When I was growing up, my little family of four—my parents, my sister, and I—created some very, very strong holiday traditions. Like, the kind where if one tiny thing changed, we revolted. We were so rooted in those traditions and rituals that giving them up has been hard. Last Thanksgiving, our first without my dad, was really, really hard. He wouldn’t be there to cut the turkey, to joke with my sister and me about the fuckingyams, to give his annual thanksgiving toast. So, to counter the sadness and weirdness of his absence, my mom invited tons of people. Like 30. Or more. It was a huge party.
What people may not know about me, is that I'm an introvert. I’m pretty outgoing, I love public speaking and entertaining people, and I’m not shy… so a lot of people probably don't realize that I get stressed and a little uncomfortable at parties and social gatherings (which leads to me doing really awkward things, like when I showed everyone how to whip and nae nae at Halloween this year). I didn’t really put it all together myself, until I read that extroverts get energy from being around people, and introverts get energy from being alone. That is totally me. I like being with people, but man, sometimes it completely drains me. As does networking and small talk. I can speak at a room just fine, and I love having conversations with a few close friends. But small talk and working a room… no way, man. I'd rather whip and nae nae in front of a crowd.
So Thanksgiving last year… I was already super emotional about my dad, and stressed about the crowd, and started drinking champagne with breakfast, as one does. And kept drinking champagne all day, as one does. And then, because I was a little tipsy, I decided not to change out of the zebra print harem-type jogger pants and baggy Seahawks t-shirt I was wearing during morning food prep. And then, one of our family friends did a makeup demo on me… as one does? So, last Thanksgiving, I was the drunken hot mess in mismatched PJs, with a full face of makeup and a bottle of bubbles, crying and laughing and spilling champagne all over a toddler (sorry about that, Brit!).
Whew, we made it through that one!
My friend LZ came to last year's Thanksgiving celebration, and we laugh all the time about what a shit show it was, from the toddler-champagne incident, to us taking selfies with our friends' sleeping baby at the bar, to LZ's boyfriend burning off his eyebrows at the bonfire. (ok... all of this is adding up to a story about how I'm not fit to be around children). I'm so grateful for the friends that helped me through that hard time, and help me look back at it with joy and laughter.
This year’s turkey day is also going to break tradition. My mom will be spending Thanksgiving with my aunt in Idaho. So, for the first time ever (except for the one year we went to my cousin’s wedding around Thanksgiving), my mom won’t be hosting and making the meal at my childhood home. Which means… I’m hosting my in-laws and my sister and her fiancé at my house! I’M HOSTING FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.
Obviously I’ll try to keep the pre-game bubbles to a minimum. No guarantees on the zebra pants though.
Corn Pudding with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
Corn pudding is my friend LZ's "it's not Thanksgiving without it" dish. She makes a basic Memphis Corn Pudding. You could also add jalapenos or green chilis, which then makes it Santa Fe Corn Pudding. My variation has caramelized onions and goat cheese... I'm gonna go ahead and call it Seattle Corn Pudding.
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
Salt and pepper
One can sweet corn, drained
One can creamed corn
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) melted butter
1 box jiffy corn bread mix
1 cup sour cream + 2 tablespoons
4 oz Chèvre goat cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 2.5 quart casserole dish.*
First, caramelize the onions. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, and cook, slowly (low to medium-low) until golden brown. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and let onions cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together corn, egg, melted butter, corn bread mix, and 1 cup of sour cream until well combined. Mix in cooled onions.
In a small bowl, stir together chèvre and 2 tablespoons sour cream, until smooth and creamy.
Add half of corn mixture to baking dish. Dollop on half of chèvre mixture. Top with remaining corn mixture, and then dollop on rest of chèvre. Leave in dollops or swirl in a bit if desired.
Bake uncovered for 1.5 hours, until golden brown on top. It shouldn’t really jiggle when you shake the dish. Let rest for a few minutes to firm up. Enjoy hot or at room temperature.
*You can also use a big flat 9 x 13 baking dish. It will come out thinner and more cakey/ less puddingy. Instead of layering goat cheese, just dollop all of it across the top. Reduce baking time to about 50 minutes.