Confession, I love cooking for Thanksgiving but this Thanksgiving… crepted up on me so quickly that I questioned cooking or catering! Yes, letting someone else cook my Thanksgiving dinner is hard to sallow but it’s been a tough, let me plan for Thanksgiving, since we did a big move to our new home on October 30 after 14 years in Encino we moved to Chatsworth! I now live on Native American farm land in Chatsworth and I’m loving it! More on our move on a later blog post.
Honestly, I believe that I can do it all, then sometimes even for me, it becomes overwhelming … I’m super grateful and I really need to be honoring all the great things that have continuously been coming to my family but it’s also been a lot of “stick to it”, “never give up”, “hard work” and “magic”, more on this too on a later blog post.
But sometimes it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that we were celebrating an exchange between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, when we all know how that played out. In my opinion, it’s still America’s dirty little laundry that no one wants to deal with, because there is no way to wash it. And now I actually live on Native American land! Yes, Chatsworth was home to the Native Americans which I have in my blood line. So to honor how completely “Thankful” I am! I’ve decided to throw down for Thanksgiving no matter how unprepared I am and in celebration of all that I have continuously been blessed with and in honor of my ancestors, my family, friends and all the blessings that continue to come my way!
Let’s start with the shopping which I accomplished this Tuesday morning bright and early right after I dropped my daughter off to school. I walked into Trader Joe’s at 8 am, the store was fully stocked and no crowd! Yes, off to a great start!
Then comes the preparation. The day before Thanksgiving I get started on mac & cheese and my traditional oyster stuffing. But first, I open a great bottle of wine, put on whatever music I’m into at the time (Drake, right now) and begin cutting and chopping. My traditional oyster stuffing is something special. You may be wondering how stuffing could be so special, or maybe you are aware that there are stuffing “camps.” Some swear by making it with nuts and raisins. Others proclaim it best with cornmeal. Well, my family is no different, I make mine with cornmeal and add in juicy oysters right before it goes into the oven to bake.
I’m holding on to love especially tight right now. It has been a tough six months leading up to Thanksgiving. Our country is more divided than ever, uncertainty and fear hang over our heads and anger and frustration surround us. Adding to everything, I really miss my Father during the holidays and my Mom has been having her own challenges, it seems that many of my friends have been faced with elderly parents and family issues.
And so, this year I’m looking back to the first Thanksgiving I hosted. I’m cherishing the present and embracing what it feels like to fill my house with the love of friends and family. I’m hopeful for the future, and like many I wish for the unity and inclusion of all, to move forward together in reconciliation and love with acceptance for all Americans.
For that is the message of Thanksgiving!
Ali in the Valley
Baked Oyster Dressing
Author: Alison Ball
2 dozen shucked oysters with their liquor
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup water
1/4 cup chopped green onions
4 cups cubed white bread
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375?F.
Drain the oysters, reserving 1 cup of the liquor. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, and cayenne. SautÈ for about 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the bay leaves, garlic, and parsley. SautÈ for about 1 minute. Add the water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the green onions, the oyster liquor, and the bread. Stir. Remove from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine the bread mixture with the oysters and the cheese. Mix thoroughly. Butter a 9 X 11-inch baking pan and pour in the mixture. Bake for about 1 hour, or until bubbly and golden brown.
Remove the bay leaves and serve hot.