If asked: what’s the best part about hosting a holiday meal? Most people would probably respond with something like: Oh, of course it’s welcoming people into my home and the warmth of the season and rainbows and unicorns and blah blah blahhhh….
Or perhaps some would be more pragmatic: It’s getting to stay home! Who wants to deal with airports and traffic and all of those hassles?
I’m going to be perfectly honest: The best part of hosting Thanksgiving is getting to control the menu.
Thanksgiving has been mostly a “friends holiday” for the hubs and I over the last decade. Amtrak to DC to visit friends! Big raging party with classmates! Camping in Joshua Tree! Hot-tubbing with friends at their Hollywood apartment! Yay, Thanksgiving is just a four-day weekend for fun!
This year, we’re doing things a little more traditionally, though, and I’m excited about it! We’re hosting a small family gathering in our new apartment and for the last week, I’ve been poring over recipe websites trying to narrow the field.
A few dishes that will definitely be making an appearance beside the Turkey:
- Stuffing. Probably my single favorite Thanksgiving item. I’m in agony over the number of options here, though. Cornbread or sourdough? Sausage or bacon? Apples – in, or out? Sage or thyme or both? My head, it explodes.
- Cranberries. Homemade cranberry sauce is so freakin’ easy to make. And while it may be a bit player on Thursday’s table, it’s the star of the show when it comes to Friday’s turkey-cranberry sandwiches (drool).
- Salad. Okay, you all know that I LOVE salad. And while it may not be entirely traditional, I love incorporating Thanksgiving flavors (candied pecans, dried berries, pumpkin bread croutons, a hearty nutmeg vinaigrette) in a big salad to have as a first course.
And a couple of dishes that will NOT be invited to the party:
- Green bean casserole. Seriously, I just don’t understand this dish. I mean…it’s okay, but what is so special about mixing together slimy canned green beans and bland soup? I’ll be serving fresh haricots-verts, roasted to perfection in browned butter, instead. (Yes, I know I sound like a snot. Whatever.)
- Pumpkin pie. Maybe it’s because canned pumpkin makes me want to gag, but again – what is to special about a plain ole’ pumpkin pie? I mean, again, it’s okay. But the crust and the ice cream on top are the best parts. I’m thinking about serving a pumpkin bread pudding (a la Bobby Flay on the Thanksgiving Throwdown) instead.
- Gravy. I am just so indifferent to gravy. I know I’ll end up making it because it’s not Thanksgiving without it, and I really can’t think of a creative substitute. But gravy is always an afterthought for me. I prefer my turkey and potatoes without it.
So…yes, I suppose those may be unpopular opinions. But holiday eating always comes down to trade-offs and choices, right? With such an abundance of options, there’s no reason to eat something if you don’t truly enjoy it.
Back to tinkering with my Thanksgiving spreadsheet.
Today’s EAT: Butternut squash soup from the freezer + corkscrew pasta, with a plop of Greek yogurt and some crumbled bacon.
Not a bad dinner for one! I really did not feel like cooking for myself tonight and very nearly flopped on the couch with a box of cereal and called it a night. I’m glad I looked in the freezer and saw this soup first! Dinner was defrosted, boiled and stirred together in fifteen minutes.
Today’s DRINK: Meh – no wine tonight. Just not in the mood. However – if you have a sec, check out the new DRINKS page I’ve been working on! I hope this is helpful to you guys – although honestly, I’m doing it as much for my benefit as yours, so I can keep track of what I have and haven’t tried.
Today’s RUN: Er, workout. On your wise advice from my workout video rant the other day, I decided to give Jillian’s Yoga Meltdown a chance (thanks Kelly and GeekGirl!) It was better than I thought it would be. I was, at least, sweating and shaking a bit (in a holy-planks-you-want-me-to-hold-that-for-how-long? way, not in, like, a blood-sugar way) by the end. I give it a 6/10 and would do it again in a pinch.
Today’s QUESTION: Which traditional Thanksgiving dish is your favorite – and which one could you really live without?