Red, yellow, and orange have taken on a different meaning this fall. No longer just the vibrant colours of fall foliage, they now dictate our social distance from one another. I’m stating nothing new in saying that Thanksgiving is going to feel very different this year. Likely distanced from the people you love, this year seems like the most appropriate time to step away from the pageantry and big feasts and really just take the holiday for its title: “Thanksgiving”. Let’s take this time instead to turn inward, become cozy and comfortable by ourselves, and take a mindful minute to be grounded in what we do have to be grateful for. With that said, these past few months have taught me that there is something replenishing about spending time alone. So join me in a Thanksgiving for one. A Thanksgiving where mindfulness, nostalgia, and delicious food can meet for one joyful evening.
Let’s take this time instead to turn inward, become cozy and comfortable by ourselves, and take a mindful minute to be grounded in what we do have to be grateful for.
To set the tone, I recommend making yourself a nice fall beverage and putting on a Canadiana playlist. I’m going to go for an apple cider whiskey mule and a playlist consisting of the Barenaked Ladies, K’naan, and Broken Social Scene. In the early days of quarantine, I read an article in the New York Times that recommended toasting to yourself when eating alone. I have to say, it may sound a little cringey when you hear it for the first time, but it’s actually quite a nice gesture. You’re about to put time into creating an optimal evening for yourself, so take the time to acknowledge it and say cheers, just for being you.
Once the mood has been set, and you’ve had a nice taste of fall, it’s time to make yourself a charcuterie board to snack on while you cook yourself a feast. If you have the means, assemble your snack on a board of sorts, maybe a wooden cutting board or a small serving platter. Place down a few crackers, a dollop of savoury jam (I prefer chilli or fig), a vine of grapes, and a chunk of mild cheese – perhaps an applewood smoked cheddar to really usher in the season. Take some time to sip your beverage, crunch your crackers, and sway to the music. Once you have taken a minute to enjoy your happy hour, it’s time to cook.
The Main Course
Early Bird Gets the Worm
To keep it simple, but still traditional, we’re going to make some classics with a twist, all on a sheet pan! First things first, let’s deal with the turkey. Go ahead and get yourself a turkey breast, or if you’re vegetarian you can use cooked lentils as your base. We’re going to dice half a red onion and toss it in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and two springs of thyme. Lay your turkey on a lined baking sheet and top with half the onion mixture and give it a little massage. Once the turkey is marinated, add the rest of your onion mixture on top. If you are making the vegetarian version of this dish, place the onion mixture on a lined baking sheet and cook your lentils in accordance to label instructions. You’ll mix your onion mixture into your lentils as a main dish.
Roasted Tater Wedges
Next we’re going to make some baked potato wedges. Personally, I’m a proponent of sweet potato, but you can do this with the tater of your choosing. Just slice the potato into finger sized pieces and toss in a tsp of olive oil, salt and pepper, ½ tsp paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp chilli powder, and some chilli flakes if you like a spicy kick. Place the potatoes on the same baking sheet and put it all in the oven at 400℉ for 45 minutes (until Turkey is 165℉ at its thickest section). If you want to char and crisp the potatoes at the end broil them on the top rack for about two minutes. Fun fact: you can also do all of this in a toaster oven!!
Hob Nob Off the Cob Salad
The final part of this dinner is a small side salad. All you need is some shredded kale, de-cobbed corn, two thinly sliced red radishes, and a candied nut for some pizzazz (again, to stay in the Canadiana spirit I recommend a maple pecan.) For the dressing, mix together 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp dijon mustard, ½ tsp honey, and salt and pepper. Feel free to dress your salad while everything is cooking in the oven to allow the kale to fully absorb the dressing and marinate.
Once it’s all done, nicely plate your food and get ready to enjoy. Now, this can be the tricky part. Eating on your own can feel daunting and lonely, which is why I have a few suggestions on how you can embrace this oddly new thanksgiving tradition. The first option is to fully embrace this solitude. I love Krista Tippet’s conversation with Stephen Batchelor on her podcast, On Being, where they discuss how to enjoy aloneness. Take this time to eat slowly, enjoy every bite – you don’t need to fight over who gets the crispiest potato. Practice mindful eating, journal what you love most about the meal, or what you are feeling grateful for in this moment. If being alone with your thoughts is less up your alley, call someone you care about and tell them just that. Or watch some TV. Friends, This is Us, That 70s Show, Charlie Brown, and New Girl all have great Thanksgiving episodes.
Take this time to eat slowly, enjoy every bite – you don’t need to fight over who gets the crispiest potato.
A Sweet Ending
Now for dessert. If you thought I could write an article about a thanksgiving in the Q without mentioning TikTok, you must be mistaken. First things first, should you want a dance break or challenge – go hop on the ‘Tok right now and dance it out. Otherwise, may I introduce you to the single portion Levain cookie for one? If you’re unsure of what I’m talking about, it’s the famously gigantic NYC chocolate chip cookie that is all over food TikTok. After spending the last six months seeing quick baking recipes, I think this one provides the atmosphere we need to end our evening on a sweet note. I also found you some wholesome Canadian content to go along with your baking endeavours; the podcast episode of Home Cooked Dawn’s Parting Gift is truly wonderful and prepares you for a chocolate chippy dream. If you’d rather have an abundance of chocolate chip goodness, rather than just one cookie courtesy of the ‘Tok, the recipe discussed in the podcast is linked in their show notes.
Here is a list of ingredients you’ll need for your amazing solo feast.
- Mild cheese
- Savoury Jam
- Turkey breast or Lentils
- ½ red onion diced
- 1 medium potato (sweet, Yukon, etc.)
- 1 cup shredded kale
- 1 steamed and de-cobbed corn husk
- 1 handful of candied nuts
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Fresh Thyme
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Garlic powder
- Chilli flakes
- Chilli powder
- TikTok cookies
- Podcast cookies
Now that you are nice and full, it’s time to pass on that same feeling to others. Here are a few organizations that you can get involved with to give back to the Montréal community during this tough time.
- Santropol Roulant — meals on wheels program delivers meals to Montrealers with a loss of autonomy, you can help in the kitchen and out delivering
- Meals for Milton Parc — McGill Student initiative supporting the houseless people in the Milton Parc area. Message them on Instagram to get more involved.
- Midnight Kitchen — Organization operating out of tio’tia:ke making food accessible to as many people as possible
Of course, as you care for others, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Here are some resources that will help you take care of yourself during these stressful times.
- Peer Support Centre at McGill — student to student anonymous help phone
- Tel-Aid — Montréal based help line
- McGill Wellness Hub — a list of McGill wellness services
- Better Help — affordable online counselling
- If you want to know how to best “Be There” for someone struggling with their mental health, I could not recommend this resource more.