Cheese & Cheers for your Holiday Table
"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly."
My first thought of Thanksgiving, is family. My second thought is food. Both make the gathering what it needs to be. The food isn't the filler, the backdrop, or the afterthought. And neither are the people who share your table. I've spent Thanksgivings far from home, enjoyed with the company of friends in tiny apartments and rented snowy country homes alike, and Thanksgivings with family in the Northwest, enjoyed just the same. There isn't always gravy, and in my home, not always mashed potatoes (blasphemy, perhaps). There is always apple pie (see last journal entry), there is always cheese, and there is always something bubbly and festive to clink with. There is always turkey the next day on fresh sourdough bread with a spread of mayo and a dollop of jam (Rhubarb Lavender this year...Quince Marmalade last). These "always" mean a lot to me. They're tasty yes, but so much more so thinking of who I've shared them with in Thanksgivings past.
I hope your family and chosen family has the same--"always" foods that connect us. Sometimes they ignite us (mashed potatoes again?). So for us, our table is enlivened not just with great conversation, but the loud play of young kids scampering on the hard wood, and plenty of colorful Girl Meets Dirt, to make the entertainment that much easier...and delicious.
I'm just starting my Thanksgiving planning (busy mom of two plus business who is with me?) - and I'm guessing there are a good few of you out there doing the same. Here are a few of my personal favorites for the holiday table.
And pssst, if you're a NW local, I'll be on New Day Northwest on King5 on Wednesday 11/20 at 11am PST showing you how to pull off a simple cheeseboard spread and quick mocktails and cocktails. If you miss it, here are some of my tips and favorites below.
Pears are my favorite addition to a cheeseboard. I love slicing up a fresh pear to tuck in alongside the preserves as well (dip in lightly salted or lemon juice spiked water first to prevent browning). Dried pears are a nice textural contrast too if you have on hand. We won't serve a cheeseboard without our Cutting Preserves - a smooth concentrated fruit paste perfect for pairing with cheese (almost cuttable). And for variation we usually include a Spoon Preserve as well too. These are like a traditional jam, with soft pieces of fruit in syrup - they're easier to dollop.
Shrubs are the secret to upping your cocktail (or mocktail) game without much effort. We always have them on hand for parties and gatherings. We recommend 1 ounce of shrub to 8oz of sparkling water - feel free to spike with 2 ounces of your favorite spirit and garnish with whatever you have on hand. Garden herbs are great, but citrus rinds work too.
Bonus: they're kid friendly ! We dash a smaller amount into bubbly so they can be festive too (the raw organic apple cider vinegar is good for them :).
Our Ruby Spiced Apple shrub is made with Dolgo crabapples and heirloom apple juice, warmed up with organic cinnamon, star anise and black pepper. Sweet, tart and spiced, she makes easy friends with sparkling water for a festive spritzer or even better friends spiked with bourbon or rum. Pro-tip: combine with boiling water and whiskey for our lazy woman's hot toddy.
***Featured in Sunset Magazine this month!***
If just one of these pairings make their way to your table I'll be tickled. If you're ordering online, get those orders in soon to make sure they arrive in time.
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.