I have 6 years of Thanksgiving blogs on Unrivaledkitch, which to me, shows my commitment to being there for my family and I am truly grateful that I have been able to take on this tradition for the ones I love and to share these awesome moments with the people who mean so much to me. Thanksgiving, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite meals to cook. This year I was pretty ahead of schedule with cooking and cleaning, so big thumbs up for me, because, of course, that can be a challenge with an overly ambitious menu. Our Thanksgiving meal has some staples that we always enjoy and then the rest is open to my interpretation, which is the fun part for me.
It’s September. I can hardly believe it. August was so amazingly wonderful, full of gratitude, celebration, family and friends—I miss it already. I was able to go on eight weeks of outdoor hikes with my dad, a family vacation to Mammoth Lakes and to really jumpstart my kids’ yoga business, Little Heroes Yoga, as well as participate in an amazing business course about kids’ yoga called TBoKY The Biz of Kids Yoga by Jodi Komitor. I’m so grateful to have had a wonderful summer, probably one of the best ones of my life. And I’m equally grateful to have a really fantastic fall full of kids’ yoga fun lined up.
But I wanted to highlight some of the amazing food adventures that I had in August. First of the series will be Amaya and Grandma’s birthday celebration dinner in Mammoth. I spent a total of seven beautiful days in the Eastern Sierras this year. I could have stayed for an entire month, but that’s another story. I truly am home when I go to Mammoth; the fresh air, beautiful scenery and just slowed-down pace of everything, makes it the perfect vacation for me. I’ve been going to Mammoth for my whole life and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
It’s so great to see the next generation of little fisherwomen come up to the Sierras with us. We really caught a ton of fish this year. I caught two pretty good sized ones and a bunch of little ones the whole time we were there. We went to a couple of new lakes: Little Virginia and Big Virginia and Upper and Lower Twin in Bridgeport, and even saw a quick hail storm.
Now, back to Amaya and Grandma’s birthday dinner. Well, the two of them have back to back birthdays and kick off our month of celebration. My sister said she’ll never have to get my mom another birthday present, mom’s present just came a day late. My mom’s birthday is August 14th and Amaya, my youngest niece, was born August 15th. My sister, brother-in-law, Maleeya and Amaya came up to Mammoth to celebrate my mom’s birthday and Amaya’s first birthday, which made it extra special for my mom and dad.
We had an amazing time celebrating. I barbequed for Amaya’s birthday and we all enjoyed this fun home-cooked meal.
BBQ Tri Tip
Boiled Fingerling Potatoes
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Birthday cake and big smiles all around. Thank you for sharing with us.
We had multiple Father’s Day celebrations for my dad this year. I’ve been working quite a bit, so we braved the restaurant scene that weekend so we would have more time to be with family instead of cooking and cleaning. My dad is such a special person that we can’t help but celebrate him often. So amongst our other Father’s Day celebrations, I got to spend a little time with my parents and grandma at El Patron restaurant in Reseda, CA. Being in the valley, I’d say we have a great selection of Mexican food choices and El Patron is one of them.
Our service was very good from beginning to end; our waiter was engaged and very friendly. As we looked over the extensive menu, I was impressed to see new and different items on the menu that aren’t traditionally on Mexican menus. They have many vegetarian options for people with dietary restrictions and a kids’ menu as well. The atmosphere is family-friendly, but they have a large patio and bar for the adults.
When we finally figured out what we were going to order—after talking and splitting a pitcher of margaritas—we decided on the Molcajete Cielo, Mar y Tierra (sky, sea and land), which is a large mortar with slow simmered sauce with cactus, tomatoes, shrimp, chicken and steak with cheese and fresh tortillas. The dish served two people, but maybe even could have served three. My mom and I really enjoyed the delicious molcajete, which was easily the highlight of our dinner. The portion and ratio of meat and shrimp was impressive, having served a very ample portion of each protein. My dad ordered fish tacos, which had a really nice piece of fried fish in each one, but they weren’t the greatest fish tacos we’d ever had. My grandma had the chile relleno and carne asada taco combination. The chile relleno was better than I’ve had in a long time; the egg was fried perfectly and the pepper wasn’t too spicy. All of the entrees were served with beans and rice as well as a sweet corn cake.
We had a fantastic meal together celebrating not only my dad for Father’s Day, but also having one last celebration for my grandma’s 80th birthday. I‘m so grateful for my amazing family and all the time I get to spend with them is so precious. I hope everyone had a wonderful time celebrating their dads.
My grandma is a very special woman. She’s such a loving, kind, strong and wonderful person and we were very happy to host her 80th birthday celebration for all of her friends and family. Granny has always been the talk of the town and never met someone she couldn’t charm or take a photograph of. Her personality is best displayed when she played Choco, the adorable little bear mascot for Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Her dancing and friendly waves along with blowing kisses to all the children, led her to be requested put on the suit well into her late 70s.
My sister, my brother and I spent countless hours with grandma when we were little. We’d get picked up and taken all the way out to Huntington Beach to stay with grandma for the weekend; some of my fondest memories as a little kid are feeding the ducks at the park, eating toast and tea for breakfast and having French bread and string cheese for snacks. I associate a lot of joyful activities with food as you can see. Grandma was never short on hugs and kisses or presents and spoiling and she’s passed down the fun to my little niece Maleeya. Grandma has the biggest heart and the attitude of someone half her age. Believe it or not, she still cruises out to Vegas in her Corolla on a whim and vacations whenever she can, all between traveling back and forth to come to visit all of us (over 100 miles away roundtrip).
Brandon and I put on a very special catering for all the guests and we were very happy with the outcome. Brandon was in charge of pastries and I helped him assemble some of them, while I took on the savory options, which he lent a big hand in helping with as well. My mom was assigned the snacks department and made our family’s favorite macaroni and potato salad, homemade beans for the chili and mini lemon cupcakes. My sister made the beautiful flower arrangements, all the gorgeous decorations and photo collages. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and everyone else helped out so much to make this a beautiful, delicious, smooth event for everyone involved. I’m so glad I have this amazing family to call my own. I want to thank everyone who came, who helped, and who made this amazing event happen.
Happy 80th Birthday, Granny! We all love you so much!
Ruthie’s 80th Birthday Party Menu
Chips and Dip
Baby Mixed Greens with Shredded Cucumber, Mozzarella Cheese, Diced Tomatoes, Pickled Red Onions and Blue Cheese Dressing
Entrées: Served Family-Style
Roasted Pulled Pork
Country Spiced Fried Chicken
Homemade Chili Beans
Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Gravy
Peanut Coleslaw with Red and Green Cabbage, Shredded Carrots, Green Onions and Asian Dressing
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Orange Honey Glaze and Marshmallows
Corn Bread Muffins
Lemon Meringue Pie
Banana Cream Pudding
I’m so grateful that my family was all able to be together for Thanksgiving. I’m amazed by how much love and gratitude we have for each other. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, of course. There’s nothing better than bringing people you love together over a huge meal. I was very fortunate to have Brandon with me to help with the Thanksgiving traditions and not to mention my craziness in the kitchen. We all pitched in to make a great day for everyone—I think Maleeya really enjoyed herself. I’m still in a food coma after all the cooking and eating. I hope everyone had a beautiful Thanksgiving with some very special people. Enjoy the holiday weekend with lots to be thankful for all holiday season long.
My dad and mom brought:
Spinach dip, pimento cheese dip and ranch dip with crackers, sliced baguette and crudités (raw mixed veggies)
Honey baked ham
Green bean casserole
Fresh Citrus and Herb Sweet-Brined Turkey with Roasted Zucchini, Black Olive and Scallion Stuffing
Turkey Breast Stuffed with Sausage and Mirepoix Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes with Irish Butter
Roasted Fall Aromatic Turkey Gravy
Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Kabocha Mash
Candied Yams with Homemade Roasted Marshmallows
Roasted Haricot Verts
Herb Roasted Mushrooms
Roasted Red Potatoes
Cheddar Cheese, Mozzarella and Smoked Paprika Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Marinated Vegetables and Buffalo Mozzarella
Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli and Zucchini Gratin with Spicy Sausage and Pancetta
Creamed Corn with Red Onions, Chives and Turmeric
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash and Crispy Pancetta
Mammoth Lakes is a place I never tire from visiting. Throughout my life the anticipation of returning to this majestic platform of nature’s daily miracle always carries me through to another year. For as long as I can remember, my dad has visited Mammoth at least once or twice each year. Mammoth Mountain is located in the Eastern Sierras of California, just outside of Bishop and towers at an astounding 11,060 feet above sea level. This mountain is known mostly for its snow sports and winter wonderland activities, but our family has been enjoying the wonders of summer in the wilderness for many years. We don’t camp—we stay in a condo with full amenities including pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, ping pong table, and pool table, so it’s definitely not wilderness all the time.
Lake Mary with View of Mammoth Mountain
Twin Lakes from above
Twin Lakes from Below
I’ve always enjoyed fishing. Though I might not be the greatest fisherwoman, I can still show up, cast out and catch some fish, which is what we often do while we are in Mammoth. Aside from this large mountain that most people know about, Mammoth is situated amongst many lakes, ample hiking trails, bike paths and so much scenery that your eyes are sure to find something new each trip. I never tire of the beauty that unfolds in this stunning place. This year we were caught in a couple of strange thunderstorms, which made for some of the most breath taking and fierce sights I’ve seen in a long time. The claps of thunder and the swells of rain were something we’ve rarely experienced on our trips in the summer and though it may have taken us off the lake and away from the fish, it gave us some much needed relaxation and togetherness.
I’m so grateful to all my family for being able to show up and be together, even as we grow older and time is scarce. It’s nice to know that we can still come together and remember what it was like to be little kids fishing together and joking around. We are also introducing the next generation of fishing fanatics to the sierras; my niece Maleeya was out around the lakes exploring with fresh eyes and that’s always a beautiful thing to see. So between fishing with mom and dad, exploring with Granny, Maleeya, my sister, and my brother-in-law, as well as hiking to unknown waterfall territories with my brother and sister-in-law (check out her blog at fabliss.wordpress.com for her awesome Mammoth pictures and food photographs), we ate delicious food, enjoyed each other’s company, caught our limit of fish, and had a wonderful time in the mountains.
Sunscreen and set up key to a successful day of fishing
On our trip this year we were able to stop by Mammoth Brewing Company: a crowded and vivacious place where people were standing in lines to get a tasting of what they had to offer. The set-up is really quite interesting and I’ve never been to another place quiet like it. The outside looks like a warehouse—you have to keep your eyes out for the place, but most likely there will be people outside. My sister-in-law, brother, grandma, dad and I all went in for a beer tasting, which was definitely a deal. For $4 you can sample nine beers. They range from all different types of beers (light to dark) and finish with a house-made root beer. If you can make your way up to the bar, you’re greeted by very kind bartenders and can start your tasting. Overall, I really enjoyed the IPA 395, which everyone else thought was pretty rough, but I loved the earthiness of the beer and you could really taste the sage and juniper. So as we sampled we had a lot to choose from, but for the five of us to enjoy an hour of fun for only $20, this was a bargain for Mammoth. You can also purchase growlers and kegs, as well as take home bottles of your favorite beers. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you’re up there, just don’t be in a hurry and relax.
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. This whole holiday season has been the most amazing, honest experience I’ve had in a long time. I love Christmas! It truly does bring out the best (and the worst) in people, but I think that it’s not necessarily Christmas that brings about the worst, it’s our misunderstanding of what is really important: togetherness, happiness, tenderness, contentment and compassion. I hope you carry these things with you always, through theses sometimes strenuous times, and into the new beautiful year of 2012.
Here we are, giving thanks for this extreme bounty of food and great times. I’m so lucky to have so much love in my heart. This is the menu I prepared for Thanksgiving day. I hope you enjoy the photos and had a magnificent feast yourselves.
Menu prepared by yours truly
Roasted lemon and herb sweet brine turkey
Roasted zucchini, scallion and olive pork stuffing
Braised sausage with red Swiss chard and kale potato gratin
Roasted asparagus with garlic, red pepper flakes and crispy pancetta
Green bean casserole with soaked “buttermilk” fried onion strings
Beef and tart apple dressing with roasted carrot shreds
Homemade cranberry jelly
Roasted shallot cream corn
Bacon and gorgonzola shrimp
Fall aromatics and roasted giblet gravy
Garlic bread sticks
Basil, spinach and green olive tapenade
Arugula and spinach salad with roasted spicy baby bellas, feta cheese, tomatoes and avocado in honey balsamic dressing
Brown sugar and marshmallow candied yams
Additions brought by family members and friends included dips, snacks, pumpkin pie, cheesecake, carrot cupcakes and ham. Some of my dishes weren’t photographed.
Over indulgence to the max. I could probably do with running a hundred miles, but I won’t.
Time to finish my menu for my brother’s 25th birthday party. I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend.