For most of us, being alone for the holidays, especially a family-oriented, tradition-laden holiday like Thanksgiving, is the pits. Sure, you can have your favorite Chinese delivered then click over to Netflix and order up 24 straight hours of movies, but that can hardly be called celebratory.
Cooking your own version of the traditional meal doesn’t mean a 2 day marathon in the kitchen. You can find in the market turkey breast cuts that take about 90 minutes in the oven. Instead of the more labor intense butternut squash dish, stab an acorn squash a few times with a fork and cook it in the microwave oven until soft to the touch, 8-10 minutes depending on size. While still hot, cut it open horizontally, scoop out and discard the seedy innards, then carefully mash the squash meat and season with brown sugar, maple syrup and a pat of butter. It’s quick, healthy and comes in its own dish.
Tyler Florence’s recipe for Cranberry Chutney is so easy and delicious you’ll save it for next year…see the recipe below. The traditional mashed potatoes? One big baker, 8-ish minutes in the microwave, mashed up with a fork and topped with a big spoon of sour cream and a pat of butter and you’re done. And instead of the calorie laden Green Bean Casserole with its canned onion rings, get yourself a small batch of fresh spinach. Wash it thoroughly, toss it in a big hot saute pan with a pat of butter. It will wilt and be ready in under 60 seconds. Popeye would be proud.
For dessert, try something new instead of pie. Pumpkin ice cream, for instance, along with pumpkin cookies from the gourmet shop on the corner. Or my favorite, try peppermint ice cream for a refreshing change.
Look at it this way – this is an opportunity to start your own tradition and to celebrate…what you have and who you are. And let this be only the start , read how to celebrate yourself in a different and satisfying way.
Tyler Florence’s Cranberry Chutney
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed, picked over
1/2 cup full-bodies red wine 1/4 cup sugar
1 big pinch freshly ground black pepper
Add everything to a small saucepot, set over medium low heat. Cook about 8-10 minutes until the cranberries are just cooked through and tender…you don’t want them falling apart. Take off heat; serve warm or cold. Store the rest in a covered container in the refrigerator…that is, if you have leftovers.
–Squash image from www.thesunblog.com
–Kent McDonald is a personal chef working in the Phoenix area. Kent and his wife, Quinn McDonald, are together this year, and remember exactly what it was like to be 2,500 miles apart last year. (c) Kent McDonald 2008. All rights reserved.