Macy’s Thanksgiving parade

An Accidental, Eventful, Week

by Anne Maxfield on November 21, 2011

Accidental Locavore Sicilian Pizza

What do you say about a week that starts out with the Accidental Locavore’s appearance on Emeril’s Table, slides into a feast of local meat and matching cocktails, moves into a pizza tour of Brooklyn, stops for “breakfast” at the Chocolate Show and ends with Clown U for the Thanksgiving Parade? Toss in almost all the rest of the boroughs for fun and a couple of Broadway plays and it was a wild week!

Since you all know about the Emeril show, let’s get started Monday night at City Winery for Meat With a Twist, the kick-off for Meat Week. Lots of great (local meat) nibbles, ranging from various sliders to pâtés and more. The Locavore favorites? Two lovely versions of steak tartare, but the best? Amazing fois gras from Hudson Valley Fois Gras. The best cocktail? Blood orange vodka with lemon juice and simple syrup (lemonade to you and me). Later in the week, a fun bus tour, with a Slice of Brooklyn to explore that  borough’s famous pizza. Because we were part of a shoot for an upcoming TV show, we only got to one stop on the tour, L&B Spumoni Gardens for their famous Sicilian style pizza. What makes theirs different is they put the cheese directly on the dough, then add tomato sauce. I missed the nice gooey cheese on top, but the pizza did taste good. Tony, who runs the tours, is a fun, knowledgeable guy who obviously loves what he’s doing! I’ve signed up for his tour of Christmas lights on  December 3rd, want to come?Accidental Locavore 1 Chick

Friday morning, a quick run-through of the annual Chocolate Show. The Locavore has learned (the hard way) to limit the amount of chocolate I eat. It’s awfully tempting to try everything in sight, but a little discretion goes a long way. My friend, Elyissia, 2 Chicks With Chocolate, had a great booth, with lots of new treats, including jars of their amazing lemongrass caramel that you can take home (heat in microwave for 10 seconds and pour over ice cream…delicious!). I also met the two partners in Salt of the Earth Bakery who do incredible brownies, the must-have and aptly named, OMG, with caramel and fleur de sel…  Warning — you’ll be hooked!Accidental Locavore Salt of the Earth

Saturday morning, a trip to the Big Apple Circus to get my clown training from Grandma and the other clowns for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. This year I’m a birthday clown, towards the end of the parade, with Ronald McDonald. Confetti is rationed this year, anyone want to start a Twitter campaign… #moreconfetti?

Happy Thanksgiving to All!Accidental Locavore Big Apple Circus

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Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Clowns

As  the Accidental Locavore, I’m a good person to talk about not overdoing it at this time of year, however as Anne Maxfield, overdoing it at Thanksgiving has become my new tradition. Because my husband works on Thanksgiving and I find two holidays back-to-back with my family a bit much, a few years ago, I decided to be a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade*. When you get up at 5:00 AM and greet thousands of kids wearing a red nose, cooking tons of food after walking four miles is not an option.

So, how to downsize the big day without anyone noticing?

  1. Buy an instant read thermometer. You’ll never worry about cooking a big piece of meat, again. It’s a must-have. They’re inexpensive, under $10 and worth every penny. You don’t want to ruin the main course do you?
  2. Delegate. Everyone brings something. If you don’t trust their cooking skills, rolls, wine, soda, ice cream or salad are options that are hard to mess up. And there are very few people (although I’m probably related to all of them) who will turn up their noses at canned cranberry sauce. This is a great strategy if you’ve got vegetarians, or fussy eaters, ask them to bring their favorite dish. Just make a list of what you’ve assigned so you know where you have to fill in. I’ve actually given dinner parties where I haven’t cooked anything, but please don’t tell anyone!
  3.  Forget the appetizers and serve soup as a first course. No one needs to fill up on finger food before the main event. I bet they won’t even notice it’s not there (and if they do, they’d better be too polite to mention it). The reason everyone tells you to drink a lot of water when you’re on a diet, is because it fills you up. Soup does the same thing. Here’s a recipe for winter squash soup that’s not too sweet. It’s easy, you can do it ahead of time and it’s inexpensive. While there’s a little cream in it, it’s only ¼ cup added in at the end to give it richness. If you want to make it vegan, use vegetable stock and olive oil and forget the croutons. Accidental Locavore Turkey Carcass
  4.  Combinations. My mother insists on creamed onions or it’s not Thanksgiving. However, she’s the only one who likes them. I have a great recipe for Brussels sprouts and pearl onions with a horseradish sauce that everyone loves and the veggies can be cooked ahead, then tossed in the sauce until warmed through. Think about other vegetables you can combine so you’re not cooking 400 side dishes.
  5. Stick to one, max two, desserts. No one has room for multiple pies. Add ice cream if you want but keep it simple. And without a lot of leftover desserts, you won’t be tempted to nibble every time you walk by them.
  6. Give everyone some leftovers to take home. If it’s not around, you won’t eat it. Use the turkey carcass to make soup. When you’re tired of sandwiches, how about a shepherd’s pie using the leftover turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes?

What are your best holiday tips?

*If you want to spot me, this year I’m a Birthday Clown, we’ll be towards the end of the parade, with Ronald McDonald.

This article is from a seminar The Accidental Locavore gave to MetLife employees and a version of it appeared in my column for EcoPlum.

 

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