a Clackamas County Thanksgiving for two

simple Thanksgiving table, 2014

This may have been my most relaxed Thanksgiving ever and certainly one of the smallest and quietest, just the housemate and me. There was no company to entertain, nothing to dress up for—only a morning of doing laundry, tossing a ball down the hall over and over to please my cat, prepping casseroles, and slipping dirty dishes into the dishwasher. The housemate's family was either out of town or otherwise engaged. My family is down in southern Oregon. So we cooked for two. The best part of Thanksgiving, anyway, is the leftovers.

Funnily enough, he didn't want to be bothered with wrangling a whole turkey just for himself (me being vegetarian), so he roasted a chicken instead the night before and made himself some boxed-mix stuffing and homemade gravy, as well as a big bowl of roasted-garlic mashed potatoes with fresh thyme. I made a butternut squash gratin, roasted Brussels sprouts, and a double batch of the ubiquitous American green bean casserole (only my family always adds grated cheddar). Oven roasting is my favorite cooking method, by the way—all that toasty flavor for so little effort.

Thanksgiving plate on secondhand Dansk dish, 2014

Since neither of us much likes pie other than pecan, for dessert—which we also ate as an appetizer while waiting for the vegetables to roast, having skipped breakfast—I'd whipped up a batch of cranberry-corn muffins, a tweak of an old Martha Stewart blueberry-muffin recipe. (For substitutions, use three whole eggs, half a cup of butter, and a variety of whole-grain flours, including one-third cornmeal, mixing the wet cranberries with extra sugar, and sprinkling the wet muffin tops with raw sugar before baking.) It's almost like eating cake.

Listening to NPR while cooking, I heard a story about Northwest cranberry producers having a hard time breaking even these days, the cranberry market flooded with oversupply. The cranberries I used were indeed Northwest grown but had been stashed in the freezer for a year (and were still good). So let's all eat up more cranberries, which not only taste sour-lovely and look like rubies but also help prevent UTI's. At just two dollars a pound, we can support local coastal fruit growers and boost kidney function at the same time!

cranberry-corn muffins

As for gratitude this year, I'm grateful for my furry tabby, who squeaks instead of meows and acts younger than her age; for a warm home out of the rain and a bedroom without a spare freezer in it; for recently halving my expenses; for a paid holiday in which to cook and putter around the house; for my few good friends and for now living with one of them; and for the chance to, in a way, start over, yet again. So I toast you with my glass of Martinelli's sparkling cider: Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you.

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