2013 Holiday Gift Guide, Part II: Charitable Giving

2013 Holiday Gift Guide, Part II: Charitable Giving

A little while ago, I posted this guide to gifts for your friends and family in the 2013 holiday season. And I told you that by clicking through and purchasing any of them — or even by clicking this link to get to Amazon.com and then buying anything at all — you’d be supporting Twice Cooked, and helping me out with stuff like hosting costs for the year to come.

I stand by those recommendations, and I stand by that rationale.

2013 Holiday Gift Guide, Part I: Mammon

Holiday Gift Guide

Chanukah is — alas — almost over. But the season of gift-giving has only just begun. As I gaze down into my crystal ball, the shape of the rest of December comes sharply into focus. I see cheerful holiday parties at work. I hear the clinking sounds of champagne toasts, shared with good friends. I smell the boozy spiciness of eggnog, sipped around the fire with family from far and near.

And above all — at all of these gatherings — I see presents.

Twice Cooked Thanksgiving Recipe Index

The moment of truth is upon us, Thanksgiving cooks.  Now is the time for a frenetic flurry of brining birds and baking bread, looking up last minute formulae for oyster dressing and sweet potato pie.  At this late date, there’s little I can do to soothe your jangled nerves.  But I can at least do this.

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Vegan Pumpkin Soup

For your convenience, here is an index of Twice Cooked’s Thanksgiving recipes from this year and last:

And here are a couple of other recipes that you might find useful (and seasonally appropriate) as you plan your Thanksgiving meal:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  And happy Chanukah, too!

And when all the food is eaten and all the dishes are done, remember to support this site by clicking through here to Amazon.com to do your holiday shopping.

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Pumpkin Mousse

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Pumpkin Mousse

I would appreciate it if you would all take the word ‘pumpkin’ in pumpkin mousse to be a metonym for a larger category, rather than a thing unto itself. I’m not trying to mislead you about the content of this dessert. You could, in fact, make it using a pumpkin. But this is a companion piece to my recent entry on winter squash purée. And as such, I feel it is my duty to inform you that in my version, there is nary a proper pumpkin to be found.

As I said in that post, the issue is not that I have any antipathy toward pumpkins. Far from it. But as I look out at the landscape of tough, warty, leather-skinned gourds at my culinary disposal, I find that there are lots of better ones — even to use in dessert.

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Roast Turkey Breast Roulade

Roast Turkey Breast Roulade

As you consider this turkey breast roulade, I’d like you to think about two possible scenarios.

First: you’re having a small Thanksgiving. Maybe the budget is a little tight this year — maybe you got hit by the recent government shutdown — and the idea of flying to another state, and contending with a hotel, and managing the maintenance of hypothetical progeny is more than you can bear. And so you invite four or five friends, similarly stranded, to your house to share a meal, a couple of bottles of off-dry riesling, and — if you’re absolutely nothing like me — the gladiatorial rumble of two matched teams playing at American football.

It’s a comfortable Thanksgiving. Not elaborate, but enough.

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Hunger and the Holidays

As of November 1 — just in time for Thanksgiving — Federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been drastically reduced. The program had been living on funds from the 2009 stimulus for a while now, and absent the willingness of Congress to appropriate money for hunger relief, families receiving aid have seen their food stamps slashed by an average of $36 per month.

Now that doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot of cash. But here, according to the Daily Kos, is what $36 per month buys:

a gallon of milk, a pound of broccoli, a pound of bananas, a dozen eggs, and a pound of spaghetti every single week. Or two pounds of chicken legs, two pounds of rice, a pound of apples, a pound of tomatoes, and two pounds of iceberg lettuce.

Food banks and other charitable organizations are left trying to make up the difference. But the difference, according to this piece at CNN, is something like $5 billion. The charitable system can’t make up such a loss, one food-bank director in New Jersey told the Daily Kos. To put it bluntly, we can’t come in and make up $90 million across the state. We just can’t.

And that’s where all of us come in. Charity alone cannot close the hunger deficit in the United States this Thanksgiving. But every little bit counts. What I am posting here are links to the donation pages for my local hunger relief organization, Philabundance, and for one of leading national hunger relief charities, Feeding America.

It doesn’t really matter which you choose, as long as you choose to give. Charity may not solve the problem, but it will certainly help somebody have a happier Thanksgiving in 2013.

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Roasted Squash with Sage and Bacon

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Roasted Squash with Sage and Bacon

So here’s the good-news / bad-news situation. Which should — by this point — sound like a pretty familiar situation to folks reading along at home.

The bad news is that once again, for the third year out of the last five, I’m not hosting Thanksgiving. I used to insist that Thanksgiving was my holiday. I used to beg, plead, and cajole family and friends to schlep out to Philadelphia from California, or Missouri, or wherever else to come eat turkey and dressing, pie, bread, and even curry — whether they wanted to or not. I insisted that you simply must make an appearance! It’s Sarah’s and my anniversary, and it we would be terribly offended if you stayed away. And then I had a grand old time cooking like a crazy person and sometimes confounding Thanksgiving expectations.

Rabbit Pie

Rabbit Pie

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for almost a week, now, not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because I haven’t quite been able to figure out how to make it work for this space.

Here’s the problem: last week, with Easter close at hand, with Elizabeth’s post about carrot soup newly live, and with my recent enthusiasm for savory pastry, I made the decision that my next post here at Twice Cooked was going to have to be a rabbit pie. It appealed to my sense of impropriety — a rabbit for Easter! — and it appealed to my sense of propriety, too — a classic early-spring meal, timed just right for the early spring.

Carrot and Coriander Soup, Not Once But Twice

When I lived briefly in England, more than ten years ago now, I used to love a wonderful Carrot & Coriander soup. It was bright and light and warm, like spring and fall in the same bowl. And it was everywhere: in the pub, at the sandwich shop, in cartons in the grocery store. And everyone made it well. At least, in my memory they did.

I miss it, on and off. I never see it on menus over here. I never see it in recipe books. I don’t know why my carrot soup hasn’t translated, when potato & leek is so common but so much less interesting.

Charoset, Two Ways

Charoset, Two Ways

Ask me why Monday night is different from all other nights. Come on — ask me. I got four reasons for you right here.

Bitter vegetables, double dipping, hardtack, and — why I oughta!

But seriously, folks: Monday night is different from all other nights in that it’s the first night of Passover. It is one long, well-ordered feast in which the wine starts dribbling in at sundown, and doesn’t stop flowing until legally-mandated closing time at midnight. And it is — traditionally — my favorite holiday of the year. Or at least, one of them.