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?