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Blog Housekeeping

Thanksgiving Break 2020

So I’ll be taking time off until probably Monday, unless we get any big news. Thanksgiving season is here, and although we don’t have as big a crowd as usual here (of course), I will soon head into the kitchen to make the same chocolate pecan pie I do every year. Every so often someone tweets a photo of their own experimental replication to me – I’m always glad to see it! A pumpkin pie will accompany it.

The main menu here will be pretty much as it always as – a mixture of American and Iranian standards. Turkey, of course (we buy a kosher one rather than brine it ourselves), stuffing (my mother-in-law’s recipe, which feature bread cubes, cranberries, green apples, celery, onion, and the secret weapon of pepperoni sausage), mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and homemade turkey gravy, pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, creamed pearl onions with sage, and javaher pullo, which is basmati rice cooked with saffron, pistachios, almond slivers, small sour red zereshk berries, and orange zest.

I hope those readers who are celebrating the holiday stay safe and enjoy themselves as much as we all can this year. The recent vaccine news should bring some cheer, though – the end of all this is in sight! Make it there safely, and urge your friends and relatives to do what it takes as well.

23 comments on “Thanksgiving Break 2020”

  1. Howard Rosenberg says:

    Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for all your information and insight. I look forward to reading your blog.

  2. Michael says:

    Derek, I married into an Iranian family and my taste buds have reaped enormous rewards. Fesenjan was a revelation.

    Is there a scientific reason why a pinch of sumac and a *mountain* of sumac each add the same amount of flavor? Have never been able to figure that out.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

  3. Fraud Guy says:

    My wife does Italian sausage in her stuffing and it adds so much flavor; pepperoni may be a little zingy for her, though.

  4. Christophe L Verlinde says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Derek. Thank you for another year of multi-disciplinary insights.

  5. luysii says:

    If there was ever a time to look back to last Thanksgiving and contemplate what we didn’t do as we took everything we had as a given, it was count your blessings.

    A happy chastened Thanksgiving to all

  6. Aaron says:

    Sounds like a great feast! Well deserved time off, love the analysis/reporting in these times, leavened with a sense of humor. Enjoy!

  7. David says:

    Stuffing would be better with a little zinc.


    on a serious note: also a fan of sausage in stuffing. I use italian turkey sausage, and also add chestnuts, and a vampire-inhibiting amount of garlic.

  8. Driving2GranmahsHus says:

    Kosher Iranian?
    OK, I’m in! .. what’s the javaher pullo recipe? Do you cool the breast meat or preheat the thighs to deal with the light/dark meat difference?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Alton Brown’s method of tenting the breast with aluminum foil works great, if you’re doing a whole bird. I don’t bother with brining either, but if you cook the white meat to the proper temperature, it comes out moist, anyway, and only takes a couple hours at most.

      The real secret, though, is to break down the bird before you roast, so you can cook the dark and light meat for separate lengths of time if needed (Julia Child is never wrong). I routinely do 2 turkeys at the same time in my regular-sized oven – three if I put it on convection. Salt, pepper, roast it on some fruit and spices, perfection.

      Remember, never trust an organic chemist who doesn’t like to cook. Happy Thanksgiving!

      1. Driving2GranmasHus says:

        Sounds good!
        I’ll have to look into the brining/no-brining thing, in the past I’ve injected the bird with a butter/liqueur mixture and used a roasting bag.
        This year, no cooking.

      2. bob says:

        “Remember, never trust an organic chemist who doesn’t like to cook.”

        I resent that comment. Its the dishes I hate. In a lab all day washing dishes, the last thing I want to do is repeat at home. This is why I despise cooking…

  9. Rob B says:

    The two Thanksgivings this Limey spent stateside were under canvas at Pfeiffer State Beach, Big Sur, and at Westport Beach, Mendicino County. That Pacific roar remembered ever more. Years of Eureka earthquake and Don’t Stop Believin’. Happy Thanksgiving to all In The Pipeline. God Bless America.

  10. Sydney Smith says:

    Wow. What a feast!

  11. UserFriendly says:

    Happy holidays. I’d love to hear your take on this when you get back.

    1. David Eugene Young says:

      They are already starting over.

  12. theasdgamer says:

    Happy Birthday! (or Happy Thanksgiving–I’m so confused)

  13. theasdgamer says:

    As long as we’re sharing big news, I got two wins of two theories I support in Nature…

    Vitamin D

    “Analysis of vitamin D level among asymptomatic and critically ill COVID-19 patients and its correlation with inflammatory markers”

    “‘No evidence’ that asymptomatic Covid-19 cases were infectious, analysis of post-lockdown Wuhan concludes”


  14. Peter S. Shenkin says:

    I’d love to get your javaher pullo recipe. I have zereshk in my kitchen.

  15. Masher says:

    Regarding the chocolate pecan pie, do you have data yet on the most effective dosing regime? A single large slice followed by careful monitoring, or maybe one small slice on day one to prepare the body’s natural response, followed by an enormous slice on day two?

  16. ap says:

    This post has gotten me to thinking about how cooking and chemistry are different. In short:
    Cooking–Browning is good.
    Chemistry–Browning is bad.

    1. Brooks Moses says:

      English literature–There is more than one Browning, and both are good.

    2. Hmm. I seem to recall hearing about a prep or two that actually used the Maillard reaction. Work-up of the product was _horrible._ I’m glad I’m not a chemist.

  17. Brooks Moses says:

    Sounds like a delicious dinner, indeed!

    One thing I was wondering about, reading through the past few entries: It looks like the vaccine regimen is going to be two injections, whatever vaccine we have. We have quite a few vaccines, as well. Would we expect anything useful to come of using a different vaccine for each injection?

    It seems to me that, if effective, that might mitigate some of the difficult supply-chain issues — perhaps only one of the two shots would need to be kept at very low temperatures. I also wonder how the overall effectiveness would compare to the effectiveness of each vaccine alone. For instance, if the effectiveness comes mostly from the second shot, could we use a less-effective vaccine that might be easier to manufacture and ship (or for which we simply might have parallel manufacturing capacity) for the first shot, and double the number of people we can reach with a fixed amount of the more-effective vaccine? And is there a possibility that giving people a diversity of vaccines this way would be more effective than a single vaccine?

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