Molly Beauchemin

How To Prepare An Easy Thanksgiving Dinner– The Garden Collage Way

In honor of the forthcoming holiday, the Garden Collage team decided to style a Thanksgiving Dinner based on what was available at our local farmers market in New York City. We had just a few parameters in mind: we wanted to purchase and grow the majority of our food locally, and we didn’t want to be too crazy about how we prepared it or set the table. After paying a quick visit to the Union Square Farmers Market, we put together a beautiful spread– and believe it or not, it was super easy (I know, you’re rolling your eyes– but we really did just throw everything together!).

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Fresh ingredients and good company bring any holiday table to life. We had a mix of omnivores and vegetarians at our GC Thanksgiving, so we decided to prepare a bunch of colorful dishes to satisfy both palates. We purchased loads of seasonal squash, colorful carrots, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, purple cabbage, greens, and more. We then roasted several combinations thereof and tossed them with olive oil and fresh nuts to make some colorful cooked and raw salads. We also made cornbread stuffing, a veggie fritatta, a classic roasted (hormone-free!) turkey, as well as traditional German potato soup (stay tuned for when we post our secret recipe!).

For the table, we purchased a few small winterberry plants and shoved them into mason jars that we already had. Around the center of the table where we placed them, we sprinkled autumn leaves and pine cones that we had gathered alongside dried fennel, a chili-pepper wreath we had lying around, and other plants scavenged from the apartment. We mixed and matched cutlery and dishware to create an eclectic, welcoming spread. The results were beautiful but low-maintenance (for real) and the food should be easy to replicate.

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Here are our go-to “GC Thanksgiving” tips:

  • Opt for colorful, local veggies // Whatever you purchase at your local market will of course have more flavor and more nutrients than conventionally-grown produce, but local veggies also function beautifully as design: they bring a spectrum of color to each plate.
  • Mix-and-match your dishware // We had so many people at our Thanksgiving table that we ran out of a single “style” of wine glass and decided to mix in different glassware at every-other place setting; the results look intentional and the design is more appealing than the monochrome option. Try mixing it up!
  • Put fresh plants on the table // Chili peppers, fennel, berries, tiny house plants, dried leaves and pine cones from outside…you name it. Any living or dried plant looks beautiful as a place setting and makes it look like you “planned” the decor even if you simply threw it together. People, moreover, tend to feel at ease around elements that evoke “nature”.
  • Cook like a designer // Cut carrots into long sticks, place olives next to bowls of nuts with a different texture or shape, and think about contrasting primary colors in your salads– we included edible flowers and added purple cabbage to our brussel sprouts just for the color contrast. These subtle touches create a variety of shapes, colors, and textures on the table. Remember: you eat with your eyes.
  • Aim for low light // Stick to candles to create the ultimate intimate dinner setting– this kind of light is more flattering on people, too.
  • Consider an activity // Holiday activities can sometimes be cheesy, but after dinner we entertained our guests with Flying Wish Paper— a type of positive affirmation activity in which guests make a wish and write it on a piece of paper that they then light on fire, at which point it flies through the air and burns out before it can do any damage. (It’s safe for kids, we promise.) It was a lovely way to wrap up an evening of good food and better company.
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