new normal . . .

by mulberryshoots

the naked duck

This is Sunday before Thanksgiving, and usually, I will have done my food shopping for the week’s preparations: fresh turkey, not too big; a couple of pounds of chestnuts to roast, peel and add to a bread stuffing made with Pepperidge Farm herb breadcrumbs, Bell’s seasoning, fresh parsley, vidalia onions, chicken broth; potatoes to boil for mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts with bacon, peas and salad; pumpkin pie or some kind of harvest-like dessert.

So, today, I was in Whole Foods and noticed that beside the very expensive brined organic turkeys, were rows of Bell and Evans fresh duckling. Since it’s the two of us this year, I thought, well, why not have duckling instead? Peking Duck, to be exact. A simple meal with roasted duckling, carved with crispy pieces of golden brown skin, scallions, hoisin sauce smeared on homemade wrappers. When I brought up the idea with G., his face lit up and he nodded in agreement. And then he suggested the perfect thing to go with the meal–Chinese rice porridge made with stock, a smooth gruel easy to digest and a tasty complement to the duckling main course.

That’s it. I’ve been wanting to simplify (the wrappers need to be made but not until we’re just ready to eat; and it’s a lot less preparation than all the food that went into the turkey-lurkey meal above.) In fact, I think I’m done with making chestnut stuffing altogether. Time to move on from the torture of roasting and peeling chestnuts night after night in order to get the amount needed for the dressing. So here’s a salutary photo of chestnut dressing–long may we fondly remember it!

I’m kind of excited with this new normal. Not that Peking Duck will be the repast to have every Thanksgiving from now on either. But to give ourselves more latitude, (especially me, who does the cooking and the shopping) to be flexible, and to decide what to have when we see something appetizing and appealing. And to keep it simple. Less work. Less heavy. Less fat. Just less.

Along those lines, I will also be christening a 7″ springform pan to make a smaller dessert. Or, I might simplify even more by making panna cotta in small white ironstone cups and serve with lingonberry preserves on top. Small is good.