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Dear Friends,

Well, we've had ourselves a pretty exciting couple of weeks, haven't we? And Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Like so many of you, I'm not going to be with my family this year. My youngest lives in Phoenix, my oldest and his fiancée are in Chicago, my dad is in Indianapolis, my brother in Florida, and my husband and I are in Virginia. So... no one wants to risk traveling right now, or infecting anyone else. So we're staying put in our various homes, and Zooming instead. Christmas will be the same.

My husband and I are going to do a traditional dinner, just smaller. Not as many side dishes or appetizers and a smaller turkey. But we still want the traditional Thanksgiving favorites, like dressing. My recipe is the same one from the Joy of Cooking, and it's a good one. Very moist. The key is the homemade croutons—much better than store bought. And I've become a fan of Ina Garten's make-ahead gravy, because gravy always trips me up when I make it at the last minute. Just Google it and you'll find it. It's really a lifesaver!

No matter how small your Thanksgiving is, of course the kitchen is going to get a workout! And we are finding that we love our new kitchen in ways we hadn't expected. We had redone our kitchen in Chicago, and it was truly the kitchen of my dreams, all shiny and new with fancy cabinets and quartz countertops. Our kitchen in our new home is... not that. Original cabinets (it was built in 1990) that aren't deep, the doors stick, and they're not painted very well although I love the color (a pretty celadon green). I don't have a double oven anymore. The drawers don't glide shut.

However, I love it. I may love it more than my Chicago dream kitchen. Because of one thing—our kitchen here in Williamsburg is separate from the rest of the house. A true throwback to an older time in kitchen design. But that's the beauty of it. As much as I loved our Chicago place, the kitchen/dining/living area was all open and upfront, the first thing you saw when you walked in. And the pressure to keep it all lovely and clean was great. I was constantly trying to hide the evidence of real cooking. It was a showplace, not a workspace. But our kitchen here is much more functional, and I find that I'm not pressured to keep it company-fancy all the time. Also, I was able to pull out some of my beloved, slightly kitschy kitchen items that I hid away in the Chicago place because they didn't go with that sophisticated décor. My kitchen here isn't sophisticated. But it's cozy, it's functional, it's bigger, and it's a kitchen. Full stop. Not a kitchen/living room.

Speaking of cooking, thank you all so much for your pimiento cheese recipes! I had a lot of suggestions and many mentioned Paula Deen's recipe. All said you have to use Duke's mayonnaise, which fortunately is the mayonnaise we always have in our kitchen. I haven't made any yet but I will for Thanksgiving this year!

And we have our three winners of the advance edition of The Children's Blizzard. I've contacted them asking for their addresses so I can mail it to them. 

Speaking of which... It's exactly two months until The Children's Blizzard publishes! I've gotten a lovely starred review from Booklist that calls it: "Compelling. In this piercingly detailed drama, riveting in its action and psychology, Benjamin reveals the grim aspects of homesteading, from brutal deprivations to violent racism toward Native Americans and African Americans, while orchestrating, with grace and resonance, transformative moral awakenings and sustaining love."

Please consider preordering from your favorite independent bookstore, and it's also available at all the usual online retailers.

Bookshop Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-A-Million Powells Hudson Target iTunes Google Play Kobo

As always, you can catch up with me on social media and also by listening to my podcast, Who the Hell Are We?, that I do with my friend and fellow author Edward Kelsey Moore.

Visit Podcast Website

Please stay well, and I'll be in touch in a couple of weeks with another giveaway opportunity!



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Melanie Benjamin

P.O. Box 6613
Napa, CA 94581

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