn’t going to happen. I can’t believe that it took me almost six months to finally try HCT. Crazy delicious, even cold, three hours after I picked it up. Not only is the food amazing, the company is pretty cool too. If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and check them out. (word to the wise, stick with the warm if you’re not able to handle a whole lot of spice)
I couldn’t have had better grocery store luck than I did last week. I not only got myself to North Market and back (without using GPS, a big feat for me) I got myself to Trader Joes & The Anderson’s General Store , taking back roads, (again, no GPS, making me feel like a navigational rockstar (which I assure you, I am not)) I was in, out, and done in an hour, including a trip through the wine department at Anderson’s. (which, btw, is so well stocked that they carry obscure Oregon wines, out here in Ohio)
Thursday morning I put together Potatoes Au Gratin with Gruyere and Roasted Garlic, and a mac n’ cheese that I’ve been tweaking for a while. (Which as soon as it’s tweaked to my specifications will be posted and featured!)
With that, we were off, with the pups in tow. (Eddie was feeling quite dapper in his new sweater, and was quite excited to show it off).
The evening was perfect. Their families welcomed us with open arms, and Eddie and Otis were in pup heaven. Not only did Vanessa and Bryan open their home to us, they had a pup bed ready in front of the fire for the little fellas, they also had a bowl of water down and full) They had more people willing to snuggle them, love on them, and feed them turkey than they knew what to do with.
The meal was amazing, and we had to roll ourselves out the door to head home. Eddie left only under protest, as when it was time to go, he ran into V and Bryan’s bedroom, and staunchly refused to come out.
We headed to Ft. Recovery on Friday, with the back of our SUV loaded down with cooking paraphernalia, wine, and groceries. Saturday, for those who are not familiar with college football rivalries, featured The Ohio State University v. The Team Up North. (The University of Michigan). The game started just about the time the bird went into the oven.
“…The bird came out, and I was saying prayers to every higher power I could possibly tap on that I hadn’t eff’ed up the most important part of Thanksgiving…”
This was the first time I’ve put together a Thanksgiving on my own. I lost count of the number of phone calls and text messages I exchanged with my mom, making sure that I had all my ducks in a row before I actually started.
Growing up, our Thanksgiving & Christmas turkey’s have always been cooked in a brown paper bag, so that’s what I did as well.
Easiest. Thing. Ever.
Self basting, zero mess (as long as you make sure that the bag is completely tucked into the roasting pan), and bam. Perfectly roasted bird. Or in this case, birds, as we had a turducken.
All I did was check the internal temp as we went, taking it out when it hit 160. Potatoes were made while the bird was cooking away in it’s bag, (Big thanks to my aunt Kim for her potato recipe… (see, I’m big on family traditions when it comes to food)) I again busted out the gruyere au gratin as well, bacon was fried up, hazelnuts toasted, brussels sprouts were par boiled, then all tossed together.
All throughout there was wine poured, football on, (Ohio State won in double overtime), music on in the kitchen, and the general chaos that 30 or so people (half of them under the age of 11) under one roof can create. People were in and out of the kitchen, offering to help or just seeing what was going on.
The bird came out, and I was saying prayers to every higher power I could possibly tap on that I hadn’t eff’ed up the most important part of Thanksgiving. It couldn’t have been better.
We wrapped up the weekend with breakfast on Sunday at Trusty Woods, and headed home to binge on Netflix (currently catching up on Gilmore Girls, so that I can then binge on the revival).
Jeff and I had had big plans to have our annual Heitkamp Sandwich Extravaganza on Sunday night, that went out the window, and has been moved to a yet to be determined evening while we’re in Portland next month, and ordered delivery from Dominoes.