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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

Can it be true? Yes, yes it is! I was lucky enough to have celebrated my first Thanksgiving of the year last night at Brandt & MIke’s lovely home in North (way way way north) Berkeley. It couldn’t have been better timing either because with my house in PV under construction right now, I won’t be cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in 3 years. Instead, my family (which excludes my brother and sister since one is too lazy to drive home with me and the other is in friendly Canada) will have a good ol’ hot pot and/or Korean bbq. I can handle that.
But anyway, for the feast last night, I wanted to make something extra special so I spent a lot of time thinking about desserts I could whip up and almost made a peanut butter torte. Good thing I didn’t because there were roughly one billion desserts there last night. Roughly.

Instead, I came to the conclusion (what with my whole healthy squash kick and all) that I would make some butternut squash risotto! It’s funny and ironic I should mention my health kick right now, though, because this risotto would probably not fall within the lines of what one might deem “healthy”…nor would it fall anywhere near those lines.

Good ol’ Ina came the rescue. I used this recipe but omitted the saffron because, though I sometimes like to pretend I’m not, I am a poor college student. I decided not to skimp on the pancetta though because that would just be wrong.

I doubled the recipe in anticipation of a crowd, and am I glad I did that. Everyone was trying to estimate how many people were in attendance last night and I think the general consensus was around 30-35. That’s a lotta risotto…and I’m pretty sure it was all gone by the end of the night, though I guess I can’t be certain because it got lost in the sea of food after I served myself and I didn’t see it again.

I decided to show the process by which you attack a butternut squash (and pretty much any squash for that matter) because I realize a lot of people have never even thought about adding squash to their cooking repertoire.  Maybe those people are smarter than me because I did sustain some injuries from putting all my weight onto the back of the knife; I have cuts all over my pointer and middle fingers today that are not very pleasant. But it was pretty worth it.

And just think about that–30-35 people who almost all brought a dish (some people brought several!) that could serve 5-10 people. Yes, there were insane amounts of food. Two turkeys, a ham, a pork loin, 2 green bean casseroles, 6 or so salads, too many rolls to count, and tons and tons and tons of side dishes. There was so much food, in fact, that even with 35 hungry people chowing down, I ended up walking away with an entire pumpkin pie, courtesy of Brandt, who made it from REAL PUMPKINS. Yes, he’s pretty awesome sometimes.

Considering my recent diet cutbacks, my stomach was extremely angry at me last night. I can’t remember the last time I was that uncomfortably full. I woke up this morning still in a bit of a food coma-haze. But I’m planning on going for an extra long swim today so I can balance everything out (or try at least).

It was really nice to be with Mike & Brandt again like in the olden days, and this meal came at an ideal time considering my attitude these days. I’ve been so grateful and thankful for everything in my life and this was just one more thing to add to that list. It was also a magnificent day for cooking and eating and being inside.  I don’t know why people complain about the rain so much.  This is where I spend much of my time:

It’s probably the most grossly overused cliche this time of year but I don’t care: friends, family, and food: what more do you need? Definitely not much.


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