It’s been a year, hasn’t it? From a global pandemic to fighting for racial justice and now the most tumultuous election cycle many of us have experienced, we’re all in need of a little extra comfort. Luckily, Ina Garten is delivering exactly that with her newest cookbook, Modern Comfort Food. While speaking to NPR about her new cookbook, Garten mentioned a change to traditional Thanksgiving customs and yes, it may sound a tad unusual at first but the more you think about it, the more you realize how genius it is.
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We’re used to piling into the dining room and enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with our friends and family around the dinner table, but because we need to practice social distancing this holiday season, many of us will be celebrating without our friends or extended family in order to keep everyone safe. Well, Ina Garten has a brilliant idea to help us still all be able to enjoy the holidays together while maintaining enough distance to keep all guests healthy.
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Entertaining outdoors has been such a surprise pleasure during these difficult times. As the weather turns chilly, I’ve done several things to make sure we can continue the fun. First, for safety, I only entertain people from one “household” at a time, so I put chairs at both ends of a 6-foot dining table or both sides of a 5-foot square coffee table to ensure social distancing. Second, although we’re sitting far apart, I want it to feel cozy, so I fill the tables with flowers and candles. Third, I set up outdoor heaters or build a nice fire, plus cushions and blankets for each person so we’re nice and warm under the stars. And finally, since entertaining outdoors is more work than serving inside, I make really easy no-cook appetizers for cocktails and very simple lunches and dinners. This is the time when a take-out pizza and a big Caesar salad makes the best evening for everyone, even the host. Click on the link in my bio for more outdoor entertaining menu ideas! #staysafe
“If it’s a beautiful day and you can do it outside, you can certainly invite somebody and have a long table. And one group sits at one end and the other sits at the other end, and you can wrap yourself up with blankets and wear your winter coats,” Garten told NPR. “You know, we’re so conscious of, oh, it’s cold outside. We don’t go outside. But in Europe, the French sit outside all winter. And I’ve certainly been known to sit outside and have dinner in my winter coat. It’s perfectly fine.”
Garten says she got the idea from a Norwegian saying, “I think there’s an expression it might be that Norwegians say there’s no bad weather. It’s only bad clothing.”
Honestly, this sounds like a great motto to keep in mind for what is sure to be a difficult winter. So grab your jackets, some electric blankets and head outside to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.
Before you go, check out Garten’s best dinner recipes below: