Virginia is a pretty great place. And as much as I love Texas, I also love my home state and I am full of pride that I come from the state that made such significant contributions to the world as several presidents, me, Pocahontas, and bacon.
So naturally I’m feeling a bit homesick for the Commonwealth during the holidays. Thanksgiving has been rough the past 2 years because of my father’s death. To make it even harder, I’ve just moved 1300 miles away from my mom! Today also happens to be my big brother Hunter’s 24th birthday, but he’s in a far away place, serving our country as a soldier and stationed just below the North Korean border. (Yes, the country that is currently threatening war and has missiles in range of my brother’s barracks. I’m getting an ulcer.)
So this Thanksgiving had to be special. It just had to be. And thanks to huge amounts of butter, bacon, and FoodBuzz’s 24×24 feature, it was.
Cast of Characters:
- Mary: dear friend who moved to Austin at the same time as me; we’re practically neighbors & she’s frequently mentioned on here.
- Sarah: Mary’s older sister and another old friend; she flew out from Georgia to be with us! She loves goat cheese & long walks with dogs.
- Alex: Cousin of Sarah and Mary; delivery-boy of Mary’s long-awaited furniture; bringer of 96 bottles of East Coast beer and Chesapeake Bay oysters.
- Emily: Alex’s girlfriend and master potato smasher; lover of heavy cream.
- Todd: Brother of Alex and supporter of A&M (booo!); famous for cracking open a PBR at 8:34am the day after Thanksgiving.
- Becky: Sister of Alex & Todd; dog walking extraordinaire and enjoys motorboats;
- Zack: Husband of Becky and instigator of several “That’s what she said” jokes.
- Hot Virginia Dip
- Creamy Oyster Stew
- Virginia peanuts
- Virginia cured honey ham
- Country Biscuits
- Brussels Sprouts with Radicchio and Bacon
- Cheddar Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes
- roasted acorn squash
- Too much beer
- Too much wine
- My uncle’s champagne, Hennequin Père et Fils
- Mixed greens, shredded carrot, onion, Virginia peanuts, and tomato
- Hot Bacon Dressing
Dessert (aka, breakfast on Friday):
- Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust with a candle for my brother’s birthday!
It may not have been a typical Thanksgiving — we didn’t even have turkey! But it was amazing anyways. We ate on mismatched plates, most of the time we sat on the floor, I caught the oven on fire on Wednesday from an incident involving butter, there’s a cup of rendered bacon fat sitting in my fridge, we fell asleep on my living room floor before we got to the cheesecake, and we drank far too much.
But for me it was picture perfect. We had the food I grew up on and it reminded me of Virginia. We had my dad’s favorite side-dish: Bacon Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes. We had my Uncle Bruno’s champagne, Hennequin Père et Fils, which makes me go weak at the knees and start telling dirty jokes every time. We had my brother’s birthday cake for breakfast Friday morning, Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust. We had laughs so hard my stomach hurt, great moments of family and friends, only a few moments of utter panic, and a wonderful day together. My tongue is a little burnt from the Creamy Oyster Stew, my head hurts from the wine, and my kitchen is a wreck. But I wouldn’t trade yesterday for any traditional Thanksgiving. Thank you for everyone who shared this day and this experience with me — who knew I’d be able to cook a 4 course Thanksgiving for 8 and not panic the whole time?
(If you’d like any of the recipes seen above, leave a comment below and I’ll feature them in the upcoming weeks!)