Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Being post-college puts you in that weird place of being between families. You identify less as a child in the in which family you were raised, though not quite an adult responsible for your own family. Instead, birthdays and some holidays get celebrated with and the crazy community "family" of friends that you may get to choose more than biological family, though there still seems to be a quirky Uncle Paul in the corner, a loud Aunt Sally who drinks too much, poor cousin Ben who will always be the butt of all the jokes, and more than enough food and revelry to go around.

For our Friends-giving, I judiciously chose a harvest salad as my contribution because 1) it's freaking delicious, 2) it balances the creamed corn, mashed potatoes, biscuits, stuffing, and sweet potatoes that were other offerings, and 3) I don't feel as guilty eating leftovers because this isn't my only Thanksgiving feast this year. It's like pre-gaming family Thanksgiving with more Thanksgiving. That, just like the real thing, leads to an overload and ensuing Thanksgiving hangover if you're not too careful. Not that I'm one to argue with that. I just like to keep it at one hangover per weekend, thankyouverymuch.

My contributions:

Harvest Salad
1/2 cup of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of spiced pecans (I used TJ's Sweet and Spicy pecans, then chopped them up a little smaller)
1 Asian pear, sliced (I also cut each slice into thirds to make them more bite-size)
a half-pound of fresh baby spinach

For the vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
a pinch of sugar
a couple grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine all the dry components of the salad, emulsify the vinaigrette, and toss the salad in dressing. The dressed salad actually kept surprisingly well-- the picture below shows it on day three.

Classic Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
Zest of one orange, plus a squeeze or two of the juice

Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add cranberries and orange zest and return to a boil. Boil gently* for about 12 minutes. Add a squeeze or two of orange juice (I squeezed one slice). Cover and cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate until it is ready to be served.

*I didn't, and ended up with burned sugar in the drip pan under the burner, which turned to black stickiness, which turned to char, which turned to a smoking emergency. This was also on a Saturday night before heading out in attempts to be ahead of the game, which slightly backfired.

I didn't take any photos of the actual preparation process (see above, re: shitshow scramble to get everything together), but buying two too many pears, two too many oranges, and having leftovers of everything you brought to dinner combined with the fact that you're not even going to be home for the next five days, and you get creative. Maybe I should've just called this blog "creating under pressure." Regardless, orange slices and black tea go excellently with that old chocolate zucchini bread (which froze very well, actually) for breakfast, a hunk of sourdough bread paired with the remainders of the salad made for a delicious lunch, and dessert was half an Asian pear, sliced and browned in 1/2 Tbsp. of butter (just enough to soften and sweeten it) with warmed-up cranberry sauce for dessert. Let's not discuss dinner, which was a disaster of an omelet that turned into burned scrambled eggs. Well, I'm trying.

The pears and cranberry sauce were delicious, though if I could have, I would've reduced the sugar in the sauce by 1/4 cup, reduced the water just a touch, and served with yogurt. It was a little too sugary, but hey, it's all I had to work with.

And one final Fall color picture...

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