Good morning. Our CC Allen traveled to Detroit recently to speak with Keith Lee, a son of the restaurateur Otis Lee, who died in April, a victim of the coronavirus. For more than three decades, Otis Lee ran Mr. Fofo’s Deli in the city’s Midtown, famed for its huge corned beef sandwiches and lemon-glazed poundcake (above). Keith Lee recreated his father’s poundcake recipe for CC’s camera, and the resulting video is both affecting and instructive. I hope you’ll watch it and then make the cake. Me, I’ll double the glaze.
Melissa Clark, meanwhile, took a plunge into the Thanksgiving reality pool this week. We’re not going to have big, crowded meals this year, she reminded us, before emerging with a fine menu for a scaled-down Thanksgiving dinner for two: roasted turkey thighs with quick-pickled onions and cranberries; a classic stuffing with shallots and herbs; roasted winter squash with a spicy maple glaze; and sautéed greens with a hint of smoked paprika.
Turning to today, how about an avocado salad with herbs and capers, or a vegetarian skillet chili with eggs and Cheddar? I’ve been making this recipe for squid and scallion pajeon that Melissa learned from the chef Hooni Kim. I’ve been making it a lot. I’ve made it with shrimp in place of the squid, with kimchi in place of the shrimp, with ham in place of the kimchi. It’s so good.
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Some items on the Thanksgiving shopping list are obvious, but there are several other ingredients that will prove invaluable to have on hand. See our full guide on How To Cook and Plan Thanksgiving and our list of staples below.
- Butter, lots of it. Choose European-style high-fat butter for pie crusts, and regular unsalted butter for everything else.
- Stock. If you haven’t made your own, look for homemade stock at the same butcher shop where you buy your turkey, or in the freezer section of your supermarket. The canned and boxed stuff should be a last resort.
- Fresh herbs. Not only do they add freshness and flavor across your Thanksgiving table, but they’re also pretty, lending a touch of green to a meal heavy on earth tones.
- Garlic, onions, leeks, fresh ginger, shallots. An assortment of aromatics keeps your cooking lively and interesting. You’ll need them for the stuffing, for stock and gravy, and for many side dishes.
- Fresh citrus. Lemon, lime and orange juice and zest contribute brightness to countless Thanksgiving dishes, from the turkey to the gravy to the cranberry sauce to the whipped cream for pie.
- Nuts. These go a long way to give crunch to otherwise texturally boring dishes. (Ahem, sweet potato casserole.)
- White wine/vermouth/beer. Even if you’re not drinking any of these spirits before or during the meal, they can be splashed into gravy or vegetable dishes, or used to deglaze the turkey roasting pan. (Bourbon and brandy work well as deglazers, too.)
- Fresh spices. If you can’t remember when you bought your spices, now is a good time to replace them.
- Light brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup. These sweeteners are more profoundly flavored than white sugar, and they have an autumnal richness.
- Heavy cream, sour cream, crème fraîche, ice cream. You’ll need these for topping pies and cakes.
- Please, wear a mask. It protects both yourself and others from coronavirus, and aim to maintain several feet of distance from other shoppers in stores whenever possible. If you opt for grocery delivery, tip as generously as you can.
- See all of our Thanksgiving recipes.
Now, it has nothing to do with salsify or lump crab, but I find our Pandemic Logs very soothing. Scroll away.
Here’s a cool mystery story: Nicholas Thompson in Wired, on a nameless hiker who walked from New York to Florida and died in his tent in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Who was he?
Finally, did you see this Sam Anderson essay in The Times on the joy to be found in watching 52 seconds of snowball fight that the Lumière brothers captured on film in 1897, in Lyon, France? “To watch this snowball fight, to see these people so alive, is a precious gift of perspective,” Anderson wrote. “We are them. They are us. We, too, will disappear. We will become abstractions to be puzzled over by future people. That certainty, in the flux of 2020, feels anchoring. We are not unique. We move in the historical flow. The current moment will melt away like snow crust on a mustache.” Think about that, and I’ll be back on Wednesday.