Thanksgiving in Bend — The Report

Thanksgiving in Bend — The Report

The menu:

Herb-roasted turkey breast 
Vegetarian-ish stuffing
Mashed butterball potatoes from Fields Farm
Caramelized sweet potatoes
Roasted vegetables (beets, brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower)
Fields Farm arugula with fennel, parmesan and persimmons
Apple cobbler
Pumpkin cheesecake
The menu and budget got away from me a little. Planning and shopping for a dinner with 4 adults is like herding cats (but with much better results). One of the adults is vegetarian so we had to supplement local produce with brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel bulb and persimmons from Newport Avenue Market. We definitely went over budget in order to accomodate everyone’s wishes, but it was well worth it.

Having an active toddler in the house was a delight — and also slowed everything down a bit. When everything came together about 2 hours late, the last thing on my mind was taking photos. Luckily, J, snapped a couple of shots on her iPhone.

But let’s start with the beginning of the day. We had a leisurely breakfast and then plopped the kid in the stroller  and headed up the Deschutes River Trail, starting at First Street Rapids. It seemed all of Bend was doing the I Like Pie Thanksgiving Run on the very same trail going the opposite direction, which made for some good people watching.There were a few costumes, aprons, viking helmet, an all orange getup, and of course everyone else looked like a Patagonia ad. Couldn’t have planned it better. We walked the entire length of the trail from the rapids to the end and back — so pretty! It was chilly, but the sun was out making Central Oregon sparkle and shine — it even took my breath away. (And not just because I was walking uphill.)

We returned home, shed our fleece and lycra, put on music and started prepping around 1:00 p.m. Our 5th guest arrived at 5:00 with pumpkin cheesecake in hand, and gamely helped us cook until everything was ready at 7:00.

Thanksgiving prep — apple cobbler, veggies and sweet potatoes

Sam and me, with arugula fennel salad

Once the candles were lit, wine glasses full, and we sat down to eat, we were all so hungry that our plates were clean and our bellies were bulging by about 7:35. By 9:00 dessert plates were in the dishwasher and we all sat around in the living room talking and laughing, happy to be together.

All in all, the menu was yummy and relatively simple. No stellar recipes (except for the apple cobbler — so gooooood!). The caramelized sweet potatoes  and mashed potatoes (more butter!!) were decadent, and the roasted veggies were a big hit — and also the simplest thing on the table (the Fields Farm beets and carrots were gorgeous, and so sweet and flavorful). The salad was refreshing, the shaved fennel bulb was a really nice contrast to all the sage, rosemary and thyme seasoning in the turkey and stuffing — though I should’ve chosen the tomato-shaped persimmons instead of the acorn-shaped ones, the aftertaste was so bitter we didn’t actually eat them, but they provided a nice splash of color. 

The menu ended up being less epicurean than my usual fare, mostly because I opted for “easy” so we could enjoy the day, but the simplicity was strangely comforting. And the food ended up being secondary to the time with friends, of course. 

As I sit here writing this, peering out the window at gray skies, I have a twinge of melancholy. The house seems a little hollow. Everything is in its place, but the kitchen cabinets no longer need to be baby-proofed, and the guest bedrooms are empty. My man is back in Bend, but is off in the salt mines. I’m listening to Christmas music (A Very She & Him Christmas) and feeling the absence left behind by loved ones. I’m savoring the memory of eating a lovingly prepared (mostly local) dinner with some of my favorite people on the planet, and feeling overwhelmingly thankful, letting the gratitude edge away the ache of missing them… 

Besides, I have leftover cobbler that’s about to be my late breakfast. Yum. Then Betty and I head to the river trail for some cardio to work off the indulgence of “giving thanks” — all while feeling incredibly grateful for this beautiful place and the loved ones who made my first Thanksgiving here one of the best of all time.

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