There are plenty of good reasons to skip the grocery store this Thanksgiving. With covid-19 cases on the rise, avoiding unnecessary shopping trips is a good idea, and so is refraining from big family gatherings. Somehow, even amid the pandemic, grocery lines are also super long.
I’m not happy about this. I miss gatherings, and I miss the store. Some people find food shopping annoying or overwhelming, but I love it, even for Thanksgiving. I love making lists of all the things I need and knowing I’ll pick up a few things I don’t need if they’re on sale. I love choosing the juiciest looking apples for pies, and crispest kale and sometimes even Googling reviews of all the available kinds of parmesan.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m only cooking for the few immediate family members who I’m quarantining with, and my parents are vegan, which rules out turkey and buttery mashed potatoes, anyway. I also already have food in my house. It may not be Thanksgiving fare exactly, but I don’t want it to go to waste.
In the U.S., some 40% of food that’s produced gets wasted, and that rate spikes at the holidays. Every year, some 200 million pounds (90.7 million kilograms) of turkey get thrown out, for instance. Most of that food waste ends up in incinerators and landfills, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. This is all largely due to a capitalist production system animated by the need for economic profit over sustainability, not our individual behavior. But it still certainly doesn’t help to throw things away.
With that in mind, I’ve got a shitload of purple, yellow, and orange carrots wilting in the fridge drawer. They’re past their prime–I wouldn’t put them in a salad—but they’ll be perfectly fine once they’re roasted. I’m going to slice them the long way and put them in the oven, and I’m going to drizzle them with a savory miso tahini dressing. A traditional Thanksgiving approach? Maybe not. But they’re vegetables that usually show up in some form on Thanksgiving, so I think it’ll work.
I also have an acorn squash, two delicata squashes, and a smallish butternut that I’ve probably had around for a month. I’m going to chop them all up and put them on a baking sheet, then stick them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) or so. I’ll probably take out the delicata pieces first, since they cook fastest. Ordinarily, I’d probably stick with one kind of squash for this. But this year, I simply cannot be bothered, and I also refuse to let these vegetables go unused.
I’m applying the same principle to stuffing, which is the best food this holiday has to offer. I have a little piece of semi-stale challah and most of a loaf of sourdough, and there’s some honey wheat in the freezer. This is going to be the weirdest stuffing ever, probably, but it’s fine. If you put celery, onion, thyme, and nutmeg in pretty much anything, it tastes festive, right? I’ve also got some apples and pears which I’m going to turn into a crumble, using my giant Costco bag of Quaker Oats and some dairy-free butter (this one, to be precise).
The only thing I bought specifically for this day is cranberries because I’m making cranberry chutney with my aunt’s recipe, which includes curry leaf and mustard seeds and absolutely slaps. I may also get some cashew milk ice cream, which I guess isn’t Thanksgiving food, but I don’t care. I am going to spend tomorrow cooking, and in the evening, I will eat a feast and drink the wine I already have around. The food may not look exactly like it usually does, but everything is off this year anyway.