Thanksgiving

cranberries.jpgPudgy, glossy and scarlet red. There they were, bright and fresh, in plastic bags piled one on top of the other in the produce department of the grocery store, reminding me the holiday season is quickly approaching.

Images of Thanksgivings of the past appeared in my mind. I pictured our family gathered around the dinner table, nearly finished with a big turkey meal, when suddenly my mom yelled out, “The cranberries!” The roll of jellied cranberries pushed from a can (I know, I can hardly believe it, either) into a long, narrow crystal bowl had been forgotten in the refrigerator.

Those who don’t care for cranberry sauce may be familiar with only the canned varieties. Nothing beats the flavor of firm, fresh, deep red cranberries that have been cooked with water and sugar until they pop, pop, pop.

These little red jewels are so lovable. They are easy to store, they’re versatile and they’re so good for you. Refrigerated in their original packaging, they can last as long as two months. Put the original bag inside of a freezer bag, and you can store them frozen for about nine months. This is good news for all cranberry lovers, since the season is short.

Read more ...

ImageIt is 3:30PM November 26, 2009. I take a deep breath as I swallow a spoonful of green bean casserole—probably from my third round of food. I look at the table to see what is left for another helping. My eyes get big as I notice that the vegetarian stuffing hasn’t been touched and that there are a few shrimps left at the end of the table. “Yes!—I think.” Shortly after, I go into a food coma, throw on my sweatpants, and curl into a ball for an afternoon nap. Not before long, I awake and pounce on apple pie for dessert. This is Thanksgiving…this is a true American Thanksgiving. This year I won’t be having one of those. This year I will be saying “Grazie” rather than “Thank you” and I will be stuffing my body with endless baskets of bread, bowls of pasta, and bites of pizza. This year I will spend Thanksgiving in Florence, Italy.

It was just two years ago that I spent Thanksgiving in Rome, Italy. At the time, the class that I had studied abroad with was fortunate enough to have our group leaders organize a Thanksgiving dinner at one of the most prestigious hotel rooftops in all of Italy, The Marriott on Via Veneto. As a few of my roommates, my brother, and I approached the beautiful hotel, we began to ponder what we would be filling our plates with that night. Of course I cried out, “There better be green bean casserole.”

Read more ...

pumpkincakeSo you're preparing for Thanksgiving and you’re already irritable just thinking about the cooking tasks that lie ahead of you. You wish that it was your sister-in-law who was the one cooking, as usual, but she is bailing this year and going to Paris (where they have lousy pumpkin pie, by the way).

So there you are with the piles of sweet potatoes and cranberries, getting crabbier by the minute. Then you find out that two of your guests are non-dairy and two are gluten-free.

Before you have a nervous breakdown, try this dessert. It’s so easy you can make it plus a pie (for those who are gluten-gobblers and live for butterfat) and still not lose your mind.

Also, you will like it–it’s delicious, especially with a little whipped cream which your dairy-phones won’t like, but, hey, let ‘em eat cake.

Read more ...

turkeystew.jpgUsually on Thanksgiving between 20-25 people come over for dinner. This year we had a smaller group. With 10, we had time to talk and there wasn't quite as much work getting the meal ready. Out of habit, though, we bought the same size turkey we always buy, a 25 pounder. So we assumed we'd have a lot of food left over, enough for several days of sandwiches.

When we looked in the refrigerator on Friday, we were surprised that we had very little cranberry sauce, almost no stuffing, and only enough white meat for a couple of sandwiches. But, happily, we did have a lot of dark meat and almost a gallon of turkey stock we'd made Thanksgiving night.

For our day after Thanksgiving dinner, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I wanted a good comfort meal. Dumplings with anything is always great, but with richly flavored turkey stew, there's nothing more satisfying.

Read more ...

trader-vics.jpgIf by some chance you are looking for something really easy to do with your turkey leftovers, this is it.  It's a variation of the chicken chow mein you used to be able to get at the Trader Vic's at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, which is now more or less out of business.  Trader Vic's flameout was sad, because except for the mysteriously inept service, there were still wild and exciting things to eat there, starting with the classic Pupu Platter and including a curry served in a dish with room for about nine tiny little garnishes.  But oh well. So it goes.  Restaurants tend to break your heart.  The chicken chow mein was divine, especially if you ate it with a double order of toasted almonds and lots of chow mein noodles, and it's even better with turkey.

This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to make beginning to end.

Read more ...