Recipes for a socially distant Thanksgiving – Food and Dining – Monroe News – Monroe, Michigan

Kimberly Domick shares some recipes for the circumstances of Thanksgiving 2020.

“Over the river and through the woods,

to Grandmother’s house we shan’t go.

The doctors say, ‘Stay, keep the virus at bay.’

It is sad, but smart, we know-o.”

Yes, this will definitely not be like any Thanksgiving or holiday season to which we are accustomed.

Certainly, when former Michigan Gov. Lewis Cass declared Nov. 4 as the state’s first Thanksgiving in 1829 — it eventually evolved to the fourth Thursday in November — he would not have been able to imagine a time like this. After his proclamation, Michiganders gathered to give thanks just like the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans did.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Michiganders sure knew how to pack a lot into just one day.

The phrases, “The early bird (that would be the robin, kids) gets the worm,” and, “I get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day,” fit Midwesterners like a glove — or perhaps a mitten.

To prove this point, one only needed to look at the second to the last Thursday in November. On Thanksgiving Day, the people of Michigan gathered together to attend or watch “America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

It started early, so there was no sleeping in for them. If that wasn’t enough activity for one day, next up on their to-do list was to attend or watch (along with millions of Americans) the Detroit Lions play football. There was much energy expended in all that rooting and high-fiving, and an armchair quarterback’s duties had to be taken seriously.

It was also a perfectly acceptable excuse not to help with the dinner prep. This explains why most of us have no idea what it really takes to create a Thanksgiving meal.

Well, this year is a new one for the books. Participants are not allowed at the parade nor at the Lions game. They will both have to be watched from the privacy of one’s own home – which unfortunately will not be filled with guests this year. Also, in all likelihood, there will not be the usual gaggle of cooks in the kitchen creating the traditional delights.

Thanksgiving is a priceless holiday that somehow escapes being bogged down by consumerism and keeps at its core a basic theme. It is the time to take a moment to pause and give thanks for those close to us as well as those who are far away.

This year, we will and should be far away from large gatherings, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t still be thankful.

But what about the kitchen delights? What is one to do this year?

Many of us had to do little more than just show up and scurry to get a prime seat at the big table, lest they have to suffer the pains of a card table filled with angst-ridden teenagers. Now, there will be no need for an overflow table. And here you are, with nowhere to scurry.

Do you even know how to bake a pie? I heard that even Simple Simon and his Pie-man are quarantining this year, so you may be on your own.

Of course, you can still purchase a grocery store pie, but making your own pie is still something easy that you can do at the last minute. You still have plenty of time to shop for all the ingredients for a delicious pie.

However, if you are reading this article on the day before Thanksgiving, you can pretty much count out buying and roasting a frozen turkey, even if you knew how.

The good news is there are still many restaurants and grocery stores in town that are serving to-go Thanksgiving meals. You can find fresh and frozen vegetable dishes, such as Bob Evans mashed potatoes, and side dishes that may not taste exactly like Grandma’s, but she will thank you by staying healthy this season.

You can also purchase a rotisserie-cooked chicken, some canned cranberry sauce and boil a few potatoes and have a lockdown meal for one or two. Kroger and Meijer both have carryout dinners with all the accoutrements, and Aldi’s has adorable Cornish game hens that can be filled with stuffing. These flavorful little birds will save you from having to hunt for the electric carving knife and you won’t have to fight anyone for the leg or wing.

We are smart. We believe in science. And we have proven that we can adapt and survive — so who says we can’t whip up a bowl of rutabagas for two or bake just one sweet potato or use just half a bag of Pepperidge Farms stuffing cubes and some “Better Than Bullion.”

We can still have a safe and cautious, albeit different Thanksgiving meal.

We can still wake up early and watch the parade and football game, but we won’t be exhausted from basting that 27-pound bird all day.

After you enjoy your low-key meal, you can call everyone you know and love and be thankful for the health of all.

Then you can turn on the Hallmark Channel and start watching Christmas movies. That holiday will be here before you know it.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


Apple Cranberry Relish

— 2 medium sized green crisp apples-cored and cut into quarters,

— 2 Cups fresh raw cranberries-picked over and any stems removed,

— 2 medium sized oranges (zest these first, then cut away all of the remaining peel, as well as all the pith. Then segment the oranges over a bowl, removing all the membranes, and save all the juice that drips off the oranges),

— 1 ½ Cup white sugar

Place the apple pieces and sugar in a food processor, and pulse 5 or 6 times to combine the mixture. Add the orange segments, juice, zest and cranberries.

Continue to pulse the food processor in short bursts-stopping to scrape the ingredients down into the bowl. This relish is best if you leave it a little chunky, but you can also puree it for a more traditional smooth relish.

Remove and transfer to a bowl. Stir it again to make sure that all the sugar had dissolved.

Cover and chill until ready to serve. This lasts for 2 weeks if stored in an airtight container and also freezes well. Serve this sweet crunchy accompaniment alongside your holiday dinner offerings.

Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans

— 3 Pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice

— 3 Tbsp. olive oil

— 1 t. garlic powder and salt and pepper

— 1 Cup pecan halves, lightly toasted

— 4 Tbsp. butter

— 3 Tbsp. maple syrup

— ¼-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Place cut sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl, and pour oil and garlic powder over them. Season well with salt and pepper, and toss to coat the potatoes completely. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast in a 450-degree oven until fork tender and golden brown.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the syrup and cayenne. Bring to a low boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add the pecans and stir to coat.

When the sweet potatoes are done, pour the pecan and syrup mixture over them, and fold gently to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serves 6 or 2 with leftovers for 3 days. 

Southern Pecan Pie

— 1 Cup of dark brown sugar

— ¾ Cup light corn syrup

— 4 well-beaten eggs

— ½ tsp salt

— 1 stick melted butter

— 1 tsp. real vanilla extract

— 2 Cups chopped pecans plus shelled pecan halves for garnish on top

— 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat the eggs until they are light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter and vanilla. Beat until mixture well incorporated. Sprinkle the chopped pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie crust in the pie pan. Pour the filling gently over the pecans. Carefully arrange pecan halves on the top of the filling.

Place the dish in the center rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. If the edges of the pie crust start to brown too quickly, crimp a small amount of aluminum foil around the outer crust. Cool completely before serving.

Mashed Rutabagas

These are a hard, solid vegetable, but easy to peel. Use a paring knife to remove the wax coating and thin skin.

Then slice a small piece from the bottom so that you can cut through the vegetable without it rolling. Cube it in even-sized chunks, and boil in salted water until the flesh is fork tender. Mash with a potato masher, and add a generous amount of butter, salt and black pepper.

Serve warm.

Depending on the size, one medium/large rutabaga will serve 2 people. For a richer taste, mash in 2-3 Tbsp. of sour cream before serving.

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie

— 1 15-oz. can of pure unsweetened pumpkin

— 1 12-oz. can have evaporated milk

— 2 large well-beaten eggs

— 1 Cup of sugar

— ½ tsp. salt

— 1 tsp. cinnamon

— ½ tsp. nutmeg

— ¼ tsp. ground ginger

— 1 9-inch unbaked single pie crust

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, milk, and sugar. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add the spices, salt and eggs. Combine well, and pour into the unbaked pie shell.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and bake the pie on a middle rack for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and continue baking for 35-40 minutes.

The pie should wiggle a bit, but will continue to cook when you remove it from the oven. Cool completely before serving.

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