NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 31, 2012

Dinner for two

A menu to celebrate Thanksgiving minus the crowd

Perhaps more than any other holiday, Thanksgiving is associated with big family gatherings. But that doesn’t mean you need a house full of in-laws, uncles and cousins to celebrate in a meaningful way.

Newlyweds, empty nesters, young adults on their own, even a couple of friends can have their turkey and eat it, too, creating a day that resonates with their new phase of life and leaves behind the muss, fuss and hassle of the ginormous family blow out.

“It really is a time for celebrating,” says Martin Novell, a Los Angeles-based marriage and family therapist. “It’s a time for giving thanks for the dreams that have been achieved, recognizing the disappointments and refocusing on the future by creating new adventures.” And none of that requires a crowd.

Here are a few expert tips for creating a festive and memorable holiday for two:

KEEP IT SIMPLE

When it comes to cooking, take it down a notch. But don’t skimp on taste or tradition. Roast a turkey breast instead of the whole bird, says Betty Crocker Kitchens cookbook editor Grace Wells, or even Rock Cornish game hens for a more elegant presentation. Buy what you can — rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing — at a gourmet shop or supermarket. And above all, don’t make a mess. “Why would you use three pans to make turkey and gravy?” says Julia Collin Davison, executive food editor of America’s Test Kitchen books. “If you can do it in one, why not?”

RESTRAIN YOURSELF

Remember there are only two of you. Which doesn’t mean you have to cut out the side dishes you love, says Davison. It just means you have to make them in smaller portions, even if you have to buy the casserole dishes to do it. Buy your vegetables in small amounts too, not in bulk bags. And perhaps most important, Davison says, prepare only what you’re really going to eat.

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