Orphans’, Refugees’ and Procrastinators’ Thanksgiving
Almost every year I host what I call the Orphans’, Refugees’ and Procrastinators’ Thanksgiving. Anyone who has no place to go, is too far from home, or has put off finalizing their plans for too long, gets an invitation. I keep track of the number of invitees and allow them a genuine, last-minute decision. I make my preparations for the largest likely number of attendees, with enough for seconds and leftovers. It always works out.
Usually someone resolves the dispute with their Mom, gets the invite from the newish boyfriend or girlfriend who was vascillating, or decides in the eleventh-hour to make the trek home. No matter, I like to take the pressure off. I know the holiday is a source of stress for a lot of people, my mission in life is to give people an enjoyable stress-free Thanksgiving. I can remember each one for the moments of joy, the mishaps, and everything in between.
These Thanksgiving gatherings often feel more warm and family-like than many of us experienced in our own homes. There’s no one carrying on with age-old grudges, no family dramas. Just good friends or new friends, or more often, both. Sharing laughs, lots of good food, football, couch comas and dessert. Oh yes, and wine.
Last year I realized I knew a few people who were about to launch their own lives through marriages or moves, and they were not necessarily confident in the kitchen. (One was downright terrified.) I decided to put together The Orphans’, Refugees’, and Procrastinators’ Thanksgiving Cookbook. It’s also a handy guide for new cooks to use year-round to plan a meal whether it’s for 2, 4 or 40. The book includes plans, menus, recipes, tips, tricks, advice and more.
It’s still in draft form, but my niece has just moved into her first apartment and I’ve invited her to guest-author a piece or two on what it’s like to set up your first kitchen away from home. As she submitted the post (to follow here) she closes the post with a the request for Thanksgiving help and I realize how behind I am in my goal of offering this cookbook to her. She was only two years old yesterday, I swear.
New Cooks, Fear in the Kitchen
I’m feeling guilty remembering a young woman who worked at a shop I was visiting. She was telling me how ill-equipped she’s found herself in her own first kitchen. Her mother was not a great cook and she didn’t realize that she’d not learned how to do things like roast a chicken, until she moved out. I promised to write a how-to piece on my roast chicken (which more than one person claims would be their last meal if allowed to choose) in this blog. Then somehow forgot to get to it.
With the holiday fast approaching, I want to share ways to relax and enjoy the good things we can celebrate together on this holiday. I’ll send my niece advice and pieces of this cookbook in draft, but here’s my introduction to the concept. I’ll be your virtual Thanksgiving guide.
Here’s my Thanksgiving Spice Rub.
This basic formula has fennel, sage, rosemary and marjoram as the dominant scents. I recommend you measure out one batch with these proportions, and see how you like it. Then add what you’d like more of.
- I use my coffee grinder. Put a torn up piece of soft bread in the coffee grinder, before and after, then your coffee won’t taste like Thanksgiving turkey or vice versa.
- This can be used for roast chicken or pork roasts, too.
- If you’re brining the bird, you should omit the salt.
Basic Thanksgiving Spice Rub
- Fennel seed (2 TBSP)
- Dried sage (2-3 tsp)
- Dried Rosemary (2-3 tsp)
- Marjoram (2 tsp)
- Coriander seed (1-2 tsp)
- White pepper (2 tsp)
- Kosher salt (if not brining)
- Powdered ginger (1/4 tsp)
- Cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp)
- Powdered allspice (1/4 tsp)
I mix a bit with softened butter and apply between the breast meat and skin. Sprinkle some on the buttered bird before roasting.
And now we turn to my niece’s experience setting up her first kitchen. First installment:
setting up your first spice rack…