Tips for a stress-free Friendsgiving from Las Vegas experts – KNPR

Tips for a stress-free Friendsgiving from Las Vegas experts – KNPR

Merriam Webster reports that the word “friendsgiving” was first used in print in 2007, though it was likely in use well before then. Still, having emerged in the past two decades, it’s a relatively new Thanksgiving term.

So, what is friendsgiving? “I feel like friendsgiving is the family you choose,” says food writer and chef Lorraine Blanco Moss. “It’s a place where everybody is accepted … And with food it makes it even more beautiful, because we all have something different and unique to bring to the table, because we all grew up so differently.”

If you’re planning a Thanksgiving with friends — or family, or anyone, for that matter — you might be wondering what to cook, how to plan it, and how to keep your guests well fed and entertained. Moss and Lissa Townsend Rodgers, author and frequent Desert Companion contributor, offered this advice.

On current food trends …

A big one this year, Moss says, is board parties — for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Common types are charcuterie, cheese, dessert, butter, turkey, and chili (where a board might include various chili garnishes). Some involve guests contributing a piece to the board, others involve each guests bringing their own entire board. Either way, the entire meal is made up of boards.

On cooking a turkey …

There are three keys, according to Moss: One, have a cooking thermometer (and Rodgers cautions to make sure you get this in advance, as stores will be sold out the day before Thanksgiving). Two, cook your turkey until it’s 5-10 degrees below the ideal temperature, and then remove it from the oven and let it rest. The carryover temperature will cook it the rest of the way, while keeping it juicy. Finally, don’t slice it right away; wait until it’s the ideal serving temperature. This will further seal in juices.

On saving money …

According to the U.S. Farm Bureau’s annual survey, the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 rose from nearly $47 in 2020 to more than $64 in 2022. To keep costs in check, Rodgers advises you watch for sales, check out dollar stores for some items, and visit the thrift store for cook wear (other than your meat thermometer).

Moss adds that you shouldn’t feel like you need to have a whole turkey. For small groups, consider cooking just a breast or other cut, vegan/vegetarian options, or seafood, all of which can be cheaper.

On cultural traditions …

Both Moss and Rodgers encourage friends to infuse their own beliefs, values, and customs into the occasion. Moss cites a friend who brought kimchi stuffing for one meal, and another who brought flan for dessert.

She adds that, two years ago, she cooked a meal based on the Indigenous “three sisters”: corn, beans, and squash, which grow together and nourish each other and the soil. “It’s nice to look at what came before us,” Moss says, adding it was great for friends who eat plant-based diets.

On avoiding host-fatigue …

“Do not feel afraid to delegate,” Rodgers says. “That is one of the nice things about friendsgiving is, you can be like, ‘Bring a side,’” She adds that you don’t have to have the full suite of typical Thanksgiving dishes. Skip any element you don’t feel like including. The guests are your friends; they won’t care. “Do what you’re capable of and try to focus on everybody being there and having a good time,” she says.

In addition, she advises practicing self-care. If you start feeling overwhelmed, stop to have a glass of wine or, as she’s done, watch cartoons for five minutes.

On party themes …

Rodgers encourages thinking of a theme as a way to focus your menu. Themes she’s used at past friendsgivings include “Mad Men” (for retro dishes), Southwest U.S. (cheese and chiles), and Yankee (oyster stuffing and white beans).

On being a good guest …

If you do have a special diet, bring something you like to eat, so it takes pressure off the host, Moss says. If you’re the host, prepare early. Dishes that can be cooked ahead of time and reheated the day of the meal are potatoes, sweet potatoes, dessert, and stuffing. “They’ll still be delicious, and no one will know,” she says.

If you don’t cook, Rodgers says, bring a bottle of wine or sparkling cider, or try something simple to prepare, such as maple butter, sweetened whipped cream, or another tasty condiment. Always help to clean up after the meal, and look for other ways you can lend a hand, from mixing cocktails to walking the dog.

On alternative celebrations …

If you’re not getting together with anyone, you may still try to eat something you like, even if it’s not turkey and stuffing. “It should be a day where you indulge in what makes you feel good and makes you happy,” Rodgers says, “whatever that might be — 12 people and a turkey or an In-N-Out burger and ‘Kojak.’”

Moss is not cooking for the first time this year. Instead, she’s heading out of town with her husband and dogs and having Mexican food on the beach. (Host note: It’s also a great day to go to the movies with friends!)

Guests: Lorraine Blanco Moss, food writer, chef, and regular contributor to Desert Companion; Lissa Townsend Rodgers, author who covers dining, nightlife, and pop culture for Desert Companion

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