A San Diego Thanksgiving & the “O” Word

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Thanksgiving Organization

A San Diego Thanksgiving and the “O” Word

Large family, house not big enough, everybody for Thanksgiving dinner…YIKES!!!  But not to worry, no problema, it’s a snap. And not everybody needs to be a gourmet cook to contribute.

If your Carmel Valley San Diego community family is like ours, once we hit California we stayed regardless of where we were raised. And that includes Pennsylvania, Connecticut, West Virginia, Iowa and Spain (yes the country). And as the children grow up they stay too, they’re not stupid you know. And we have only one great grandmother…congratulations Grandma Juana.

There are the Gurecznys, junior and senior, the Williams, the Cleggs, the Assarafs and the Kobliskas, junior and senior and with a few guests thrown in we’re looking at over 30 people.

We’ve been at this for many years and dinner always seemed to be disorganized, uncoordinated and nobody was sure of what was going to happen once we all showed up to eat and socialize. Nobody knew of what dishes to bring. And there were always plenty of leftovers, however, but not so good in this case. When you have a dozen cans of jellied cranberry sauce, six potato dishes, and enough appetizers from Costco to feed an army, leftovers are in abundance. And of course there was usually one lonely turkey that was rationed like it was still World War II. And we cannot forget the one small pumpkin pie over which we all furiously fought.

But this year was different. Uncle David the self-taught chef and foodie who teaches cooking classes and Aunt Margaret, the “hostess with the mostess” who is a terrific cook and a real wine connoisseur decided to “get it together”.

It’s a big advantage to have two food savvy people in charge as well as a couple aunts who know their way around the kitchen and a grandpa who makes a killer smoked turkey. But it’s not absolutely necessary. All it takes is the “O” word…ORGANIZATION.

After a short phone conversation about what was needed and whom they thought would be best suited to contribute what, David and Margaret sent an email to everybody telling them exactly what to bring, what time to be there and the exact time of dinner.

It worked like a charm. All the relatives were relieved to know what their responsibilities were; the pressure was off. Assignments were made according to how comfortable we thought people would be in the kitchen and how knowledgeable they were about food.

Because rain was in the forecast, proactive Uncle Mike arrived a couple hours early with four canopies that he put up over the patio and enough tables to hold all the buffet items including the drinks. He set tables outside and inside for the diners.  Fast food Mike as we used to call him before he recently dropped 40 pounds (way to go Mike), who doesn’t know a pearl onion from a pearl necklace, saved the day with his ingenuity and resourcefulness.

The proof was in the buffet that included everybody’s contribution:
+ appetizers of cold lobster claws, fruit, cheese, crab puffs and
other mini delicacies

  • 2 twenty pound turkeys, one smoked & one traditionally roasted
  • 1 large glazed ham
  • mashed potatoes
  • gravy (home made)
  • green bean casserole
  • roasted carrots
  • creamed pearl onion and cauliflower gratin
  • steamed brussel sprouts with marjoram
  • turkey stuffing with sausage, apples and raisins
  • carrot cake, cherry pie, pumpkin pie
  • jello salad (of course)
  • fresh cranberry relish and jellied cranberries
  • Caesar Salad
  • soft drinks, beer, great wine and coffee

It was all terrific and almost everything was made from scratch using fresh ingredients. We all had ample time to relax, talk, take pictures and do all the things we’re are so thankful for because we have family. So we are now planning a midsummer dinner with the same format.

Terrific dinners with great friends and family are absolutely no problem; remember “GET ORGANIZED”.

Dave Clegg | Carmel Valley Community Contributor

Dave Clegg

Dave Clegg is a self-taught amateur chef and recipe author who has always been inspired by his Mom’s great cooking. He decided to create “Carmel Valley Kitchen” as a way to share his passion. Our name says everything about our philosophy of cooking great food. We use only fresh, basic, and readily available ingredients and we use only simple recipes where we stress versatility. As Emeril says “we ain’t builden no rocket ship here”. At CVK you’re introduced to cooking for the beginner/intermediate chef that includes a variety of lesson choices including two options for one-on-one learning and two options for creative cooking.


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