Thanksgiving, virtually

One of the most important food holidays in the US and Canada is coming up, but it will look a lot different than it has in years past. Monday marks Canadian Thanksgiving, and the US holiday follows on November 26th. Usually, we would be talking about how people would be gathering around the table in large groups, debating perennial topics such as whether the stuffing should be inside the turkey or not. But this year will be different for most of us, and celebrating the day will involve a shift in thinking.

Grocery stores are pivoting to meet the new paradigm, with most chains stocking smaller turkeys to better fit smaller gatherings. Downsizing the food is one way to make things work, but there are more creative ways to do it as well. One Twitter thread I saw suggested that everyone in a group that would normally eat together all make a different kind of pie, slice it up, and deliver pieces to the other participants ahead of time, then gather on Zoom, etc. and eat them at the same time. Since pie is infinitely variable, this could be amazing. I envision shepherd’s pie or turkey pot pie, a savory sweet potato pie, and perhaps a green bean tart, ending with a sweet apple pie or pumpkin pie.

Some of us may crave traditional items that remind us of family gatherings from ‘normal’ times, but since we will be dining solo or in small groups, this could be the year to throw tradition out the window. It could be a welcome change especially if we’ve been held back from trying new foods by staunch traditionalists or picky eaters. Now is the time to experiment with standard ingredients, making turkey porchetta or Southwestern-style stuffed sweet potatoes. We shouldn’t feel limited to sticking with traditional ingredients, however. This could be a great year to make a roasted vegetable platter with miso aioli, a goat cheese, apple & honey tart, or a bacon-wrapped pork loin.

We usually host an ‘orphans’ Thanksgiving at our home, but this year it will be just two of us. I have not decided on what to make and am wavering between traditional ingredients with a twist or forging an entirely new path. I’m going through some of my newest cookbooks and bookmarking recipes left and right. What are your plans for the holiday?

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  • manycookbooks  on  October 9, 2020

    Having lived in the US now for 25 years, I never miss celebrating my Canadian Thanksgiving, which occurs next Monday (US Columbus Day, or whatever it’s called now!). The problem is trying to find fresh cranberries. Only twice in 25 years did any of the local stores have them in October, and that was just a fluke. When I was able to get them, I bought several to freeze and use the following year, but the past 7 or 8 years has been “dry”. I’ve always loathed the canned varieties, even the ones with berries. I’ve also tried reconstituting dried cranberries in a pinch, but not the same texture or flavour.

  • LeilaD  on  October 9, 2020

    My husband has already requested ham, since he’s not a turkey eater. We have a maple-pumpkin pie we like better than the traditional. Otherwise, cranberry sauce (for him), mashed potatoes and gravy, and something green- that will be my fun experiment.

  • averythingcooks  on  October 9, 2020

    Well…….the people who live under our roof are just me and T. We are making our usual Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday and delivering containers of the dinner to T’s father and brother on Monday. Apple pie slices are going tomorrow as I made it today. Sadly, this is my favourite holiday and I’m very sad that this where we are. In the past, in addition to family, we have also included people who had no family in town etc. We will do the “full monty” and enjoy the leftovers, make stock and soup etc. I typically do beef at Christmas and something light for Easter so……yes – I’m getting my turkey dinner even if it is just the 2 of us at the table.

  • BookWorm53  on  October 9, 2020

    This new world order limits the number of people around the Thanksgiving table so we’re going virtual this year. Each household will cook the same menu and we’ll share over Zoom.

    First course: Caramelized onion, delicata squash and sage hand pies from Sister Pie
    Main course: Roast chicken stuffed with blood sausage with an apple and mustard sauce from Diana Henry
    Vegetable: Grilled Brussels sprouts with chanterelles from Bon Appétit
    Dessert: Brûléed maple bourbon pumpkin pie

    Far from traditional but, then again, so is a Zoom Thanksgiving gathering. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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