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"Re-imagining" Thanksgiving

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...everytime I serve it it sounds like a porn movie around the table.

Or so you've been told? :wink:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Hmph. I'm coming to spend Thanksgiving with some of you guys. I can't even think about changing the traditional turkey dinner or the rest of my family would freak.

My husband and kids would be ok with it, but the rest of them wouldn't. It must be roasted turkey, Stovetop stuffing, boiled potatoes, gravy, cabbage rolls, some kind of vegetables from a bag, and pickles. Dessert usually is some mish mash of whatever my niece decides to bake. Duncan Hines cherry chip cake with fluorescent pink icing, anyone?

Sigh. We do a potluck, and I've asked my sister to deal with the turkey, while I make the sides. My niece always does the baking (her choice) and I've been told by my sister not to bake, because it makes my niece feel like she wasted her time. I'd bake, too, but I can't lest I offend the niece.

Last year at Christmas I made fabulous chocolate gingerbread cake, and something else. Niece thought my food had "too much flavour".

I guess it'll be the same old, same old around here come October.


I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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...everytime I serve it it sounds like a porn movie around the table.

Or so you've been told? :wink:

Ummm, yeah, that's what I meant to say. :laugh: I've heard that they sound like that. Uh huh.

saskanuck, "too much flavor"? hello? you're welcome to join my table...heck, anyone whose food is shunned as being too flavorful or different or such is welcome to join me... bring it on! :biggrin:

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Sam, I have to say I am just amazed every time I see that menu. I bow to you, sir.

I'm constantly fiddling around with the side dish staples, but screwing around with traditional Tom Turkey too much would get me booted out of the house by my dad. The most successful I've ever had in pushing that envelope involved stuffing massive boned turkey legs with a sausage, pecan, and shiitake stuffing, roasting them, and slicing them for plating. Worked for one year -- but then the next I tried the Gourmet roasted whole bird, brined then stuffed with orange and red onion, for which the family clamors ever since. :hmmm:


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Heh, thanks, kitchenmage.

I've been told my food has "too much" before, too rich, too chocolatey, too whatever. But never too boring!

These people are happiest with bland, ordinary foods. I made fresh cranberry sauce too, and most of it was left to languish. The jellied canned crap was gone.

A flourless dense chocolate cake topped with whipped cream wasn't good to them, and they preferred my niece's cool whip and canned fruit cocktail concoction.

There was just more cake for us (and calories)!

Families. What can you do. And my in-laws aren't any better; they're worse if anything.


I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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… but then the next I tried the Gourmet roasted whole bird, brined then stuffed with orange and red onion, for which the family clamors ever since.  :hmmm:

The price you pay for a too-successful Thanksgiving innovation :biggrin:


Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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I can't even think about changing the traditional turkey dinner or the rest of my family would freak.

Well, there is something to be said for the familiar comfort of ritual. Isn't 'home' and what you expect to receive there and what you do receive there the difference between being 'home' and being somewhere else, in unfamiliar and strange circumstance?

I remember one Thanksgiving long ago. I had run myself ragged that month with work and other committments. Just couldn't face those long hours in the kitchen whipping up that familiar comfort for my family of five. So I talked them into going out. We went to a fabulous buffet at a local upscale restaurant. It really was very good.

But as I looked around our unfamiliar restaurant table laden with all the Thanksgiving bounty a fancy commercial kitchen could produce, I saw four glum faces.

"Isn't this good?" I asked, cheerily, trying to whip up a little holiday spirit.

"Yes, Mom," sighed Mark, my precocious 9-year-old. "This is good. But this is not the stuff of which tradition is made."

I never tried that again.

I had figured out that although it was good, it wasn't ours. My family looks forward to Thanksgiving all year. They are not looking forward to "Thanksgiving." They are looking forward to our Thanksgiving.

And, personally, I think that's something worth giving thanks for.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Niece thought my food had "too much flavour".

My best friend once said this about the curry spiced french fries that I covet at a local restaurant! I think my chin dropped to the table!

You should have your own second Thanksgiving dinner with just your family... that's what we do! It doesn't have to be ON Thanksgiving and you can serve as much garlicky mashed potatoes as you like!


"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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The biggest outcry came from my family several years ago. High cholesterol runs in our family, and for several years my sister used to lecture us all on what we should and should not eat. Every time we even mentioned a food that was high in cholesterol or fat, she would promptly say "It's bad for you." Well, one year she was carving the turkey, and took it upon herself to throw out every last bit of skin. :shock: I don't even think the giblets even made it into the gravy! All of us freaked. Though she tamed down since then, she is forbidden to go anywhere near the bird when it comes time to carve.


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I REALLY should be doing something else with this computer, but I couldn't resist. While scanning the flurry of postings, I didn't see Calvin Trillin's name, so let me add that you CAN'T write about changing Thanksgiving dinner without mentioning his campaign to replace turkey with spaghetti carbonara! :angry: [Complete symbol by mentally adding hands on hips & firmly planted feet to signify conviction vs. anger]

In her NY cookbook, Molly O'Neill included a recipe just for him, but I say the recipe published by David Downie in Cooking the Roman Way is about the best support the campaign could ever have. :raz: [Now make the tongue move up and around to lick those skinny little lips.]


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Well, one year she was carving the turkey, and took it upon herself to throw out every last bit of skin.  :shock:

:shock::shock::shock:

Oh, the HUMANITY.

I am the family's official skin-stealer at Thanksgiving. They try to keep me out of the kitchen, but every year I find a way in.

MUAHAHAHAHAHA...


Jennifer L. Iannolo

Founder, Editor-in-Chief

The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Home of the Culinary Podcast Network

Never trust a woman who doesn't like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed. (attributed to Federico Fellini)

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Well, one year she was carving the turkey, and took it upon herself to throw out every last bit of skin.  :shock:

:shock::shock::shock:

Oh, the HUMANITY.

I am the family's official skin-stealer at Thanksgiving. They try to keep me out of the kitchen, but every year I find a way in.

MUAHAHAHAHAHA...

I got the last laugh. I've taught her daughter not only that the skin is the best part of the bird, but that ice cream isn’t “junk food” but “fun food”.


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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(Or maybe that's where I got the recipe for the pumpkin ice cream pie made with little flecks of crystallized ginger.)
Do you have this recipe still? It sounds extremely yummy and I would greatly appreciate it!

Found it.

And actually, the more I think about it, I'm pretty certain that that silly Thanksgiving was where I got this delicious recipe. In order for any of us to have made Pumpkin Flan, we would have needed 'more' -- more time, effort, skill and knowledge of world cuisine -- than any of us possessed. This recipe, on the other hand, is easily put together. Although I should add that while it is simple, I dazzled friends and family with it for the next couple of decades:

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Crust: 1 Pkg cinnamon crisp graham crackers

1/3 C melted butter

Grind crackers into crumbs. Mix with butter and press into a deep pie dish.

Soften 1 qt best-quality vanilla ice cream. Snip ½ jar (and we all bought McCormick) candied, crystallized ginger into small pieces. Combine ginger and vanilla ice cream and pour into crust and freeze.

Combine 1 C canned pumpkin, 1 C sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, ¼ t powdered ginger, 1 t ground cinnamon. Mix well. Whip 1 C cream to soft peaks. Gently fold whipped cream into pumpkin mix. Pour over frozen ice cream. Dust top with pumpkin pie spice. Freeze until firm.

Bow down to Jaymes people! This is an awesome and so, so easy recipe! What a wonderful combo of flavors! Thanks Jaymes! :smile:


"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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(Or maybe that's where I got the recipe for the pumpkin ice cream pie made with little flecks of crystallized ginger.)
Do you have this recipe still? It sounds extremely yummy and I would greatly appreciate it!

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Bow down to Jaymes people! This is an awesome and so, so easy recipe! What a wonderful combo of flavors! Thanks Jaymes! :smile:

Wow. That's pretty high praise. :blush: Thanks for letting me know.

And I should add that although I had sort of "forgotten" about this recipe, I just made it again myself, for the first time in years.

It is good....and easy and an interesting twist on the usual pumpkin pie. As I told Katie, during the Thanksgiving season, when turkeys are often a loss-leader in the grocery stores, I'll buy one or two extras, have the butcher saw them in half, store them in the freezer until summertime. Then for a small dinner party, I'd smoke them out on the grill, and serve them with a cool and refreshing congealed cranberry and apple salad, with that frozen pumpkin pie for dessert.

Katie, again....thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you tried it, and very, very glad you enjoyed it.

:rolleyes:


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I want everybody's recipes for all those brussels sprouts and flans and variations of sweet potato things (save for the kebabs with marshmallows---visions of the little white pillows collapsing into sags, then leaking through a grill onto the glowing coals, sending up clouds of badly-burnt sugar fumes to choke and confound the waiting diners).

I haven't messed with a Thanksgiving menu in many years, though since it became my own responsibility after we moved far from my parents and other parts of family, the content has changed a bit. Our Thanksgiving was always WAY Southern, with an almost-braised turkey cooked in one of those hightop roaster pans with the little vent doohickey in the top. The bird always emerged very tender, very moist, and so very TURKEY-flavored from its long confinement with itself inside that covered pan with all its steamy concentration. It was almost impossible to remove as a whole entity, with drumsticks languidly slumping toward gravity as it was lifted with the two widest spatulas. Occasionally the entire backbone section would remain in the roaster, as the rest of the bird was pulled upward with a rending, sucking "smock" sound of tearing, meaty flesh.

And it always tasted overcooked, in the way a chicken will revert to a too-poultry essence of itself when boiled and boiled by a well-meaning but misled cook hoping for that long-lost flavor of Mom's dumplings or noodle soup. I never tasted roast turkey til I made one myself, in my own home, for an occasion other than Thanksgiving, which was sacred, unchanging, and usually spent at my parents' house.

My first in-laws, bless their hearts, also subscribed to the poached turkey method, and the turkey was cooked on WEDNESDAY, pulled into serving-sized pieces, plattered and served cold next day alongside all the requisite sweet potatoes and cornbread dressing and long-cooked canned snap beans from the summer garden, gathered and quarted up with a dash each of sugar and vinegar, and stashed away by the case in the pantry.

And the cold turkey was probably a necessity, for Thanksgiving was DEER season, and all the hunters could barely leash themselves long enough to gobble down that dinner with the family, before cramming into pickups with guns and dogs and coolers of food-to-cook at the hunting camp all the rest of that weekend. My dear MIL was known to serve Thanksgiving dinner at the unholy hour of eleven a.m., in deference to her beloved husband's desire to be out and away from such frivolous things as a family dinner which hindered the dash for the woods. Dressing and devilled eggs, gravy and the maroon-jewel cylinder of extruded cranberry sauce, sliced into rounds and lifted with Gran's sterling tomato-slice utensil, all were lost on the eager hunters, whose blood-stir was contained only by their deference to the sensibilities of the ladies present and their regard for the effort and work that had gone into the meal.

Why on earth we didn't do the dinner on WEDNESDAY is a mystery past my solving.

And now, as for the past several years, we gather at our house, the children and their spouses and some friends, for a slightly-different take on the old favorites, most of which still appear (save for my Mom's traditional spaghetti and cheese and long half-pan of baked beans, brown-sugared to a caramel sweetness, with little rounds of Vienna sausage bobbing here and there). Between the dressing, beans, spaghetti, sweet potatoes, and the fact that the only salads were potato salad and devilled eggs, the entire meal was a plateful of clotty lumps of different colors, all carb-riddled and entirely delicious.

Hubby Chris smokes the turkey these days (aside from the epic fried disaster recounted in a thread like I Will Never Again...) and it is juicy and flavorful and fork-tender. We have cornbread dressing, made of unsweetened firm cornbread, mixed with diced onions and celery and tiny bits of fresh snipped sage from the garden, all bathed in a golden broth made by cooking chicken thighs with more celery and onions into buttery, tender smoothness and baked into a crusty, steaming deliciousness. The green beans are still the same, two quarts of home-canned beans from the Summer's bounty, cooked with a hunk of ham and sauteed onion, flavored with garlic and a dash of soy sauce. My dear DIL's famous broccoli/cauliflower salad, brightly garnished devilled eggs in the little nests of Mammaw's own clear hobnail plate, a big gleaming mound of greengreen fresh brussels sprouts with sweet butter and a little sift of lemon zest. A turkey-shaped loaf, complete with proudly-spread tail and beady little eye, shaped and baked by dear daughter at her bakery, gleams in all its egg-glazed glory from the round platter. A tall glass compote of just-burst sweet cranberries, cooked in orange juice and sugar, with little pings of orange zest, alongside the dish of sliced Ocean Spray; a relish tray holding the requisite pickles and olives and long celery sticks; and whatever other dishes are brought into the house and proffered by the loving hands of friends and family present for the occasion.

Only the times have changed. The faces are still the same, the smiles and the conversation and the lively banter amongst long-familiar siblings and friends; only a few missing faces, a little change in menu, a bringing-together of my own line, in which I am now oldest. I set out the same dishes, the same foods, the old favorites; nobody is rushing to get to other places, other activities. We reach for each others' hands, bow our heads as my husband offers our Thanks, and agree that we are all each others' blessings. We pass a dish, scoop out a bit of Mother's baked corn from its black skillet, taste and remember.


Edited by racheld (log)

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What a lovely, evocative description of your feasts!

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I find it amusing that so many "traditions" involve mid-twentieth-century industrial food products.  :laugh: Did the Pilgrims bring canned onion rings and mushroom soup concentrate over on the Mayflower? Maybe they used  jellied cranberry sauce as ballast.

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

Kinda reminds me of the "Matrix" takeoff on the Thansgiving episode of Good Eats: "Alton, do you want to know the REAL truth about the First Thanksgiving?"

It's so very true though, so many of the craptacular canned/overprocessed foods my family insists on using for Thanksgiving make me wonder what the frak it has to do with our colonial beginnings. Interesting note: people served whatever they pleased for Thanksgiving, until Norman Rockwell painted a grandmother serving roast turkey on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, in his "Four Freedoms" series.


"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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I have long thought that Thanksgiving should be a fast day. As it stands now, it is a holiday of gorging to mark a year of gorging - at least for the more fortunate among us. Why not mark it with a 24-hour fast so many of us will come to know what hunger feels like? Not a popular idea with newspapers and magazines, of course what with all that food store and restaurant advertising, but still....

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This is our menu for Thanksgiving. My sister is bringing the turkey/dressing, canned cranberries, and homemade dill pickles. My niece will be bringing some sort of godawful dessert, store bought white rolls, and I've been told not to bake anything because it will make the niece feel bad.

So, the menu: turkey/stove top dressing, cranberries, pickles/olives/whatever, mashed potatoes and gravy, some kind of vegetable (I do frozen broccoli and cauliflower because that's what they'll eat), and a green salad with ranch and italian dressing.

Boring, huh? The homemade dill pickles are scrumptious, though.

This is exactly the same meal we'll have at Christmas and at Easter, sometimes with the addition of ham or cabbage rolls or both.

Please, won't someone invite me to their feast? My husband and sons wouldn't mind an invite either, especially my 11 year old, who's turning into a pretty good cook and a lover of all things food/cooking.


I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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"My niece will be bringing some sort of godawful dessert, store bought white rolls, and I've been told not to bake anything because it will make the niece feel bad."

Just bake something the day before and hide them in places under the sink etc.. and when you get a hankering for fresh baked just go to the bathroom :wink:

I would invite you to my aunt's house, but alas it would not be an improvement over yor meal :sad:


Edited by M.X.Hassett (log)

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M.X., I'm planning to do that very thing, starting on Friday. I'm going to make a couple of nice cakes or something that we can eat, and make some nice meals before Thanksgiving. Most of the baked goods will be gone by the time our Thanksgiving meal rolls around, so I'm not going to worry about hiding them.

I just wish my family were more adventurous. The meal, aside from the dessert, isn't bad or anything, it's just same old same old, and it could be a lot better.

Families. What can you do.


I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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"Families. What can you do." dite your tongue and smile, and eat up before hand :wink:

Edit: I have resolved to consider T-Day to be all about the family, if I go into it like that and not think about the food I find myself to be a much happier person :smile:


Edited by M.X.Hassett (log)

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...

It's so very true though, so many of the craptacular canned/overprocessed foods my family insists on using for Thanksgiving make me wonder what the frak it has to do with our colonial beginnings. Interesting note: people served whatever they pleased for Thanksgiving, until Norman Rockwell painted a grandmother serving roast turkey on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, in his "Four Freedoms" series.

I hope I didn't come across as too snarky about the packaged-food-nostalgia thing. I chuckle about the odd sense of "tradition" surrounding industrial foods that were unknown a half-century ago, but any tradition, even a we-made-it-up-right-here tradition, symbolizes a connection with friends and family and a feeling of belonging.

In the last several years, I've been alternating between two Thanksgiving scenarios.

Scene one:

My friend J gathers an interesting variety of people for Thanksgiving dinner at her lovely home high on Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh (Mr. Rogers neighborhood, literally).

She's a prof at CMU, so many of her friends are academics. Her daughters are in their early twenties and bring along a mix of earnest socially-conscious bright-ones and magenta-haired postmodern hyper-ironiic types. (I'm not mocking here- I attended Oberlin College in the seventies :wink: )

Sooooo, what do we cook for Thanksgiving dinner?

J: So, I guess we have to make turkey.

E: Right, but we've also got the "potential Vegan contingent"

J: I've got some great squash from my garden

E: No butter??? :sad::laugh:

J: We'll put extra butter in the stuffing. :smile:

E: So, I was thinking we (I) could bone out the turkey a la Ken Hom, so that no one notices... Then stuff the neck with a wild rice and pistachio mix and the "business end" of the turkey with a somewhat more traditional bread-sausage-whatever stuffing. Lot's of herbs.

J: Yeah, that sounds cool, Eddie. Isn't that a lot or work? :laugh::laugh:

E: You know me far too well...

The one sacrosanct must do dish for J is her dad's "creamed onions". Pearl onions in a simple béchamel - I talked her into adding a few gratings of nutmeg, but even that was pushing the line. :wink:

Scene two:

It's my sister's turn to host the in-laws for Turkey Day. Every time this happens she freaks and "calls in the reserves" (me) to help. :laugh:

Seriously, I don't know why she panics. She's a perfectly good cook, but I guess she needs me there to provide support. :wub:

So, I'm not even going to suggest anything too "out-there". But I do want to do a nice stuffing made from home-baked bread, sausage, a bit of sautéed onion and maybe some apple, fresh herbs...

S: Whoah!!!! We have got to make Stove Top Stuffing ™

E: Huh?

Well, it's some sort of imagined "tradition". Certainly not when we were growing up, but whatever. :hmmm:

We make Grotesque Quantities ® of Stove Top Stuffing ™ , plus a limited amount of my "weird" stuffing.

Here's the kicker: My bil's sil (does that make sense?) finds out that the stuffing I made contains apple, sausage, and sage. Well, she is just about driven to tears. Turns out that her german-born granny made stuffing very much like what I made - what for me seemed like a pretty tasty mix turned out to resonate with her on a deep emotional level.

This year my sister is once again hosting the T-day meal, and I've volunteered to help out. I'll be making the sausage-apple-herb stuffing. Guaranteed.

Back to the original question:

... Anyway, we're talking about leaving the turkey exactly where it is at the center of the table but taking the traditional trimmings and moving them to different points in the meal. Like pumpkin in the soup, sweet potatoes in the stuffing, cranberries in the dessert. (Actually, I'd like to turn the stuffing into rustic croutons for a wild green salad but I think it would be too much work. Ditto for cooking the turkey, chopping it up into pieces and threading the meat on skewers with cranberries, slathering with a sweet teriyaki glaze, and giving the whole thing a quick whirl on the grill.)

I'm wondering who has tried this sort of thing out there; what succeeded, what didn't. Would you share your war stories and recipes with me?

What sort of mood where you in when you decided to depart from the norm? did the family notice? did the family care? Did Thanksgiving still feel "right" for you?

Let me know.

Thanks.

Bill Daley

Chicago Tribune

I absolutely love the idea of "riffing" on the traditional theme. And if people just have to have those tacky old "traditional" things like casserole glop and giggly cranberry stuff, why fight them? Some of us want something more adventurous? Don't be cowed by the nay-sayers! Do both.

We can make everybody happy here. Really!

[/Pollyanna]

Edit: Caan't Speelll worth a Daaaaarn


Edited by edsel (log)

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I want everybody's recipes for all those brussels sprouts and flans and variations of sweet potato things (save for the kebabs with marshmallows---visions of the little white pillows collapsing into sags, then leaking through a grill onto the glowing coals, sending up clouds of badly-burnt sugar fumes to choke and confound the waiting diners).

I am pleased to report that, though I have sat through some godawful Thanksgiving massacres*, I have yet to have anything with marshmallows inflicted on me. Dunno how I was so lucky.

My brussels sprouts recipe is dirt-simple. Truth in advertising: it's based on a recipe I got out of the Seattle Times over a decade ago, but I made it a little more go-with-the-flow:

--couple pounds of brussels sprouts

--maple syrup (I like the grade B dark)

--mustard (I like a nice grainy one like Plochman's Stoneground)

--vinegar (a white wine or apple cider one is best for the color, but often I'll use a red-wine one because I just like the flavor better)

--extra-virgin olive oil (a light fruity one is best for this purpose)

--fresh ground pepper, salt

Make a vinaigrette dressing with all the ingredients that are not brussels sprouts :smile: , adjusting the proportions to your liking (I like to go easy on the maple syrup, adding just enough so that the maple flavor balances against the vinegar and mustard, but not so much that the whole thing gets overly sweet).

Trim up and halve the brussels sprouts (you can quarter any that are bigger than the rest, but it's better that you try and get all tiny ones because they taste better).

Cook the sprouts in a large quantity of boiling salted water just long enough for them to turn bright green and barely tender enough to eat; shock 'em in ice water, but only briefly--you want 'em still warm.

While they're still warm, place them in a non-reactive container and pour the vinaigrette over them. Marinate, refridgerated, overnight.

Let them warm back up to room temp before serving.

*Speaking of massacres, one of my family's beloved non-food-related Thanksgiving traditions was the annual playing of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" in its entirety, which long rambling yarn does start off with a Thanksgiving dinner--which dinner did not actually take place at Alice's restaurant, and "Alice's Restaurant" wasn't even the name of Alice's restaurant, but I can't remember what her restaurant was actually called, but I can still recite whole passages from the story by rote, so it obviously made a big impression on me. Now *that's* what I call an alternative Thanksgiving tradition! :laugh:

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Hi Bill,

What a cool idea for a food article, can't wait to read your copy.

Turkey-day in my family has passed a crossroads. We've experienced a "changing of the guard" in the kitchen, where my brother and I have taken over the cooking duties from Gramma and Mom. And with that change, new foods are brought to the table.

Gramma has, as I am sure many can relate, a Julia Child-like mythos. I learned all of the fundamentals of good cookery and achieving excellence as her side-kick ever since I could see over the counter (standing on a stool <grin>). I shadowed her for, geez, nearly two decades and thought she taught me everything! Alas not. Like Alton Brown and his grandmother demonstrated on a Good Eats episode covering biscuits; Gramma has that special zing that makes any dish in her repertoire automatically taste so much better than anything I could do (and I went to culinary school!!!! <grin>).

Two years ago, armed with Gramma's oversight and all the know-how we gained over years of being on her line, my brother and I attempted to duplicate her traditional menu: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet-potato cassarole (with marshmellows and walnuts), home-grown green beans, and her awesome homemade cranberry jelly terrine, even her champion peach and apple crisps. The results, while "good", just didn't have Gramma's magic. Sort of a downer really. Everyone ate well, but the dinner table didn't have the usual banter.

After cleaning up, Gramma congratulated us on the enjoyable meal, but noticed that we were both a bit dejected. Upon hearing us confess that we felt as if we didn't deliver the goods on the family's most important meal of the year, she smiled and made us repeat the age-old mantra she's always drilled into us ; "Go with what you know".

So we switched things up, and set out to create a new brand of magic.

Here's the menu from last year:

Appetizers

- Parisien French Onion soup; Chardonnay-based stock.

- Pickle tray; consists of a variety of pickled melons, cucumbers, and squash.

- Cucumber sandwiches

Entrees

- Roasted turkey (with savory butter underneath the skin) and sage/raisin sourdough stuffing.

- Jerk ham roast; my brother's creation is awesome.

Sides

- Sweet-potato and cheddar gratin.

- Smashed potatoes with dijon mustard and thyme.

- Bread basket; a mix of my brother's specialties.

- Wild mushroom and pea casserole.

- Green beans almondine.

Desserts

- Munich apple-struedel

- Pecan-pie

- Mango-apple tarte with clotted-cream; I adapted a mango chutney for this one.

- Traditional bread-pudding.

For my family, this is quite a departure from "the usual". Turkey-day has gone global. The results? Fantastic!!! After years of trying, I actually turned Gramma onto baked onions... and my niece, the most finicky eater I know, eats well.

This year, we're going with a mediterranean roasted turkey recipe (it's got lemon, mint, sage and onion) and introducing some of the spins on potato and vegetable dishes I've developed over the last year.

All in all, Gramma is right, when you go with what you know, all things turn out well.

- C


"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com

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