Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thanksgiving Hotlines

When those burning cooking questions inevitably arise as you’re in the middle of preparing Thanksgiving Dinner, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to consult with an experienced cook (let’s say Amanda Hesser, award-winning cookbook author, former reporter for the New York Times Dining Section, and former food editor at the Times Magazine) and receive an immediate answer?

Well, good news, now you can ask Amanda, or at least her team at, the year ‘round cooking community site that Hesser founded with Merrill Stubbs. Stubbs was co-editor with Hesser of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, the former food editor at Herb Quarterly and a contributor to various prestigious food publications.

Food52 will maintain an open hotline on Thanksgiving Day, from 8 a.m. until midnight. Questions can be addressed via the website, Twitter account or app and will be answered “in a timely manner (i.e., within a quarter hour or so),” according to a Food52 staffer.

Numerous other experts also will be available live on Thanksgiving Day via e-mail or telephone to guide you through a crisis. Check out this link to a comprehensive list compiled by the University of Wisconsin-Extension:

As always, this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for your readership. My best wishes to all of you for a hysteria-free holiday! Remember, it’s all about family and friends, not food…well, maybe a little bit about food. On Thursday, I’ll be celebrating with family, so there won’t be a new post. But look for one the following Tuesday.

Very Simple Sweet Potatoes

Every Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law’s sweet potato recipe is part of the meal, not only in tribute to her memory or even because the dish is delicious.  I like the fact that these sliced potatoes contrast nicely with the mashed white potatoes on the table and can be prepped a day ahead and finished at the last minute. It’s easy to expand the number of servings, too. Here’s the recipe:


As many sweet potatoes as necessary

Dark brown sugar

Softened butter


Boil the potatoes until tender (or use a pressure cooker, as my mother-in-law always did).

Peel them and slice them the long way about one 1/8 inch thick.

Put the slices into an oven proof pan large enough to hold them in one layer.

At this point, you can cover and refrigerate them overnight or continue with the recipe.

Sprinkle brown sugar over the potatoes and dot liberally with the butter.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the sugar and butter melt.

Thanksgiving Rehearsals

If you’re nervous about making Thanksgiving dinner, there’s still time to do a dry (although, hopefully, not too dry) run. I read an article recently about a newlywed who was so frantic at the prospect of serving Thanksgiving dinner to her family for the first time that she invited all her good friends for a pre-Thanksgiving practice meal. That was many years ago and it went so well that the before-Thanksgiving meal for friends has became an annual tradition.

Apparently, she’s not alone. When I asked my butcher why he was out of turkey breasts for several weeks, he told me that he believes many customers are buying them to practice for Thanksgiving.

I love roasting turkey breasts on the bone so that I have juicy sandwich meat all week, not to mention a nice hot entrée the first day and a carcass to use for soup.  So if your family and friends are white meat eaters, a turkey breast may be a good option for you. You’ll still have drippings to add to a stuffing casserole, which can bake while the breast is resting.