If you follow me on IG, you know that my content is roughly 50% First Line Frenzy and 40% book-related, with the final 10% a relatively even split between pictures of Primrose Everkitten, my ten-year-old Siberian cat, and posts about what I’m cooking and baking. I’m an ambitious, (over)confident home cook, and this year, I have the joy of hosting my parents for Thanksgiving for the first time.
Throughout my childhood, we spent the holiday at my maternal grandmother’s house; as she aged, one of my aunts took up the mantle, but it was never quite the same. Once I married, I started spending the holiday with my husband’s family. I missed seeing my parents and sister for my favorite meal of the year, but they lived near one another and celebrated together. A few years ago, though, my folks moved to Florida, and my sister to Michigan. Suddenly, none of us were together on Thanksgiving – and that seemed a terrible loss. My husband and I agreed to alternate years, traveling to his mom’s one year, and hosting my parents at our home the next. Just as we had our plans nicely organized… Covid. Like so many others, I spent Thanksgiving 2020 around my own kitchen table with nary a guest in sight.
Fast-forward to this year. My husband and I are boostered, my son got his first dose of the vax yesterday (huzzah!), and my parents are fully inoculated as well. All things considered, we’re comfortable hosting my folks for Thanksgiving – which means I’ve been obsessing about my menu for weeks already. Let’s not forget that Hanukkah starts the Sunday after Thanksgiving, on 28 November – which means I’m planning back-to-back food celebrations.
I can hardly articulate how much I’m looking forward to the time I’ll be spending in my kitchen in the coming week. I love the logistics of getting organized, from shopping lists to mis en place to scheduling what to cook and when. I love the cooking itself – the satisfaction of seeing a recipe come together exactly as I envisioned it. I love feeding people and eating together around a table laden with dishes prepared with care. My heart is already full, and I haven’t even made anything yet.
I know there’s a writing analogy here – something about making plans but being open to surprises, staying curious and tasting as you go. We can explore those ideas… later. For now, I want to share my menu(s)! Links lead directly to recipes where available, or to the cookbooks where recipes can be found. Feel free to write me with any questions, or to share your own favorite Thanksgiving recipes.
Autumn vegetable soup (butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin + carrot, served with toasted coconut)
Dinner is Served
Cranberry sauce (with orange zest and cloves)
Spicy collard-stuffed pumpkins
(I use a combination of collard greens and chopped kale here, and I substitute habanero peppers for the Scotch bonnet chile, which is sometimes difficult to find)
Crescent rolls (refrigerated dough – who has time to fuss with lamination on Thanksgiving?!)
Sweet potato pie
Potato Latkes, Even Better
(also Smitten Kitchen, but I swear they really are the best!), served with apple sauce or creme fraiche
Kale Caesar Salad with crushed croutons and lime (absolutely essential to massage the leaves, and here’s why