Small Crowd? Small Bird! How about Cornish game hen for Thanksgiving? If the gathering at your Thanksgiving table this year will be small, then maybe it’s a good time to downsize the meal to fit.
Perhaps I’m thinking this because I’m short, drove a MiniCooper for 10 years, or because I love small things. It’s really probably more closely related to the fact that I recently saw the documentary, “Just Eat It”. This movie explores food waste on the farm, in the retail food chain and in our own refrigerators. That, coupled with the fact that only Ben and I will be home this year, has me leaning toward paring down my shopping list beginning with the bird. Of course, I’ve let time get away from me so paring things down makes even more sense with less than a week to the event and no real plan in place.
The great thing about cooking with fresh ingredients is that when you’re short on planning, shopping, or prep time, you can let the food speak for itself without a lot of embellishment. Yesterday, my hairdresser told me she uses orange marmalade diluted with orange juice to baste Cornish game hens that she has seasoned with salt & pepper and larded with butter. She bakes for 15 minutes at 375% and then starts basting every 7 or 8 minutes with the orange marmalade until the bird is fully cooked (an additional 35-45 minutes). That sounds easy enough.
Instead of stuffing, I can make a rice pilaf with red bell pepper, orange zest, peas, raisins, and nuts. I already have a butternut squash and a head of cabbage. I’ll peel, boil, and mash the butternut squash with a little salt, butter, and cream and boil the cabbage in some chicken broth. Ta da! That’s plenty of food for the two of us.
Oh wait. Since it’s a holiday, maybe I should add dessert. What’s quick, easy, and small? My first thought is banana pudding. I can use instant vanilla pudding made with half & half (the generic store brand is gluten-free) layered with Mi-Del animal cookies plus perfectly ripe bananas. I’ve done this before. It takes about 5 minutes and it’s delicious. We like to call it Bananimal pudding.
Panna cotta is also an option. I love it served in my grandmother’s sherbet glasses topped with fresh raspberries. The only part that takes much time is the chilling. Since my refrigerator is happy to take care of this without any assistance from me, it fits my definition of quick.
Another possibility is to throw together a microwave spoon bread filled with berries or chocolate, or both. All I need is in an almond flour base, an egg, sweetener, a little baking soda, then some spices and berries. The result is another dessert that’s ready in less than 15 minutes.
By implementing my pared down plan, I’m also saving myself some headaches at the grocery store. If I needed traditional ingredients, I might face empty displays since I’ve waited until the last minute.
While it would be great to have the whole family together, I’m not lacking things for which to be thankful. I think I’ll add this scaled down Thanksgiving meal plan to the list.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”