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DISH: After Giving Thanks… How YOU Doin’?
Be honest: How painful has it been entertaining? I don't mean the former kind of painful, when you argued with the disagreeable uncle over politics or rumbled with an aunt over which kind of pie to make. Well, okay, there's always that, too. But really, I mean bodily painful, as in aching muscles and sore feet and a lot of little knife nicks and burns that you never used to incur. Simply put, it took me days to recover. I'm out of practice. Hosting a big dinner isn't just part of the routine anymore, and with Hanukkah following just behind Thanksgiving, the stress felt extra extra. And I didn't even host the family. My sister-in-law did. We brought a turkey and some sides, but she did a large majority of the work. Not only that, but I didn't shop, either. My daughter, visiting from grad school, did it while I finished a record 12 articles in three days. (Yes, everyone suffered from my work load, I admit it.) And poor thing, she went back to the grocery three times as much as she would have in the past, simply because my culinary muscle memory is soft. I can only imagine how those who haven't been cooking all year, or who don't write about food professionally, felt after cooking and eating the first Thanksgiving dinner in a couple of years. Now, with Christmas and the New Year coming up, and a fifth wave (I see you, Omicron) creeping up, Betsy and I are getting practical. I plan on writing menus that use repeating and repurposed ingredients in dishes, the way restaurants do. I'm also going to be testing vacuum sealers for January's round of articles. I anticipate making batches of items to seal, freeze, and cook – some of it sous-vide style. And I'll also use Betsy's two-to-three ingredient reasoning (see below). Honestly, both everyday eating and entertaining seem so much easier, and far less wasteful, to plan this way.
DISH: To Tango
It takes two… That’s what mothers say when one child rats on another’s instigating behavior. It also takes two to partipate in that Argentine dance that is so mesmerizing in its push and pull. President Reagan referenced the metaphor when discussing Russian willingness to establish relations. Putting the onus on them, he suggested they should move with their American counterparts. No wonder there is often a negative connotation to the expression. But good things come in pairs as well, especially in the food world. Consider peanut butter. It is a perfect accompaniment to jelly. And to chocolate. And to a banana. And, some say – not me – to celery. Actually, I think peanut butter is quite delicious paired with a spoon. Some decades after Jen and I first explored our interest in fine dining by deboning a hen, stuffing her with her own liver, and wrapping her in pastry, we have discovered that the best things in life are sometimes very simple combinations. Warmed almonds tossed with sea salt tasted much more substantial when compared to unsalted, room-temperature nuts. French radishes swiped with fresh, fluffy butter are absolutely delicious. A few flakes of salt make a third ingredients, but still… The greater point is how to handle the rush of cooking, work, family and friends that December ushers in even as the pandemic breaches another year. So a suggestion to get through the planned and surprise events this holiday season: Slim it down. This weekend I'll be testing Joan Nathan’s latkes. Without the salt and pepper, the entire recipe is potatoes and oil. Below is a little something for everyone, mostly working together in a duo like in the Noah’s arc story. And if you have a minute, send us a combination that you enjoy. Two ingredients really can make a perfect pair – just like two sisters.
Ten Quick Hits: 1. Brie with the top layer removed and baked with honey, honey mustard, or jam 2. Mini hot dogs wrapped in puff pastry or pie dough 3. Potato chips with sour cream and nova (from my friend Janice from her friend Theresa) 4. Potato chips with crème fraîche and caviar (from Roger Duarte of George Stone Crab, if you want to get fancy) 5. Skewers of grape tomato and mini mozzarella balls (add basil for flavor and color) 6. Ribs glazed with pepper jelly or Harry & David pepper & onion relish 7. Breadsticks wrapped with prosciutto 8. Chicken marinated in plain Greek yogurt and garlic 9. Brussels sprouts, halved, and quartered onions roasted on a sheet pan (add potatoes for a heartier side dish) 10. Ice cream and chocolate sauce (whipped cream and almond slices make it your own)
DISH: Recap and Coming Soon
Betsy is in the digital and real world teaching culinary, mixology, and floral skills. Fully vaccinated, she's back to planning events, too. You can hire her for both by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jen's having fun with Hanukkah donuts and Christmas-y Bundt cakes for Cheryl's Cookies, testing lots of turkey fryers for BobVila.com (here's how to use them so they don't explode!) giving a tutorial on Caviar Russe caviar and profiling Chef Adrianne Calvo for Lifestyles South Florida, and talking about NFTs and profiling curators for Miami Art Week (going on now!) for the Miami Herald. In the poetry world, poems appeared in Aji Magazine, DIALOGIST, K’in, Limp Wrist, Pareidolia Literary, and Rogue Agent, and she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by ASP Bulletin/Alan Squire Publishing for her poem "We Pretend Britney Spears Is a Hurricane." Coming Soon: Jen's developing gingerbread and gluten-free recipes for Cheryl's Cookies and testing vacuum sealers for BobVila.com. She's writing more articles for the spring issue of Lifestyles South Florida and a batch of pieces about hotels for Culture Trip. Speaking of trips, she's also heading to Sweden shortly, from where she'll be writing "We Meet Again" next week. Poems from her sixth full-length work-in-progress will appear in A-Minor, Another Chicago Magazine, Crab Creek Review, DIAGRAM, Escutcheon Review, Mom Egg Review, Notre Dame Review, Pirene’s Fountain, UCity Review, and The Westchester Review, as well as couple of anthologies, one on the pandemic and one on disabilities. She also has an interview about her and two other poets forthcoming in The American Poetry Review. You can hire her for writing by contacting her at email@example.com. Visit her website at jkaretnick.com.
We celebrate Thanksgiving in some different ways down here in Miami – for instance, many of our tables have rice and black beans on them along with turkeys – so it makes sense that this is a Thanksgiving poem of a different kind.
The day after Thanksgiving, a brief whiff of obliteration emanated from every front yard like the spoked wheels of bicycles, winging by too fast to register in the line of eyesight until afterward. During my walk down the block to a friend’s house, the odor leashed my steps, then released them like a curtain open an accidental two inches to let in the barest stream of daylight. The avocado trees scarred themselves with it, shedding bits of bark in protest. Books in Little Free Libraries lost their flyleaves and end pages, bindings spitting glue, dedications and acknowledgments flying out of dollhouse boxes to puddle, wounded, on the ground like prey. But no turkey vulture pecked the streets. I couldn’t find what had passed. Later that evening, I would learn about the timely demise of Fidel Castro, the sibilance of pots and pans that had contained gravy and giblets alongside the black beans and white rice referred to as Moors and Christians sending the fêted news along the informational channels of sound waves hours before social media registered the shock and gratification of exilios, who had long awaited word from the Island about the Nationalist who treated campaigners like lollipops to be suckered and left with sticks. Many of these same celebrants, dancing salsa on Calle Ocho, voted in America for another of his ilk. I strolled home. The smell had gotten stronger. It was the carcasses of kept birds, rotting tresillo in the warm Miami night, an elective myth consumed by volunteers.