Thursday, November 24, 2011

The ghost of Thanksgiving Past.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all of the wonderful Thanksgiving's of my past:

2010: Our friend Jarret joined us for Thanksgiving while his wife traveled to see her family. He brought delicious mashed potatoes. In true Kate and Sam style, we promised dinner about 3:30 and actually sat down around 7:30 p.m. It always takes about twice as long to cook as I imagine.

2009: Dinner with our friends Lucy and Kipp, and Lucy's mother and grandmother who were visiting from Denver. We brought brioche clover rolls and Mario Batali's panchetta and thyme Brussels sprouts, and also a deep dish pecan pie. I enjoy spending the holiday with friends and their families, who are often so loving and friendly  that it feels like I could be at home.

2008: We headed home to Colorado to share Thanksgiving with my family in my sister Ellen's place. She was house sitting a beautiful, old mansion house in Boulder just off of Pearl Street, and it made a lovely setting for Thanksgiving. My Grandmarj  flew in from South Carolina and after dinner we enjoyed cigars on the patio. It was a picture perfect Thanksgiving.

2007: Sam and I traveled to Paris and Amsterdam for our Honeymoon.  Thanksgiving was our first night in Amsterdam, and we went to an Indonesian restaurant recommended by our B&B hosts. The food was nothing like a traditional Thanksgiving, but somehow the many dishes of brightly colored, flavorful dishes felt perfect for Thanksgiving. Plus, Amsterdam had such a lively and friendly feel after the more quiet and refined feel of Paris that it felt like we were sharing our meal with friends and family. A definite Thanksgiving to remember.

2006: Sam and I drove out to Big Bend for a long weekend in the National Park. It turns out all the campsites were booked, so we had to drive back out of park grounds and find a place to camp in the wilderness. We brought pre-made Thanksgiving food from our local Central Market and reheated everything in the dark by headlamp.

 ... and of course there have been so many more. In 2005 we spent Thanksgiving with our friends Chris and Alex in Padre Island at the home on the sea-side canal. We brought Pumpkin Beer because we knew Alex loves beer, but it turns out he only likes Lone Star! In 2004 Sam and I stayed in my rental house in San Antonio and attempted our first solo Thanksgiving, getting the meal on the table about 9 p.m. The year before his Dad visited from Tucson and I learned the hard lesson not to commit to yeast-risen cinnamon rolls for breakfast on the same day we are also cooking a full feast. It's too exhausting!

My sophomore year of college my roommate Elizabeth's family came to visit for Thanksgiving and we all spent the long weekend together site seeing San Antonio! I spent my collegiate Thanksgiving with my suite mate Amber at her family's house in Austin and learned about the UT/A&M football rivalry firsthand. And of course the Thanksgiving's of my childhood were always spent with all six of my family members gathered around the kitchen dividing and conquering the various cooking for the dinner while we watched the parade. 

Last week we shared a pre-Thanksgiving "Fakesgiving" or "Spanksgiving" with friends in Austin as part of their annual gathering of friends tradition. And today, even though I wasn't with my family, I got to FaceTime them on the iPhone and see their beautiful meal and feel almost like I was at the table. And tonight I ate a lovely homecooked Thanksgiving meal with my wonderful husband, who humored me with a FULL Thanksgiving feast even though it was only the two of us. Tomorrow, we head to our friend's John and Lauren's for a day-late Thanksgiving with their family. The moral of this is that I am a very lucky woman with so much to be thankful for.  If I am very lucky, there will be many more memorable and loving Thanksgivings in my future. Let's hope so. Gobble gobble.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Estes Park and Pumpkin Pie

In September I flew home to Colorado to take part in a family tradition - heading to Estes Park to hear the elk bugle while eating pumpkin pie. The two go hand in hand. Well at least sort of. Sure, you can have pumpkin pie without hearing elk bugle. But in our household you certainly cannot hear the elk bugle without pumpkin pie.

The time in Estes Park was good old fashioned family fun. We camped, we ate chili by the fire, we hiked, we listened to bluegrass music and drank beers. And we met new friends. In fact, the running joke of the trip was that on that trip I met the couple that will be my new best friends someday when we move back to Colorado someday - my sister Claire's friend and coworker Carissa and her husband Dave. Claire was so cute and excited when she described how well she thinks Dave and my husband Sam will get along. Dave is a software developer; Sam is a software developer. Dave has a beard; Sam has a beard. And throughout the weekend we found more uncanny similarities. Dave likes to buy shirts from; Sam likes to buy shirts from Dave was raised vegetarian and hated it; Sam was raised vegetarian and hated it. The list kept growing and growing, making the joke of new BFFS even more hilarious. I wished Sam had been on the trip to meet our new BFFs too.

The elk bugled all night long (they don't eat or sleep during the rut, those crazy bulls!), we enjoyed pumpkin pie and the crisp mountain air, and I was able to see leaves changing and fall approaching in a way that doesn't happen in my South Texas home. And I got to take part in a family tradition for the first time. It was a lovely trip.

When I said the trip was about pie, I wasn't kidding.
Claire smiles with pie.
He/she who takes the biggest bite wins.
Chili in front of a roaring fire.
Watching those elk bugle in the distance.
Hiking in the golden aspen leaves.
The trail with the aspen canopy.
Relaxing in front of the fire.