Procrastinator’s Thanksgiving Guide


You have about 144 hours until the big day. The Super Bowl of holidays. The highest of High Holy Food Days. And we’ve been slamming you with recipes both brand-new and beloved for the past several weeks. But have you been listening? If you’re like me, the answer is a resounding “NO!” I’m only now starting to figure out what the hell I’m going to make next week. (We’re lucky because we have it easy this year—we’re guests of our friends Matty and Janet, as we alternate being hosts each year. But we have our dear friend Nora coming for the holiday. She’s from Uruguay, and this is her first New England Thanksgiving. How can I possibly NOT make something, right?!)

So to help me, and all you other procrastinators, we’ve put together this quick reference guide for all things Thanksgiving, including recipes for everything. Including how to buy a turkey, how to deal with Thanksgiving disasters, and, the biggest question of all, where in hell is the thickest part of the thigh? Happy, happy. Gobble, gobble. Now go grocery shop, for God’s sake. This post has been updated. Originally published November 21, 2014. Read more “Procrastinator’s Thanksgiving Guide” »

Bow Tie Cheese Straws

Cheese Straws Recipe

I have an odd habit when it comes to food. Certain recipes remind me of certain people. I’m sure there’s some scientific explanation for this, but I prefer my Theory of the Heart. It’s as if I’m conjuring these people in the kitchen when I cook. My white chocolate cake with pistachio buttercream frosting brings to mind my friend Carlotta, as does my lemon curd cake, American’s Test Kitchen’s Beef in Barolo, and all things coconut. Anything chocolate is The One—all the better if it’s chocolate and peanut butter. Shrimp and leeks is my not-quite-legal sister-in-law, Diane (I call her that because, as most of you know, The One refuses to marry me). The wintry snowflake cake evokes my niece, Megan. Yes, sometimes I even talk to them in absentia. And no, it’s not dementia.

These bow tie cheese straws are all about our dear friend Deborah, who passed many years ago. I haven’t made them since she died. It would be too painful. To have her sitting on the counter or hovering over my shoulder (I’m not quite sure exactly where the dead hover as they watch you cook), yammering away as I mix, fold, roll, and cut, would be too painful.  Read more “Bow Tie Cheese Straws” »

Cherry Tomato Tart

Cherry Tomato Tart Recipe

An odd and unusual thing happened to us this summer in our garden. Something almost out of science fiction. [Cue otherworldly music.]

Let me back up. Before this year, The One’s and my vegetable garden took up all of a 10-foot circle around an old tree stump. We would dutifully divide it into quarters and fill it with herbs, tomatoes, kale, and a few nasturtiums. That was it. Nothing to write home about. And, since Papa Leite is a consummate gardener, I literally never did write home. The last thing I wanted was for him to raise a grayed eyebrow and wonder, did my boy learn nothing during those long summers at Silvia’s Farm where he worked as a teenager? But this year, overcome by some deep yearning to be real men of the earth, The One and I broke ground on a garden that was more than five times the size of our old garden. In total, four raised beds, all filled with our yard guy’s organic soil.

Here’s where it gets a little weird. In no time, the plants were off and running, even though we got them into the ground more than a month late. I mean, they were ALIVE! The cilantro, which never, ever survived our hands, was huge. The five parsley plants—we planted five because at least half always die—burst into bushes more than two feet tall. Same with the potatoes, squash, cantaloupes, watermelon, cucumbers, broccoli, heirloom tomatoes, carrots, beets, and the rest of the herbs. I finally did write home to my father and send him photos. He kept saying, “I have no idea what you’re doing, son, but keep doing it.” The thing is: We did nothing! Read more “Cherry Tomato Tart” »