1. Friends. Mostly just because you have to have someone to feed/someone to do the dishes. But also because it’s the time of year to draw the people that you love close to you. I think people tend to forget about their friends at Thanksgiving–we’re so used to spending the holiday with family. I say invite eleven of those friends over to your tiny studio apartment and cook way too much food for them, and drink way too many bottles of wine, and tell them that you’re thankful.
2. Cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. (The recipes for cornbread dressing and sweet potatoes are at the end of the post.) Honestly, when I taste these sweet potatoes or smell this cornbread dressing, it’s Thanksgiving. Add them to your menu–it’s not too late!
4. Laughter. Yes, it can be stressful to make a whole bunch of dishes be hot and delicious at exactly the same time–especially when you live in a tiny apartment with a mini-oven–so laughing is an essential part of the mix. When you can laugh at yourself, you’re living right in my book. The sweet potatoes might not be quite hot enough, and the apartment might be 350 degrees by the time you sit down to eat, but it’s okay. It’s Thanksgiving!
6. Going around the table so that everyone has a chance to say what they’re thankful for. When we did it, we did a toast for each person, and it was really great. I’m thankful for these people who were willing to spend their day squeezed into a too-tiny apartment together. I’m thankful for new friends, for old friends, and especially for Jason (he’s the one who makes sure that I don’t freak out when things go a little bit wrong).
When it’s all said and done, if you combine all these ingredients, you should be able to look back fondly on your Thanksgiving. I know I’ll always remember this one, and not only because of the scar that I will probably have on my wrist following an unfortunate pie related skin-on-oven-rack situation.
Pureed Sweet Potatoes and Carrots (recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook–via my mom):
2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in half
1/2 cup creme fraiche
2 1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon sugar
12 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Wrap the sweet potatoes in tin foil and bake them at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until they’re easily pierced with a fork. Let them cool, then peel them and put the flesh into the bowl of a food processor.
Peel the carrots and cut them in half, then put them in a small saucepan with the water and 2 tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper. Bring the water to a boil, then let it simmer until the water has evaporated, the carrots are sizzling in the butter, and the carrots are soft. Then, take them out and put them into the food processor with the sweet potatoes. Process until smooth.
Add the nutmeg and the creme fraiche, then process until smooth and well-mixed in. Pour the mixture into an oven-proof bowl and bake it, covered, at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes. Serve hot!
Cornbread Dressing (recipe via my Dad):
4 buttermilk biscuits
1 12-inch skillet of cornbread
1 onion, diced small
3 celery stalks, diced small
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
a ton of ground sage, probably upwards of 2 Tablespoons(?)
Bake the biscuits and cornbread the day before you want to make the dressing. When they’re done, break both up into small crumbs into a large bowl. Try to use a wide bowl so that most of the crumbs get air on them. Leave the crumbs out overnight and let them get stale.
When you’re ready to make the dressing, dice the onion and celery, then use your hands to incorporate the crumbs with all the other ingredients. It should be wet and just barely hold together when you squeeze a handful of the mixture. Add sage and salt and pepper to taste.
Press the dressing into a buttered pan, then bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cut into squares and serve warm with turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce.