Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Cooking

Best Thanksgiving meal? No. Great Thanksgiving? Yes.

The Taste section's column is always authored by food editor Michelle Stark, except ... when she's on her honeymoon! So I'm happily filling in for my colleague and friend until she returns.

When planning this section, we wanted to focus on flexibility. It's something we deal with daily in our kitchens, but being flexible can be even more challenging for special occasions when people have beloved expectations. I have certainly felt that pressure. One Thanksgiving taught me the folly of that.

About six years ago, when my son was in law school and couldn't come here for the holiday, I decided to visit him. He said "great," but only if I didn't cook; we would dine out.

Ann Arbor's charming downtown was an easy walk from his apartment even with freezing winds, and we strolled around looking for a restaurant. Not a single one was open. Even the bodegas were closed. We hit the back streets and found one lone restaurant open for business. It was the $7.95 Indian Buffet. The spread wasn't huge, perhaps six steam-tray items including curried chicken, vegetables, the spinach and cheese dish called saag paneer, rice and naan.

Colin was almost paralyzed with embarrassment, and wouldn't stop apologizing. Finally I said, "We have had many Thanksgivings together, all wonderful, but they have all been so similar. This is the one I will always cherish as unique."

I looked around at the other diners in the small room, 20 or so. They were a mix of ages and ethnicities. I began softly singing We Gather Together, the hymn our family always sings on Thanksgiving. Colin started laughing and then others started joining in on the song. It became a merry meal after that, trading stories about ourselves, much lifting of water glasses in toasts.

Was it my best Thanksgiving meal? No. Was it a great Thanksgiving? Yes. I shared it with dear people and, most important, one of those I love most in the world.

This week's recipe

In tribute to that Thanksgiving memory, here's a curry recipe, though it's Thai not Indian. The most important components are the green curry paste and unsweetened coconut milk. I have made the sauce using just those ingredients with a splash of soy or fish sauce. The Asian ingredients are available in most supermarkets but the curry paste flavor varies by brand; some are blander than others so you may need to adjust amounts accordingly. If you can't find fish sauce or can't abide its funkiness, substitute soy sauce (though it won't give you as much depth of flavor). If I have the time, I like to jazz up the basic soup with more ingredients, and here's that version. Lemon and lime peel are substituted for harder-to-find kaffir lime leaves and fresh lemongrass.

Optional: Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey or poach chicken, seafood, vegetables or tofu in the soup, and serve with rice or noodles.

Contact Lennie Bennett at [email protected]

Comments
Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

My addiction to sugar began as a child. I loved sugary breakfast cereals as a morning meal or an evening snack, the sweeter the better. We used to joke in my house that I even added table sugar to Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms. Thankfu...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Five ideas for sleep-friendly midnight snacks

Five ideas for sleep-friendly midnight snacks

When the clock strikes midnight, I reach for the cookie jar. Okay, maybe itís not an actual jar ó maybe Iím even lazier, and I reach for the cardboard box of chocolate chip cookies I bought from the store. The point is, my late-night snack habits are...
Published: 05/16/18
Exploring alternative tea drinks to toast Prince Harry and Meghan Markleís royal wedding

Exploring alternative tea drinks to toast Prince Harry and Meghan Markleís royal wedding

The year was 2011. It was the night before Prince Williamís wedding to Kate Middleton, and I stood in my kitchen making chocolate chip scones. I set my alarm for 3:30 a.m., with plans to sit in the spare bedroom of the townhome and watch Britainís ro...
Published: 05/15/18
Taste test: pineapple juice

Taste test: pineapple juice

Having always loved a fresh pineapple stick in my brewed iced tea, I wondered recently if a splash of pineapple juice would give it the same sweet kick. While few of us drink pure pineapple juice, our panelists definitely enjoy an occasional watered-...
Published: 05/14/18
Branch out: Give Sauteed Asparagus in Soy Sauce Glaze a try

Branch out: Give Sauteed Asparagus in Soy Sauce Glaze a try

Asparagus is by far the favorite vegetable of my family. I can serve nearly 3 pounds of asparagus a couple of times a week to my family of six, and my girls will still argue over who gets the last stalk. I say this not to impress you with the adventu...
Published: 05/11/18
Five ideas for Motherís Day breakfasts

Five ideas for Motherís Day breakfasts

Are you stumped for Motherís Day ideas? Donít stress. This year, surprise the mothers in your life with a special breakfast that fits perfectly with their personalities. Whether she loves the tradition of breakfast-in-bed or prefers her meals on the ...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/10/18
Review: Rick Bragg’s ‘The Best Cook in the World’ a loving food memoir about his mother

Review: Rick Bragg’s ‘The Best Cook in the World’ a loving food memoir about his mother

When Rick Bragg told his mother that his new book about her would be titled The Best Cook in the World, Margaret Bragg protested: "I wasn’t even the best cook that lived on our road." Bragg writes, "I told her we couldn’t call it The Thi...
Published: 05/09/18
Making granola at home is easy and scrumptious with this Maple Cashew Granola

Making granola at home is easy and scrumptious with this Maple Cashew Granola

If Iím being honest, most of what I do in the kitchen is recreate really delicious things Iíve eaten somewhere else. No, it never tastes the same, but itís a useful way to get cooking inspiration, and also to not spend $10 on something it takes $2 to...
Published: 05/08/18
Updated: 05/09/18
Recipe for Slow Cooked Pork Roast

Recipe for Slow Cooked Pork Roast

Slowly cooking a big hunk of tough, inexpensive meat isnít just the best way to cook this cut of meat. Itís really the only way. Most tough cuts of meat come from the hardest working parts of the animal, and therefore have a lot of collagen. This col...
Published: 05/08/18
Taste test: New frozen chocolate treats

Taste test: New frozen chocolate treats

With longer summer nights on the horizon, our judges are always looking for a new cool treat to beat the heat. This week they sampled four new chocolate offerings found in local grocery store freezers. A couple were pool party worthy and others were ...
Published: 05/07/18