rhiannonstone: (Default)
I swore off traveling during the holidays quite a few years ago because it's expensive and stressful and tends to upset whichever family members I'm not visiting, but somehow I keep letting Aunt [profile] jensmitkil talk me into flying across the country for Thanksgiving--probably because it's always so danged fun. This year we all converged on the Outer Banks for the week, in two cozy little condos a stone's throw from the ocean and a few short miles from [profile] xandyssin's place for our teeny tiny Smith family reunion.

Paul and I flew in Monday and left Friday, so we really only had three days there. We couldn't do much of the stuff we wanted to do because Highway 12 was closed to non-4WD traffic south of Oregon Inlet, leaving the entirety of Hatteras Island inaccessible, but we still managed to pack our days there quite full with running around, shopping for food and gifts, lazing about, hanging around, sharing stories, and consuming a not-insignificant amount of seafood and wine. And coffee. And bourbon.

And there was cooking! Oh so much cooking.

I wanted oysters and Dad wanted me to make my famous French onion soup and Caesar salad, so we did both as a little moveable feast on Wednesday night: six of us demolished nearly a bushel of raw and steamed oysters over at Aunt J & Uncle R's condo, then everyone came over to ours for soup and salad. Then we spent Thursday going back and forth between condos for nibbles (Sausage cheese balls! Devilled eggs! Pimento-stuffed celery!) while working on Thanksgiving dinner in our respective kitchens.

Cooking without access to my usual equipment and ingredients was a challenge, but it was kind of a fun one to tackle. I felt a little like MacGyver, or Rutabaga the Adventure Chef, and it was like all my years of cooking experience and food geekery was training for the task of cooking Thanksgiving and dinner for 6 in a tiny rental kitchen with a random assortment of cheap, abused utensils, an unfamiliar electric stove, and very limited seasonings. No potato ricer or masher? No bowls big enough to mix anything in? Knives too dull to chop broccoli? No problem! I was also pretty proud of my hastily thrown-together travel cold-brew coffee setup, though I've since purchased a more efficient piece of equipment to take with me next time. My obsession with vintage household handbooks was finally justified, too, when I used half a lemon and salt to scrub old scorched pots that were otherwise refusing to get clean.

Thanksgiving dinner itself was wonderful and abundant. From J & R: turkey, stuffing, chicken-cornbread dressing, two kinds of cranberry sauce, asparagus, beer bread, crescent rolls, two pies. From us: unstuffed stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cheesy broccoli, and one pie that had an accident and didn't make it to the table (not an oops-we-ate-it accident, but a lost-the-battle-with-gravity accident). Entirely too much food, of course, but it was all delicious. And we left Dad with enough leftovers to feed him for weeks. :)

I'd planned to do some bike riding while I was there, and rented a nice hybrid from what turned out to be a really great shop, but I had so much fun chatting with the bike shop guy about vintage bikes and east coast vs. west coast cycling that I left without picking up my helmet. And didn't discover it until Wednesday afternoon, when he (and everyone else who might have helmets for rent) was closed. D'oh. At least I know where to go for a rental next time I'm on the Outer Banks.

We all agreed that we should definitely make the Smith family reunion a regular thing, but at my request, NOT during the holidays. I think we're thinking of going down to J & R's place on the Gulf coast next time, during a warmer time of year, maybe when there's an art or shrimp festival.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Happy Thanksgiving!

In past years I've posted detailed lists of all the things, big and small, that I have to be thankful for. I've got a lot to be thankful for this year, too--a steady job and good health and lots of little luxuries--but now more than ever I am most grateful for the abundance of love and friendship in my life. Without that, nothing else I have would matter.


Still worried about getting the turkey just right? Tante Mary has the secret to save your Thanksgiving: just put the fucking turkey in the oven.

And more Thanksgiving food advice:


rhiannonstone: (Default)

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