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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Thursday, November 26, 2020

A more intimate, brighter Thanksgiving menu for a year like no other

I still can't quite comprehend that we are in November. What happened to May, how about JULY, and October? I mean I didn't even find time to carve a pumpkin b/c I didn't realize October was ending! Did you? 

Months all disappeared in the blink of an eye. I feel fortunate that in Northern California people believe in masks and we have done a pretty good job at keeping the virus at bay albeit we are still in what feels like the thick of it 9 months later! Ouff. 

I don't know about you but I have been surviving via looking forward to this meal all week! Monday I was already very much ready for the holiday :)

I also have been keeping Covid sane via sticking to a couple daily rituals that keep me both of sound mind and grounded. I love this list of daily rituals and the quote "you are your morning"  from yogis. Check it out.

The first of my rituals is my daily transcendental meditation for 20 mins. If you are interested I learned in SF here and essentially it's a meditation with a daily mantra or a word you repeat over and over for 20 minutes. This word your brain likes the vibrational sound of and it puts you into a deep state. It's a very profound meditative process that relieves a ton of stress. I LOVE IT! It's my own little rule that I will not get out of bed in the morning until it is done. It feels great, makes you happy and reminds me what I'm grateful for!

So for me, I wake up, I meditate, and I play the same morning song everyday Church featuring Earthgang. It's almost like gospel and just makes you want to dance. I play it to give me energy as energy is life. I bop my way through slipping on my workout clothes and run up the stairs to start the day, carrying my 11 year old Springer Rocco up to save his hips :) I then fill my days with lemon water, attempt to save the planet with my work to reduce GHG emissions, go on a quick Rocco walk past changing falling leaves and schedule my tennis and golf for mid week/ wknd. 

I'm excited for Thanksgiving tomorrow and hope these recipes below brighten your day and help you brainstorm what you are cooking if you haven't yet come up with your plan yet!! 

Cooking is my biggest passion and I was asked this year to make cranberries. Cranberries?! Is that even a dish to be cooked? Haha. Oh well you can't win em all and I am grateful I had a friendsgiving this past week with friends and was able to cook to my hearts desire! We wore masks and ate outdoors to be safe! It was the most gorgeous day. 

WHAT TO COOK: I LOVE the idea of duck instead of Turkey and adore this recipe here: I'm not sure if I would poach it or not though but I did LOVE LOVE LOVE having the broth to drink as bone broth all week after. My cousin is the duck genius, 100% duck king and expert and I cook it b/c I tried his and feel in love. 

His tips are: "If it's Thanksgiving and if you're going to go all then why not make 2 ducks: one super, super simple with just salt and then another Peking style! These are his notes... "Traditionally cooking a duck in the west, we just let it go for like 2-3 hours and the meat gets sort of fried in its own fat, sort of like duck carnitas.  I was pretty skeptical about cooking something like that for 3 hrs. It becomes super crispy and the meat is dark. Like this: https://youtu.be/U9RmFuh8x5w

Then the Peking duck is a whole another story. The basic story here is that you stuff the duck with goodies (garlic, ginger, scallions, cinnamon, star anise, or whatever else), sew it up, and then give it a bit of a shower. You braise the skin with hot broth, Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce or whatever you have. 

Instantly each hot ladle of liquid makes the skin pull tight and it looks like another animal. You then let it dry out, and brush with a glaze. You continue this process of brushing a layer of glaze and letting it dry to your heart’s content- a Chinese restaurant would do this for 3-7 days. 

For thanksgiving, I think I only let it dry for a few hours. The drier the skin, the crispier the duck will be. If I remember correctly, I only cooked this duck for like 40 minutes. I’ve also cooked a plain duck for ~40 minutes before and it also tastes great- it’s really just a matter of preference. Check our this video, which is maybe a bit extreme with the bicycle pump, but gives a sense for the steps: https://youtu.be/gqXjCFNX6HQ Good luck, skip any step you want- you really can’t mess it up! It will be delicious jo matter how complicated or simple you cook it.". I mean I think you guys should try a duck this year!

STARTER: This is 1000% my go to soup recipe Butternut squash soup with a rosemary cream and gruyere sage croutons. I do little 1/4 bowls so guests don't get full. This I got from my Aunt Tag and love that she brought this to the meal!

SIDE: These Joel Robuchon mashed potatoes are the by far, 1000%, the gold start on top of the tree mashed potato recipe. My friend Nat is the biggest foodie ever and tried them and nearly cried. Only trick is you must buy a potato ricer. Don't worry b/c it is $30 and worth it! You only need 4 things ie Yukon gold potatoes, unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes and organic whole milk. Voila! This is your dish this year. 

WHOLE MENU: I'm obsessed with this entire menu from Farmstead St Helena here. Deviled eggs with caviar, , Herb Brined Heritage Turkey with Black Truffle Gravy, Roasted Apple stuffing with sage sausage (PS what is better than sage sausage??), cranberry sauce with blood orange, garden salad with goat's milk cheese, roasted brussels with wild California pecans, buttermilk rolls, mashed potatoes, honey squash soup with brown butter, chocolate cream pie and pumpkin with spiced whip cream. Sold. 

ANOTHER WHOLE MEAL VARIATION: My friend Kelly is the most gorgeous rustic chef ever. She made a porchetta with a bright salad with chicories from the garden and roasted some onions and squash with a salsa verde. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVm8oSzaxxA. I made the salad with toasted pinenuts, currents soaked in verjus, big roasted croutons of Acme bread, squash, persimmon and a dressing of shallots soaked in sherry vinegar. It was a hit! I'm making it again tomorrow.

MY MENU- My menu was butternut squash soup with gruyere sage croutons, Roast Duck, Chicories bread salad with pine nuts and currants, brussels with pecans thanks to my friend Luc and an Apple Pie

APPLE PIE: I loved this Joel Robuchon recipe mix. Crust- http://lecuisin.oz.blog.over-blog.com/article-la-pate-sablee-de-joel-robuchon-87794753.html. Use google translate its in french :) Filling: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/classic-apple-pie-recipe-2043582

This was so decedent and rich! I did a pate brisee which had vanilla bean in it, but your supposed to make a pâte sablée which is more salty. Either would work! I LOVE a classic french pastry dough and I always support the principle that you should turn to a french recipe when baking!

Other things I'm loving this month...


READING THIS: https://itstartswiththeegg.com/ as I preserve my fertility

WATCHING THIS: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-53499195

 Have a lovely Thanksgiving and stay safe and healthy!!



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