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Bygone Thanksgivings


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One year, during our annual Thanksgiving trip to Iowa, my former MIL roasted a wild turkey that my BIL brought. Unfortunately, he left the buckshot in the bird...

"It is a fact that he once made a tray of spanakopita using Pam rather than melted butter. Still, though, at least he tries." -- David Sedaris
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At our house, the Thanksgiving meal was also proclaimed the best meal ever every year, and my mother always recieved kudos for the meal that was prepared.

As a kid, I have only fond memories of Thanksgivings past. I was lucky because my mom was a great homecook, and Thanksgiving was a real big deal with our large family gettting together. Gathering grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that we didn't get to see too much during the year.

Don't get me wrong, I love a nice smoked or deep fried turkey, but for me on Thanksgiving, it has to be stuffed and roasted with gravy made in the roasting pan.

I can't believe just how much was served on that day and how we ever were ever able to move after that meal. It seems ridiculous now. But hey, it was only one day a year and it was the '60's.

My mother did get up at the crack of dawn to get the turkey in the oven. The night before was spent washing, peeling and preping the vegetables to store in containers of water in the fridge. The last thing the night before was to lay out the loaves of sliced white bread on sheet pans to dry out for the stuffing.

I can remember waking up to the smell of the celery, onions and sausage sauteing for the best stuffing in the world. She had a pot of stock going on the stove with the neck, giblets and aromatics simmering for the stuffing and basting.

We always started eating at noon. It seemed all the women would wind up in the kitchen where the Whiskey Sours and Brandy Alexanders with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top were being whipped up. Some of the men might have been having a highball or a Reingold.

The relish tray and cheese and crackers would get to the table first with a champagne toast and someone saying grace.

We would all then sit down at the assortment makeshift tables setup in the dining room and living room. One table had a sheet of plywood on top that was carried in by my brothers to accomodate all us kids. You wouldn't know it though, as the the table setting was beautiful and elegant with the tablecloth, china and silver.

We would start with a fruit cocktail with sherbet...then a bowl of turkey rice soup...then a shrimp cocktail...THEN we had lasagna. We were already full, but kept on going.

The turkey was always moist and juicy and the gravy superb, but we all were too full and could only take a taste of everything.

It's the sides that I remember so well. There were so many vegetables and almost every one of them was fresh and made from scratch. Several were creamed, several were mashed and the rest buttered. :shock:

Creamed onions and peas, creamed cauliflower and creamed spinach...mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes with sherry, mashed turnips...steamed and butter carrots, steamed and buttered brussel sprouts, steamed and buttered stringbeans with buttered almonds.

Jugs of farm fresh cider and a case of Brookdale soda that were left outside to keep cold to wash it all down.

Of course there were a ton of leftovers and I guess I liked those more. Some might think it strange, but I still love cold stuffing sandwich.

Around 5or 6pm or so, dessert would be served. The pies and freshly whipped cream would come out with the rice pudding with raspberry sauce and the raisin bread pudding, along with the huge bowls of nuts to crack open, and the platter of fresh and dried fruits...and the chocolates from Nagel's Candy Barn that my uncle would bring.

The coffee would be served with an array of cordials such as Tia Maria, annisette, cream de menth and Cherry Herring.

Good times, good times.

My mother, grandmothers and aunts have been gone a long time now and there is no way that we have this kind of meal anymore at our Thanksgiving table. These days we're a much smaller family and there is no way anyone could eat and drink like that in one meal~~at least not in a public forum. Besides, my kids hate creamed vegetables. :angry:

I always give thanks for just remembering those days and those that aren't with us at the table anymore.

Sorry for rambling on and taking this off track with my childhood reminiscing. You did say "any stories?".

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Wull, yah, I'm with andiesenji sorta - I bake (steam) my turkey upside down in a speckled roaster - bake the foo out of it - 'till it's falling apart - pull the meat and squish it all backup in the juice that cooked out - what? no wonder turkey is dry it leaks in there!! Then I use the water from boiling the giblets plus McCormick's finest gravy mix to make the gravy. Bite me.

But but but the One time I got his whole side of the family to come over for Thanksgiving - yah they walked in with a casserole whining, 'well at least we have our (traditional) casserole' - what a ho!!

Heh heh heh heh - wull one of my nephews Notoriously Hated turkey. So much adieu was made of him not being expected to eat any of the fowl foul - until he had mine heh heh heh - he ate turkey till he 'bout burst heh heh heh - love that boy!!

And and and I loved all the memories you shared, msfurious1!!!!

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I love a good turkey, once a year. Enjoy it for all it's bennefits -- like that great carcass to use for stock. Never have roasted a turkey that was dried out and stringy. I do internal basting with needle pointed bulb baster, herbs . . .  but honestly, Andie I love the idea of your method. If I can snatch up a Magnalite roaster may have to try that this year. :biggrin:

Speaking of which - - -

big Magnalite roaster!

Several smaller ones also.

Note that the 4269 is the largest, then the smaller 4267 and 4265 are probably large enough for most families.

You can also make a lot of soup or chili in one of these big boys.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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For what it's worth, my family tradition does NOT include sawdust-like dried out turkey.

My mom was a Home Ec teacher, which probably explains why. We always roasted the turkey breast-down in one of those enameled roasting pans that are speckled and come WITH A TIGHT FITTING LID, also enameled and speckled. You put a second one of those V-shaped racks, inverted, on top of the breast down turkey, so that you can flip the whole she-bang over for the last 45-60 min of cooking. If you do this quickly, no basting juice leaks out.

The result is white meat that is juicy. although for that night only, and a thoroughly enjoyable turkey.

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