The past two years, for me anyway, have been about learning the basics, and then pushing the limits, especially during the holidays. Let’s take Thanksgiving for example. Each year, I’ve tried to create something beyond the ordinary — a different spin on turkey, deconstructed green bean casserole, sweet potato souffles, mashed potato croquettes, coulis and unusual sauces.

I realized this year, I miss the classics, and am craving just a regular plate of mashed potatoes, plain old herb stuffing, and a bigger-than-life roasted turkey with nothing but butter, salt, pepper, sage and thyme. And so today, I started on the perfectly classic Thanksgiving. I posted my stuffing recipe on my blog last night — the bread is toasting in the oven as I write.

I’m relaxed, and loving it. A classic Thanksgiving doesn’t seem to bring on the same kind of performance stress as a past Thanksgiving culinary endeavors. But with Thanksgiving sort of taking care of itself, and all of this extra time on my hands {no school this week}, I found myself a little bored this morning and decided to do some pie dough experiments for the Crisco Professional Championships in April. I won the apple division in 2009 and want to try for another win in 2011.

I’ve been working on perfecting the flakiness in my original dough recipe, and I think I’m almost there…it’s taken an entire year of testing. I think today we have the winning formula. I’ll know for sure tomorrow when we have dessert.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the culinary students, chefs and foodies out there; I hope you have a delicious day!