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A Very Happy Friendsgiving! Though not without its pitfalls…

December 4, 2009

Vans and I were pretty thrilled when we realized that we’d both be in town for Thanksgiving this year; often one or both of us is travelling up north a bit to the Land o’ Smog to celebrate with family.  But this year we decided to be a tad more eco-friendly, save some gas and carbon emissions, and stick close to home.  Plus, the possibility of a Thanksgiving potluck (potluck=the most beautiful word in the English language) was too tempting to pass up. 

We dubbed our celebration Friendsgiving and it was bravely hosted by our good buddy Dustin (thank goodness he offered because for as culinarily inclined as Vanessa and I are, we both have pitifully small kitchens).  Now, “traditional” is not something we do well around here.  We prefer to cross lines, push boundaries, hop fences, think outside of boxes, etc.  So we decided to put a spin on the traditional Thanksgiving menu, just to make it more in line with our quirky style.  There was nary a sweet potato in sight.

The Menu
Rosemary Roasted Chicken
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Smashed Red Potatoes with Manchego Cheese
Cloved Orange Cranberry Sauce
Creamed Brussels Sprouts
Grape Stuffing
Cheddar Cranberry Herb Mini Muffins
Pecan Pumpkin Pie with Unsweetened Fresh Whipped Cream
Fat Tire Gravy
(Beer gravy!  Sounds amazing, right?  You are sorely mistaken, my friend…)

For the most part, this meal was an incredible success.  The creamed brussels sprouts were the star of the dinner, as far as I am concerned.  Vanessa has completely changed my relationship with this vilified vegetable over the past year.  First, she roasted them for me and I fell in love.  Now, simmering them in cream and butter…geez!  There is nothing better.  Plus, then there was leftover heavy cream to whip up for the pie.   The cranberries were also amazing, thanks to Matt (our photographer extraordinaire).  He cooked them with brown sugar instead of white, and spiced them with perfect subtlety. 

But Friendsgiving also had some shortcomings.  The muffins were a tad dry.  Flavorful, but dry.  And we slightly underestimated the cooking time for the chicken (neither of us had ever roasted a chicken before).  I swear, the juices ran clear when Vans took it out of the oven, but wouldn’t you know the second we cut into it we’d be confronted with an unsettling pink tinge.  So dinner had to wait about forty-five minutes while the chicken moved closer to delicious and further from being alive. 

And then there was the gravy.  Oh dear, the gravy.  We realized after the second emergence of the chicken from the oven that we’d neglected to make that popular Thanksgiving staple.  We had pan juices, flour, butter…but how boring!  So we opened the fridge and spotted a lone bottle of Fat Tire, longing to contribute its deliciousness to the meal.  Aha!  Beer gravy!  It’s genius!  Note to reader: flour, butter, pan juices, and Fat Tire does not a gravy make.  Well, at least it didn’t for us.  Perhaps our proportions were off.  Maybe it needed to cook longer to let some of the alcohol burn off.  Who knows?  But what we ended up with was a beautiful gravy that looked stunning in the bowl and on our plates, but that tasted like bitter beer sludge.  That beer would have had a much more meaningful existence had one of us chosen to simply drink it alongside the meal.  Still, it is almost fortuitous that an early cooking-with-beer attempt should go so horribly wrong; that means the only direction to go is up!

All in all, dinner tasted pretty darn good.  And really, Friendsgiving is more about spending time with those awesome, important people in your life.  We didn’t call it Beergravygiving, and with good reason.

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