The Thanksgiving spread!

Full menu and recipe info here.

All the dishes
J’s plate (rice, chicken, Sichuan potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and stuffed mushroom)
Chicken braised in soy sauce and coke. The consensus was that, while good, the result wasn’t worth the extra cooking effort compared to, say, just roasting the chicken. We did decrease the amount of soy sauce and sugar in the braising liquid; I presume not doing that would produce restaurant-level seasoning (i.e. very salty and savory).
Stuffed mushrooms. Good as always!
Sichuan matchstick potatoes. A bit overcooked
Brussels sprouts with bacon, hazelnuts, and dressing. A bit more vinegar or salt would be good, but overall quite nice
Pumpkin soup. It seemed no matter how much liquid I added, it never got to soup-consistency. And I didn’t want 2 gallons of soup.
Fried radish greens and walnuts, for topping soup
Pumpkin pie. Something went wrong with this one and it didn’t taste amazing, likely because we used fat free evaporated milk (bought in the midst of the first pandemic-induced panic buying spree with no option to get the normal full-fat version)

Sweet potato puffs

These also didn’t get made for Thanksgiving, but previous batches have been delicious!

  • 1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • Cornstarch, other refined starch, or flour

Boil or steam sweet potatoes. Mash well. Add rice flour. Form mixture into balls (~4 cm in diameter). Coat in cornstarch and deep fry until browned.


  • I like putting the sweet potato through a mesh strainer to remove large skin pieces and fibrous sections.
  • You may be able to use refined starches in place of the rice flour, though the rice flour gives a particularly nice bounce/chew, mochi-like.
  • These are good as dessert or as a savory side dish!

Bird stuffing

My family’s recipe, I think from my dad’s side. We didn’t end up making it for our main meal, but maybe tomorrow!

Made “tomorrow”. I added chicken fat for some extra flavor, since this wasn’t cooked inside a bird.
  • 8 slices bread, cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 apple, cubed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (combination of sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and nutmeg)
  • Approximately 1/2 cup milk
  • (Optional) 3-4 boiled or roasted chestnuts, chopped

Mix; should have a pasty consistency. Don’t add so much liquid that it pools at the bottom. Stuff into your poultry or bake alone in a dish. If cooking alone, bake ~40 min at 350°F; if cooking inside a bird, cook until the bird is done.


  • Add other veggies or nuts for more texture
  • Add more eggs and milk (or cream) to make a savory bread pudding.

Stuffed mushrooms

We air-fried.
We used bigger mushrooms – these are portobellos.
  • 6 to 8 larger Baby Bella mushrooms (may use extras for extra stuffing)
  • Olive oil or other liquid fat
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bread crumbs
  • Onion
  • One salty cheese, such as parmesan, and a melting cheese, such as Colby or cheddar
  • 1 egg

Remove the mushroom stem (reserve). Grease the mushrooms all over and turn them upside down ready to be stuffed.

Chop the mushroom stems (plus extra full or partial mushrooms, if you want) and the onion. Cook in butter until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add bread crumbs, Parmesan, and the egg. For decorative bread pieces, you can add some additional small dry bread cubes after mixing in the egg. Stuff the mushrooms and top with slices of the non-parmesan cheese. 

Bake for at least 30 min at 350-375°F in a closed container (casserole dish with lid or aluminum foil). May remove the top near the end to encourage browning.


My first time making blintzes!

The first crepe was a little lumpy, but we improved!
Cheese filling

Base recipe is from Joy of Cooking, with modifications and recommendations from my mom.

The outside crepe (makes 12)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp sugar

Warm together butter and milk. Add flour, and then eggs. Let batter stand for 30 min.

Pour 3 Tbsp batter into a lightly buttered, large, nonstick/well-seasoned pan, lifting the pan and tilting until batter forms an even layer. Cook until top is dry and set, and bottom is lightly browned.

Be careful to avoid forming holes, which will cause problems with leaky filling.

Cheese filling (for 8 blintzes)

  • 10 oz ricotta or other crumbly, moist fresh cheese (e.g. cottage cheese – drained, queso fresco, farmer’s cheese)
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Zest from half an orange
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants

Blend; thicker is better so feel free to strain the ricotta, add more cream cheese, or omit the egg white if needed.

Fill blintzes from uncooked side of crepes, folding into a rectangular shape. Cook on both sides in oiled pan until browned. Eat with sour cream.

Blueberry filling (for 6 blintzes)

  • 2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice and zest from half a lemon
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Cook everything together until very thick. Fill blintzes as directed above.

Thanksgiving menu

J and I aren’t going to visit my parents like we’d normally do ’cause of the ‘rona 🙁 Organizing the Thanksgiving meal will be a new activity and, with no established traditions for the two of us, we designed a menu tonight!

This is the menu for two, but we still somehow came up with ten dishes. Not sure we’re going to be able to do all this cooking in a single day…

I will link more recipes as I write them up. Hope y’all’s Thanksgiving plans are coming along, too!


We made pretzels!
Here they are prior to cooking. We had a lot of trouble getting them not to fall apart when we stretched them out.

Here’s the recipe (makes 4 pretzels):

  • 240g (1 cup) milk
  • 3g (1 tsp) yeast
  • 32g (1/6 cup) sugar
  • 28g (2T) butter
  • 6g (1 tsp) salt
  • 370g flour

Heat the milk, butter, and sugar in the microwave until warm (~1.5 min), and mix until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Let it cool to 95F (important so that the yeast doesn’t die), then add the yeast. Mix the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients. Knead. Let the dough rise for an hour. Divide the dough into four. Roll each into a rope about ~36in long (this was really hard) and attempt to make it into a pretzel.

Boil 4.5 cups (1080g) of water and add 60g (1/4 cup) of baking soda. Boil each pretzel for 20 seconds. Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt.

Bake for 8 min at 450F.

If you do this, hopefully your pretzels will turn out better than ours. We skipped the baking soda bath (and instead just brushed baking soda water on them) and it didn’t turn out quite right. I think it’s probably important. Good luck.


We tried making silken tofu, essentially a fresh, high-moisture cheese (think fresh mozzarella or ricotta) where you use soy milk instead of dairy milk. The coagulant is gypsum (calcium sulfate)  – flavorless and a good source of calcium.

Looking good so far…
But then it ended up with a ricotta-like texture. Not sure what went wrong 🙁

J ate it anyway.

Cool hand-dyed yarn and sweater from a blog I like

I really like this blog. The author has cool hobbies – veggie gardening, chickens, native plants, fiber arts, natural dyeing, beekeeping, vintage clothing making, and vintage “reenactment”.

The post that originally caught my attention was one about knitting a Fair Isle sweater from naturally-dyed yarn! It was quickly followed by another about a sweater vest. I can only hope to make such beautiful garments in the future!!

Some of the more interesting furniture I brought to NYC

J and I moved to New York earlier this year (not a great time, I know). I was here alone for a few months, so I had the opportunity to expand my home furnishings collection! I think J and I might have different aesthetic tastes 🙂

This is a herringbone-woven rag rug I found in Austin during one of my neighborhood’s bulk trash pickup days. You can find all kinds of neat things! This rug is really thick and cushy.
This other rag rug was woven by my dad’s maternal grandmother! It was used as a car repair mat (e.g. for laying on) by my dad’s dad for a while and unfortunately had car battery acid leak on some spots. I washed it (it looks soooo much better now) and am in the process of repairing the spots that were partially dissolved by the acid. I’d love to have my dad’s grandmother’s loom, but it disappeared in the multi-generational inheritance process 🙁
Free (only in terms of money, definitely not in labor!) bookshelf I got from my mom’s ex-coworker. This is a barrister’s bookcase made, as far as I can tell, in the early 1900s. The co-worker got it from her grandfather, if I recall correctly.

This bookcase (13″ Gunn sectional bookcase) was made by Gunn Furniture Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The manufacturing information includes two patent dates, Dec 5, 1899 and Jan 1, 1901.

Company stamp

This is the 1901 patent, for “knockdown” furniture. I couldn’t find the 1899 patent (My mom later identified it as this patent. When issued, it was not shown as assigned to any company and the Gunn company may have licensed rights or bought the patent later). It would seem that this bookcase was made between 1901 and 1905, when the furniture company was granted an updated bookcase patent.

The top, base, and side panels are oak – according to other sites, quarter-sawn tiger oak, which was particularly popular in the Arts and Crafts movement (1880-1920, so this bookcase fits right in).

Shelves are a little bunged up.
The plywood backing was a big pain. The layers were warped and de-laminating, so my dad and I glued them back together and parked an RV on top of them while they dried.

The bookcase was in quite bad shape when I got it. Besides re-gluing the plywood and cleaning off lots of spider webs, my dad doweled and glued a split side panel. I disguised some dings in the finish by staining the wood, and tried to fill in chipped areas in the varnish by redissolving it with a solvent and painting it back on, but that didn’t work so well.

Doors installed. The top shelf holds my non-hanging clothes. One of the legs came off in shipping to New York, so I glued the pieces back on and “clamped” it with lots of rubber bands 🙂
My favorite bunk bed from college 🙂 Also oak. I sleep on the top.