Favorite Fall Memories

Hey readers,

I don’t know about you, but I really love fall. It is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, and the smells, and the foods, and the weather. Even if it’s kind of rainy, there’s something about it that just gives me a sense of comfort and happiness. I don’t know if it’s sitting inside more and reading books, or walking in the park looking at the different colored leaves, or driving up on Skyline Drive to see the color change from above.

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Maybe it’s the sense of community in the wine community with vertical tastings and harvest dinners, or the warmth you get from a nice hot beverage while reading a book on the couch on a rainy day. It all feels like Hygge to me.

The one consistent memory I have from fall though is Thanksgiving. As far back as I can remember, Thanksgiving holidays have been my strongest memories. When I was very little we would drive out to my father’s family home in Martinsville, VA and his whole extended family would be there. We would eat at the old house on the hill and sleep in the less old house at the bottom of the hill, both of which had been built by men in the family. I’d play with my cousins, and sled down the hill on cardboard, and we’d have 20 or so people around antique tables loaded with turkey, ham, and all if the fixings.

As I grew older and my father’s family started to pass away we started hosting meals at our home, and I got to help cook. I remember one year where I insisted on king’s hawaiian rolls with dinner and then I left them in the oven so long that they were basically charcoal. Every year, we would watch the Macy’s day parade and the dog show while the turkey roasted, snacking on crudite and deviled eggs and spinach artichoke dip. We often slipped in new recipes to try but we always had our staples: Stouffer’s green bean casserole made from scratch, brown sugar glazed baby carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy, some sort of stuffing and a big, beautiful bird.

My first year making Thanksgiving dinner was probably 2002, and it was the year that birthed many new holiday traditions. My parents were officially divorced, and we were hosting at my mom’s house for her parents and a few misfit friends. This was also the first year we brined the turkey. I have to say that given how great a cook my mom is, it’s surprising to me how grossed out she was by having to stick her hand inside a turkey to pull out the bag of giblets. I ended up pulling out the bag, brining the bird myself, and roasting it the next day. Got to say for my first bird it turned out alright, maybe a little crispy around the edges, but I was still a young cook. Since then she hasn’t made a turkey, it’s always been me, or my step dad once she remarried, we almost always host and always host those who have nowhere else to go.

I still remember the year I went to Texas for Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with my Uncle and Aunt. That was the year I learned to love brussel sprouts, a vegetable I had never had before that week, and have since cooked on an almost bi-weekly basis ever since. Every year, when I brine my turkey, I think back to the time my brother and I did it together around midnight on Thanksgiving Eve. After his long shift at work and my own long shift at work, we wrestled this massive, slippery bird into a cooler full of ice, brine and jalapeno wine. I still laugh about the year my stepfather and I fought over how to cook the turkey to the point where we ended up making two: one roasted and one deep fried. The entire month leading up to Thanksgiving, I insisted he was going to catch the house on fire by frying a turkey that was still frozen, but it turned out okay. Actually, it turned out delicious.

Last year’s turkey was probably my best ever. We cooked at my grandmother’s house with my cousin Olivia, and played Cards Against Humanity, while watching the parade and the dog show. And, even though not everything was perfect, my turkey was so juicy that when I stuck in my meat thermometer juice squirted out. I was so proud when my mother, who generally doesn’t like turkey but eats it out of obligation, asked for my my recipe and said it was the best turkey she’d ever had.

This year will mark a new milestone for me. It’s my first Thanksgiving as a married woman! I’m really hoping that this year my in-laws will join us. We’ve lost so many who normally sit at our table over the last few years that I’m worried our table will be a bit empty, But I know that no matter who is around our table it will be full of memories from years past and laughter for years to come.

Over the next few days I’ll share with you some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes and wine pairings to help you prepare your menu this year. I’d love to hear some of your own favorite recipes and holiday memories so message me below or email me at cherrieschocolateanddirt@gmail.com.

And as always,

Happy Sipping!