Day 1: The Journey to Some Kind of Thanksgiving Dinner

I got two Thanksgiving-themed catalogs next to me on the couch: Savory by Stop & Shop and Color the Classics: Thanksgiving 2019 by Whole Foods. First: I feel like I’m the only one that appreciates Savory, but then again, they have continued to print it out and release it in Stop & Shops everywhere, so I can’t be alone! It’s such a cute project for Stop & Shop. A real magazine you can hold and it’s 115 pages full of content.

I’ve got these two issues with me because I’m hoping they’ll inspire my attempts at making a dish for Thanksgiving this year.

While like so many, I’ve come to understand that Thanksgiving actually carries a distressing history, I am attempting to create a dish not out of disrespect for the Natives (because of course, I stand with them), but really as a means to challenge myself more in the kitchen. I must be able to put something together! Some kind of dish!

Though I’m not a natural cook–and I’m okay with that–I do like the idea of cooking and baking and being your own mixologist. I’m also talented at saving the best recipes. Which I did on Friday while on Food52. They’ve got tons there! I did, however, pause when I came across the post Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Apples. Can you taste the sour cream?? Because I don’t like sour cream but they had me at chocolate chip.

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Between Savory, Whole Foods, Food52, Pinterest, and this New York Times article and video that features food columnist Alison Roman cooking a big dinner in her small kitchen, I’ve got options and lots of hope to make some a dish or two happen. Day 1 is about finalizing what I need to buy to make whatever recipes I have chosen and will recreate in my humble abode.

So before fine-tuning my grocery list, I chose to watch Roman’s video first. In the first five minutes, her “hot takes” segment had me like…

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Roman stated how she didn’t like sweet potatoes and considers pumpkin pie as “bad.” (Blasphemy. I LOVE pumpkin pie).

What next? Kraft boxed mac and cheese is better than homemade? (Sidenote: it would be a DREAM to one day cook baked mac and cheese from scratch). And, #SorryNotSorry, as a black woman viewer, I had the pull the Idris Elba scoff on her because the two things she hates are mainstays of a black Thanksgiving dinner (in particular, I’m thinking of sweet potato pie which hilariously, I don’t prefer over pumpkin pie but I respect the fact that sweet potato pie is an honored dessert) and so, you know, go figure. (No, I’m not calling Roman racist. Her level of caucasity just peaked. Like damn. How you hate both?)

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And here’s a hot take for her: I don’t see where her kitchen is small. Considering it’s in an apartment, and she can move around in it, it’s decent-sized to me! And I don’t like cranberry sauce! Which, by the way, the cranberry sauce she sliced away in the video, was the cause of discussion on the NYT Cooking Instagram and later in the video, Roman confirmed that she preferred canned cranberry sauce over homemade. #Scandalous

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She also shamed an entire percentage of Thanksgiving dinners that were thought of weeks or days ahead of the holiday and proudly proclaimed she wasn’t one of “those” people and nearly talked in “rabbit ears” for a full sentence. Of course, you want the food and preparation fresh and you shouldn’t buy things too early. But it just translated as very catty versus delightfully snarky which I think she was low-key trying to aim for. She’s curt under the guise of comedy and the presentation was hit or miss for me. And I was a fan of Joan Rivers, so I ain’t no oversensitive nitty. She’s entitled to her opinion, and thus, so am I.

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I did like how resourceful she was within her space. That was aspiring, and I was able to relate to her trip to the grocery store. How she baked her apple pie was also nice to watch, though one could easily judge her for adding sesame seeds. (I don’t mind, but do you see what I’m trying to express here? Hopefully!)

Towards the end, Roman’s friends had arrived for Thanksgiving dinner (this is actually more of a Friendsgiving dinner since it was taped and uploaded before November 28th). Major, major props for cooking dinner on her own. It was a standard display that was only made different by the fact that it was made for Thanksgiving. And again, her kitchen isn’t small. She lives in some part of Brooklyn that probably prides itself on selling artisanal merchandise and she clearly had a dining room and living separate from each other. A lot of apartments in New York, Brooklyn or not, and in her tax bracket or not, can’t say the same. #CountYourBlessings

So while Roman exhausted me, I still aim to complete my to-do list as far as what will be on my mini menu come Thursday. And I think I may have to whittle it down to no more than three sides. I’ve already taken a liking to this recipe I found on New York Times Cooking called “Extra Crispy Parmesan Crusted Roasted Potatoes,” and I’m overwhelmed by this alone. Like, I need to buy cheesecloth and I had to Google exactly what that was or meant. (You can’t always assume). And here’s a tip! If there’s a comment section on these recipes, read it! Because someone wrote how cheesecloth to them was a “nuisance” and to instead use a fine-mesh bag. Another added an abridged take on the recipe the NYT Cooking posted.

Let’s see else is going on as I perfect my Holiday Jamboree playlist…

Why do I feel like attempting banana or pumpkin bread? No. Stop it. Just buy it!

From Savory, there’s something about the Apple Cider Punch that makes me want to try it! I’m for sure going to have to stop at the liquor store. And I got to decide if I want to manually squeeze out 8-10 lemons to get a one and a half cup of lemon juice or to just buy the lemon juice.

I need one more dish to make it three because I’m most likely going to buy a small half chicken or some kind of glazed meat to top it all off. I’m honestly looking for a salad dish. A salad that has cranberries and maybe croutons (who am I?!) in it. I love the salads at places like Dig-Inn.

I can’t seem to find anything like that on Food52. Let’s go to Pinterest.

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Damn. As expected, there are a bajillion recipes for a salad with cranberries. I can’t really pick one, so I’m just going to pick the usual suspects for a cranberry-led salad.

Here’s the list of the 3 things I’m going to make and the ingredients I’m going to need for my mini Thanksgiving menu:

Extra Crispy Parmesan-Crusted Roasted Potatoes:

-russet potatoes, baking soda, table salt, unsalted butter, cheesecloth or fine mesh bag, Turkish dried bag leaves, black peppercorns, thyme or rosemary sprigs, and grated Parmesan cheese

Apple Cider Punch:

-1 gallon of apple cider, 2 cups of apple brandy, 1 1/2 cups of whiskey, 1 1/2 lemon juice (8-10 lemons), and 4 oranges.

Quasi-Makeshift Cranberry-based Salad

-lettuce, croutons, kale, feta cheese, peanuts or walnuts, watermelon, and cranberries!

Tomorrow on Monday, I will hit the grocery store!

And speaking of mac and cheese, I found this cute tutorial by Tia Mowry from 2017.

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