Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Just the Two of Us – Thanksgiving in the Time of Pandemic

Last week my home state of Massachusetts tried really hard to get in touch. Phone calls, text messages, even an email from Congressman McGovern. All telling us not to have Thanksgiving with anyone beyond those you live with. Seriously, their message was to lock it down. Naturally there were a few caveats for those folks who are determined to go against the recommendations. If you are someone who decides not to follow the sage advice of health officials then your ill-conceived gathering should be limited to 10 people inside or 25 people outside.

Pond alongside logging road in fall.

Here’s my truth – our house is so small if I invited 10 people inside to eat it would become a super-spreader event. Plus eating outdoors at this time of year? Brrr. I’ve been doing the al fresco, twelve-feet-apart dining (we increase the recommended distance whenever we take our masks off to eat) on those few occasions when our adult children visited us during 2020. What was lovely in June, became brisk in October, and has turned frigid earlier in November. I appreciate how fantabulous it is to see those who are dear to your heart. Even if you can’t hug them, it is wonderful just to be a masked six feet away from them. However eating outside in New England, during November is cold, really cold. So this year will just be my husband and myself at the table.


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Giving Thanks

The kids are home from college and catching up on some much-needed rest. I’ve done my shopping, though I’d forgotten about the locust-like tendencies of teenagers and twenty-somethings who have been surviving on dining hall food for months, so I’ll be off to the store again this morning for a few more staples. It is gratifying to see that both Isabelle and Russell like to cook and it is usually the first thing they do when they get home.

This year we’re going to try something new. Not to eat, since that will consist of our tried and true favorites, but rather to read. Seth Godin’s Thanksgiving Reader *. It’s a a free download you can print out and share at your Thanksgiving meal.

The Thanksgiving Reader by Seth Godin

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Countdown to Advent

I know that right now most people are ramping up for the big turkey and pie day next week a.k.a. Thanksgiving. We’re going to see my folks and sister in Hudson, New York and I’ve already made and frozen the stuffing (I used this recipe minus the nuts and sausage), gravy and butternut squash. Next week I’ll make a few pumpkin pies and some rustic apple tarts. Maybe the kids will help with some applesauce when they come home from college. All in all I feel like Thanksgiving is pretty much under control.

While turkey day is more or less organized what seems to sneak up on me every year is the season of Advent. This year the first Sunday of Advent is November 30th. Fortunately for me there are four weeks to get ready for the mystery of Christmas. I need all of that time to switch gears and remember there is so much more I am getting ready for beyond the shopping, cookie baking, and jolly guy in the red suit. Since our kids are returning to college the first day of Advent I thought I’d pull out their Advent calendars now. Isabelle and Russell have one (as do my nephews, niece and goddaughter), and we have a few other ways of marking Advent – all homemade. Continue reading


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Cranberries to the Rescue

cranberries in sieve

I wasn’t planning to write about cranberries, but in some weird Thanksgiving cranberry convergence I realized it could be my little present to you. To make things easier during this whirlwind that leads up to Turkey Day, well a bit easier anyway.

It all started on Sunday when I was buying my cranberries. The cashier asked me what I was going to do with them. I thought she was kidding. She wasn’t. “They’re for my cranberry sauce.” I told her. “Oh, you can make that?” I swallowed my snarky retort and nodded my head then told her, “Sure, it takes about 15 minutes.” That was cranberry moment #1.

Cranberry moment #2 happened when I got this message on my cell phone from my friend Hilary this morning.

“I was going to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but then my sister decided to make one. So now I have to make something else, for 8 people, and I’m in a bit of a panic. Do you have a suggestion for what I should make?”

Apple crumble came to mind because it is easy, fast, and you can play with it (or not) depending on your work load and stress level. After describing the varieties of apples to use (I love a mix of Cortland, Mutsu, MacIntosh, Empire, and Northern Spy) then telling her how easy it was to whip together a rolled oat topping Hilary asked if she could throw in some cranberries with the apples. Perfect! A little zing of tart and color.

Cranberry moment #3 happened last week during the semi finals and will be happening again tonight during the finals of Dancing with the Stars, my guilty tv pleasure. I will be enjoying a modified Sea Breeze cocktail made with cranberry juice, gin, and a squeeze of fresh grapefruit as I cheer on my favorite team.

So for all those celebrating Thanksgiving enjoy your cranberries and travel safely.

homemade ginger orange cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce

12-16  ounces fresh dry cranberries

1/2  cup sugar

1  orange or 3 clementines

2  quarter size slices of fresh ginger (optional)

1  stick cinnamon

1/4 – 1/3 cup water or white wine

Rinse off the cranberries in a colander and remove and stems or leaves. Halve the orange or clementines and squeeze juice into a medium saucepan. Add cranberries, sugar, cinnamon and ginger, along with the water or wine. Give a quick stir and set over medium low heat. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often until cranberry sauce reaches a boil. Boil (over low heat) for 2-3 minutes then remove from heat and let cool. When the sauce has cooled a bit take a tiny taste to make sure the tartness is to your taste. If it is too tart add a bit more sugar, the residual heat should melt it in – be careful though because the hot sauce is really hot! When all the way cooled take out the citrus rinds, cinnamon stick, and ginger slices before storing in the fridge until ready to serve. If you leave them in they make the cranberry sauce too intense for my tastes.

Crumble Topping


apples and cranberries ready for crumple topping

Apple Cranberry Crumble

10-15  mixed apples

cinnamon sugar to taste (I use about 1/3 – 1/2 cup mixed with 2-3 teaspoons cinnamon)

lemon zest (optional)

1-2  handfuls of fresh cranberries

giant handful of rolled oats, about 3/4 cup

giant handful of flour, about 3/4 cup

giant handful of brown sugar, about 3/4 cup

6-7 Tablespoons margarine or butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

small handful of chopped or slivered nuts, about 1/2 cup (optional)

really small handful chopped candied ginger, about 1/4 cup (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel and slice apples, tossing in cinnamon sugar. Mix in cranberries and place all the fruit in a large pie plate, set on top of a jelly roll pan (saves having to clean up oven if anything overflows).

Mix up crumble topping with your fingers by pinching and rubbing ingredients together until it looks like there are small pea size crumbly bits. Pour over fruit and bake 60-70 minutes or until juicy bubbles appear along the edge and the crumble has browned.

Cranberry apple crumble

*Note the addition of cranberries makes this crumble juicier than a straight apple crumble. I like the pink juiciness but if you want toss the apples and cranberries with a heaping Tablespoon of flour.

Cranberry Cocktail

1 part gin

2 parts cranberry juice

1-2 parts fresh grapefruit juice

twist of orange rind

Mix gin, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir or shake until cold, pour into two glasses and serve with orange rind.

I hope you didn’t forget to vote last night, and yes, before you ask those are my very own homemade glittery judging paddles my family made for me. They are by far the most awesome present I ever received.

cranberry grapefruit cocktail

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Pie for Breakfast

Last year for Thanksgiving I made six pies. Why so many pies for sixteen people, all of whom had consumed a huge Thanksgiving dinner? Well, I guess you were going to find out sooner or later. Truth is I like pie for breakfast. There, I said it. A slice of pie with a cup of tea or coffee and any day gets off to a good start as far as I’m concerned. The trick to being able to have pie for breakfast is to make extra pie the day before. Which means with a crowd that big (made up mostly of teenage boys) I had to bake a whole lot of pies.

slice of blue ribbon pie

The rustic apple tarts I baked were based on this recipe, while the other three pies were variations on my Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie. For many years my local Bread & Circus supermarket (now a Whole Foods) had a pumpkin pie contest the weekend before Thanksgiving that was judged by several department managers. The only rule was you had to make a pie from ingredients which could be purchased in the store. The first year I entered I didn’t win, not even third place, but I was able to figure out why I’d failed to even place. Being located in the Happy Valley (as we locals call this area) when the judging was finished all the contestants were able to taste all the other pies, including the winners. One bite was enough to know the secret to a blue ribbon pumpkin pie (in these judge’s opinion) was molasses. I tweaked my recipe and the following year came home with a blue.

pumpkin pies

Even though we’re having a much smaller Thanksgiving dinner this year my sister Heather and her gang of six are coming to visit the day after turkey day. I’m going to be making a whole lot of pies to ensure there are enough leftovers so everyone can have a slice of pie for breakfast.

Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie

This recipe was adapted from Nick Malgieri’s How To Bake. With the addition of some molasses it helped me win first place at the Hadley Bread & Circus Pumpkin Pie contest.


1  cup flour

3  Tablespoons sugar

1/8  teaspoon salt

1/2 – 1  teaspoon nutmeg

4  Tablespoons unsalted butter

1  egg

In a food processor add the flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg then pulse three times. Next add the butter and process until mixture resembles cornmeal, 7-12 times.  Add egg and pulse just till incorporated.  Pour dough onto a work surface and briefly kneed into a 6” circle.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one or more hours.


1 1/2  cups canned pumpkin

2  eggs plus 2 yolks

3  Tablespoons molasses *

1/3  cup water

2/3  cup cane sugar

1/2  teaspoon salt

1  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon ground ginger

1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4  teaspoon ground clove **

1 1/4  cups light cream

whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Roll out dough and line 9” pie plate. For some inspiration on how to make your crust look pretty check out this video. Pop your finished crust in the fridge while you make the filling. Gently whisk filling ingredients together in the order in which they are listed. Pour filling into crust. Bake 60 minutes or until center is nearly set.

The classic method for testing if a custard pie is done is to insert a knife tip into the center and see if it comes out clean. I am of two minds on this testing method since it can often leave a small crack in your finished pie which can lead to a fissure of extreme proportions. Your second option is to go for the jiggle test whereby you gently shake the pie plate while it is still in the oven and see how much of the center wiggles. You want some movement, but not too much. This second method requires some baking experience as to exactly how much jiggle/wiggle is enough. If you’re unsure go for the knife. You can cover your crack by using some of the leftover pie dough to make a leaf shape, which you bake (make several). Once the pie is cooked and cooled you can gently lay the leaf/leaves over the crack.

Cool and serve with whipped cream.

* My nephew Asher is not a fan of molasses. If you don’t like the taste either you can just leave it out and increase the water to 1/2 cup.

** The first time my Mom made a pumpkin pie the recipe did not specify ground cloves so she used whole instead. After the first bite everyone was very cautious to look for cloves before chewing. For this recipe Mom and I suggest you use ground clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.


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