Making Friendsgiving Extra Friendly

I'm all about family, but friends are the family you choose. And Friendsgiving (a Thanksgiving meal between friends) can be an ideal alternative if you're far from your hometown. For one, it's often not as fraught regarding politics, and the group gathers on their own volition, not familial obligation

Oftentimes, the host pulls from a wide variety of friends who are far from their families, ensuring that you'll meet some fresh faces. Another perk is that since this feast is already taking the non-traditional route, why not switch up the menu? I've always wanted to host an Indian-inspired Friendsgiving, with Tandoori turkey, aloo gobi to replace the mashed potatoes and cranberry chutney.

Traditionalists will not be pleased with me, but here it goes: turkey is tasty, but in my opinion, an overrated bird. Less juicy than chicken, less flavorful than duck. So why not switch up the theme altogether?

You could throw a soul food feast, with fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread and sweet potato pie. Or a Chesapeake-inspired seafood boil, with shrimp, corn, crab legs and cornbread. The possibilities are endless. Here are some other ways to make the occasion special:

  • Have everyone take tuns around the table to describe one thing they are thankful for. Oftentimes during the busy season, we're too busy or stressed to practice gratefulness. 
  • Add a signature scent to the dinner, and light candles around the home with seasonal notes, like pumpkin spice, cinnamon apple or orange clove.
  • Bring the outdoors in. Take a little hike around your neighborhood and find things of beauty: waxy, fresh-fallen leaves in yellow or red, pinecones or firethorn branches, dripping with orange or red berries. Run these along the center of your table
  • Create a leftover station ahead of time, with take-out containers decorated with a Friendsgiving-y theme, like a turkey or autumn leaves, with the words Thank you for being a friend. It's a thoughtful parting gift!

So remember, if you find yourself without plans this Thanksgiving, throw your own Friendsgiving! You likely aren't alone, and can gather a grateful little group you don't get to spend as much time with.

Happy holidays!

Richmond Chef Puts a Twist on on a Classic

If it were socially acceptable to eat an entire plate of mashed potatoes, that would be my Thanksgiving meal every year. But I'm an outlier, as the real crowd-pleaser seems to be the pie.

And when it comes to Thanksgiving dessert, people are split into two camps: pumpkin and apple. I always like a twist on a classic, and prefer pumpkin cheesecake to the actual pie. And I'm not alone. Richmond chef Christine Wansleben of Mise En Place also loves a good twist. Her go-to dessert recipe is  Sour Cream Apple Pie, a holiday favorite her family looks forward to every year. It's so delectable, she sometimes eats it for breakfast...with ice cream!  

Like any good cook, she has well-worn baking instructions. And to get us all into the holiday spirit, she's decided to share the recipe with us! Be prepared for a season of hosting by stocking up on these baking essentials from Ladles and Linens!

"It's made with ingredients you already have in your home, and just as good if you use a roll-out pie crust," Wansleben added. The timing couldn't be better - apples are in season. If you're looking forward to holiday baking, visit Mise En Place for  a Soul Food for the Holidays class on 11/22, Cocktail Party Favorites on 12/5, and more!