Friday, November 27, 2009

Panza llena, Corazon contento (Full belly, Happy heart)

In this modern life of being geographically divided between friend groups and different parts of the family, it can sometimes be difficult to decide where to spend holidays. I feel like I have the trifecta perfecta "best of all worlds" by splitting my existence between Seattle, Bellingham, and the islands, but that didn't make deciding what to do on Thanksgiving any easier.

I was already in Glacier earlier in the week and passing through Bellingham before turkey day. I stayed at friends' Katie and Alan's house, and they enthusiastically invited me to stay for the feast! Part inspired by their unique dining room, part not wanting to do anymore driving, part looking to do something unexpected, and part totally adoring Katie and Alan-- all contributed to me deciding to stay.

They have a side building off the house, affectionately called the Shed, that they have been fixing up over the past year. It serves as a rec room/guest room of sorts, and this year was christened dining room as they hosted 15 guests for Thanksgiving. It is still without insulation and drywall, but a wood stove keeps it toasty, and the exposed wood walls add a charming, barn-like feel. When they were re-doing the floor, they pulled up a large piece of old wood that Alan recycled into a giant 9 foot by 5 foot table! So there were 45 square feet of dining surface. Katie made a large evergreen wreath suspended horizontally over the table, with numerous hanging tealight candles dangling from it. The whole space was beautifully rustic and elegant.

Oh, and the food was great too. All the usual delicious autumnal dishes, plus a few less traditional ones as well. Multiple stuffings, cranberry sauces, gravies, and veggies made it hard to try everything before getting totally stuffed. I liked Katie's checkered presentation of the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Dessert held not only pies but apple crisp, local Mallard's ice cream, and port.

As I sat in a full-belly, post-feast daze, I looked around the room contentedly. All across the country, people were doing the same thing, reveling in the comfortable chatter of close ones, feeling warm and nourished. I was missing certain family members and friends, but happy to know that we were all sharing in this similar holiday feel in different places. That's why I like Thanksgiving- it's not over-commercialized, not full of expectations, very simple actually. It's just a seasonal, sincere meal as food is meant to be, shared with conversation and many people contributing. I will remember this year's holiday fondly thanks to Katie and Alan and their open-armed community. And for all this I am truly, truly thankful.

Oh, and in light of the holiday, I thought it would be the perfect time to add a few more blog links to my list, both food-related. One is the Cook Castillo, an brand spankin' new blog about cooking at a restaurant on Orcas Island, and the other is Not Without Salt, a more established one by a pasty chef in Bellingham.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Goodbye Fair Isle

It's official. I'm no longer an Orcas Island resident.

I have had a wonderful last year and a half living there, but I am ready to move on. I have been unemployed recently and am looking forward to finding work in a bigger place. For now that place is Seattle, thanks to the grace of my dear parents who are letting me once again call their house my home. Moving also means the return of everyday conveniences I have been missing- central heating! a refrigerator! internet! electricity! indoor plumbing! public transit!