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November 26, 2011
How to cook a Thanksgiving dinner

Our grandsons Finn, Keegan and Boone peer down from the mountain home loft

In 2011, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving at our mountain home. In past years, we’ve gone up during the long weekend after the feast and the Black Friday sales. This year, the four of us drove up on Wednesday evening, packed and prepared to cook an entire Turkey dinner up on the mountain for the first time. Even better, we would have guests. We were joined by Russell’s sister Joanne and her family, who arrived an hour after we did.

So how does one prepare and cook a Thanksgiving feast for eight people with no oven? Gail explains:

“We provided a 12-pound turkey (which I brined for two days), stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh cranberries, pumpkin and apple pies. Joanne made green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls, and provided beverages, plus breakfast stuff and snacks for the day.

“I prepped the potatoes at home (cooked and mashed but did not add any milk or butter), and had the pies and cranberries already done.

“We brought the turkey and potatoes up in an insulated picnic basket with ice packs (they were each in huge Tupperware cake holders) and stored it them outside the house on the upstairs deck. Everything else fit into the refrigerator, except for some of Joanne’s goodies.

“On Thanksgiving Day, I cooked the turkey in a countertop oven that it just fit in. I made some of the stuffing in a skillet (to crisp it), then in the countertop oven once the turkey came out.

Our 12-pound turkey cooks – and barely fits – in the countertop oven.

“The stuffing and gravy were made on the single-burner hot plate that we had originally used during our trip around the world. (We used a power converter to adapt the European device to U.S. current.)

Gail cooks stuffing on a European hot plate that we last used during our world trip 11 years ago. (The large black box in front converts the European power to U.S. power.)

“We used a small toaster oven for the sweet potatoes and a convection microwave for the beans. For the rolls, we used a NuWave oven.

“So we had five different appliances cooking at once – all in the same room – and we didn't blow a circuit! (By the way, we obtained all of these appliances for free, except the countertop oven that I bought for $30 from my daughter Dawn.)

“The potatoes were finished by hand mashing. Turkey was delicious and golden. Everything came together on time. Perfect. We had all the right platters, utensils and serving items, except for a gravy boat. (We used the glass measuring cup.)

“TA DA! Thanksgiving!!”

Our first mountain home Thanksgiving

After an evening of boardgaming, Joanne and her family departed on Friday morning. Several hours later, our second batch of guests arrived. Gail’s daughter Dawn and her husband dropped off our three grandsons for the rest of the weekend.

(It was supposed to be a quick drop-and-run, but unfortunately Dawn and David drove off with the car seats and didn’t realize it until they reached Stockton. We had to do a car shuttle to get the car seats back.)

Keegan (10) and Finn (8) had not been to the mountain since our original house-raising party seven years ago. Boone (4) had never been here before. Needless to say, the three boys loved the house, the loft, the woods, the tree swings, the trampoline, and especially their uncles.

It was great to see our old tree swings being used again!

Unfortunately, Cameron had to spend much of the weekend working. He is project-managing a video trailer for Dawn’s first fiction novel (Larkstorm, due out in a matter of days).

How they spent their weekend: While Cameron edited a video trailer, Joss re-read the entire One Piece manga comic series

Meanwhile, Russell was able to get some work done this holiday weekend. He finished framing the master bathroom/laundry room closets.


Before and after photos of the master bathroom/laundry room framing

When we finally departed on Saturday afternoon, we stopped in the nearby town of Jackson to see the new Muppet Movie. Joss will stay up in Gold Country to visit a friend from college. The rest of us will return to the Bay Area, where we have another couple of days to enjoy with our grandsons.

Rupa takes his three grandsons for a walk in the woods


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