Good morning! I just listened to Samin & Hrishikesh’s Thanksgiving podcast on my walk to get coffee, and realized that I’m officially excited about the holiday — the cooking part at least. With one kid returning from college in the Midwest, the actual sit-down feast is not going to happen — at least not how we are used to seeing it. But, as Samin said, it’s a different year and we need to be OK that Thanksgiving looks a little different too. As much as we all crave this holiday — it’s almost primal for me at this point — I just have to accept it. The good news is that there’s no shortage of ideas for how to make a small-scale Thanksgiving feel special anyway. There are tons of ideas from readers on the DALS facebook page today, and also, there’s this Turkey Pot Pie I worked on for Cup of Jo that was requested by a reader. “Why not put the whole meal into one tasty pie?” She asked. Indeed! Why not?
Pot pie, as many of you probably know, is something we regularly make on, say, a Tuesday. So the challenge for me became: How do I make it special enough for Thanksgiving? The answer: Upgrade every ingredient possible. Pick up the freshest carrots and potatoes you can find and definitely try to track down all-butter puff pastry, such as Dufour brand. (The puff pastry itself is considerably more dramatic than the regular pie dough I usually use.) Lastly, if you can swing it…
Project: Homemade Stock
….try to use homemade stock. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed this year: I always make it a week or two before Thanksgiving, because it upgrades everything on the table — the gravy, the potatoes, the stuffing and it keeps in the freezer for three months, so even if I don’t use it next week, I know I’ll be very appreciative it’s there for future batches of polenta, soups, and risotto. Here’s the how-to: Place the bones of a roast chicken or turkey into a large soup pot along with a few carrots (cut into large pieces) a few celery stalks (chopped), a large quartered onion (any color), 8 to 10 sprigs of thyme or parsley, and a Parmesan rind if you have it. Add a generous amount of salt and about a teaspoon of black peppercorns. Cover everything with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer on the stove for at least one hour, and preferably as many as three or four. (You can also do this in a slow cooker overnight, but I remain convinced the stock has the hint of strangeness to it, when I do this.)
Project: Strawberry-Nutella Muffins
In other news, who knows why, but Abby came down to the kitchen last Sunday and declared she was in the mood for strawberry-nutella muffins and promptly whipped up a batch. They were delicious — definitely not light, but delicious. (PS: The platter from Revol, since everyone always asks me.) There’s nothing quite like a Sunday morning that smells like fresh baked goods.
Stay safe! Wear a mask!
The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and USEFUL. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your story is, and especially how DALS might be able to help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at email@example.com.