November is my favorite month. Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday since I was a kid and my birthday is in November. I feel like once my birthday hits, the weeks that follow are in fast forward. I blink my eyes and the new year is upon me. This year in particular, we had so much to be thankful for. I had to have a surgery during my pregnancy to remove a cyst. Although there were many possible outcomes to this surgery, all went well. The baby is doing great and my recovery went well. Hopefully there are not too many more bumps in the road before the baby is born. This year for Thanksgiving, we traveled to Northern California to the Red Woods and San Francisco with my husband’s family. The trip was more beautiful that I could have imagined.
We started the trip by stepping off the plane, getting directly into our rental car, and driving 5 hours north. Needless to say, we were all pretty cranky by the time we got to our cabin and rest was in serious need. The second day of the trip was my birthday, and rain was predicted all day. When we woke up, it was raining, but a beautiful elk herd was outside our window in the back yard of the cabin. Two male elks seemed to be having a fight as well! Once we went out, the rain stopped and we were able to visit the beach and do a redwoods hike. It turned out to be a truly magnificent birthday with so many beautiful sites. We even bought a cake to share in the evening at the cabin.
The next two days in the redwoods consisted of hiking various trails to see some special trees. We got to see some of the largest trees, The Titans, by doing a rather adventurous trail for our group up in Jedediah Smith State Park. Everything looked straight out of National Geo. For real. The pictures cannot do it justice. Multiple times I found myself breathless with a fast heart beat as I stared at the beauty around me. I wanted to touch all of the trees and know them by name. Some of these trees are thousands of years old, and I couldn’t help but wonder what secrets they held.
The day before Thanksgiving we returned to San Francisco. We stopped in Napa valley along the way for a wine tasting and a fancy lunch. Napa was beautiful and looked exactly like the beautiful pictures I had seen of it. I felt like I was back in Italy. But after the redwoods, other beauty felt like it was just normal. We finally made it to the city exhausted and tired, but so ready for our fancy Thanksgiving lunch!
Thanksgiving morning we shopped in China Town and then made our way towards Pier 3 to eat at Kokkari, an upscale Mediterranean place. When we arrived for our reservation, it was not open. After some investigation, we realized that we were able to make a reservation online even though the restaurant was not open on Thanksgiving. We were all starving and found ourselves unsure of where to go next. We hadn’t explored the city at all yet and didn’t really know where to go or what was open. We ended up eating at a vegetarian Chinese place that was close by. It was…interesting to say the least, but it was a wonderful reminder of what we are really thankful for. It’s not about the food we eat but the company we share it with. My heart was full as I ate mediocre chow mein noodles.
The rest of Thanksgiving and the next two days were a whirlwind of good food, great coffee shops, beautiful sites, shopping, and family squabbles (what Thanksgiving is complete without them? sometimes, I love the fights just as much as the good times. people who never fight with each other don’t love each other enough…in my opinion). In our final hour in San Francisco, we did hit a patch of bad luck. Our rental car was broken into and our back packs were stolen! We did lose some valuables, but not as bad as it could have been. Again, it was another opportunity to be thankful for what really matters: each other, our good health, and our safety.
I know I should be posting some delicious recipe that was inspired by Thanksgiving or California, but I’m not. Being pregnant has made me crave all of the simple home-y food I loved growing up. This green bean pasta salad is a grown up version of something I used to eat as a kid: canned green beans warmed in the microwave with dried basil on top. I am laughing out loud as I type this as how crazy that snack sounds to me, but I loved it. Once while at a friend’s house in middle school, her mom made us a snack from a froze bag of green beans, small pasta, and basil. I remember I loved it so much and was always trying to find that frozen bag combination for years to come. Finally in college, I just made my own version of it. It really is a comfort food for me since the green beans and basil are a life-time food love of mine.
Green Bean Pasta Salad
(makes 2 servings)
- 3 cups fresh green beans chopped into 2 inch pieces
- small pasta such as ditalini or orzo, cooked according to package directions
- 1/2 cup pasta cooking water reserved
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 10-15 cherry tomatoes, whole
- 1 tsp dried basil or chopped fresh basil
- fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- parmesan cheese
- In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat.
- Add the green beans to the hot pan and cook for 3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic. Continue cooking until green beans are bright green and cooked, but still have a snap to them.
- Season with salt, pepper, and basil. Add the tomatoes. Cook one minute more. Add the pasta water and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta. Add the lemon juice. Turn off heat. Be sure it is all well mixed. Adjust salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste.
- Serve and garnish with some parmesan cheese.