Whew.

Thanksgiving was chaotic, but wonderful.

The prep went very smoothly. We never found a Tofurkey in stock, but made do with two Quorn roasts, which I am actually a big fan of. We made, I would say, a good half of the meal in advance, so the cooking was much less of a stress than it could have been.

The dogs were much more trouble.

As I was making the bed about an hour before guests were to arrive, one of them plowed into me while I was bent over (in a game of run back and forth between bed and couch). Like full force into my head, and almost knocked me out. Thanks for the headache!

We lost one pan of bread to the broiler, but after we took the smoke detector off the wall all was well again. (Don’t worry, we put it back.)

The table turned out beautifully. I almost forgot that I had a set of Martha Stewart plates with a brown leaf pattern, but I’m glad I found them because I only have service for 8 otherwise. Also, clearly I am a freak because when all the napkins from dinner got dirty I realized I had 10 more matching napkins for breakfast the next morning. Apparently I am a napkin hoarder.

Some photos from the table:

Mike’s homemade rolls.

The not-turkey.

This cornbread stuffing was AMAZING.

Charlotte was intrigued.

Reggie needed a hug.

Sadie passed out.

A good time was had by all.

Le menu

The first year Mike and I lived together we decided the best way to see all of our families for Thanksgiving was to have them meet in Des Moines and have dinner at our house. It was a smashing success, and after cooking for 11 the first year, we invited the grandmas and had 13 the next year.

Some photos from Thanksgiving #1:

This year, we’re a little leaner — just 10 total — but we’re super excited to host and prove, once again, that being vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to miss out.

No one is going hungry at our table.

Being the Martha wannabe that I am, I decided I wanted to steer away from some of the traditional dishes this year and do a bit more gourmet menu. So here’s what we’re having, barring disaster, with family members providing two kinds of pie, brownies, lemon bars, and of course, wine.

Appetizers
Grape tomatoes, carrots, celery, pickles and dip (about where the healthiness ends)
Black bean and rice chips with hummus
Crab and shrimp toasts
Artisan cheeses and fancy crackers with grapes and jam

First course
Curried pumpkin soup

Main
Cranberry Quorn roast
Tofurkey with Shitake mushroom gravy
Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing
Mashed trio: garlic golden potatoes, butter turnips and cumin sweet potatoes
Green beans with shallots and lemon
Homemade rolls (!!)

Each guest will also receive a mini loaf of zucchini bread (Paula Deen’s recipe) as a takeaway.

For breakfast on Friday we’re doing crepes with Nutella and fresh fruit. I should say Mike’s doing crepes; he’s the expert there.

The only advice I can really give to other cooks is to do as much as you can in advance. Inevitably things will be hectic right before you sit down to eat, but if it’s a half hour instead of 6 hours, you’ll be a lot happier. Cut veggies, bake casseroles, even set up your table the day before. Then open the door, and dig in.

My attempt at a button wreath

I’ve wanted one of these for my front door since last year, and since the crafting is out of control over here, I figured why not try another one?

I pilfered my button stash (actually I convinced Mike to do it for me) for all the red and white buttons, and just barely had enough to cover the ring. I could have used more, actually, but oh well.

I traced around a couple of cylindrical containers to get a nice cardboard ring and then cut it with an Xacto knife. Then I glued a piece of paper on top. Note to self, next time use red paper.

Then I just started gluing with a hot glue gun. I only glued my index finger twice (ouch!). I tried to fill in all the white space, and got most of it.

Then I tied a ribbon around it, folded a paperclip around the ribbon to make a little hook and hung it on my front door. I keep opening the front door to look at it. I love it!

Chunky knit striped hat

I’ve been making a lot of hats lately because I found a pattern that I consider just about perfect (at least for places where winter gets really cold). But I wanted to see what it would look like stripey, so I made this.

I think it turned out pretty cute. The only thing is that when I was weaving in the ends from the color changes, I forgot that the inside would become the outside when the bottom flipped up. So I’m not sure how to handle that. But I would say it’s barely noticeable. I hate weaving in ends. It’s the bane of my existence.

p.s. Only my mom would happen to have an extra styrofoam head in her house when I needed one.

Earring organizer

One of my goals this year was to be better accessorized (hey, I aim high), so I purchased a lot of earrings. And then I realized I had nowhere to put them. At least not somewhere I could see them out on display and grab a pair in the 10 seconds each morning I’m actually focused on earrings.

So, I made this.

It’s basically part 2 of the jewelry rack I made a few months ago out of a wooden box painted white with patterned paper glued inside. This time I used the top of the box and a piece of pink paisley inside. Cup hooks hold the earrings.

It took me a while to figure out how to hang the thing. I wanted a backing on it so the cup hooks that had poked through the back wouldn’t scratch the wall. That ended up being more trouble than it was worth, so what did I do? I covered the whole back with duct tape.

Then I bent a piece of thin wire, wrapped each end around one of the sticking-out hooks and hung it. Not the greatest solution, but it works.

Me and Andrew Zimmern, we’re like this

Lucky me, got a free pass to the media reception at the Celebrity Food and Wine Expo we’re having this weekend. And just as I was walking in the door, Andrew Zimmern came in.

I cannot express to you how starstruck I am by this guy — I love watching him eat all manner of rotten fermented tofu and testicles on his show, “Bizarre Foods.” Plus, he lives in Minnesota. And that’s, um, close to Iowa.

(I have to admit that my friend Sophia was also in this picture, but due to a spot on the camera it looked like a weird orb was floating above her head.)

We had a lovely 2-minute conversation and then I devoured a mini cheesecake and left. ‘Cause you know, if it looks good, EAT IT.

Also check out my interview with Guy Fieri, who has 3 or 4 shows on Food Network, but most people seem to recognize from TGI Friday’s commercials.

Loving: antique ring


This belonged to my great grandmother. My grandmother gifted it to me, and I have to say that after having it cleaned and resized (it was so small it only fit on my pinkie) it was great fun to watch it sparkling on my hand.