Holiday Cooking Tips and Trends

After two holiday seasons interrupted by COVID-19, everyone is ready to get back on track.

Whether that means gathering with friends or family, good food is a must.

The festivities are all about tradition and nothing says tradition like the food we eat to celebrate the festivities.

It’s a time to shine for home cooks, and the key is preparation, according to Emily Weinstein, food and cooking editor for The New York Times. She says that several dishes can be prepared before Thanksgiving.

“In fact, you can make mashed potatoes ahead of time and reheat them. Cranberry sauce is great to make ahead of time…you can make the pie crust ahead of time…you usually make the filling ahead of time,” Weinstein said. “Turkey, you really need to make the day of… but you can make gravy before. It’s the little things that will make Thursday less chaotic.”

Due to inflation and supply chain shortages, higher food costs and a lack of staple foods available for Thanksgiving are two of the biggest challenges facing cooks this holiday season.

However, Weinstein says you shouldn’t be afraid to substitute, and many ingredients or items can be used interchangeably.

“Don’t be afraid to substitute,” Weinstein said. “There are some pretty basic ingredients that can be interchanged with each other. One type of pumpkin can be exchanged for another. Sour cream, yogurt, crème fraîche, you can use them interchangeably in recipes. I think you don’t have to be afraid when you are in the store. It’s just a plate and it’s just a dinner.”

The conclusion to any traditional Thanksgiving meal is usually a pie.

Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and apple pie are all American stalwarts, though only pecan pie is an American creation, and you’d be hard-pressed not to find at least one type on a Thanksgiving table.

But there are other options for dessert, Weinstein says. Anything that feels festive and seasonal would be a welcome addition to the holiday party.

“A pumpkin pie, something like a blueberry pie, something with blueberries. It could be a really simple cake, but ice cream is served with it,” Weinstein said. “Again, some of those types of flavors fall ‘custard’; Pumpkin is really delicious to eat with vanilla ice cream. You could just serve ice cream, you could make ice cream with some kind of cranberry sauce to top it off. There are all kinds of ways to do it.”

However, in Weinstein’s eyes, the most important thing to remember on Thanksgiving is to make the day and the meal your own.

The message is simple: try not to worry too much and just enjoy the food and the company around you.

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