Yesterday was the first time I've ever spent Thanksgiving away from home. It was a situation I never thought I'd ever be in, but after three months of 12+ hour school days, the only wish I wanted this year was to have a quiet weekend to myself, away from the stress of cooking for 25 people in a kitchen equipped with a single oven and five burners, and instead have a quiet retreat where I could catch up on all of the hobbies I never have time to do (and for once getting a head start on studying).
A low key Thanksgiving for three people was definitely a first for me, but having such a relaxed and intimate dinner in a college apartment was the exact thing I needed to make sure I wasn't going to burn out by the time the quarter is over. This meal helped me remember that no matter how filled up my iCal is for the day, how empty my gas tank seems to constantly be, or how much sleep I lack throughout the week, I am truly a fortunate person. I go to a school that I am extremely passionate about, participate in activities that give me a true sense of fulfillment, have a family who has an unwavering amount of support, and have the privilege to know a group of friends I truly adore.
Cooking for only three people also afforded me the luxury to go balls to the wall- quite frankly this might have been one of the best Thanksgiving meals I've ever had.
Butternut Squash Soup with Croutons and Fried Sage
Herb Roasted Chicken
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Parmesan Asparagus
Classic Sage Stuffing
Caramelized Apple Croissant Bread Pudding
1) Yes, we had 3 rounds of dessert
2) As much as I was tempted to document this entire meal, for once I decided to forgo the status of food blog whore yesterday night in order to concentrate on the fact that I was spending time with some of my favorite people in the world, and getting the chance to cook for them. Oh, the power of food.
This pork loin was another item from my daring meal this summer. As much as I love a blistery, succulent hunk of roasted protein, the real hero of this entire carousel of fall ingredients was the reduction... oh the reduction. Savory and sweet at the same time, with a splash of umami from a little dash of soy sauce, and maple syrup to round out the acrid burn of the vinegar, it was hard not to douse the plate in the glossy elixir.
So while I am thankful that one of the things I am passionate about is an activity I get to do everyday (it's pretty awesome when you get a kick out of making a sandwich for lunch), I think that I'm more grateful for the fact that I have people so ready and willing to enjoy the results of said passion as much as I do. I would have been happy eating ramen for Thanksgiving as long as I had my friends close by to slurp up some MSG laden broth alongside me.
One Year Ago: Crabcake Salad, Nectarine Frangipane Tart, Chocolate Blackout Cake
Roast Pork with Apple Cider Reduction
fresh rosemary, finely chopped
freshly chopped thyme
apple cider reduction:
cider vinegar (about 1/3 of how much apple juice you use)
spoonfuls of brown sugar
a couple tablespoons of maple syrup
a splash of soy sauce
sprig of thyme
salt and pepper
Season the pork liberally with salt, and leave uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Allow the roast to come to room temperature for about an hour before roasting. Mix together some dijon mustard and the chopped rosemary leaves into a paste. Rub the pork down with the bacon fat before brushing on the mustard mixture. Roast the pork until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.
Meanwhile, for the apple cider reduction combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and boil on medium high heat until it reaches a thick consistency. I wish I could give you more exact quantities for the ingredients, but it really is about your personal preference and experimenting with it all. You just want to bring it to the point where the acidity from the vinegar no longer burns your throat. Once the reduction is to your desired flavor and consistency, add a tablespoon or two of butter to make it glossy and thick.