These past two Thanksgivings I’ve received the utmost honor to join some wonderful friends out in the lovely North Central Valley of California. In a place known as “Zinfandel Capital of the World”, robust excitement is guaranteed to go down. Participating in this local family’s tradition is incredibly special to me, since all my family members reside in the Southern US. With airlines demanding $800 a seat, I often become the California orphan during the holidays; but thanks to these friends, Little Orphan Ivy is no more! I wish everyone could’ve been there with me yesterday, so I’m gonna share my favorite memories.
Last year’s selection of deliciously prepared food, rare games like bocci ball and cornhole, endless views of grape vines spilling into the horizon, abundant wine flowing like water, and abdominal-piercing humor at the talent show had me seriously glowing for weeks. This year was just as fun: one-hand croquet (the other hand was for your wine glass), a game of pool in the barn, an improv jam session with lyric books provided, and healthy homemade food followed by heart-melting desserts. These unique Thanksgiving events bring everyone together, as it’s not only members from one family that attend, it’s also open to those who have wandered outside of their own traditional family gatherings. It’s sort of a rebel Thanksgiving, if you will – exploding with a vibrant cornucopia of charm, laughter, and togetherness. It’s a place where you find yourself effortlessly dropping your inhibitions and formalities at the door; a place to find freedom, happiness, and let your inner child come out and say, “Hey mom! I’m no longer gonna sit at the kid’s table, but I’m still gonna act-a-fool!”
This year was extra special, given that the SF Giants just won the World Series and the thrill of it all still remains as fresh as the San Francisco fog. A Giants-themed Thanksgiving was inevitable. Appropriately coined of course as “Fear the Bird“, yesterday’s party was a Giants fan free-for-all, some new and some well-seasoned, but all came full with the spirit of the Giants.
As we gathered around with our delicious butternut squash soups, fresh turkey, apple cider gravy, mounds of cranberry relish, and sherry mushroom risotto, everyone shared detailed and colorful stories of their personal fulfillment and nearly-blinding joy that took place the exact moment the Giants claimed the World Series title. Although my own Giants moment was a delayed joyous reaction, beginning as a realization that I lived in the ghetto when my neighbors starting shooting real guns outside; however, the drama subsided quick and the joy did set in. I didn’t share my moment at the table yesterday for fear of throwing off the topic, so I’m borrowing the textual real estate here since you’re still reading. Thanks for letting me have my moment. 😀
The black-and-orange-filled home was adorned with Giants gear, special effects, personalized name cards, Giants figurines jiggling their heads while I got seconds on gravy, orange pom-poms, lapel pins, black beards, and yes, even an orange thong (which has a special cameo in the video below)! Basically, not a single inch was left un-Giantized.
Aside from the mind-blowing array of specialty cheeses from Point Reyes and France scattered across the piano (which offered mouth-watering medleys to blend on crisps and crackers), we all still managed to out-cheese the cheese itself! This very special, once-in-a-lifetime SF Giants Thanksgiving was not about to end without some way to forever document the hilariousness and raw spirit of it all! What better way to do that than to grab the talented cameraman in the family and assign him the job?!
When the creative chaos unrolled, I found myself somehow wearing a panda mask that the Obama cardboard cut-out was sporting earlier in the evening. I was then shuffled into the kitchen nook to stand on my X and await my cue. We were given lyric sheets to Ashkon’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, a couple minutes to brainstorm our parts to match the lyrics, and one practice. It all went down in a matter of minutes and was over before we even realized what happened. There was one continuous shot that captured it all. It was honestly the closest I’ve felt to reliving my childhood and being a sports fan all at the same time!
Fear the Bird! An SF Giants Thanksgiving
[Filmed by Clayton W. / Original music by: Ashkon – Don’t Stop Believing (Official Giants 2010 Anthem)]
A special thanks to the Worfolk family and everyone attending for the great memories and wild times.
Chocolate gravy?! Well in all my born days…
If you have yet to hear of chocolate gravy, let’s take care of that right now. We’ve all slathered our pancakes with sweet maple syrup, smeared our toast with Nutella™, and peanut-buttered-and-jellied our bread, right? Well then there’s no reason why you have not chocolafied your gravy! If it sounds too weird, just try and think of it like hot chocolate pudding, or a sweet cream gravy like Béchamel sauce – all gone cuckoo for cocoa. Tasting homemade chocolate gravy may bring you one step closer to gravy utopia, “This I promise you.” (quote courtesy of ‘N Sync).
Before we dive in first, some Chocolate Gravy 101!
There are a few different theories on its origin:
- Began in the homes of the Appalachian Mountains and the Deep South about 100 years ago (around the time Hershey’s Cocoa Powder made its way into the country pantry)
- Influenced by the Spanish roots of Louisiana merging with the Tennessee Valley
- Possibly passed on from the Appalachian Melungeons as far back as the 16-17 century
One thing’s for sure though. Chocolate gravy is:
- freaking delicious over biscuits, toast, bacon, and even eggs! (I also like it poured over crumpets)
- a real special treat for Sunday morning
- a nearly forgotten southern tradition that needs your sweet lil help to survive (Viva la internet!)
Now, let’s get out your iron skillet, sauce pan, or double boiler (for the burn-prone) and make some gravy!
This is a tried-and true recipe, modified by myself with an added ‘kick’. As most recipes go, it’s open for room to experiment!
Ivy Something’s Spicy Chocolate Gravy
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder (or more, depending on how chocolafied you want your gravy!)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup organic powdered sugar (granulated also works just fine)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sweet cream butter (or bacon fat)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
- salt (to taste)
- a few hefty dashes of cayenne pepper
- Heat skillet or sauce pan over medium-low heat, add butter (or bacon fat) until melted.
- Sprinkle in flour slowly and whisk until smooth.
- Add chocolate and sugar, whisk until fully blended and cook for about 1-2 minutes, careful to not burn.
- Slowly add milk, whisk continuously to prevent lumps.
- Add vanilla, salt, and cayenne.
- Cook a few minutes until gravy becomes thick. Whisk in more milk for a thinner gravy.
- If your gravy ever comes out lumpy, just whirl it in the blender until smooth!
- For added excitement, add crumbled bacon! This is not a trend – bacon and chocolate gravy have a long harmonious history together!
You may also find and share this recipe at Food.com
- Pour over hot biscuits, crumpets, toast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, your face – anything you please!
- Put it in a fancy bowl and pretend you’re on the farm with Zsa Zsa Gabore!
“Chocolate gravy is the place to be!”
I dedicate this Gravy Friday to my chocolate-loving friend, Emilee Schumer. She was the inspiration (and 5-star hospitality) behind it all.
Does your family have a prized chocolate gravy recipe? I’m drooling to hear about it!
Yesterday seemed to last much longer than an average Thursday. With an evening that creeped in as slow as a little piglet after feeding time, it’s no question as to why Gravy Friday was caught cheating last night – Friday was just too far away! Now I’m not justifying this unfaithful act here just because Thursday was extra lengthy, but I will stand forth and admit that I had everything to do with it. “What is the definition of a gravy cheating”, you might wonder? Well it sure isn’t as simple as eating gravy on days other than Friday – because obviously that’s encouraged!
I am a firm believer of gravy worship any day of the week. I sometimes bask in gravy 3 times a day. So what’s the big deal? How does one cheat on Gravy Friday and how does Gravy Friday cheat in general? It’s simple. Take a walk by Tommy’s Joynt in San Francisco on any other night besides Friday and see if you don’t dive into the door like they are about to serve the last meal on earth. The thought alone of Tommy’s gravy had me drooling down my own chest before I even arrived there last night. And that was just the beginning…
As I passed by Tommy’s Joynt, my dear I knew it was all over. An early Gravy Friday it would be! I walked in and ordered a BBQ beef plate, a side of stuffing, and I watched the carver create the masterpiece of future liquid infidelity right before me. First he poured on the thick, creamy brown stuffing gravy, then drenched the entire plate au jus style. Finally, he smothered it all in BBQ gravy while I nearly banged my forehead on the safety glass shelf pictured below.
So how is this cheating? I was just eating gravy like I do any other day of the week, right? Incorrect!
Waltzing into Tommy’s Joynt on a Thursday is cheating on Gravy Friday because:
- It calls for 100% premeditated intense gravy celebrating that is far too good for just any day of the week.
- You are subjecting yourself to THREE different types of gravy, all swirled together (aka “gravy threesome”), which should be reserved for Gravy Friday only (but mistakes happen).
- Devouring this luscious threesome gravy pool glistening before you on a non-Friday also subjects you to admit to a “Gravy Friday cheating” for the following reason:
- A gravy cheating is nobodies business unless there are three or more gravies involved. – Ivy Something
So now that you understand why I have admitted to this disloyalty so willingly, (it’s kind of embarrassing to break your own rules in public), I’d like to say I have not a single hard feeling about it, other than the fact that I did not invite you. Oh and also, it was awesome.
If you could have been there, I’m sure you would understand. I was speechless. Just look at this plate and tell me to my face that you wouldn’t cheat. (If you’re too embarrassed, you may also tell me here.) I apologize to all the vegans and vegetarians out there who are on the verge of throwing up their bowels right now, but please consider cutting me some slack. I was a label-reading hardcore vegan for 5 years and a vegetarian for 2 more – and it was a tray of bacon that did me in. But I did put in my time and now I am on a gravy train journey to the land of meat sauce and other wild things. Warning: extremely seductive beef and gravy photo below.
I would like to send a special thanks to Manz0r for treating me to this unforgettable gravy cheating.
Why not stop by yourself? Let me know what you think!
1101 Geary Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94109-6815
Open Daily 10am-1:30am
Happy Gravy Friday, darlings! Although it’s not as happy as I wanted it to be. But we can still celebrate the wonders of our favorite pourable flavor anyhow. We’re just going to have to do it on the ground.
That’s right, Gravy Friday’s exciting plans to be airborne today for the first time have turned into a full on gravy grounding, thanks to our beloved Transportation Security Administration (also know as TSA, or “those stone-faced sweater people in the airport who always throw your toothpaste and mayo packets away”). I admit, I’ve attempted many mayo packet smugglings in the past because there’s never any mayo in-flight; and eating a dry sandwich while trapped in a flying coffin with even drier recirculating air is like licking sandpaper to me – or worse – chewing on a sunparched 100% silk shirt. Yeck!
What’s all this fuss about gravy and the TSA? You see, I wanted to smuggle some of my gravy aboard an airplane this evening (via a willing Seattle-bound passenger) for Queen Mother Jessica of Simplify Agency. She was expecting a package containing my Great Grandma Hudson’s fried chicken skillet gravy today, so that it would be waiting for her after the World on Fire show tonight. Jessica and I have never met in person and I wanted to help put an end to her long nights staring at my Facebook posts and yearning for a warm hug from my southern gravy. Jessica has gone to great lengths, sending me her famous Hoffa Ham earlier this year via flight, so I wanted nothing more than to return the flavor. (You like that pun?) We both had great plans to introduce ourselves through an exchange of our culinary personalities via airplane, but TSA has destroyed our dreams. I would insert an image of a TSA officer blowing up a gravy bowl filled with dreams here, but I don’t have one handy right now.
Before I go on to the main gist of this post [famous Ivy tangent…] let’s go back to the mayo packets real quick, because that reminds me of this great story my old boss once told me. Apparently one of his employees sat on a plane with Ralph Nader years ago and she witnessed him sucking mayo packets throughout a large portion of the flight. Now, was I turned off upon hearing this? Of course not. It made me love Ralph Nader more because mayo is delicious. I would have done the same if any of my mayo smuggling attempts were successful. Plus, Nader is awesome because he’s the reason we have seat belts in cars so that’s great too. Also, during his 2000 campaign, he let me have Fox news’ seat at a private conference he held when he saw me show up with a homemade ‘Nader 2000’ shirt and found out I drove across the state of Florida with my fellow campaigners just to support him. The look on the Fox news reporter’s face was priceless when we sat in their seat. I know, I know…green party, Ivy? Hey, I was 18 and excited to vote for the first time…and my other choices were Bush or Gore. We all remember that one…
So, if mayo is prohibited, then I should have known gravy would be as well, right? I’m sorry Jessica, I just didn’t think that far ahead. I’m aware that not thinking is a poor excuse, but I admit my faults and I’m going to turn this Gravy Friday grounding experience into a positive one! Here is a list of items you should probably avoid taking to the airport this holiday season to hopefully prevent future heartbreak and trouble.
- Gravy (just in case you missed that)
- Salad Dressing
- Mayo (SO not fair)
- Flan or crème brulée (yes, my birthday flan was confiscated at the Long Beach airport)
- Cream Cheese
- Peanut Butter
- Maple Syrup (they won’t care if you paid $40 for it in Ohio)
- Mashed Potatoes!!! (what the heck?)
- And pretty much anything that falls under a sauce, gravy, custard, or liquid.
Why the banning of such harmless foods? Because all of these food items are undercover terr0r*sts. (I censored that to keep my post from showing up in some crazy search for dangerous food people.) These prohibited foods are no laughing matter. They can apparently boil themselves down to a liquid within seconds after boarding a plane, spontaneously combust, and instantly become a total threat to the safety of our Nation. Now you know. But this doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun! Sometimes I like to show up to the airport early, bring my prohibited items to security and sit right next to the x-ray machine and eat them, while everyone stares. Remember, whenever people stare at you they are just envious; but when they stare at you while you’re eating mashed potatoes and gravy while they’re shuffled like cattle and wanded down by TSA creepers, by gosh they want to BE you. So take your time, enjoy yourself, and when you hear “Sorry sir (or ma’am), no gravy allowed!”. Just sit right down and take a gravy break.
If you do feel the need to complain about the loss of your food rights while traveling, you can always write me. Or, perhaps you will be lucky enough to find this man waiting to serve you direct!
His name is Russell Kanning and he works for the New Hampshire Free Press. If you don’t happen to see him around, he also takes complaints via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not sure how effective that is, but God Bless him anyway!