Notes to your future self
Holiday tips, a voting reminder, and November picnics
Last night Erica kicked off the holiday season with an epic friendsgiving. It really set the tone for the holiday season ahead and I’m grateful to have been a part of it (if you’re hosting this year, check out Erica’s impeccable guides). I’m writing more about the holiday season and Q4 in general in Thursday’s newsletter for paid subscribers.
Today, I’m answering your Thanksgiving questions and sharing some of your tips at the end of the newsletter, including one that applies to every type of gathering. But first, if you’re eligible to vote, do you have your voting plan in place? I voted early on the Working Families line and the New York gubernatorial race is too close for comfort, so get out there. If you have questions about where to vote, vote.org has answers.
In the TNHS universe, I have two reminders: first we’re having a 5th birthday party for the newsletter next Tuesday at Philomena’s in Brooklyn and you can RSVP here! It’s going to be lots of fun and our events are always a great place to make friends. And, starting November 14th (next Monday), subscription prices will increase to $6 a month or $59 a year. If you’re thinking of subscribing, you can do so now to lock in the current rates. As always, I appreciate your support!
Now, let’s dive in!
Something to cook:
Last Monday, I made a classic pantry pasta with rigatoni, pesto from the freezer, and chickpeas that I crisped in a pan with chili pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. With a shower of parmesan and a tall Spindrift, it was a pretty lovely dinner.
The unsettling warm weather was perfect for a picnic so Hillary, Julia, Julianne and I gathered in Central Park with provisions. We had crudites, olives, cheese, spicy labneh from Cava, various Trader Joe’s nuts, jam that Julia brought in a mini jar, chocolate, crackers, and a baguette. I have a small set of cheese knives that are perfect for outings like this and it was so good to catch up and admire the foliage.
Erica cooked up a friendsgiving feast! My favorite dishes were the mushroom stuffing, the mashed potatoes, and the vegetarian shepherd’s pie (a version is in our ebook). Dale was obsessed with the sweet potatoes, which have a great backstory
Something to order:
I did something very out of character and went on a hike with Austrian Wines. We took the train to Peekskill and did a 2ish mile loop, wine in hand, before having a picnic lunch by Cafe Katja. It was a beautiful and thought provoking day and the food was really good (and there were ample vegetarian options including a mustardy potato salad with cucumber and dill). Also, a side note: I always stop at Cafe Grumpy when I take a train from Grand Central and it’s always so good.
Julianne and I had a long awaited catchup! We went to Dead Rabbit for drinks and oysters. It was my first time there and the service was incredible, they switched out our cocktail glasses midway through to keep the drinks cold. Then, we walked over to Felice for some delicious pasta and Tuscan wine—their handmade fusilli with burrata as so good. It was such a lovely evening.
Tilden and I went to an event in Chelsea for The Scent Lab, a new candle brand and were hungry after. We headed to Coppelia, a Cuban diner that’s open 24 hours. It was somehow my first time there and I’ll definitely be back. We split nachos and yucca fries and I’d love to try their breakfast food.
I got lunch with my parents at Lucy’s and we discovered the Berry street location has a stunning patio (I already knew the food was great, I’ve been ordering it for years). Get the vegan ginger chicken pho.
Amy had a beautiful birthday party at Avoca on the Upper East Side. You can reserve a section of the backyard and there’s table service which is so convenient. It was great to celebrate her!
Something to read:
I share more reads (and tips on reading) in the Thursday newsletter for paid subscribers.
Why we’re still bewitched by the Salem Witch Trials, which didn’t actually happen in Salem.
Lemon is the hottest new pizza topping, have you tried it?
How to feel alive, a beautiful tribute to Tatiana’s abuela
Tyler James Williams is crushing it on Abbott Elementary and I loved this interview with him about being a child star, dating, and more
More reasons to vote! I Write About Post-Roe America Every Day. It’s Worse Than You Think.
Now, let’s get into the holidays with some tips & questions.
Mike shared a very valuable hosting tip for any type of big event: make a post mortem document: My best tip for any recurring entertaining is to use whatever calendar app you prefer to send notes to your future self. The moment Thanksgiving/Halloween/New Year's/etc is over, write notes about what did and didn't work and put them in a reminder about a week before next year's event. In normal times, we host an open house on New Year's Day and I have notes about how much wine and beer to buy, what food went over well and poorly, and how many leftovers there were so I can plan better the next time around. I include links to recipes I've used as well so I don't have to search for them every year. I now know that a pre-made crudites tray is the smart way to go and that almost no one drinks beer on New Year's Day. I also put annually recurring reminders in my calendar that tell me when I should do different prep steps.
I’ll add on to that note and suggest we all make notes to ourselves after big gatherings or events. Maybe you actually like an intimate birthday dinner instead of a big party, but always get talked into one. Did you forget how stressful Thanksgiving was with that one family member? Maybe you can do something different next year. Going against tradition at the holidays can be really hard, but remember that your safety and comfort and joy matter and it’s worth trying to find a situation that makes you feel good, even if you have to plan it yourself. You’re worth it.
Q: I am going to a Thanksgiving an hour drive away (in Cali) and am wondering what would be good to bring! No kosher/dietary restrictions, but probably oven restrictions... Thank you for asking this question!
A: Without knowing what’s on the menu, I would suggest either a dessert or an appetizer because they usually can be served at room temperature and won’t require oven space! For the appetizer, you can make a dip (I love onion dip, either homemade or from a mix) and bring crudite and crackers (put the dip in a cooler bag to be safe) or you can do spiced nuts or chex mix. For dessert, there are so many options. I like this cranberry crumb cake which is also great leftover for breakfast, pumpkin pie bars, or an apple crisp. You can pick up ice cream or whipped cream when you’re almost at the house or bring a cooler in the trunk. And definitely communicate with your host about what you’re bringing so they can plan around it. It will be great!
Q: I would love recommendations for any orgs to volunteer with this holiday season! I much prefer to work with orgs that other folks recommend vs just googling whatever's out there. I also love non-traditional volunteering (food donating/serving is great, but sometimes hard when you're organizing for an office). Last year we decorated bags and notecards for Hear of Dinner and in lieu of a standard canned food drive for a big org, I raised money to buy groceries for community fridges!
A: You’ve already worked with some great organizations and I love the community fridge angle, of course! A team outing to stock a bunch of fridges in the area is so impactful, especially during this time of year. I’ve personally cooked at Holy Apostles in Chelsea and they run a daily soup kitchen where you get to help both cook and serve the meal. They work with a lot of groups and are pros at giving everyone jobs. Brooklyn Community Kitchen is based in Greenpoint and they have food rescue opportunities and do a big meal distribution as well. If there’s a donation component, this organization pays off lunch debt, which is a thing that should not even exist. On the Lower East Side, Canal Cafeteria does monthly food distributions and is always looking for volunteers to help set up and distribute food. A lot of food organizations also need help with outreach—they may have a list of potential food donors, like restaurants and grocery stores, but no time to call or email them. Volunteering in that way by either writing emails based on a template or making calls could be really helpful as well.
Thanks for reading and happy entertaing! Get out and vote!