Food and it’s presentation has been central to our family gatherings for as long as I can remember. That may be why I love to host meals and parties…I equate food-centric gatherings with feelings of love, comfort, and celebration.
AND it’s almost Thanksgiving…the beginning of the holiday entertaining season! We have SO much to be thankful for…family, friends, and the blessing of a warm, safe, and welcoming home.
My family is generally of the Thanksgiving mindset that if some is good, more is better SO with a 38 pound turkey (I know, right?? Who knew they grew that big!) and maybe 12-14 people coming, we’ll have plenty of leftovers to send home with guests. Which reminds me, I need to stock up on take out containers to package leftovers so I just ordered these…
On the menu for this year (and pretty much every year...it IS a very traditional food holiday after all):
The aforementioned 38 pound turkey (which barely fits in the oven and which has to be brined in a garden bucket because it is too big for any normal household pots!). This is the 3rd year of a giant turkey bequeathed to us from a family friend who is a gentleman farmer, so it will be "big bird 3.0".
Bell’s stuffing – a staple we are forbidden to deviate from…
Sweet potato casserole – toppings for this have evolved from the marshmallows in our youth to a more grown up pecan/brown sugar topping these days
Buttery mashed potatoes - a classic
Gravy – I was intimidated by making gravy for years - my Dad is the gravy whisperer and he has always made the gravy for me. If you too are paralyzed by the thought of producing a decent gravy, I have found Ina Garten's make ahead gravy is a foolproof base to work from (recipe here)!
Butternut squash with a hint of allspice
Turnip – I know, I know, but it’s really not as bad as it seems…a fair amount of butter can salvage almost anything, and a dash of sugar mixed in takes the bitter edge off. In the spirit of hospitality, we offer turnip since it is a requirement for some of our family to feel like the Thanksgiving table is complete *sigh*.
Cranberry sauce with apricot and roasted pecans (recipe here)
Lucia rolls - these slightly sweet currant studded rolls are from Auntie Sharon’s recipe, which makes about 4 dozen. Luckily they freeze really well AND I love having them for breakfast with tea so leftovers are not a hardship!
And finally, something green…usually either a salad or green beans – it makes a nice color contrast on the plate and we can pretend we are being slightly healthy. Okay, even I am not THAT delusional, but it does make a nice color contrast…
A toast of sparkling cider and sparkling wine, a chorus of “praise God from whom all blessings flow”, and a prayer of gratitude for the many blessings we collectively represent gathered around our table, and the feasting begins!
And then, just when we think we can’t eat another bite, there is dessert. The family favorite sticky toffee pudding…and then, of course, the parade of traditional Thanksgiving pies…pumpkin, pecan, apple, and mincemeat (yes, someone actually likes that).
One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the bounty of delicious leftovers! Our après -Thanksgiving weekend is devoted to “terrific turkey” sandwiches consisting of homemade bread piled high with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo alongside squash soup or a green salad. And we begin decking the halls for Christmas….which is, of course, accompanied by Manheim Steamroller Christmas music and Coquitos, a sinfully delicious coconut-eggnog concoction!
Like I said…we’re all about the food!