Like many of you, our family plans to scale back this Thanksgiving — fewer people, much simpler menu, and aiming to do whatever we do outside, assuming Mother Nature is kind. No big turkey this year surrounded by more sides than we can (well, should) eat. To be honest, the feeling of release from all the traditional prep is already making me step lighter.
It is a fact that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising, and that should have us all taking extra precautions next week that reduce the risk of spread. In my personal opinion, there are many reasons to do so — not only to protect our families but to save what we can of the community Christmas season; to lessen the risk of temporary shutdowns returning, as they already are in other states; and to hasten the advent of a stable, robust economy.
If you’re hosting a small holiday gathering, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some advice at cdc.gov. First, know that there is currently no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It’s possible a person can get the virus by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging or utensils that have the virus on them, then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. However, that is not thought to be the main way the virus is spread.
Some general considerations that can mitigate risk are to limit the number of attendees as much as possible and move gatherings outdoors. Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with people who are not in your household. If you must be inside, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent it is safe and feasible, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
Other advice includes
The ultra careful may want to encourage guests to bring their own food and drink for themselves and for members of their household; avoid potluck-style gatherings.
It goes without saying that the CDC recommends wearing masks unless eating, remaining 6 feet apart from others not in your usual household and washing hands well. Make hand sanitizer available.
Sure, none of this is fun, but a few precautions now could help in the long-run, and we all want to get to the finish line.
But back to food, because that’s on our minds, isn’t it? A Thanksgiving menu isn’t complete without a sweet. (Our family favors apple cake, apple pie or pecan pie). Here are a few more ideas for your holiday.
NUTTY APPLE CRISP
Makes: 10 servings
3 apples, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks, unpeeled
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup pistachios, walnuts or almonds, unsalted, chopped
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
(Note: Sweet varieties of apples like Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Gala work best for this recipe since there is very little added sugar. Adding nuts and oatmeal to the top of this crisp adds fiber, making it heart healthy.)
PUMPKIN APPLE CAKE
1 package (18.25 ounces) white cake mix
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
Nonstick cooking spray and flour
(Note: This is an ideal cake to bake in cans and give for gifts. Cans should be well greased and filled 2/3 full. It is best to use cans with smooth sides and without a lead seam. Baking times for cans: 18 ounce can, 45 minutes or until done; 16-17 ounce can, 40 minutes or until done; 6 ounce can, 30 minutes or until done.)
SWEET POTATO CAKE
Makes: 16 servings
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 to 3 medium, or 2 large)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Two pinches ground cloves (add more if you like)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
Serve at room temperature cut into squares.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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