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A Slow Food Fast Thanksgiving

Pumpkin pie in the microwave

I’m not sure how to take all the following good news–it’s been such a strained year that the sudden release of pressure is going to make me zip around the room, once the coffee kicks in.

1. My mother-in-law has threatened to favor the brand-new kosher butcher in her town this holiday season so that we can eat the turkey too this year (and maybe not fight about it). She promised not to smear said turkey with butter. We’ll cross our fingers. But at least we won’t have to cook. I’m keeping that firmly in mind.

2. As of this week, my daughter’s finally on an insulin pump and fairly thrilled about it, so she can navigate dinner AND dessert at my in-laws’ without breaking down and crying that she only gets two tablespoons of pie for a reasonable serving. We are still encouraging her to count carbs and not go hog-wild or she’ll be zipping around the room until midnight.

3. The school concert’s in less than two hours. Is that really enough time to do everything, or at least something? Naaaah. Well, maybe coffee and something other than the news.

4. We still have to schlep up Interstate 5 for about 6 hours tomorrow, starting “early” (i.e., an hour and a half after the time my husband announces this evening as the absolute latest), passing the Harris Ranch and its attendant aromas, which can be more than slightly offputting if you’re not an avid horticulturist. But at least when we get to my in-laws’ we don’t have to cook. As I said, I’m keeping that firmly in mind. I know I already said it, but it’s so important I figured it was worth saying twice.

Despite my firm resolve after last week’s marathon kiddush that I will strive Not To Cook (could I possibly be Peg Bracken’s unacknowledged lovechild? Unfortunately, no. However, my mother was a devotee of the Don’t Cook Too Much school of thought, and I’m starting to appreciate that. Really I am.)…where was I? Oh yeah…I will probably bring at least two lemons, some thyme and rosemary, a head of garlic and a couple of bags of fresh cranberries with us on the road. Call it flavor insurance. For whatever reason, my in-laws, who have developed what can only be called fanatical devotion to Italian food of every possible kind (having both grown up in white bread country), always run out of these basic essentials about halfway through, and my mother-in-law tends to tell my father-in-law to go back out and pick up extras just as the stores are closing…

The cranberries, I’m well aware, aren’t Italian. They’re for making 5-minute microwave cranberry sauce with about half the sugar of regular. My mother-in-law tends to try out her fancier cranberry chutneys and relishes every year, and every year they contain things like chardonnay–which is fine for the grownups but I’m no grownup. Her chutneys have more than 10 ingredients and sit stirring on the stovetop for at least 45 minutes. I don’t know how she does it–I’d go stir-crazy. I’m just not that good.

So anyway–I wish you all a great Thanksgiving at somebody else’s house, so you don’t have to cook or do the dishes. My idea of heaven.

But if you absolutely have to cook, here are a couple of posts for speeding up a few of the obligatory or not-so-obligatory Thanksgiving items–most can go in a microwave (I always, always think that’s worthwhile. Well, usually). A few of these are dairy, so use your discretion.

5-Minute Cranberry Sauce

Microwave Pumpkin Pie

Basic instructions for microwaving green beans, brussels sprouts and other vegetables

Creamed Spinach Variations

“Marbella”-style cooked vegetable relish with artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes and prunes

Turkey Breast with Ta’am (flavor) –not microwaved, not a whole bird, but it is a lot quicker and tastes unusually good if you have a small crowd. DO keep it covered in the oven to prevent it drying out.

Some options for vegetarian centerpiece dishes… (ideas more than recipes)

Spice mixes because sometimes you want to liven up the party…

Syrian Jewish stuffed vegetables (baby eggplants and onions) with an incredible lentil filling (NOTE–this one is “not exactly quick”; well, maybe for the eggplants microwaving would be enough, but the onions still take some serious roasting even after microwave assistance.  However, it is delicious and impressive.)

Microwave gingerbread and microwave flan (and a recommendation for mead…)

 

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