Liminality & Thanksgiving Recipes October 26th, 2023 I have written endlessly about the liminal spaces in my life when the ambiguity …
As you are probably aware, brining helps create a more succulent meat. I am a big fan of the dry brine when it comes to cooking a turkey or even a chicken. The dry brine is easier and less messy than wet, and it delivers moist meat and a crispy and flavorful skin, which I happen to be a fan of. Adding herbs and spices to a dry brine (salt) adds flavor, texture, and a joie de vivre by creating an aromatic and flavorful experience customized to your palate. The salt on the skin draws moisture from the turkey and then comingles with the herbs, spices and salt and gets re-absorbed back into the turkey, creating flavorful, succulent and juicy meat. The salt and air dries out the skin which allows it to become extra crispy when roasted, and the herbs and spices add extra flavor as they cook and get embedded into the chicken skin by means of chicken fat. If you are lucky enough to get a jar of my Chipotle Cranberry Mezcal Herbal Brine in time for Thanksgiving, you will need to know how to use it. And if you didn’t get one (which is likely because I made limited quantities this fall), you can still make one using the same formula.
I have been toying with the idea of getting a physical space again for Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center, this time in Kansas City. I’m needing a commercial kitchen for making my herbal salts and other herbal products for Herbal-Roots, and it’d be nice to have another dedicated food photography studio and with that I’d likely have some in-person cooking classes and food events focused on fresh herbs and my usual- local, organic, sustainable, fairly traded food ingredients and artisans. During a chat with one of my business advisors highlighting some of the most popular culinary classes we offered back at Ger- Nis Culinary & Herb Center in Brooklyn one class stood out: part of our Fill Your Freezer series: Fresh Sausage Making. This was a class that I personally taught and a wave of nostalgia later I made a bunch of sausages and in the process updated many of my older recipes with more fresh herbs and spices as well as a few new tricks and techniques. I also created a few new recipes.
From an early age, I desired to embrace life to the fullest regardless of the loneliness of such a path. I have spent most of my life traveling. That is when I am happiest and at my most humble and learning. Through my work in agriculture, famers have invited me into their homes and kitchens. Here I discovered the deep connecting power of food, culture, and community. Here I learned my love of cooking. I have witnessed how food ignites and excites and connects humans all over the world. I discovered the same in myself.
Thanksgiving and the act of giving thanks, the acknowledgement that there is something to be grateful for is something I think we all need to do more often. On Thanksgiving many Americans put forth great effort to make elaborate or in the very least home cooked (from the heart) meals. This effort, that they put forth annually, gives me faith in people and in love because loving people is about showing up and putting in effort.
Fall is not my favorite season. It’s full of mystery, significant change and its sense of loss tends to rile and agitate me. So, as we descend into fall, I always feel trepidation and fear in my blood. As a human being, the fear of the unknown is omnipresent. Habitually I have always tried to control that which is unrevealed, to fight my way through what I don’t know. Lately I wonder if I should stop fighting it and just fall back into myself, hold on and let it pass through me? Letting that which is mysterious reveal itself, in its own time, as nature intended. I think this is what autumn is about. It feels natural. I think human beings, like wild deer know when to be still and when to move. Humans, I think, mostly must learn to listen better, to hear what’s happening inside us.
I love celebrating my birthday. Many friends and loved ones would claim that I enjoy celebrating it a little too much. But I ask? “Who among us doesn’t celebrate their birthdays for the entire month?” Maybe they don’t realize that the month-long celebration for me is actually more intricate and involves consciously and subconsciously setting intentions for growth and change in the year that lies ahead. So, my birthdays involve a great deal of self-reflection and self-awareness. That’s what I celebrate- that I have grown and that it’s my choice to decide where I go and grow next.
One for Rudolph, two for me. This is one of my most whimsical recipes and one that is perfect to make with your kids the day before Christmas eve. Basically, the kids make herbal sugar cubes for Rudolph and you get amazing sugar cubes for an old-Fashioned cocktail. It’s a rather fun project for all and one that the adults can enjoy long after Santa is gone. The recipe is super easy. Some herbs, sugar and ice cube trays are really all that’s needed outside a few drops of water.
In my ‘circle’ (which isn’t made up of many), I’m known for my creativity in the kitchen. Because I live out in the middle of nowhere, I tend to get excited to have guests, and it often gives my creativity a super boost. The anticipation of all the joy to be had in cooking and sharing with friends and loved ones gets my creative juices flowing; my posse of eaters around the globe are always elated to dine at my house. They know that in addition to delivering a marvelous and meaningful time, I will bring the ultra-weird and unexpected to the table and it will all taste delightful. The truth is, I cook like this all the time – even for myself (just look at my Instagram for proof). I think the main difference between cooking for myself and cooking for others is that I have to plan and, therefore, I have to think it through a bit more. I can’t deny that, because I’m mostly here alone, it feels special to have people over. So, I do like to make sure these occasions feel like a special event, for both me and my guests. I’m not sure if most my guests realize that the most joyful part of me making dinner for them is in the dreaming up of it – the part I do all alone.
I made a truly epic cake for New Year’s Eve. I had originally thought the cake just accidentally happened, but I have since come to realize the cake was meant to be made. My hands and my spirit were meant to bring it to life for one epic moment in time. The cake was special, and it reminded me that I was, too. This multilayered cake is kind of like a metaphor for the life I have lived so far feeding into the life I am yet to live – culminating in this particularly sweet past New Year’s Eve.