How I Spent Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Yes, it revolves around food, but that’s just the backdrop. Really it’s about family. No material gifts-just the gift of family and the reminder to be grateful. Although this is a busy day for cooking, we watch Thanksgiving Day Parades and even go on an outing during the day. We definitely make sure we get a good walk in or some kind of exercise.
This year we had all of my children, grandchildren, my sister from Chicago and her family for dinner and for dessert we opened the house to my son and daughter's in laws. They love to nibble on my leftovers so we keep them out along with dessert. The house was full of laughter, the aromas of delicious food, and the feeling of gratitude we all remember at this time of the year.
I set two tables. One in the dining room and one in the kitchen. The two rooms are near each other so we can listen to the conversations at both. I let everyone decide where they want to sit and mix children with adults. I use my best china, and decorate the tables with autumn adornments.
I am the cook and love making the turkey. We keep kosher so I always order my turkey from Kroger’s kosher butcher a couple of weeks ahead of time. I order a fresh turkey and pick it up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I know that a turkey gobbled days before I buy it, and I do thank him for giving up his life for us. This year I bought an 19 pound fresh turkey. I stuffed it and put it in at 9 just in time to watch the parade. I roasted the turkey covered and basted occasionally and it was done by 4:30.
The dressing I make is a recipe passed on through the generations from my grandmother. Grandma loved to cook. Her dressing always had lots of eggs and butter in the bread, onion and celery mix. I have lightened the recipe by sautéing my onions and celery in olive oil and moisten the bread with vegetarian chicken broth or bullion. I also sneak in extra fiber by adding wheat germ and ground flax seed. Nobody notices anything but the moist flavorful taste of the dressing. I do use several eggs, but throw out half of the yolks. I don’t use a lot of seasoning, just salt, pepper, and a bit of fresh rosemary along with lots of parsley.
We always have lots of vegetable side dishes. I make a green bean casserole from scratch by sautéing mushrooms and onions and adding non-dairy mushroom soup that I thicken with a little flour or cornstarch. Then I add salt and pepper. I use either fresh or frozen green beans and mix all together with the fried onions you see in the classic green bean casserole recipe. I sometimes add some cut up asparagus and a little garlic.
Usually I make a roasted vegetable medley with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and root vegetables tossed with olive oil, garlic, maybe some fresh rosemary, baked at 400 degrees. This year I made sauteed brussel sprouts and sauteed green beans. I had the traditional mashed potatoes but also made a turnip, cauliflower mash for those who don't eat white potatoes.
I made my sweet potatoes in the crock pot. I cut up the sweet potatoes and added three cut up apples. I seasoned with salt, pepper and a little Smart Balance butter substitute. Without any sugar added, the kids said "they tasted like candy."
I served whole grain rolls, white rolls and my daughter's whole made challah bread. I think next year I am going to make my own rolls. They are so much better when I make them from scratch with my own whole grain flours and yeast.
Can’t forget cranberry sauce. I confess, I bought the canned sauce-one whole and the other the cranberry gel.
I served a variety of desserts-cakes, pies and fresh fruit. We had coffee flavored with Baileys. We had an assortment of red and white wine with dinner. This year we bought our pumpkin and apple pies from Costco. We love the chunky apple pie, but the pumpkin was just okay. Next year, I may make my own pumpkin pies. I like to make a whole grain crust and use fresh pumpkin. We shall see.
I don’t worry that my house is immaculate. I just wanted everyone to come, relax, and enjoy the day, the meal, the people, the conversation and the experience of remembering the value of gratitude and joy. It was a wonderful holiday.
I hope you all had Happy Thanksgiving and I wish you a Season of Joy!