I’m giving thanks tomorrow, a gesture I have to remind myself to do daily. It’s not in my nature to be kind, to be considerate. It’s something I have to strive for. To hold my hands together to say prayers takes effort. It isn’t something that’s natural to me, how traits like how arrogance and greed are. They aren’t inborn in me like self-preservation. I’m looking forward to this exercise, this ritual, this practice in gratitude again.
Last year I hosted Thanksgiving and this year I will not be. I will be a guest, a stranger in a strange house. Maybe I’ll sleep on an air mattress or a couch, maybe I will fall asleep drunk each night with friends. Maybe I’ll get a tattoo on Saturday and maybe the turkey will burn; but one thing that is so soulfully constant, so unapologetically American is that we will cook too much food and get sick of it. We will make the leftovers into sandwiches by Saturday. Last year, I scrambled mashed potatoes in with eggs. One year, my mother made vegetable soup with the sweet potato casserole and poured it all down the drain when she tried it. And try as I might to continue on with tradition as an expat on the West Coast, I appreciate the constants. I appreciate a full table and the reinventions of meals to trick our exhausted stomachs. I appreciate the gathering. I appreciate the effort I put into saying, “Thank you.”
I’ll appreciate this desert holiday, how the world will stay silent. Where the highways crops up on sand dunes and Waffle Houses. How we can roll the windows down and scream what’s playing on the radio. How the world looks so giant in the rearview mirror, but the table is always a little too small for all of the extra food.
Mashed Potato Handpies
These handpies are borne from getting sick of the same old leftovers each year. I made mine with mashed potatoes, as a play on my beloved pierogies, but feel free to fill these with turkey, stuffing, or even go a sweet route with cranberry sauce and some creme fraiche. The crust is made with cheddar, rosemary, and sourcream; so you really can't go wrong with whatever ends up in it.
- 3-4 cups AP flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 8 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons shortening, very cold
- 1/3 cup fatty sour cream, very cold (drain in a paper towel or cheese cloth if excessively watered)
- 3-5 tablespoons ice water
- 4 cups mashed potatoes
- 1 egg, beaten with a little water
- In the bowl of a food processor, add 3 cups flour, salt, rosemary, and cheese. Pulse 4 times to blend fully.
- Add butter and shortening to dry ingredients and pulse 4-5 times or until the fats are pea-sized
- With motor running, pour sour cream in. Wait a second or two and then begin adding ice water.
- Do three tablespoons and see how the dough is. If sticky, add more flour. If dry, add a little more water
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead just once or twice to cover a bit with more flour and shape into a disc
- Divide in half and wrap both halves in plastic wrap and refrigerate for thirty minutes
- While refrigerating, preheat the oven to 350*F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat an egg with water and use as a sealant and wash.
- When dough is done resting, roll one disc out to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into rounds with either a biscuit cutter or the edge of a glass (about 3-4 inches in diameter). Place round onto parchment paper and spoon mashed potato filling into the center. Dab a pastry brush into the egg wash and run along the circumference of the round. Cut another round out and place on top, pressing sides and crimp with a fork. Cut a small cross on top of the handpie for ventilation.
- Repeat step 8 for remaining dough.
- Space on baking sheets and brush each egg with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with a little salt.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown
- Allow to cool slightly before eating, as the potatoes will be hot
- Maybe dip in gravy and enjoy!