“I moved from Arizona to the Bay Area in 1982 for college. I did not have the money to go home for Thanksgiving, so I made my first solo Thanksgiving in the dorm kitchen. I called my grandma for guidance and she explained about using stale white bread for stuffing. Well, sourdough bread was a revelation! I brought a loaf home at Christmas, and she never looked back. I carried or mailed a loaf of sourdough home for years afterward. She even changed her recipe card! She’s long gone, but the card — and the stuffing — remain.” — Elizabeth Dahlhoff, San Francisco
“I tend to forget from one year to the next how frequently we are blessed by the California weather gods on Thanksgiving with a combination of bright sunshine, clear skies and invitingly warm temperatures. The added glow of fall foliage and just the right touch of briskness in the air have inspired my family time and time again to leave home and hearth for a holiday picnic by the sea.
My favorite Thanksgiving memories are of food-laden, hand-hewn tables at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, where we have celebrated not just as a family but also in a convivial community of visitors drawn, like us, to the seaside to give thanks. ” — Brandi Katz, Aromas
“Although I am a California native, I’ve adopted an outward-looking international tradition for Thanksgiving dinners. Each year we choose a different country as a theme, a sort of homage that seems appropriate to this state with such a vibrant culture of immigrants and diversity. This year it’s the country of Turkey, with a pomegranate-sumac glaze for the turkey and kabak tatlisi pumpkin with walnuts for dessert. We’ve done Japan, Greece, Italy, Spain, India and many more. It is great fun, and I can assure everyone that tandoori turkey is amazing!” — Alexandra Devarenne, Petaluma
“My husband and I relocated from Wisconsin to Palm Springs a few years ago. Once we moved far away, and with our children all grown, we started a new tradition:
In lieu of preparing/eating a Thanksgiving dinner, we celebrate gratitude in another way. Each year I send letters to about 10 friends and neighbors offering to bake them an apple pie for their Thanksgiving celebration. I make the pies using my grandmother’s recipe, with which I once won first prize at the Dane County Farmers’ Market in Madison. I bake the pies to show my gratitude for their friendship throughout the year, and ask for two things in return: that they pay the favor forward in some way (to friends, family, or strangers), and that they return my pie plate so I can do it all again the following year.” — Robin Worth, Palm Springs