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Holiday cooking tips and trends

Kyle McKinnon
Holiday table setting

After two holiday seasons disrupted by COVID-19, everyone is ready for a return to normal.

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

Holidays are all about tradition and nothing says tradition like the food we eat to celebrate the holidays.

It’s a time to shine for home cooks, and the key is preparation, according to Emily Weinstein – Food and Cooking Editor at The New York Times. She says a number of dishes can be made ahead of Thanksgiving Day.

“You can actually make mashed potatoes ahead and reheat them. Cranberry sauce is great to make ahead… you can make pie dough ahead… you make stuffing ahead, usually,” said Weinstein. “Turkey you really need to make the day of… but you can make gravy before. It’s the little things that’ll make Thursday less chaotic.”

Due to inflation and supply chain shortages, higher food costs and a lack of available Thanksgiving staples are two of the bigger challenges affecting cooks this holiday season.

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

“Don’t be afraid to substitute,” Weinstein said. “There are some pretty basic ingredients that can swap in for one another. One kind of squash can swap in for another. Sour cream, yogurt, crème fraîche, you can use these interchangeably in recipes. I think you’ve just got to be unafraid when you’re at the store. It’s just a dish and it’s just a dinner.”

The conclusion to any traditional Thanksgiving meal is usually pie.

Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and apple pie are all American stalwarts – although, only pecan pie is an American creation – and you’d be hard-pressed not to find at least one kind at 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 feast.

“A pumpkin cake, something like a Cranberry cake, something with cranberries in it. It could be a really simple cake, but you serve ice cream with it,” Weinstein said. “Again, some of those fall ‘custardy’ kinds of flavors; pumpkin is really delicious eaten with vanilla ice cream. You could just serve ice cream, you could make ice cream with some sort of cranberry sauce to put it on. There are all kinds of ways to do it.”

In Weinstein's eyes, however, the most important thing to remember on Thanksgiving is to make the day and the food your own.

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

Kyle McKinnon is a producer for The Green with a passion for storytelling and connecting with people.