As the rest of you are toiling away in the kitchen, taking or giving orders and wondering why every year it takes so much brainpower to figure out turkey math, I’ll be cooking…nothing. I’m not that happy about it. To me, a proper Thanksgiving involves an element of chaos. This from the second youngest of 12 grandchildren, whose clan always gathered en masse for Thanksgiving; that is, except for the rare occasion when Thanksgiving coincided with a powder day, in which case Thanksgiving was a do-over at Howard Johnsons on the drive home from the mountains Sunday. As I grew into personhood and became a ski racer, Thanksgiving was always an away game, taking place wherever we were training for the start of the season.
Perhaps that is why, to me, Thanksgiving is less sacred than rogue. I love taking on too many cooking projects, making old favorites, enjoying the satisfaction of new recipes that are surprisingly good (Knock-Out Vegan Pumpkin Pie), and suffering the consequences of epic fails (pretzels that could break your teeth). Ideally, there’s a little bit of all that going on, and nobody really remembers the food anyway because of the chaos and the company.
With the kids gone on their own ski racing journeys, our Thanksgivings have become very small affairs. This year, my culinary responsibilities come down to making a mustard dill sauce for smoked salmon. This task takes all of three ingredients and five minutes, if you are a slow chopper.
It’s is a solid recipe, from one of my few remaining cookbooks, The Silver Palate Cookbook. I have the 1982 edition, with “Thys” penciled in my Mom’s handwriting on the inside cover. As the stains throughout attest, this baby has lived on the front lines for many a Thanksgiving.
Here is the recipe in its entirety, though I’ll be making ¼ recipe which will still be too much:
Dill Mustard Sauce
from the Silver Palate Cookbook
- 1 cup sweet mustard (the really sweet honey ham stuff)
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
Mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
And that, my friends, is all am making for Thanksgiving; but it just feels wrong, so I’ll bring something else for sure. Bringing an unassigned dish to a small Thanksgiving, however, can be tricky. You don’t want to boss a new dish on everyone when the pressure is on to try it and enjoy it; or steal the host’s mojo by creating a direct competitor to a favorite dish.
It has to be something that can be easily served as a complement, and/or politely stored away for another occasion. If you happen to be in this situation, here are a few suggestions:
You’ll never go wrong with nuts, especially at the holidays. Honey thyme walnuts go well with any cheese spread, and anything from the Bring It nut anthology can stand alone. The app table can always use some substantial Everyone Crackers that accommodate most all special diets, except sesame allergies.
A jar of chili crisp will add a little sass to the turkey without stealing any cranberry thunder (they’re definitely different food groups). Homemade granola is a good call, especially if you are staying over. Press the Easy button with Tahini Granola (sorry again sesame allergy peeps), or super healthy Seed Bark Granola or my current fave Judson’s Crispy Granola from Martha’s Vineyard Magazine.
If you can’t cook, you also can’t come empty-handed. (Huge bonus points for anyone with vintage miniature Pilgrim candles btw). You’re never going to go wrong with flowers, a bag of good coffee, a box of chocolates or a bottle of something fun. Might I suggest Ancho Reyes, which can spice up any margarita or Bloody Mary, either of which may come in handy when the family’s been together for a few days.
That’s all I’ve got for now, because I must go chop my handful of dill and rest. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!