I don’t think I’d have to work too hard at crafting a persuasive argument to convince you that the holidays will look different this year.


And no, I’m not referencing the fact that I actually remembered to write about them before they happen if I want my recipes to be helpful — although that proactivity is definitely different and I just might be giving myself a little pat on the back.


Of course I’m talking about COVID. While there is a vast array of responses to the pandemic, it does affect your Thanksgiving plans in some way no matter what. Basic social interaction has changed a lot in the last year; maybe groceries are harder to find. You’ll likely have fewer people at the dinner table, or at least perhaps a bit more disparity in opinion on more than just which pie is the most crucial. (That one’s obvious: it’s pumpkin.)


Even when I was a little kid, I struggled with accepting change. I liked knowing what to expect and how to be prepared mentally, and I typically felt too comfortable in the present to look forward much to the future; I carefully added to and maintained my "treasure box" of paraphernalia, physical memories of the way things were. Birthdays as young as single-digit years brought a twinge of wistfulness because I was leaving behind that age forever.


Don’t worry, as the years have continued to change, I’ve changed in my perception of change. Though I still have a solid appreciation for the present and the familiar, I’ve come to realize that things change — and that’s that. Different isn’t always bad, it’s just different.


I’ve changed a ton in the way I approach life, but that’s called growth.


You see proof of this learned appreciation for variety reflected in my recipes, too: my food choices tend to be "different"...although sometimes that might be a case where different is bad.


This Thanksgiving will be different than last, for sure, but it’ll be worlds different than the one Brian and I experienced in the hospital two years ago. And trust me, that’s a good thing. It’s not hard to point out ways that change is good when that means my husband isn’t intubated, septic, dying. I’ll take this year.


Especially since I’ll be bringing a little something special to the Thanksgiving table next week in addition to the pho-broth-based turkey gravy. That is, if I can squeeze up to the table — this baby belly isn’t exactly little anymore.


A hard part of all of this is that while I’m so grateful for the changes that have happened for us, maybe this holiday season is different in really hard or scary ways for you. Life isn’t always turkey and sweet potatoes, nor do we have to pretend it feels that good. Some of the changes this year has brought are just plain hard, and I’m sorry.


Though it can’t actually fix anything, sometimes soup helps. Often cited as a classic example of comfort food, a bowl of steaming bone broth can be good for the body and the soul. I love the good ol’ standard, but of course I also love something a little different.


Which is why I have a big pot of turkey pho (pronounced "fuh") broth simmering on the stovetop. I’m telling you about this now, so you can be prepared in case you have the beautiful gift of a leftover turkey carcass by the time Thanksgiving Day comes and goes. This ginger- and anise-spiked broth exemplifies the kind of concept I lean towards in a holiday menu — familiar and recognizable, but also different.


I think you’ll find a little change isn’t all bad.


Amanda Miller writes a column about local foods for The Hutchinson News. She teaches classes at Apron Strings and makes cheese on her family’s dairy farm near Pleasantview. Reach her at hyperpeanutbutter@gmail.com


Simplified Vietnamese-Inspired Turkey Broth [Pho Ga Tay]


Bone broth has gotten pretty trendy recently, but I like to think I was making it before it was cool. I just love being able to use the "throw-away" bones and pieces, and the flavor is so rewarding. My favorite part, although some might find it off-putting, is after the broth has chilled and gets gelatinous and glompy: success! This takes a little time, and it looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s hands-off, and then you have oodles of broth to use however you want to. Pho is a Vietnamese broth-and-noodle soup, so you could also finish it off traditionally.


Prep tips: use whatever parts of the turkey you have, but I like to make sure the neck and wings are in there since they provide good collagen and flavor. I hadn’t charred the veg for stock before this, but I’m guessing I will in my "standard" broth now too!


1 turkey carcass, raw or leftover from Thanksgiving’s roast


a shot of apple cider vinegar


2 yellow onions, halved


4-inch piece of ginger root


2 jalapeños, halved


1 tablespoon coriander seeds


a dozen cloves and peppercorns


4 whole star anise


2 cinnamon sticks


1 tablespoon salt


½ a lime


2 tablespoons brown sugar


2-4 tablespoons fish sauce


one bunch of cilantro


Break down turkey into manageable-size pieces, whatever fits in your kettle. Add a splash of vinegar and enough water just to cover; let sit while you gather the remaining ingredients.


Broil the onions, ginger, and jalapeños for 10-15 minutes, until they get a nice char on the outside. Add to the turkey pot, along with the remaining ingredients. Bring all to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover and let cook for 2-6 hours, adding more water as necessary. Let cool and strain, picking the turkey meat off the bones for another use (i.e., soup). You can scoop off the fat that comes to the top once the broth has been chilled. Transfer to containers and freeze whatever you don’t plan to use soon.