Last week, after I spent too much time watching Thanksgiving specials on Food Network and sharing last year’s Thanksgiving recipes, I got major Thanksgiving envy. I thought I was OK with not cooking this year, but I was actually…not. Like Shelby said last week, “Thanksgiving is only fun when you control the menu.”
She’s so right. To get excited about the holiday, I needed to exercise a little control over some sort of menu, even if it wasn’t the serious and official Thanksgiving menu. If I didn’t get some recipes out of my system, I feared I might get a little overexcited in Eric’s mom’s kitchen, and no one wants to blow it at the first meeting because she got pushy about cranberry sauce. So, I asked Eric if I could make us a “Fake Thanksgiving” dinner. I wasn’t planning to do the whole meal, but I needed to cook some of my favorites. I basically ended up with a Thanksgiving version of The Feast — and it was fabulous.
While planning this, I realized…Fake Holidays should happen more often. When should you throw a fake holiday?
- When you’re in a country that doesn’t celebrate your favorite holiday and missing your homeland like WHAT
- When you’re in your homeland but can’t afford to fly home twice in one month for the hols (like me!)
- When you’ve never cooked a big holiday dinner before and you want to practice without any pressure
- When you secretly want to celebrate a holiday that isn’t part of your culture
- Whenever you feel like celebrating a holiday and it’s not that holiday
There’s pretty much never a bad reason to celebrate!
OK, convinced you need to do this too? Here’s how to host your own Fake Holiday.
1. Choose one or two dishes that are most important to you. Whether it’s a recipe your mom makes every year or just something new from Nigella you’re dying to try, decide what dishes you must have to make it feel like a holiday. For me, it was bacon-wrapped dates and baked brie. (Seriously, this whole thing began as an excuse to make those two dishes.) I also really wanted to try the Eat, Live, Run maple pecan bites, so I added that to my menu. And I wanted to make a cocktail, so I went with Angela’s Project Tasteless pecan pie martini.
Because it’s not a holiday till I can get get get get you drunk! We also made Cindy’s Project Tasteless winning boilo.
2. Break it down. If you’re only cooking for one or two people, cooking full versions of traditional recipes is just silly. Like, a full turkey? No. That’s a waste. I thought about doing a turkey breast, but it was still a bit more than I wanted to spend, so I decided to do soup for the main course instead. And I halved the recipe for the bacon-wrapped dates.
Since we are still celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I just wanted this to be a warm-up.
3. Be creative when it comes to the other dishes. When choosing the other dishes for your Fake Holiday, cut corners! You don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen or hundreds of dollars on this mini-meal. Focus on choosing the right tastes that you know will make you feel like you’re at home. Instead of making soup from scratch, I ended up picking up two servings of butternut squash bisque from the Central Market hot bar. I normally hate all squashy soup — it always seems to taste like baby food — but I loved how savory this one was when I sampled it. I also picked up some green beans to saute in butter.
We didn’t have turkey, but we had the other important Thanksgiving flavors! And all for about $6.
3. Celebrate like you mean it. If you are doing this, go all-out with it. Put on your party dress, set the table, put on some mood music — don’t hold back! You’re entertaining a really VIP guest: you! No holiday meal is complete without dessert, so I paired the maple pecan bites with homemade pumpkin ice cream I made earlier this fall.
Those little pecan delights tasted just like pie, and only took about half the work. Also, I sprinkled chopped cooked bacon on top before I baked them. Like I said…you’re the VIP guest, so you can put bacon on the dessert because you don’t have to appeal to your vegan cousin.
A Fake Holiday is a great way to have your fantasy holiday without any of the stress or gross side dishes you hate. Do everything the way you want to do it — trust me, when you’re dealing with your nagging relatives at the next holiday, you’ll relish the faux one.