Monday, November 19, 2018

Traditions We Can't Do Without? #Thanksgiving

Lucy's mom, Janet, ready for the party
LUCY BURDETTE: When I was growing up, we used to have Thanksgiving with my mother’s sisters and their families. The menus were pretty standard, delicious homemade fare—turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green been casserole, cranberry sauce from a can and so on. Over the years, I’ve had lots of different kinds of Thanksgivings, sometimes I’ve cooked, sometimes I’ve eaten at other people’s houses, sometimes I’ve even gone out to dinner. I’m less attached to a specific menu these days. The only time I was really disappointed was the year my sister and I had dinner with old friends before either of us were married. These people were very Southern and warm and lovely. We felt very welcome and glad to be sharing their table. Except…rice was served with the turkey and gravy rather than mashed potatoes!  Oh, and speaking of gravy, please don’t add giblets to mine…

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING; Despite being centered around eating, I maintain Thanksgiving isn't really about food. Or rather, about cooking. I've learned over the years that guests and family members will accept one (1) novel recipe per holiday, and after that, you better stick to the pearl onions in cream sauce and whatever dressing is standard for your part of the country (cornbread, sausage, bread, oyster, walnut) I've always actually stuffed the bird with the stuffing (because then you can serve it 'wet' and 'dry', as my family called it) but I'm going to change it up this year because my turkeys have come out on the dry side the past few years. If someone can tell me the definitive way to get a juicy bird - basting? Brining? Rubbing stuff under the skin? - I would be grateful.

RHYS BOWEN: Having not grown up with Thanksgiving I find the holiday doesn't mean as much to me as Christmas does. I enjoy the turkey and stuffing and potatoes. Not a big fan of any of the casseroles that go with it. I find myself making the green bean casserole as my son in law likes it. This year my daughter has ordered a completely organic, free range turkey from Whole Foods. I hope we'll find it tastes better. In the past we have injected the bird with John's secret mixture to make it moist. The secret is not to overcook. it's a fine line between giving your guests salmonella and drying out the breast too much. We don't put stuffing inside the bird but cook it separately. I love all stuffings but John likes sausage meat and I like lots of herbs, mushrooms, veggies in mind. I love chestnut stuffing but chestnuts are hard to find and horribly expensive. Actually it's not the food that matters. It's family sitting around the table and laughing!

HALLIE EPHRON: What I can't do without is my family and pie. Fortunately we all agree on the menu - turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes, turnips. For starters, butternut squash soup. AND PIE! Homemade of course. Pumpkin. Custard. Apple. This year my daughter is hosting in Brooklyn and I am doing whatever she needs me to do. She's in charge. (She'd laugh to hear me say that.... ) I agree with Rhys, it's all about the family and friends.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  SO--this makes me laugh and laugh. I loved the turkey my mother made. Loved. Looked forward to it every year.  And the bed moment of all was when Mom would say--how's the turkey? Nice and dry? And we'd say, yes! delicious!  nice and dry! Seriously, we were taught that dry turkey was a good thing..thereby absolving (we learned later) my mom of the fear of overcooking it. As I grew up, and had other Thanksgiving experiences, I learned dry turkey was not the goal. I still like it better.   So Julia, you are perfection! And can cook a turkey at our house any time. Nice and dry. 
Plus, hot gravy. If I can remember how to make it, a yearly terror, hides any mistakes.

JENN McKINLAY: Dessert, natch. I am the chief baker for the holidays. This year I'm making a raspberry/white chocolate bundt cake (a copy cat of Nothing Bundt Cake's delicious version for Thanksgiving). I'm not a huge turkey fan, but I do enjoy a good stuffing and I adore cranberry sauce. I don't have a lot of holiday traditions for any of the holidays. We're seat of the pants types and will frequently just up and go to the beach or the mountains and get away for a holiday. I find the expectations of the holidays exhausting. It seems, everyone expects a Norman Rockwellesque holiday, where turkeys are perfect, everyone gets along, and people break out into song for no apparent reason, as if we haven't been members of our own families all our lives and should know better. LOL.


DEBORAH CROMBIE: We are always torn about Thanksgiving. It's so much fun to gather round our own table, and to make all the things we really love (my daughter's fabulous sauteed Brussels sprouts with shallots and bacon, cauliflower and cheddar gratin, my yummy sage-y cornbread dressing, and of course my famous cranberry relish) BUT... I have one aunt left on my mom's side of the family, my mother's youngest brother's widow, and my two cousins and their kids, and the kids' kids now. For years we did Thanksgiving and Christmas with them, but because these days we really want to have Christmas at home, and to host Christmas dinner, we just spend Thanksgiving with the auntie. And then usually a second visit to Rick's mom and siblings, etc., etc.,  This year I am just happy to spend time with family and to eat whatever anyone else makes!!!

How about you Reds and red readers, what can’t you do without on Thanksgiving? What do you look forward to most?

And ps, if you developed a hankering for those pimento cheese scones while you were reading, Lucy's recipe is here...

72 comments:

  1. Oh, thank you, Lucy, for the pimento cheese scone recipe!!

    Actually, I have no particular “can’t do without” food for Thanksgiving except for the cranberry sauce, which I make myself . . . I also make rolls, mince pie, pumpkin custard, and pumpkin spice cake . . . . but my family has a whole list of things I shouldn’t forget to make. So we always have turkey and stuffing [which I don’t like and don’t eat] and mashed potatoes and all the other expected trimmings [but no green bean casserole].

    Julia, the first year I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, my grandmother told me to wiggle the turkey’s leg to tell if it was done, but I couldn’t do that because I’d put it in the roasting pan sitting on the legs. My grandmother told me I’d cooked it upside down, but the owner of the local turkey farm told Gramma that sitting on its legs was the right way to roast turkey so that it wouldn’t be dry. So, we always put the turkey in the pan sitting on its legs; I rub spices under the loosened skin of the turkey, roast it at 350 degrees until the thigh meat registers 170 on my meat thermometer. Then it comes out of the oven and rests for twenty minutes or so . . . and it’s never dry.

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    1. My father used to love mince pie Joan, but no one else would touch it, so that tradition has been retired. (though I did like the hard sauce!) Do the others in your family cook too?

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    2. Mince pie is John’s favorite, so I always make sure there’s a pie or tarts for him to enjoy.
      In my family, I’m the one who likes to cook . . . .

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    3. We had so many family battles over mince pie! Only my father would eat it…

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    4. Sitting on its legs! Joan, how do you manage that? Just balance it? Or do you have something you shove up its, uh, cavity?

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    5. Instead of laying the turkey in the pan with the drumsticks up in the air [like you see it in every picture of a Thanksgiving turkey], flip it over and lay it in the pan so that the drumsticks are on the bottom. See a picture here: http://ww2.kqed.org/bayareabites/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2015/11/turkey-turn-bird.jpg

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    6. I love mince pie, Joan, but I find only a few soul mates on that front down here in the south.

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    7. I'm not much of a pie person, Gigi, but mincemeat cookies are yummy . . . .

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  2. We don't eat meat, so our Thanksgiving staples are a Trader Joe's vegan "turkey" and homemade pies. We look forward to that turkey every year, and they only sell it in November. I guess that makes it more special.

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    1. I believe soy is the main ingredient. It comes in a log shape with stuffing inside and a gravy packet, so all I have to do is throw it in the oven for about an hour. Easy!

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    2. Damn, if only real turkey came in a log shape with stuffing inside and a gravy packet! Americans would never eat a bird=shaped bird again.

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    3. If people knew how good the vegan turkeys are they would probably never eat a real one again either, Julia!

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    4. You could always go for a turkey breast, Julia. Much easier to cook, but not so great for folks who love dark meat.

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  3. Because I’m always outvoted when I suggest a menu change, our Thanksgiving dinner is traditional; turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn casserole, fruit salad, green veg, (but not green bean casserole), and yummy rolls. Years ago I was given a wonderful recipe for yams that gets devoured, even by people who say they don’t like yams. It’s delicious but a bit of a pain to make.My daughter-in-law wants to try a new acorn squash recipe instead of yams, so I’m off the hook this year! Grandkids both manage wine tasting rooms so good wine is assured. Pumpkin and fruit pies that everyone is too full to eat. I love pumpkin pie for breakfast so that’s just fine with me. Half of the crew still insist on canned cranberry sauce, complete with can lines, and the rest prefer homemade. I’m trying a cranberry sauce made with jalapeño jelly, a recipe shared by a friend who makes and sells wonderful specialty jellies. I did a trial run last week with my usual dressing recipe, but using my Instant Pot, and, yahoo, it was just dandy. Fingers crossed, we’re taking baby steps varying the menu.
    Last year I found Thanksgiving crackers so we had the whole paper crown thing we usually do at Christmas. It made for great photos and we’re doing it again this year.
    The best thing is having all my chicks in the nest.
    Watching them at table, four generations of extended family and assorted friends, eating, laughing and all talking over each other makes for great memories.

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    1. It sounds lovely Wendy! I love the idea of the corn casserole, and please tell us how the cranberry and jalapeno jelly turns out. Usually I can skip the cranberry sauce altogether, but that sounds appealing!

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    2. So agree! It almost makes me cry. And I agree, nope, don’t mess with tradition.

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  4. I'm not a huge fan of turkey, so if I'm cooking for myself I usually have ham at Thanksgiving, but I definitely go for the cornbread stuffing, bird or no bird. Also cranberries. The can is okay with me because my grandmother was the only one in our family who could ever get the homemade stuff to gel. (Although it tastes just fine as a sauce, too.) Deb's cranberry relish rocks.

    I don't have much family here in Texas, except the Norwoods, who wrote me off decades ago as too weird for their fold, but I have learned that I'm much happier enjoying a nice meal at home by myself than trying to fit into someone else's family traditions. A number of generous friends have offered me a place at their table, but that can be really awkward if I don't already have relationships with most of the people there. Call me a hopeless introvert, but I'd far rather spend the afternoon watching the National Dog Show with my border collie, Zoe, than chit-chatting with strangers. (Zoe loves the National Dog Show, and will watch the whole thing with rapt attention. I like to watch her watch it.)

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    1. I can understand that Gigi, and Zoe sounds like very good company!

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    2. We always either entertain a household or are at my (busy, crowded) sister's house, but back in '16 Ross wasn't feeling up to either, so we had our one and only quiet dinner at home. I got to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and the dog show for the first time! I loved it! They need to put it on in the afternoon, instead of football, so the cooks and table-steers can watch every year.

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    3. Gigi, I'm with you on "much happier enjoying a nice meal at home by myself", when I was single. It was nice of friends to invite me, but I hated to go, so didn't. For me it was football, not the dog show. But I did make some sort of turkey dinner, usually just a baked breast and stuffing.

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    4. This year a friend I'm friends with year round has invited me for a time-limited feast, which is great! I know and like her family, her mother is coming for out of state, which is a treat for me, and I get to go home after three hours (and not miss the dog show) so it's ideal. I'll probably be bringing pies.

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  5. I'm in the pie and family camp. We'll be with our as-good-as-family friends this year for a vegetarian feast, and I'm bringing pumpkin and apple pies. But I did order the smallest local turkey and will cook it at home for Hugh and me so we can have turkey, and I'll make my mom's bread stuffing, too (onions, celery, walnuts, and lots of butter, with sage and rosemary).

    Julia, I learned to roast the turkey upside down. The dark meat gets more exposure to the heat, and the breast gets all the juices migrating down. Plus a dry herby salty rub helps seal in the juices.

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    1. that's the trouble with going to someone else's house for the holiday--no leftovers!

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  6. Just give me a heaping helping of turkey, potatoes, gravy, some kind of rolls/biscuits, cranberry sauce and pie and I'm good. I'm not all that hard too please when it comes to a Thanksgiving meal. A second helping of all that wouldn't be bad either.

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    1. I roll with what works best. Notice how I left out any mention of vegetables? Cause they are THE DEVIL!

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    2. And it is such a challenge to make the vegetables were, I have to tell you! Because they are often so last-minute. Debs, I want to hear about those brussels sprouts!

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    3. Hank, Kayti says she doesn't really have a recipe. She cooks some chopped bacon and shallots together until they start to caramelize, then adds the sliced or halved sprouts, sautes some more, then adds a little bit of chicken stock and cooks until the sprouts start to get tender. She finishes them with a squeeze of lemon juice. She say the key is not to over cook!

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  7. Years ago a family friend who was a gourmet cook told us to roast poultry with only the following in the cavity: a buttered slice of bread, an apple, and an onion, all quartered. Butter the skin of the bird (I usually spray with olive oil these days), then cover the bird with tented foil, tucked inside the pan, covering the bird loosely.

    Roast normally, but 10-15 minutes before the end of the roasting time, remove the foil. Perfection, every time.

    We have a wild turkey, shot on our farm, in the freezer (that has to come out today to start thawing). My husband will stuff the cavity as above, and smoke it, either Wednesday or very early Thursday. This year there will just be eight of us, and for the first time we're having dinner at the farm, so we will also have prime rib. I pulled horseradish roots the other day from my garden, so I'm making fresh horseradish sauce for the beef. We all love it, so it should be a hit. Less so, the side dishes. There's always one dish someone doesn't like and someone else insists on. But we all enjoy mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie!

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  8. the smoked turkey and fresh horseradish sauce sound divine Karen!

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  9. I wrap the turkey in cheesecloth and baste with melted butter several times during the roasting. So good! Louisiana sweet potatoes with brown sugar and chopped pecans. Two kinds of Ohio orchard apples for the pies. Seasoned bread stuffing with sausage. My husband comes from a rice stuffing family and was an instant convert. We are our mother's stuffing.

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    1. Interesting that you use two kind of apples in your pie, Margaret. I do, too, and get enthusiastic reviews. Mine are Granny Smith and Braeburn. What do you use?

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  10. I adore Thanksgiving, not because of the food but the family gathering. I used to cook, but lately we've been going to other family member's houses (because Christmas we absolutely stay home).

    Julia, I've used Alton Brown's brining method for turkey and it always works. When The Hubby decided he didn't want the work of brining, I tried Hank's trick of roasting with a butter-soaked cheese-cloth over the breast. That worked too. Nice and juicy. I've done the organic turkeys and Butterball and honestly? I can't taste a difference.

    This year, we're going to my dad's and he's ordered a Thanksgiving dinner package from the local grocery store. But I am bringing pumpkin pie, which is the one thing my kids cannot do without!

    Mary/Liz

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  11. In general, I'm the kind of cook who likes to try lots of different things, loves experimenting with spices and different flavors, etc. But I took over Thanksgiving hosting for my husband's family last year and in this situation, I know that it is best to just stick with the basics.

    The wrinkle this year is that I am hosting at my 90-year-old mother-in-law's house, to spare her traveling. We are also having a pretty large group -- 22, it looks like, though last week at this time it was looking like 29 or 30. So I have purchased the largest turkey I have ever worked with (23 lbs.) added new side dishes, but still tried to keep them very mainstream and non-challenging. And several will be cooked in crock pots as a matter of practicality.

    Personally, I always use the cooking bag for my turkey, and it seems to help a lot with keeping it moist. And I never stuff it with stuffing, just cut up onions, celery and oranges, as they actually steam additional moisture into the meat.

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    1. Next time consider two somewhat smaller birds. Cook one ahead. A little warm up and hot gravy and you're set.
      Libby Dodd

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  12. I went to the grocery store yesterday, Sunday, and it was already completely packed! I am trying to juggle weather I have to go Tuesday and Wednesday as well! I think I do… Crazy!

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    1. I am making another stop tonight for the perishables, and hoping it will be my last. (We leave after work tomorrow for the 3-hour drive north, and I plan to spend all day Wednesday in my mother-in-law's kitchen.) Good luck with not having to make TOO many more trips!

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    2. I still need to stock up on wine, and to get fresh vegetables like lettuce. And avocados, for my macrobiotic daughter who is arriving this evening and staying until next Monday. I'll need to take out a bank loan to keep up with her avocado habit! But it's worth it. <3

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    3. This morning I went to Trader Joe’s, thinking that it was too early for the shoppers who shop on their lunch break, and that I would only be sharing the store with other retired people. Well, I had trouble getting a parking space. Then I had trouble getting up and down the aisles. (The local Trader Joe’s is small.)And with all the extra people, I couldn’t even get close to some of the produce items I was interested in. Because their employees are wonderful and the store is well-managed, I got through the checkout quickly. Then I drove to Stop and Shop. The same chaos. But now I’m done for the week!

      I look forward to a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.

      DebRo

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    4. I think this is definitely one reason I'm glad I don't have to cook Thanksgiving dinner anymore. Going shopping with other people in the store is hell this time of year.

      And yes, you did read that correctly, I was mostly responsible for cooking the turkey day meal for a few years. I did the turkey, veggies (we had other people over), the gravy, rolls, potatoes (until my sister found a recipe called World's Greatest Mashed Potatoes that lived up to the billing and then she was designated to make them each year). Only my dad liked stuffing so we didn't have that on the menu.

      My mom did the baking and usually made the homemade applesauce. I did make the applesauce once myself though.

      And my Thanksgiving dinner will be immensely peaceful because all I have to do is show up at the family friend's house at the appointed hour and dig in. :D

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  13. For the last couple of years I've done a dry brine for the turkey, so easy. The day before I unwrap it, wash it inside and out and dry it well, they rub it generously all over the skin with salt. It goes into the fridge uncovered for 24 hours. Then I bring it out, wipe off the salt, rub it with herb butter, season it inside and out and stuff it, sausage stuffing here. I set the oven on convection roast, plug the probe into the stuffing in the cavity, not into the bird, and set the temp at 160 degrees. Every time it turns out golden and crispy on the outside, juicy and completely done on the inside. All I had to do was read the direction that came with my new oven, duh. That sitting in the fridge for a day is the trick for crispy skin. Who knew.

    We are going to Julie's brother's, and I'll be bringing pumpkin and apple pies. But on Friday I'll do our turkey, because what's Thanksgiving without leftovers? We have a vacuum food saver thingie, so I can freeze countless meals to enjoy until Christmas.

    Best of all is my new thermal gravy boat, a present from last Christmas. It's a miracle. I only wish it were bigger! Check them out on Amazon. No gravy consumer should be without one.
    https://smile.amazon.com/VonShef-Silver-Double-Insulated-Stainless/dp/B07GPYHKPD/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1542635417&sr=8-5&keywords=thermal+gravy+server

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    1. That IS the problem of having Thanksgiving at someone else's house. Thanksgiving needs leftovers.

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  14. Last year by mistake we ended up cooking at Tom turkey... I'd never had a nasty gamey tasting turkey before. So disappointing because it smelled great and looked gorgeous.

    Mostly I've found (like roast chicken) turkey is one of the easiest things in the world to make. Even dried-out white meat tastes fine if you load it with gravy. My favorite part is the crispy skin.

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    1. Hallie, try the salt thing and letting it dry in the fridge overnight. Trust me. I'm a nurse

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  15. How do you do Thanksgiving if you don't have the happy family to join you at the table? You create your own traditions. The year my son admitted to me that he really didn't want to be the once-a-year-addition to someone else's Thanksgiving, we begin our own traditions. Come to find out he was also not a fan of cranberry sauce, stuffing, casseroles, and anything with cool whip or jello masquerading as a "salad." That was the year the McPherson's Monte Cristo Thanksgiving was launched.

    Now, every year, We serve Monte Cristo sandwiches. If you think about it the traditional meats are there, turkey and ham. There's bread and jellied fruit and I serve a salad filled with goodies and topped with roasted pecans.

    The recipe is straight out of the Southern Living cookbook so of course it's decadent. The batter requires three eggs whites and even sour cream. Believe me when I say, it's NEVER dry. Dessert must have an element of chocolate.

    Just because we're a small family it does not mean we have to be a boring family devoid of traditions!

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    1. As a family of one, I don't mind being the once a year addition to someone else's dinner. However, if I wasn't invited, I'd just have a turkey sandwich for dinner and still be fine with that as well.

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  16. My father’s family had what I refer to as a ‘beige meal’. Nearly everything is some shade of beige-turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed mushrooms, creamed onions, mashed turnips! Yes sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce but they usually forgot the green beans! And for dessert always pies (again in the beige family)-apple, pumpkin and coconut custard! I still have pie on Thanksgiving and cake and cookie son Christmas!

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  17. Hank, I was intimidated by gravy, too, until I found out how to do it in the microwave. So easy. You just have to remember to stir it well after every minute or so.

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  18. Psst - Jenn! Could you post the recipe for the bundt cake? That sounds amazing!!

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  19. Lyda-

    Here you go: White Chocolate Raspberry Bundt

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 pkg. white cake mix
    1 5 oz-ish pkg. instant white chocolate pudding (or vanilla pudding if you can't find white chocolate)
    1 c. sour cream
    4 large eggs
    1/2 c. water
    1/2 c. oil
    1 1/2 c. white chocolate chips chopped into smaller pieces
    1 c. raspberry pastry filling I use Solo brand or seedless raspberry jam
    2 8 ounce pkgs. cream cheese softened
    1/2 c. butter softened
    3-4 c. powdered sugar
    2 tsp. vanilla

    INSTRUCTIONS:
    Grease and flour a bundt pan and preheat your oven to 350-degrees. Mix first six ingredients together with a beater. Fold in white chocolate chips.
    Fill prepared bundt pan with half of the batter. Spoon half of the raspberry filling in small, separated spoonfuls over the batter (so it looks like separate clumps of filling over the top). Using a knife swirl the filling through the cake. Swirl until there are lots of tiny swirls throughout.
    Pour remaining batter in evenly and spoon in remaining pie filling, repeating the "swirling" process above.
    Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 45-50 mins. (do the "knife test" to determine doneness). If the knife does not come out clean, keep placing back in the oven for 3-5 min at a time until it does.

    Remove from oven. Let cool for 20 mins. Remove from pan. (I think it tastes best if you put it on a serving plate, wrap it well in Saran Wrap, and let it sit overnight in the fridge before frosting and serving..)
    In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the powdered sugar (start with 2 cups then keep adding more until it is nice and thick).
    Note: To get the frosting like in the picture. Fill a gallon size Ziplock bag with the frosting and chill for about 30 minutes. Cut off a bottom corner at about a half inch diagonal cut, depending on how big you want the "frosting strips". Frost cake by squeezing out the frosting from the outside of the cake toward the middle.

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    1. Thank you! I have a mini bundt tin and this is perfect for office gifts. One more box checked off!

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  20. P.S. This is where I got the recipe:
    https://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/our-version-of-nothing-bundt-cakes-white-chocolate-raspberry-cake/

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  21. As a college student in Minnesota, I found it unexpectedly difficult and lonely to have no Thanksgiving plans and made sure to make plans with friends from then on. Now I'm more philosophical about it, just fine alone or in company, feasting moderately or eating more simply at home. This year, I'm joining friends, and bringing some of the CSA squash, with a bit of real maple syrup and some Penzey's pie spice . . . and bringing my Life Stories board game. ;-)

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  22. Some really wonderful stories there, especially about the family gathering around. Several made me sad.

    We're just two old folks alone in Portland (OR), with kids and grandkids far away in CO, southern CA and TN. Still, we like to have a semi-traditional Thanksgiving (emphasis on the thankful part) meal. We roast a small hen turkey, 14 lb. this year, plus mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cubed, herbed Zucchini, pie. I don't like pumpkin, so the wife makes a small one for herself (or tarts) and this year we will also have an apple cake from a recipe we came across. We'll see how that works, with Cool Whip on it.

    Every year it seems like a lot of work to do the turkey (we cook it upside down, like many others have said they do) and the rest, and then all the clean up, but I like dark meat for the meal, the breast meat gets to be in the turkey sandwiches, maybe the very best part, so we do the whole turkey. We just put quartered apple and bread in the bird, the stuffing is just Stove Top, but it's fine for us.

    No cranberry, you ask. No. Some years I buy a very small amount of orange-cranberry relish, but Wife doesn't like it so usually we don't bother at all. The zucchini is a compromise as we don't like the green bean thing, nor brussels sprouts. The important thing is that we're thankful, for each other, our home, our health, that the family, though far away, seems to be doing fine. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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    1. Same to you Rick. It's hard to be far from family, but you are making the best of it. The secret is exactly what you've said--concentrate on the thankful part.

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  23. There are a few things I've started doing in the recent years that makes the Thanksgiving meal a lot easier for me. First, I buy two fresh turkey breasts and have hubby take them to Old Hickory Barbecue for them to cook. It's just regular turkey; they don't sauce it up barbecue style. Our neighbor manages the restaurant, so he picks them up for us and delivers to our door. The turkey is always delicious. Last year I discovered buying fresh gravy in a jar at another local restaurant, and their gravy is always perfect. This year I'm going to buy dressing there, too. I really want to have my mother's dressing balls and gravy, because there will never be dressing and gravy I love more, but I can't seem to get it just right. Oddly enough, my brother, who unfortunately lives too far away, says he can fix the dressing balls just like our mother. Now, I don't farm out everything. I am fixing the scalloped oysters (oysters, butter, saltine crackers, salt, pepper, and half-and-half), which is a staple of my growing up. Last year, I tried Kristi Belcamino's mashed potatoes, and my family loved them. With sour cream and cream cheese and baked in the oven after all put together, they are delicious, and you can make them a day or two ahead. I'll also be making a broccoli casserole (younger granddaughter wanted broccoli). I usually do either a broccoli or an asparagus casserole each year. I may do a corn pudding, another childhood dish. The cranberry is going to be from my mother-in-law this year, in the form of a jello dish. This year there won't be pumpkin pie, which either my daughter, my mother-in-law, or I make from my mother-in-law's yummy recipe. I'm not in charge of dessert. But, thinking about it, I may give in and make the pie. So, besides buying the rolls, I think that's dinner for us this year.

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    1. You've still got a lot to make Kathy! you're making my mouth water--I do love broccoli casserole. My husband's family always had oyster stew at Christmas time, but hadn't heard about scalloped oysters for this holiday. By the way, Krista Davis posted a good-looking recipe for stuffing balls on Mystery Lovers Kitchen today...

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    2. Thanks, Lucy. I'll take a look at Krista's recipe.

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  24. Since the turkey breast and legs/thighs cook at different times, separate them and remove the breast as soon as your indispensable instant thermometer says it's ready. Leave the dark meat for a bit longer.
    For years we had tension because my kids didn't want turkey. I finally realized the whole idea is to have a nice meal with family.That started the tradition of cooking something special for my husband and me and ordering in food for the kids (mozz. sticks and cheeseburgers were the usual choices).
    Peace at last!
    Libby Dodd

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    1. Dare I ask why your kids didn't want turkey? Hell, I wish I could have a big turkey dinner on a monthly basis. Well, if someone else was cooking it that is.

      I have my aunt's recipe for what I call her "World Famous Chicken Dish". But I've never made it. But when she made it, it was freaking awesome and immensely delicious. I used to hand her my leftovers container BEFORE the meal so she could load it up for me to take home extras as the dish came out of the oven.

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    2. Kids. Who knows? They just weren't thrilled with turkey.
      Mind you, they'd eat whatever was served at a friend's house, not not my fine cooking.
      Libby

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  25. This year is probably the first time I have not ordered anything for thanksgiving nor shopped for thanksgiving because of the tires in California. We are counting our blessings. We have enough food in the pantry. Usually we order or cook. I love pumpkin pie, though I am not a fan of whipped cream these days. I never like gravy except at Thanksgiving dinner. I think I like all of the foods associated with Thanksgiving.

    Diana

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