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Kane’s Cuisine: Send noods

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – Every time I see a box of Israeli couscous or Italian ditalini or fregola at the grocery store (or on Instacart), I almost always add it to my basket in anticipation of the next time I’ll make the dish featured in today’s column. Usually when I’m very hungry and it’s cold outside. 

When I was in college, it was the cheesy, salty Kraft Easy Mac pouches, ready in under a minute with no special equipment beyond a microwave. You might consider this the grown-up version. I wouldn’t exactly call it “adult mac n cheese” though because that sounds a bit reductive. More like an adulterated version of cacio e pepe

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Toast a box of small pasta (ditalini is used in the photos here) in a heavy bottomed pot with some olive oil and a bit of kosher salt for about 3 minutes. 
  2. Bring a stockpot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions until a few minutes short of al dente. Drain and reserve a cup of pasta water
  3. Meanwhile, toast a teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper in your heavy bottomed pot (which should still have a bit of olive oil)
  4. Add ½ to one cup pasta water to your heavy bottomed pot, with the heat on medium-high. Add your pasta, 8 ounces freshly shredded parmesan, and a splash of heavy cream, cooking for about three minutes until your sauce has reached the desired consistency and noodles are cooked through. (I like to shred my parmesan in a food processor.) 

Serve with red pepper flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, chives, an egg yolk, and flaky salt

Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Mall food court chicken teriyaki (but better!)

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – “Mm food court food.” This was my shady friend Zach Bloom’s sarcastic response to my sending a link to this recipe (“Mall chicken teriyaki”) to the gc. And I get it. These days, should I find myself at a shopping mall, I will almost never be eating in a food court. 

However, the first time I tasted Chinese food was at the Flaming Wok in the Flagstaff (Ariz.) Mall, circa 2003. I was probably 11 years old. It was chicken teriyaki, on a sample platter with each piece on a toothpick. Magic. 

The good thing about making this at home? Quality control. It is the ultimate, the Platonic ideal of shopping mall food court chicken teriyaki if that makes sense? 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

The recipe is adapted from The Woks of Life. The cookbook (and blog by the same name) is…seriously incredible. Offering both classic dishes and Americanized takeout favorites. I’m obsessed. Cooking nothing but Chinese food until further notice. 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 3.5 tablespoons mirin (sweet Japanese rice cooking wine), 3.5 tablespoons soy sauce, 1.5 teaspoons dark soy sauce, 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar), 2 teaspoons grated ginger root, 1.5 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 small grated garlic clove, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch  
  2. Add 2 pounds boneless skinless thicken thighs, cut into 1” chunks. Marinate for 2+ hours
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons neutral oil in a large high-sided pan or wok on medium-high heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken into the cooking vessel, shaking off excess marinade into your mixing bowl, reserving it
  4. Sear chicken on one side for one minute. Stir fry for another minute. Then, add reserved marinade, simmering on medium for 10 minutes or so – until the sauce is well thickened and fully coating the chicken
Photo by Dan Balinovic

Serve with rice. Garnish with chili flake, chopped scallions, and/or sesame seeds

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Kane’s Cuisine: Chicken congree (A.K.A. Chinese rice porridge)

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – My compulsive habit of buying new cookbooks continues apace, this time with an especially exciting addition to my burgeoning collection: “The Woks of Life: Recipes to know from a Chinese-American family.”

As a longtime devotee of the Leung family’s blog by the same name, I knew it would be safe to decide what to make for dinner on Saturday by cracking open the book to a random page and starting there.

Chicken congee (A.K.A. The best soup for winter colds) (p.134). 

Like a chicken and rice soup but richer – brightened with julienned ginger root, fresh scallion, and cilantro – is there anything better when you’re suffering through a head cold or would like to warm yourself from the inside out? 

No, no there is not. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Prep the rice and chicken broth 

  1. Rinse 1 cup jasmine rice and freeze overnight or for at least 8 hours 
  2. In a large stockpot with 1 tablespoon neutral oil, cook one yellow onion, halved, 2 heads garlic, halved, and 4 two-inch pieces ginger root, peeled and halved, all cut-side down, for 4 minutes on medium without stirring until everything is lightly charred and very fragrant
  3. Add 6 stalks chopped celery, 5 large chopped carrots, 1 bulb fennel, chopped, and a small handful of whole star anise and black peppercorns, cooking for a further 5 minutes while stirring vigorously until vegetables are softened 
  4. Add 1 whole chicken, giblets removed and discarded, along with 12 cups water
  5. Bring to a boil and quickly reduce heat to medium-low, simmering gently for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through
  6. Carefully remove bird from stockpot and, when cool enough to handle, remove and reserve meat before returning the carcass to the pot
  7. Continue cooking on low for about 2 hours, seasoning to taste as you go with salt. Strain and reserve broth, discarding everything else. 

Make the congee

  1. Slice 6-9 ounces partially frozen uncooked chicken breast into thin strips measuring about 1/4″ thick (Do not use the reserved chicken meat that you cooked for your broth. Use that for something else.).Combine it with 2 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon neutral oil, 1.5 teaspoons oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon sesame oil,  1/4  teaspoon salt, and 1/4  teaspoon white pepper. Allow chicken to marinate for 15-20 minutes
  2. In a deep pot, combine 5 cups homemade chicken stock with 2 cups water and 1 cup frozen rice, bringing everything to a rolling boil. Cover, reducing heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20-25 minutes without stirring 
  3. Uncover the pot, raise heat to medium-high, and stir continuously for 5 minutes or until the soup reaches your desired consistency, adding more water or stock if you wish to thin out the mixture 

Stir in peeled and julienned ginger root, chopped scallions, cilantro, and a Thai red chili pepper, halved crosswise with the stem left intact

Photo by Dan Balinovic
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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Pelmini (Russian dumplings)

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – Remember my fried chicken column? Where I was talking about how many regional variations of the dish there are? And how wonderful it is to live in a world where we can have different types of fried chicken?

Same principle applies to dumplings. (Wow, do I like comfort food!) 

The first time I had pelmeni was at Spacy Cloud, a vegan restaurant where my Russian friend worked as a server-bartender. So, while this recipe calls for a 50-50 mixture of ground beef and pork breakfast sausage, I can tell you meatless alternatives work wonderfully.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Recipe adapted from the cookbook of Yekaterina (Katya) Dobronravova-Levesque M.D.

Make the dough & filling

  • Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl or flat surface
  • Make a well and add 2 eggs with one tablespoon cold water. Knead until smooth. If your dough is too shaggy and isn’t coming together, add more cold water (a tablespoon at a time) 
  • Wrap dough with a clean cloth and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator 
  • In a large bowl, add 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound pork breakfast sausage, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a half teaspoon ground black pepper. Grate a large onion into the bowl and mix everything together 

Assemble, boil & serve the pelmeni 

  • Divide your dough in half and roll out each piece until they’re very thin, about ⅛.” 
  • Make the dumplings with a pelmeni maker. This YouTube video will be more helpful to you than written instructions
  • Heat a large stockpot filled with heavily salted water until it reaches a rolling boil. Carefully drop pelmeni into the pot and cook for about 7 minutes. Do not discard the water

Ladle the dumplings into bowls along with the salted, starchy water. Serve with sour cream (or crème fraiche, which is almost always my preference) along with heaps of dill

Photo by Dan Balinovic
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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Vietnamese beef stew & summer rolls

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

Published

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – It’s cold here. I shall be making soups and stews until further notice. 

Last night, I was craving pho but didn’t have time to make a proper broth. Thankfully, I discovered a recipe by David Tanis (of Chez Panisse fame) for bò kho, a Vietnamese braised beef stew that’s flavored with many of the same warm spices. 

Folks, it’s a keeper. 

And then, as I was evaluating options for a side salad, it occurred to me: summer rolls. Do you have rice paper and fresh veggies? Good news! You can make them too. It’s easy. Low effort, high reward, and it looks impressive. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Bò kho (beef stew):

  1. Whisk together 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (brown sugar works, too), 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice, and ½ teaspoon black pepper
  2. Cut 3 pounds beef chuck into 1” cubes and season lightly with salt. Coat them evenly in your marinade and allow to marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator
  3. Brown meat in a large pot or Dutch oven with neutral oil, working in batches (it took me four batches with a 5-quart Dutch oven.)
  4. Return your beef to your cooking vessel and add 8 large shallots, thinly sliced (I used a mandoline,) Stir to combine and cook for five minutes
  5. Add 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 6 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few stalks of lemongrass, cut into pieces that are large enough to fish out later and pounded with a meat tenderizer. Stir to coat
  6. Add 5 star anise pods, 1 stick of cinnamon (about 2”), and 3-4 Thai chilis split lengthwise 
  7. Cover with 4 cups of water and bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover with lid ajar and cook for 1.5 hours. 
  8. Add 1.5 pounds carrots cut into large chunks. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes or so, until carrots are soft. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary
  9. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with scallions, cilantro, mint, chives, and/or basil. Serve with rice or rice noodles
Photo by Dan Balinovic

Gỏi cuốn (summer rolls)

  1. Cook thin vermicelli rice noodles according to package instructions and set aside
  2. Fill a large shallow bowl or rimmed plate with warm water. One at a time, dip each piece of rice paper for about 15-20 seconds until softened, gently shaking off excess water. Transfer to a clean dry flat surface
  3. Place thinly sliced shallot and julienned carrot and cucumber in the center of the rice paper, making a cylindrical shape with about 2” of space on each side. Top with vermicelli noodles, basil leaves, and chicken or other protein (optional)
  4. Roll the paper tightly, folding the left and right sides inward to seal the summer roll like a burrito

Serve with soy sauce, sriracha, hoisin sauce…or make a quick peanut sauce by combining 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 tablespoon water, ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice, and ½ tablespoon honey

Photo by Dan Balinovic

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Kane’s Cuisine: Alison Roman’s Matzo ball soup

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – I hope you’ve missed reading these as much as I’ve missed writing them (to say nothing of the grocery shopping, prep work, cooking, staging, photography, and photo editing)! 

Like Kevin McCarthy, you just can’t get rid of me. Seriously, though, can we take a moment to acknowledge the stick-to-itiveness that was on display last week? And for a job! Who wants a job – any job – that badly? 

I don’t know what was more intense, the fight between McCarthy and Matt Gaetz or the way Larsa confronted Julia with the cheating rumors on “The Real Housewives of Miami” as the ladies were filming Adriana’s music video on a yacht.

Anyway, when my husband and I were invited to a Christmas Eve dinner hosted by some LGBTQ Russian asylees, I wanted to bring something comforting. Enter Alison Roman, a reliable source of inspiration for me always and forever. 

(Left to right): Pavel Pshenichnov, Vitalii Korolkov, Diana Gorbunova, Christopher Kane, Dan Balinovic
(Photo by Dan Balinovic)

With her latest Home Movie, Roman once again had the answer I was looking for. What’s more comforting than a warm bowl of chicken broth featuring aromatic veggies, shredded chicken, matzo balls, and heaps of dill? 

Her recipe is available here. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

(The only edit I made was removing the chicken after it was cooked through, shredding the meat, and adding it to the soup at the end.) 

I was expecting my matzo balls to be the star of the show, but our hosts had prepared such a gorgeous and delicious feast that it was merely a nice accompaniment to a fabulous dinner party. 

спасибо!

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Kane’s Cuisine: Melissa Clark’s coq au vin

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – I bought myself this lagoon-colored Dutch oven for Christmas, and Melissa Clark’s fabulous coq au vin – a rich, hearty French chicken stew – felt like the perfect dish for its maiden voyage. 

It’s also an ideal holiday food, far superior to a turkey or Christmas ham in my humble opinion. 

(Since I made no adaptations to the recipe, here it is, from NYT Cooking: Coq au Vin)

Now, notwithstanding the gorgeous photos that my husband took for this article (and the picture accompanying Clark’s recipe), coq au vin is generally not a very Instagrammable dish. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Here’s the thing, though: neither is most of the food we’re eating this time of year. Save your pictures of beautifully colored $28 Erewhon salads until after the New Year, please. 

And more importantly, while the dish can be a bit lackluster visually-speaking, coq au vin more than compensates in the flavor department; complex and satisfying, appealing to most palates but also very characteristically French. 

So, maybe it won’t join the ranks of turkey stuffing and apple pie, but this is precisely the kind of meal I want to be enjoying right now, at this time of year in which eating is about more than just sustenance and comfort food is about more than just indulgence. 

I urge you to try it and see for yourself. 

…and if the experience gives you an appetite to explore more French recipes, check out Clark’s NYT Cooking page. (I also highly recommend her cookbook “Dinner in French,” a goldmine for cuisiner en français.)

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Kane’s Cuisine: An impressive-looking phyllo fruit tart

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – If you are in the mood for a challenge, a real baking project, there are recipes online for DIY phyllo dough – each unleavened sheet of which must be stretched and pulled by hand until it’s razor-thin, ideally across a marble topped table. 

I really mean it when I say store-bought is fine. Ain’t nobody got that kind of time (or patience). 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Mix melted, unsalted butter in a bowl with neutral oil (olive oil works, too). With a pastry brush, lightly and evenly coat eight layers of phyllo dough 
  2. Bake dough in a 400° oven for six minutes
  3. With a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer, beat 16 ounces cream cheese with six tablespoons confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Gently fold in two cups whipped cream
  4. Once it’s cooled, cut dough into two equal parts. Gently and evenly spread cream cheese mixture over each, topping with blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries (use whatever fruit you like, tbh) 

Melt a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips with two tablespoons of butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth and drizzle over both halves before stacking them

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Kane’s Cuisine: Tangy soy-glazed meatballs

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – When it comes to the small details that elevate the appearance, if not the quality, of food that you’re serving to guests, skewers, like edible flowers, are a light lift. 

Pierce a few meatballs and cubed pineapple slices and voila! Good to go. 

I wanted something Asian inspired, but Alison Roman has the best meatball recipe I’ve ever used, so I opted to make hers and add a glaze at the end – soy sauce based, so I reduced the salt slightly. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Mix 1 cup ricotta, ½ cup parsley, chopped, ½ cup grated parmesan, and a third cup Panko breadcrumbs, two eggs, 3-4 cloves garlic, and ½ onion, very finely diced. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes
  2. Add 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound ground pork, seasoning with one teaspoon salt
  3. Heat oil in large skillet and cook one meatball on three sides for a few minutes per side until it’s done. Taste for seasoning, adjust (or don’t) accordingly, and repeat with the remaining meatballs or refrigerate the rest to make another time. 
  4. In a small saucepan, cook 1 cup soy sauce, ½ cup sugar, and ½ cup mirin or rice vinegar, until bubbles turn to foam
  5. Coat the meatballs in the mixture and skewer with sesame sticks. Add sesame seeds and green onion, serving over a bed of rice and broccoli.
Photo by Dan Balinovic
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Kane’s Cuisine: Drunken noodles, ingredients by Momofuku

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – Every recipe I’m seeing this week is some spin on Thanksgiving leftovers, and the only one I would even consider trying is the turkey ramen dish featured in The New York Times Cooking. 

I’m here to cleanse your palate and show you something you’d like to eat even when you’re sick to death of eating and tired of even thinking about food. 

Momofuku, I would like to thank you for sending me the chili crisp and soy sauce used in this recipe (also pictured in this article). Both were fantastic and undoubtedly leveled up my interpretation of the classic Thai dish drunken noodles (Pad Kee Mao). 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
Photo by Dan Balinovic

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Recipe adapted from Julia Moskin’s adaptation of Hong Thaimee’s recipe (via The New York Times Cooking):

  1. Put 8-ounces rice noodles (preferably wider than those pictured here) in a large bowl. Cover with hot water, allowing them to soak as you work your way through the next few steps, periodically stirring the noodles around with your hand 
  2. In another bowl, combine 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, one tablespoon Momofuku Barrel Aged Restaurant Grade Soy Sauce, one tablespoon fish sauce, 1.5 tablespoons white vinegar, and 1.5 tablespoons Thai black soy sauce, whisking until smooth
  3. With a mortar and pestle, make a paste from four serrano chilis or other hot peppers, de-seeded, mashed with 8 garlic cloves. Heat a few tablespoons neutral oil in a wok or Dutch oven and cook paste for about a minute, stirring vigorously
  4. Add 8 ounces ground pork, stir frying for about 3 minutes
  5. Add noodles and continue cooking as you gradually add the sauce. If noodles are still under-done, add a splash of water and continue cooking 
  6. Serve topped with Thai basil, green onions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and Momofuku chili crunch 
Photo by Dan Balinovic
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Kane’s Cuisine: Thanks, it’s giving

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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on

Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – I have several recipes along with some excellent photos for you this week. But first, please stay with me through these long and digressive paragraphs because they are full of interesting factoids that I just learned about Thanksgiving and the traditions with which it is associated. 

Evidence suggests that settlers in Plymouth colony did, in fact, share a meal with the Wampanoag people in what is now southeastern Massachusetts in late 1621. Historians believe the meat on which they feasted was deer, along with ducks or geese.

No turkey for the “first Thanksgiving,” but the bird nevertheless became a staple menu item for the holiday by the turn of the 19th century. Likewise for the December holiday, a phenomenon that is widely attributed to Charles Dickens’s publication of “A Christmas Carol” in 1843. 

Fast forward to 1947. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Europe was roiled by food shortages. Endeavoring to beef up our supply to aid these countries, which were on the brink of famine, President Harry S. Truman gently asked the American people to forego eating poultry on Thursdays – a request that he delivered with the first ever televised address by a sitting president. 

President Truman receives a turkey from Sen. Olin Johnston of South Carolina in the Oval Office
(Photo Credit: Harry S Truman Presidential Library & Museum)

It was met with a big middle finger. 

(No surprise, right? I mean, during a pandemic that killed a million people in this country, when public health officials urged Americans to wear protective face coverings and avoid indoor gatherings, some responded by plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan for a show trial and extrajudicial murder.)

Okay, so in 1947, Americans were tired after years of wartime food rations. Plus, that year Christmas as well as New Year’s Day fell on a Thursday, too. (Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday in November, per an 1863 proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.)

So strong was the backlash that the Truman administration made peace by fully embracing the Thanksgiving turkey and formalizing the longstanding White House tradition of accepting the bird as an annual holiday gift. 

Many presidents chose not to eat their turkeys.

Just three days before his 1963 assassination in Dallas, President John F. Kennedy was gifted a bird wearing a sign that read, “Good Eating Mr. President.” Fortunately for the turkey, which weighed a whopping 55 pounds, Kennedy reportedly said he would “let this one grow” upon returning her to the farm.   

Nearly two decades later, facing questions over whether he would pardon Oliver North for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, President Ronald Reagan deflected with a joke about instead “pardoning” the Thanksgiving turkey that was gifted to him, thus formalizing a silly presidential tradition. 

It is in keeping with these White House stories that I chose to forego turkey this year. I did, however, spend all day cooking, which is something I thoroughly enjoyed despite my husband’s photo of me looking less than enthusiastic. 

See links below if you’d like to make any of the dishes pictured here. They were all fantastic.

Photo by Dan Balinovic
Photo by Dan Balinovic
Photo by Dan Balinovic
Photo by Dan Balinovic
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