Every Thanksgiving, as we reflect back on the previous year, we are inspired by the myriad of our blessings. Our gratitude for the people in our lives grows deeper every year. The Classic team is truly awesome, creatively accepting challenges and turning them into opportunities for growth and magical moments. We are incredibly thankful to our team of superheroes.
Thank you to our clients and community as well, who continue to connect with us for special occasions. To our loyal patrons who have partnered with us for all of your events, and to our new clients who have invited us into their lives for the first time: please know we are grateful for your many kindnesses and your continued conversations.
Many thanks to our vendors who share the roads, detours, and roundabouts with us every day, and to our families for their support, love and understanding.
To show our appreciation, and with guidance from our local public schools, we will continue our Thanksgiving tradition of providing holiday dinners for families who need an extra hand this year.
Autumn is the ideal time to become acquainted with the quince. The fruit, now classified as rare, has a deep history in many cultures around the world. Harvested throughout October and November in the mid-Atlantic, quince resembles an apple or pear, but has no biological relationship with either. Its lumpy, irregular exterior dulls in comparison to its more aesthetically pleasing neighbors in the produce aisle, so it tends to be overlooked. Its wild tropical fragrance is reminiscent of guava, but the quince is almost never eaten raw because of its acidic flavor. When cooked, its white, hard flesh becomes a pink, soft paste.
Quince is thought to have originated in Iran and then moved through the Middle East and South-Eastern Europe. In Ancient Greece it was a symbol of love and fertility and thus, a perfect wedding gift for a bride. Some botanists surmise that quince, not the apple, was the forbidden fruit that tempted Eve. Food writer Barbara Ghazarian dedicated an entire cookbook to quince, and lovingly appoints this unique fruit as “the original slow food”, because its magic is only revealed by cooking it.
In Medieval times, the French made a sweet quince marmalade or paste called cotignac. The most famous commercial production is made in Orléans and is pressed into molds bearing the image of Joan of Arc. The paste was also made in Italy by nuns and pressed into terracotta molds with crests and religious symbols. The Spanish version, dulce de membrillo, is commonly sold at cheese counters, as its perfectly paired with Manchego cheese.
In the United States, quince was common in colonial gardens throughout the 19th century. Because the fruit contains a high amount of pectin, a natural binding agent to create a gelatinous state, its primary use was to make marmalades and jams. In fact, the word marmalade derives from the Portuguese word for quince-marmelo. Unfortunately, the fruit’s presence waned with the advent of commercial gelatin and pectin.
Even if the quince doesn’t regain its popularity in the home garden, it can still be found in many recipes and menus. In addition to the paste and jam, try it in Persian beef or lamb stew, Moroccan tangine, or duck breast with quince compote. For desserts, try it in pudding, buckles or baked in pastelitos.
Don’t Change a Thing
Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate and reflect together over a warm familiar meal. According to our team members, it is not the time to make any changes. From the menu to the timeline, there are certain things that our team and their families do every year and claim it would not feel like Thanksgiving without them.
One year, Lynn Piette decided to make a chocolate cream pie instead of her traditional pumpkin, and her family hasn’t let her forget it yet! Another staple for their table is a relish tray that her grandparents used to make even though no one ever eats it. Dae Miller’s family goes with a different kind of pie, with very specific ingredients. Her grandmother makes a coconut cream pie, but will only use coconuts from a particular store located in North Carolina that have to be overnighted each year by a family member. We reserved a piece this year! Ron Flowers’ family skips the pie altogether and enjoys banana pudding, as his family has perfected the recipe (we shall see if he’ll share it!). Chef Therese and Edgar forgo the turkey and enjoy tofurkey and chicken respectively. Chef Parker puts turkey in his sauerkraut, but just the necks. The traditions don’t stop with the menu, Chef Joe’s family passes around cards that his grandmother made in the 1970’s to talk about what they’re thankful for.
Whatever your traditions may be, we hope that you enjoy the holiday!
Harriet’s Reading Picks: Landings, A Crooked Creek Farm Year by Arwen DonahueLandings A Crooked Creek Farm Year is one of my favorite reads this year. It is a hybrid memoir/art book, a journal of one year of Arwen Donahue and her husband David’s Kentucky family farm chronicled in ink and watercolor drawings accompanied by Arwen’s insightful and candid prose. I have known Arwen since she was a child drawing with her basket of Crayola’s at her family’s kitchen table. Arwen’s voice is clear and present as she wrestles with balancing her time between the ever-present farm chores, and her work as an artist and writer. Her words are so intimate one can almost smell the big pots of strawberry jam cooking on the stove, feel the strain of muscles chopping wood, or hear the “flute-like song of the Baltimore oriole.” This is where our food comes from. It is a story of growth and decay, harvesting and preserving, preparing meals (Arwen is a talented home cook), playing music, creating art and always, front and center, the land. Barbara Kingsolver writes in the introduction “The world needs books like Landings to record ‘the joy, delight, and awe of our creaturely lives on earth’.”
The first journal entry is on December 8th, and Arwen begins with a confession that after 15 years of living on the farm she still is experiencing resistance to farm chores; and ends with the satisfaction of splitting wood and the deeper lessons of the natural world. The last journal entry, one year later, when the harvesting is done and the ground is frozen, provides a bittersweet pause for reflection on a successful summer, and preparation for the next. Arwen’s book is a stunning and honest look at a life lived with purpose and the tug of war between presence and productivity, beauty and impermanence. Love, humor and intelligence color her daily observations and always, a deep, abiding respect for the land and those who farm the land. I think this would be the ideal gift for your Thanksgiving host or anyone who appreciates fine writing, art and food.
|Caramel Apple French Toast|
A delicious breakfast to serve for your out-of-town guests that can be pre-made and popped in the oven when everyone starts to stir.
|Serves 8 – 10|
Ingredients4 oz. (1 stick) butter, melted
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 medium challah
3 medium sized Granny Smith apples, chopped10 eggs – (5 whole eggs and 5 egg whites)
3 cups milk – skim
3 tbsp sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamonMethodPour melted butter into approx. 11” x 14” x 2” pan.Stir in brown sugar and spread mixture evenly over bottom of pan.Cut bread into 1 1/4” thick slices.Place cut side down to completely cover mixture and fit pan tightly.Sprinkle apple pieces throughout pan.In large bowl whisk eggs and milk together.Pour over bread and let soak in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture and bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until puffed and golden and center is cooked. Click here to print the recipe.