Thanksgiving is just days away. Yeah, we can’t believe it either. Wasn’t it just summer? Brave New Meal dropped then suddenly it was chilly outside. Time has lost all meaning. Now suddenly it’s dark at 3 pm and even in LA the leaves are changing. Here we are again, the beginning of the holiday season. A time of friends, family, and lil panic attacks.
Cooking around the holidays doesn’t lessen the stress. Food is deeply personal and when it gets tied up with traditions, the pressure can build. Everyone has different expectations about what each dish should taste like. These layers of memories often obscure the true mediocrity of their mom’s turkey or uncle’s mac and cheese. These are just the facts. Most people don’t spend enough time in the kitchen to know what the fuck they’re doing when it comes to cooking a full holiday spread. It’s like running a marathon without any training: you’ll regret it and your nipples are gonna chafe. Most people fake it anyways. Your brother gets the mashed potatoes at KFC every year and puts them in a dish like nobody can tell. And Aunt Katy is fooling nobody with her grocery counter sides.
But we know you’ve been putting in your time this year, cooking more meals at home, and honing your knife skills with every onion you’ve chopped. Dinner after dinner you’ve set yourself up for success. Pat yourself on the back a lil; you’ve been training. Plus, you got a secret weapon- us. Aside from our brand new book, every year we put together all our best holiday adjacent dishes together in one place to make planning your dinner as easy as possible. Check out our Beastless Feast page for ideas on what to put on your menu this year. We’ve got sweets, soups, salads, and mains for even the pickiest of palates. Our Sourdough Herb Stuffing is so good that you won’t even miss the fact it wasn’t cooked in a turkey’s ass. We swear.
But aside from killer recipes, we’re here to help make this meal the smoothest yet. We’ve got some crucial tips that everyone should keep in mind to keep a cool head this holiday season.
1. DO NOT GO TO THE GROCERY STORE ON THANKSGIVING.
This is not a tip. Consider it a rule. People rush to the store every year the night before Thanksgiving or the morning of and frantically look for everything they need. Well guess what? They’re sold out. Of everything. No celery, no bread, no pies. Don’t blame the supply chain or yell at the workers like they can make your food magically appear. Your poor planning did this. Not them. Shop early. Forgot something? Live without it. Every time you go to a store on a holiday you’re encouraging them to stay open every year in the future. Those workers deserve to be home celebrating too. Don’t shop on holidays.
2. Thanksgiving is not the day to cook all new recipes for the first time.
You’re already stressed out enough. If you haven’t made it before, maybe save it for a weekend dinner unless you’re a confident cook. One or two new dishes is fine but you gotta have your go-to dishes ready. As a wise woman once said, don’t experiment on Thanksgiving.
3. Know your oven’s limits.
Alternate stovetop and oven dishes on your menu so that shit is actually ready on time. Look at what you’re making. If every single dish needs time in the oven your dinner won’t be ready until 9 at night. Nothing is worse than waiting hours and hours for dinner when you showed up at 2pm already starving. Retool your menu or delegate out dishes to other people so you aren’t trying to bake your pies and stuffing at the same time. It'll never turn out right. If you’ve got multiple ovens then you can go ahead and fuck right off.
4. Write shit down.
Every time we have to cook big meals or cater events, we write down everything we have to cook and prep in the order we need to do it. Think of it like a kitchen itinerary. Write down approximate times you wanna complete the dishes or times you need to get things into the oven by so you can stay on track. Tape this to a cabinet or put it on your fridge so you can keep glancing at it and cross stuff off as you go. This will keep you grounded and let you turn off your brain for a bit as you just work down the list. We swear by it.
5. If you ain’t cookin, you’re cleaning.
We don’t care how much of a control freak you are: do not cook for 3 days and then clean everyone’s plates after they're done eating. Make the laziest motherfuckers in the group do the dishes and clean the kitchen. If someone plops down on the couch for a nap without helping, pile the dishes on their body until they wake up. No freeloaders on Thanksgiving. Full stop.
6. It’s ok to be alone.
We’ve both had jobs for most of our lives that required us to work on holidays. We get it. We also live far away from our families, so we’ve spent more than our share of Thanksgiving evenings alone. Obviously not celebrating is always an option but there are some holiday foods that you might not wanna skip. Just make one dish that is your favorite and enjoy it with zero guilt. You can have stuffing for dinner one night a year. We won’t tell.
7. Holiday foods are not laws.
You can make whatever the fuck you want. Remember that. All pizza thanksgiving? If you and your guests are down, you can make whatever makes you feel thankful. Just pick a theme so that the dishes all make sense together otherwise there are no rules.
Tag us in all your dinner pics. We wanna see how you pulled of your meal *flawlessly* just like we knew you would. And if your food turns out ugly, cover it in fresh herbs or whipped cream. People won’t ask too many questions. They’re fucking starving.
This week on Forked Up Matt and Michelle explore the secret lives of bone eaters, why we owe our lives to mice, and the intricacies of smuggling drugs with food. Michelle explains how mashed potatoes are a product of prison and Matt wants that salad if you're not gonna eat it.
Wishing all y’all a Happy Thanksgiving! See you in the kitchen soon.
Michelle and Matt