Its impossible to grab a flight for the holiday so we had to brave the long, LONG (16 hours to be exact) drive out west.
The way out was a little painful. Bill was still recuperating from his oral surgery and the whole drive brought nothing but torrential downpours- which made the already slow drive even slower. We did, however, get well acquainted with unbelievably cheap diner food....
Our first stop was in Somerset, PA- about 5 hours into the drive. We kept joking about trying to find a "finer diner" like our beloved Sam's Morning Glory back home. And this is what we stumbled across...
Apparently Sam's wasn't the only one to figure out "finer" rhymes with "diner".
The Summit Diner was an all-out trucker stop with nothing but Western PA's finest. But they claimed that they had stellar pancakes.... and they did! I don't even like pancakes and I really liked these. They tasted as if they had a little graham cracker in them somewhere.
After several more hours of driving in the icky rain, we finally stopped for the night in Indianapolis. Before hitting the sack at the lux Comfort Inn, we stopped at an old favorite- Steak n' Shake. I used to frequent one by my house throughout high school but apparently this was Bill's first time. We both grabbed a really-bad-for-you Frisco Melt and were floored when this was slipped onto our table...
$10!!?!! For dinner?!?!?! I couldn't buy half a bag of potato chips in Philly for $10. Such is the wonderful life of road tripping to the Midwest.
Our Monday morning breakfast was no less exciting. Popping into "The Breakfast Factory"- a hole in the wall, strip mall find near the Indy Airport- was like coming into a front for drugs. It was this oddly spacious establishment that looked like they used to sell tires but picked up a few booths they found on the side of the road and an avocado refrigerator and decided to turn the space into an eatery. Not sure if they were up to health codes, but the food was just as yummy and cheap.
But then again, how could a plate of biscuits smothered with sausage gravy be bad?....
The next morning we finally made it to the house. Actually, we grabbed some Olive Garden with my mom for lunch and showed Bill off to everyone at her work and THEN made it to the house.
The night before we arrived, my poor dad came down with the flu. The man never gets sick but the first time in history that we are all together for several days around a holiday, he has to get sick. So the first night didn't include much entertainment except me gearing up with some Zyrtec for the cat-induced allergy fest that was coming. (My parents have like 15 cats- probably not an exaggeration- and I'm deathly allergic)
The next day was the Big Day and with three chefs in the kitchen we were able to pump through the food prep with a great deal of ease. My mom made pumpkin pies the night before and added this cute extra touch with William-Sonoma dough cutters I had bought for her last Christmas.
Then we made the usual- a tasty oven-baked turkey with gravy, stuffing, mashed red potatoes, baked sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, and cranberries. Only this year we made our cranberries fresh- you know, no can lines- with simple syrup, golden raisins, pumpkin pie spice and orange zest. Yum!
(Yes, I realize this looks like chili with cheese but it is, in fact, cranberries with orange zest)
And here's our table - a nice mash-up of the golden Chilewich placemats I chose for my City Paper Thanksgiving table issue, my mom's pink cherry Depression glassware, my harvest napkins, and several pumpkins and gourds. Turned out pretty nice, especially by firelight.