Unless veg­e­tar­i­ans and veg­ans out­num­ber the table at Thanks­giv­ing, turkey is usu­ally the star of the show.

This being a pan­demic year, nearly all bets are off for serv­ing a tra­di­tional hol­i­day meal.

As fam­ily and friends are lim­ited by national health guide­lines, there are no lim­its to veg­etable and fruit counts.

Veg­eta­bles are promi­nently fea­tured on the side of a typ­i­cal Thanks­giv­ing menu. In this sea­son of sur­prises and altered activ­ity, take a walk on the wild side of sides.

Uncon­ven­tional recipes step up the feast by using spices, fresh herbs, maple syrup, harissa, yogurt, cheeses and other less “pil­grimy” ingre­di­ents.

Prepa­ra­tions still ring true for roast­ing, pan fry­ing, bak­ing and mash­ing. It’s the miso, orange, pome­gran­ate, nut or honey treat­ments that liven things up.

Tried and true fam­ily favorites get bold makeovers with a sim­ple twist here and a lit­tle tweak there. Apple cider vinai­grette and pome­gran­ate molasses ele­vate Brus­sels sprouts, but­ter­nut squash and green beans.

Read more: Way Outside →

Sort­ing out the pantry leads to assess­ing which kitchen appli­ances are still rel­e­vant.

A few of these “well worn” helpers could use some love and atten­tion. Per­haps give them a deep clean­ing, or replace a dull blade or bro­ken knob.

Oth­ers are parked on a shelf in the way, way back of a cab­i­net or cup­board drawer. Neglected for some time, a dona­tion to a wor­thy recip­i­ent might be in order.

How many cof­fee (spice) grinders does one house­hold really need? When is that expen­sive fresh juicer, and all the gear that goes with, going to see some action again? Be hon­est in eval­u­at­ing future use.

The Sous Vide immer­sion gad­get sees action when that Christ­mas prime rib din­ner is on deck. It mostly remains idle through­out the year.

Stor­ing a sous vide is less cum­ber­some than say a crock pot, elec­tric skil­let, meat grinder, food proces­sor, or cap­puc­cino maker.

At least the Ital­ian cof­fee mak­ers have some char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity. Bright color choices, post-​modern shapes and inter­est­ing styles allow for coun­ter­top place­ment. Other small wares don’t have this advan­tage. Off the shelf for use and replaced once pan­cakes are fin­ished.

New “must have” elec­tri­cal gad­gets and small appli­ances become all the rage with every hol­i­day sea­son. Air pop­pers seem to be trend­ing for the 2020 wish list.

Insta Pots held the top spot the last few years. At least they have mul­ti­ple use rec­om­men­da­tions that almost jus­tify their existence.

Read more: Crowded House →

Amidst the chal­lenges of the pan­demic, we are rethink­ing not just the way we eat, but what we eat and when. Cer­tain foods are no longer rel­e­gated to spe­cific time slot assign­ments.

Under daily pres­sure, hall­marks of the COVID food cloud are resource­ful­ness and flex­i­bil­ity. Tak­ing con­trol and let­ting go teeter-​totter back-​and-​forth. Par­ents, kids and sin­gles give per­mis­sion to eat a bowl of Chee­rios for din­ner.

Strik­ing a bal­ance between health and well­ness over indul­gence, con­ve­nience and com­fort is ever present.

Opti­mum health is always the long range goal. Short­term, we’re bom­barded by daily restric­tions, lim­i­ta­tions and now food fatigue. Wait­ing in line to shop or for menu pickup takes a toll. Meal prep, time and money erode the very thing that makes us whole. Stress-​free activ­i­ties are worth pur­suit.

Wear the mask. Keep your dis­tance. Stay alert to some­one with a cough or too close con­tact. Anx­i­ety increases the desire to blur the lines. Throw­ing in the towel on meal plan­ning doesn’t mean a bowl of ice cream for break­fast.

Mac­a­roni and cheese makes more sense as a cham­pi­oned morn­ing choice. This pop­u­lar com­fort food is not shy on calo­ries. Tak­ing lib­erty with stan­dard morn­ing fare means we have time to enjoy the heat of those calo­ries through­out the day.

Read more: Blur­ring the Lines →

Novem­ber vot­ing goes well beyond polit­i­cal bal­lots. Our thoughts begin to move toward hol­i­day plan­ning.

The Thanks­giv­ing count­down is start­ing to look dif­fer­ent, like most other things in 2020.

This year, tra­di­tions might be dialed back with smaller gath­er­ings forced upon us. Even so, deli­cious pies will be part of the grand finale to what­ever meal is served.

A slice of pie makes us happy. Sure, hap­pi­ness could come from a wide slice of pizza pie, a savory pie or even chicken pot pie. In this moment, we’re talk­ing about those seri­ous Thanks­giv­ing dessert pies.

Vot­ing on just one is super dif­fi­cult. Pie brings back fond mem­o­ries shared with loved ones. Those fam­ily mem­bers or friends we like to share the hol­i­day meal. With. Maybe an aun­tie or grand­mother made our spe­cial hol­i­day pies.

There are at least twenty favorite fall pies from which to choose. Sweet potato, apple, pecan and pump­kin are in the top five.

When it comes to apple, there are so many vari­a­tions on the theme that it may make take at least eight spots on the pie charts. Dutch apple, bour­bon apple, old-​fashioned apple and caramel apple lead the hit parade.

Read more: Ready, Set, VOTE! →

Let’s talk pome­gran­ates. Most kids don’t mind get­ting messy while break­ing in to them. Stained crim­son hands and shirts don’t faze an eager ten or twelve year old.

That’s not what most cooks and chefs care to expe­ri­ence as they work the jew­eled arils in to their pome­gran­ate recipes.

Over the years and over the inter­net, many experts have given us var­i­ous meth­ods of extract­ing the seeds with­out dif­fi­culty.

The under­wa­ter method seems like a lot of work for the reward. Sure, we stay cleaner but work­ing the fruit is tax­ing. Scor­ing the fruit in sec­tions is a solu­tion. We must still work each sec­tion to loosen the seeds.

Scor­ing and invert­ing the fruit is also advised. This yields loose seeds through the sheer force of dis­lodg­ing them from their pithy mem­branes. Mus­cle and patience.

Read more: Whack Job →

We are lucky enough this month to have a chance to expe­ri­ence a rare Hal­loween Blue Hunter’s Moon.

This uncom­mon occur­rence is a for sure a rar­ity. Mark the cal­en­dar to wit­ness this sec­ond full moon of the month on a hol­i­day ideal for it’s spec­tac­u­lar show­ing.

All Hallow’s Eve con­jures up images of were­wolves, gob­lins, zom­bies, and other scary crea­tures. They con­verge on Hal­loween to bring out play­ful and spooky enter­tain­ment.

When­ever two full Moons appear in a sin­gle month (on aver­age every two and half to three years) the sec­ond full moon is chris­tened a Blue Moon.

When we look at the full moon on Hal­loween night, it won’t actu­ally appear blue in color. Even so, it will be pretty unique. A full moon on Hal­loween occurs roughly only every 19 years, and in only some parts of the world.

Typ­i­cally, a Hal­loween full moon is seen only once every 38 years. The last Hal­loween full moon in all United States time zones was way back in 194476 years ago.

Read more: Blue Moon →