Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and even though I’ve been living overseas for years, I always manage to make a traditional dinner. But for most of us this year, Thanksgiving is a scaled-down affair. That’s thanks to new lockdowns, public health necessity … oh, and did you hear food shortages are back? Plus, many of us are in need this holiday season, as the line of cars at a food bank shown above can attest. So today we’re telling you how to help, how to cook and how to cope.
This month, some American grocery stores — fearing new lockdowns and thus a spate of panic-buying — have begun capping amounts of certain products shoppers can buy. While a Texas supermarket has limited brisket purchases, other outlets have forced shoppers to buy only sane amounts of ramen or peanut butter. Cleaning supplies and toilet paper are under ration too, at least at Target. Panic-buyers also seem to recognize the importance of breakfast: Walmart’s CEO said that aside from TP and cleaning products, its supplies of bacon and jelly are also under stress. Still, industry experts say that while consumers may freak out over bare shelves, supply chains seem stronger than in March and April because retailers have had more of a chance to prepare.
2. Yes, We Can
It’s not just the food that’s the problem — it’s the containers. The U.S. has seen a massive aluminum can shortage this year, partly due to shortages of steel and tin that are normally shipped from China. Given people’s penchant for canned goods in a crisis — not to mention beer — food and beverage manufacturers are left in a tight spot. And that’s without factoring in what we like to call the LaCroix factor: The sparkling water sensation’s parent company saw record sales last quarter, up 11 percent from 2019.
Beyond food availability, many are struggling with the funds. Four in 10 Americans say they’ve experienced food insecurity for the first time during the pandemic, and without a government stimulus to help those who have lost their jobs due to the crisis, that problem is likely to worsen. Food bank network Feeding America estimates that the crisis will mean about 50 million people — including 17 million children — are left without adequate food. If you have the means to do so this holiday, use this tool to find and donate to your local food bank.
thanksgiving for a smaller table
1. A Pie of One’s Own
All across America, people used to cooking for 30 on Thanksgiving are scaling back to cook for six, five or even just one. And while that’s difficult and sad in many ways, it’s also an opportunity to really go all out for those few people. For example, instead of making everyone share a pie like peasants, you could make these individual apple hand pies, which are a fun spin on the traditional bake and pleasingly portable in case some people need to stand on the porch in order to socially distance during dinner.
Another thing most of us don’t have time to do on Thanksgiving: fun hors d’oeuvres. While normally you might lob a gigantic spoonful of mashed potatoes onto everyone’s plates as fast as possible, this year go dainty with these little cheesy potato puffs, baked in a mini muffin pan. You can also do this with leftover mashed potatoes the next day, even if you go with the traditional mashed potato mountain on Thanksgiving proper. Then you can teach everyone our favorite Thanksgiving word: shemomechama, a Georgian term for gluttony that literally means “I accidentally ate the whole thing.”
Say it with us: gadget time! With a scaled-down Thanksgiving, you might have a fun kitchen toy in your budget. Or maybe you have a kitchen blowtorch lying around from a wedding registry or something — we don’t know your life. Either way, break it out for these individual eggnog crème brûlées, since Thanksgiving is the official start to eggnog season. Actually, we just made that up, but we love eggnog and burning things is fun, so this is a win-win.
Sure, spring is the traditional time, but a lot of us didn’t really feel like cleaning in March. Now you’ve got a holiday weekend and (hopefully) no house full of guests, so you can use this time to deep clean your space. May we recommend that you start with your refrigerator? We guarantee it is far grosser than you ever imagined. Then move on to the bathroom.
2. Most Important Meal
We always advise that you take your time with breakfast. But artist Manami Sasaki has literally turned the most important meal of the day into art with her daily toast paintings decorated with fruit, vegetables, sesame paste and anything else that helps create a quiet masterpiece. We’re not saying every morning has to be a trip to the MoMA. But even a hot dog can take on a personality with a little bit of effort.
Here’s a Hulu gem you might have missed but now have time to enjoy as lockdowns accelerate. Woke follows an artist (played by Lamorne Morris of New Girl fame) who wants to stay out of the racial debates of the day, but after he is racially profiled by a cop, he starts seeing the microaggressions around him and inanimate objects start speaking to him. It’s the kind of funny that makes you think, not unlike Morris himself, who opens up on the latest episode of The Carlos Watson Show about racial representation on sitcoms, his drug-dealing father and transformative acting advice from Chadwick Boseman.
Drinking regularly was a stress reliever for some, but months of fewer opportunities to exercise mixed with that little tinge of a hangover when your alarm goes off will put you off the sauce faster than a lecture from Carry Nation. Maybe that’s why the alcohol-free sector is doing so well this fall: Sales of nonalcoholic beer grew by 38 percent in the first six months of the pandemic, nearly twice as fast as sales of alcohol. Even cocktail nerds can get into it: Try Julia Bainbridge’s recipe for a cherry and smoke, a complex, flavorful drink that won’t put you to sleep.
The ivy-covered towers of a four-year college might not seem so attractive when you factor in being quarantined in the dorms, getting COVID-19 at parties and the tens of thousands in tuition you’d pay for the privilege. But enrollment in nature-focused wilderness programs and gap years is soaring, as teens gravitate toward other opportunities that prioritize fresh air and naturally socially distanced activities.
Computer chips may sound pedestrian, but NVIDIA’s stock is soaring as Americans hunker down for lockdown and upgrade their home-gaming setups with the company’s graphics cards. The boredom of being indoors has sent even nongamers looking for a new hobby — maybe that’s why the new PlayStation 5 is already experiencing its own shortages, and NVIDIA’s gaming sector now accounts for almost half of its revenue.
Need a little beat to get you through the week? Check out this week's playlist on OZY, featuring the game-changing artists you love and rising stars you'll soon love.
lockdown food crazes
1. Seasonal Flavors
Let’s face it: Banana bread was popular because you bought those bananas, you didn’t know what to do with them, and you wanted to feel like an old-timey frontier person who doesn’t let anything go to waste. Oh, and it works as both a breakfast and a dessert. Well, hold on to your pumpkin spice: This buttery butternut squash-y loaf does all of that, plus it’s autumnal. Make sure you use salted butter for the icing, and actually all the time. Unsalted butter is a travesty.
2. Ferment Revolution
Remember the sourdough bread weeks? Everyone suddenly had a starter and everyone was talking about crumb or something. I mean, I wasn’t, because I live across the street from a bakery. Anyway, that starter is probably still languishing in your fridge, but even if bread turns out to be too much of a pain, you can still use it in a delightfully tangy pizza crust. Grab some charcuterie and a peppery cheese, maybe some artichoke hearts, and you’ll be good to go. Bonus points: Even the messiest pizzas look good on Instagram.
3. A Bowl of Goodness
Speaking of impressive, you know what’s hard to photograph well? Soup. It always looks kind of sad and weird. Unless it’s ramen, which is easy to make visually pleasing — and, being a giant bowl of soup, is perfect for winter. You can also spend as much or as little time as you like on the various toppings, and make a huge Sunday batch of broth to keep you in varied, flavorful soup dinners for a week at a time. And soups are a great destination for all those turkey day leftovers.