This is again a year when neither of you will be home for Thanksgiving. There will be lots of family around, plenty of cousins and nephews. Even a few strays that need a Thanksgiving hookup in Boston. But you two, my own gems, are nine hours apart from each other, and each of you is six hours from me.
So Katie and Evi, I share with you important tips for Thanksgiving.
Make sure that you take both bags of stuff out of the turkey. The first year I made Thanksgiving by myself, (when you, my oldest, my now mother-to-be, was a newborn), I thought there was only one thing to remove. The finished product looked beautiful but had a distinct liver and petroleum aftertaste.
Get a meat thermometer for the turkey. The color of the skin is only a cosmetic indicator.
Make more stuffing than you need. The recipe really doesn’t matter, though my favorite has both raisins and cornbread. Turkeys don’t hold as much stuff as people want to eat. Bake the rest in a pan and keep it moist with turkey or chicken stock.
Don’t be tempted by all the exotic recipes in magazines. Thanksgiving is about food that people remember, not food that is memorable. Stick with the basics. And use fresh thyme.
Buy lots of brown sugar and butter. Use both liberally. Especially on the sweet potatoes. This is not an olive oil meal.
Green is not a Thanksgiving color, but Brussels sprouts can work. Make a huge salad to help balance off all the orange, yellow and gold.
Go light on the truffle oil in the mashed potatoes. It gets to overkill very easily.
In a pinch, the recipe on the cranberry bag is not bad. I add balsamic vinegar and a little horseradish to give it kick. And a little frozen orange juice. I really like National Public Radio’s Susan Stamberg’s piece about her mother-in-law’s cranberry sauce. It’s seminal.
Too many pies are not enough pie. Most people like pecan. Pumpkin looks right, but really, why bother?
Invite the strays. Like Passover, a really good Thanksgiving dinner should have at least one extra plate for Elijah. No one should eat Thanksgiving dinner alone.
Next year in Boston.
Zester Daily contributor Louisa Kasdon is a Boston-based food writer, former restaurant owner and founder of letstalkaboutfood.com. She is a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, the food editor for Stuff Magazine and has contributed to Fortune, MORE, Cooking Light, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine and the Christian Science Monitor, among others.
Photo, from top:
Louisa Kasdon’s family at Thanksgiving many years ago. Credit: Louisa Kasdon.