Once upon a time, we had a spot in San Diego, but Southern California is unforgiving. Like New York City, you must be at the top of your game or you’ll be swept off the field. Having a good job is crucial to living the good life here, so once our project jobs ended, so did our stay. Fortunately, the Fostermiglias save a place at their Thanksgiving table for us, so we had a holiday plan.
The Traffic Blonde predicted a Thanksgiving traffocalypse up and down the I-5 corridor (“Damn traffic! Why can’t everyone stay home for once!”), so we left Sacramento for San Diego a week early. The Sacramento Valley needs rain—dead brown tree leaves, empty aqueducts, dusty fields, but still, such beauty: grapevines from horizon to horizon, Delta landscape dotted white with egrets, orange groves as far as the eye can see, roadside “pomergranites” (now why would anyone pay for a commercially produced roadside sign that misspelled the product?).
We s-curved up and down the Grapevine, endured the inevitable 12-lane, LA slow-down, leaned into that big curve and there it was: the Pacific Ocean. San Diego was its usual perfect self: mid-70s, slight Santa Ana winds, dazzling sunsets.
This year, a cabin at Big Bear Lake provided the setting for the Fostermiglia turkey dinner. We breezed up from San Diego on Thanksgiving, a day late to the party, but there by noon. I was responsible for dressing, cranberries, and gravy. I made dressing the day before, then forgot to put it in the refrigerator overnight. Rather than risk group salmonella poisoning, I threw it away. I bought gravy and cranberries, then left them at home in the refrigerator where the dressing should have gone. Fortunately, the assembled group in Big Bear said, “Oh well”, scolded no one, and found substitutes.
The kitchen crew counted heads and came up with eighteen noses—thirteen smooth and dry, five brown and wet. Luckily we found thirteen chairs (the dogs sat impassively underfoot). Martha wouldn’t have chosen our table—paper napkins, mismatched silver and all—but she couldn’t have found a jollier group. We sat together at one table, we visited rather than cooked, we ate side dishes made by Seisels, Albertson’s, Quick Mart, and Campbell’s, and we carved three beautiful birds—crisp-skinned and brown—fresh from the turkey fryer.
In dog years we’ve known these people for 210 years—each year comes with a fond memory and a good story.
Karen’s quick PB fudge
- 12 oz white, milk, or dark chocolate
- One can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
- 1 tsp of vanilla
Microwave the chocolate, condensed milk for about one and a half minutes. Stir in vanilla and pb until all mixed together and smooth.
Refrigerate then cut.
We have also substituted nutella for the pb and made hazelnut fudge!