Thanksgiving this year was a unique experience. Not just because there were only three of us (my  sister, her boyfriend, and me) but also because due to my sister's dietary ah, "restrictions" - the entire meal had to be gluten-free (woof). Thanks to Whole Foods, that wasn't such a difficult issue to tackle - they even stock gluten-free dressing - but it required some thoughtful adaptations to family recipes that required some planning ahead. We bought special flour to whisk into the gravy, for example and I wasn't in love with the texture, but it tasted great. And my sister found gluten-free crusts for our Gram Gram's pecan pie that saved us having to roll out the dough ourselves.

We ate later in the day, so I wanted to make sure everyone had a little something to sip on (and in their stomachs) awaiting the meal, so I set out a little coffee and cocktail spread on the buffet in the dining room. Coffee was simply french press and the cocktail was intentionally easy so everything could be "serve yourself"! I used this lemonade recipe (Ina helped out a lot on this meal) and just topped it with some champagne and a few dashes of lavender bitters for a light drink that got us feeling festive - I contemplated busting out the bacon bloody marys (a post for another day - they were epic) but ultimately decided they were too filling considering the meal we were sitting down to later on!

I think I had the most fun setting the table - I saw this Bunny Williams photo on Pinterest ages ago and tucked it away as inspiration for a blue and white theme. I got a lot of questions about the bowls on Instagram - they're old, from Furbish when I lived in Palm Beach - but I most loved my little seagrass placemats that I found at Crate & Barrel at Shops Around Lenox here in Buckhead. The white linen napkins are a Scott's Antique Market find from a scavenging mission with Ginny a few weeks ago, which I laid out with my trusty Laguiole steak knives and inexpensive bamboo flatware  from Neiman's which I thought was a fun touch since the meal was so casual.

The cranberry sauce I'll admit I totally winged. My Mom texted me right before I put the turkey in to ask if I'd put white wine in the bottom of the pan - I hadn't and didn't even know that little trick (great tip, by the way) but it left me with a half bottle of white wine to use up. So instead of water I made use of the wine in my cranberry sauce - I just cooked them with a cup of sugar over the stove until they popped and grated lots of fresh citrus zest (orange and lemon) in with some generous squeezes of juice and a good douse of nutmeg and cinnamon. It turned out awesome, I'm never making it any other way again. I canned the leftovers for gifting.

My sister's boyfriend carved the turkey for us (an easy Barefoot Contessa recipe) after Sis took the helm making creamy turnips with crispy shallots (another Ina recipe, here). I made brussels sprouts in the oven (olive oil, lots of salt and pepper - a trick I picked up from a dinner party at Elena's house years ago - I totally recommend her awesome food blog by the way) and we cooked the Whole Foods "ten minute" dressing which frankly was nothing to write home about, but gluten-free requires sacrifice in taste sometimes I learned. Doused in gravy made from the pan drippings, you hardly noticed anyhow.

For my first time hosting Thanksgiving, I'm chalking it up to a victory. We didn't burn anything, we didn't light the house on fire, and the only pouty guest was my dog when she got banished from the kitchen. I hope your Thanksgiving left your belly full! Here's to many more meals in the future...


Anonymous said...

Lovely setting, just that you messed up the order of your forks... Small on the outside (always).

Again, lovely work.

Jessica Graves said...

@anon - that figures, my dyslexia always sneaks in at the funniest moments

Anonymous said...

Tell your sister for a better gluten free gravy she can mix some warm water and corn starch in a shaker bottle. Shake the mixture and then slowly pour straight into the turkey pan with the drippings (once the turkey is removed). Put pan right on the stove and mix, over medium heat, until thickened. My grandmother has always used cornstarch in place of flour for gravy and since I've started making Thanksgiving, people comment on how much they like the gravy. Also, making your own stuffing with a gluten free bread is pretty simple and much better than Whole Foods.


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