Thanksgiving at Melissa’s

Carole & I usually go to Ottawa to one of our favorite restaurants on Thanksgiving. Yes, there is a bit of irony, which we cultivate, surrounding leaving the US to celebrate a US holiday. I have no family I’d much want to associate with in any case & Carole’s family members live on the West coast, a long trip for an extended weekend. Most of our academic pals go hang out with their families, so we have made a virtue of our disconnectedness by having a nice meal out. The sweet potato frites at the Black Dog Cafe are out of this world — & sweet potatoes are traditional on the day! But this year Carole’s colleague Melissa invited us & a couple of other rootless souls over to her house for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. It worked out nicely since we had freezing rain, then snow overnight, which would have made a trip to Ottawa difficult if not impossible. Well, traditional except for the vegetarian spring rolls I made as an appetizer. Carole made a co-appetizer of smoked trout sour cream dip with crackers. Mark brought the wine, Dorothy brought a chocolate mouse & a cranberry-orange sauce for the Turkey, which was perfectly cooked by Melissa, who also baked limpa bread. Alexa made mashed sweet potatoes & little cheesecakes for a second desert. Perfect meal, lovely. After dinner we played cards — a game I was unfamiliar with, but which Melissa, daughter of an Anglican priest, grew up playing. When she was little, she said, they had to call it Oh, Heck! even though everyone knew its real name was Oh, Hell! or Shit-on-Your-Neighbor. (We played a two-deck version, otherwise the same as the game described in the link.) I didn’t play very well, so in revenge I’ll have to have Melissa over to play Hearts. I’m not actually a great Hearts player, but at least I know the strategies. For a bunch of loose ends, we made a fine meal & had a good time.

VN Food with Amy

Last night our friend Amy came over & we made Indian food, but last week I cooked Vietnamese: Spring rolls and a crab & noodle salad. Here is picture of my plate of the Vietnamese food. (I think we got some of the Indian dishes we had last night & I’ll post those later.)

Spring Rolls


I’ve been learning to make Vietnamese food for the better part of a decade — since I came home from my first trip to Vietnam. I’m known among my friends for my spring rolls, of which I can make half a dozen kinds, but I’ve been trying to broaden my range, thus the salad. My most reliable VN dish, which I haven’t made in a while, is thit ga kho gung — chicken with ginger — a dish that uses a good deal of nuoc mam — fish sauce — which is an acquired taste for some people but which I took to right away. Hope I get to go back this summer.

Fish Sauce

Garlic Rum BBQ Sauce for Chicken

Mix in a big bowl:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  •  1/4 cup rum
  • 1/4 sherry vinegar
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 4 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 head roasted garlic, peeled, diced & crushed
  • 1 Tbs rosemary chopped fine with garlic

Marinate chicken in sauce for several hours. Grill over indirect heat. When half-cooked, coat chicken in remaining marinade & return to grill. Roast, turning occasionally, until done.

Dog Walk

On the dog walk this morning we saw the first Colton robin, mourning doves, & an evening grosbeak, along with the starlings who moved into town last week. It’s in the fifties this morning, with rain predicted, which may wash out the last of the snow. Ah, mud season!

After the walk, I made hash with potatoes, left-over sweet potato pancakes, onions, & left-over salmon.

Later: Lots of wind today. Gusts above 20 mph even down in our little hollow. Spring storm moving in. That’s a spring storm, as in spring, as in it’s about time.