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Day of Feasting

Thanksgiving 2006 — the first time I’d be spending the holiday in California in a decade — dawned bright and clear and crisp. All day long it felt like a holiday, perhaps because of the weather, but most certainly because of all the cooking that went on. I did not make as much as I would have had I been hosting the meal myself, but I managed to do a fairly respectable job of making: a sweet potato dip, citrus-cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, vegetarian gravy, and apple pie. My mother made the rest, and we sat for a long time around the table eating all the good things — no turkey for me but it smelled delicious — and drinking a lovely Lolonis Fume Blanc


The afternoon’s feast started early for me, with cranberry margaritas on the stone patio of an old friend in town from Washington. Her parents live in a valley outside of Sebastopol, and their house is perched amidst bay trees and rolling hills. The had 20 guests for dinner (and seemed remarkably calm about it) and served up bbq-ed Hog Island oysters and a variety of cheeses to go along with the (marvelous) drinks. The air was smoky and sweet. I drove back along the winding roads back to my house with the sun in my eyes and was glad I hadn’t eaten much, because I knew the rest of the evening would involve extreme over-consumption.

And did it.

I made a batch of the cranberry margaritas myself, and we drank those while eating ravioli with a thick, red sauce, spanikopita, and the sweet potato dip with crackers. Then we moved on to the turkey, a wild mushroom galette; mashed potatoes, stuffing, a saute of green beans/carrots/zuchini, cranberry sauce, and gravy. After a few hours — and a few glasses of red wine — we dug into the pumpkin pie, apple pie, and tea.

The next party I give, I will be sure to serve cranberry margaritas and the sweet potato dip; both are perfect accompaniments to fall’s cooling temperatures and are, of course, in season.

Sweet Potato Dip
2 sweet potatoes, washed and cut into small pieces
1 onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 tbs. tahini

Rub the potatoes, onion, and garlic in olive oil, wrap in tin foil, and roast at 400-degrees until soft. Puree until smooth, and add the tahini (add more if you wish a stronger flavor). Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with pita bread or crackers.

Cranberry Margaritas

1 cup tequila
1/4 cup Triple Sec
1/3 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup (or more cranberry sauce)
handful frozen (or fresh) cranberries)
lime juice

Fill half a blender (or so) with ice; add rest of ingredients and puree until ice is crushed. If your cranberry sauce is not too sweet, you may want to add a bit of sugar.

[the full meal, glorified.]

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