Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving - it's all in the writing!

JAN BROGAN:  As some of you may know I'm working on a historical novel and so, I'm a little obsessed with history these days. Still.. I thought on this national day of Thanksgiving, you might be interested to know that if it weren't for another writer -- the holiday might not exist.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I know,  it was all the Pilgrim's idea, what with the three day feast with Wampanoag tribe who kindly, if perhaps not wisely, befriended them and showed the colonists how to grow corn and tap maple trees.  But that was 1623.  It didn't really become any kind of real holiday until New York became the first of several states to adopt it in 1817.  But even then, the random states that did celebrate it, celebrated on a different day and the southern states were pretty much in the dark about it.

 It wasn't until a noted magazine editor and "prolific writer' Sarah Josepha Hale, who apparently wrote the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (which I had always assumed was British in origin) launched a campaign in 1827 to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  What I find amazing is that she stuck with this mission for THIRTY SIX YEARS.  She wrote countless editorials and sent tons of letters to governors, senators, and presidents.  It wasn't until 1863 - in the height of the Civil War - that Abraham Lincoln decided she had a good idea.  In part to help "heal the wounds of the nation." Thanksgiving became a national holiday, set for the final Thursday in November.  Franklin D. Roosevelt would mess with the exact timing a century later.

So when you are giving thanks today,  send some to Sarah Josepha Hale's way and when you clink wine glasses today may one of your toasts be to the power and purpose of good writing! 

For more detailed info: check out

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

And if you have any good ideas for what to do with leftovers, please add them in the comments page!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Leftover turkey around here ends up in turkey/cranberry sandwiches [with mayonnaise, of course] or turkey hash [turkey, potatoes, onion, bell pepper, parsley, salt and pepper] served alongside soft scrambled eggs with cheese.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I can't get away today:), but I'll be over tomorrow Joan and Jack for hash and tacos!

    xoxo Lucy

  3. Turkey tetrazini. The best way to use leftover turkey, in my opinion. Second best way, pot pie. Sandwiches are great, but once you've used the easy to slice stuff it's harder to get a meal.

  4. In addition to Joan Emerson's turkey and cranberry sandwiches (to which I like to add some stuffing), everyone in my family likes to make what we call Carcass Soup. You can make pretty much any kind of soup using the broth from the turkey carcass. We each have our own variations. My personal favorite also uses carrots, parsnips, onions, and purple top turnips. My favorite soup noodles are barley shaped egg noodles, which have been almost impossible to find around here in the last four years or so. I will generally substitute acini pepe noodles but I DO miss the barley shaped ones! We grew up on them in many of the soups we made and I continued to use them everytime I have made soup as an adult. Soupmaking is something I have enjoyed since I was very young. In the last few years I have been a guest more often than the hostess at Thanksgiving so I haven't been making Carcass Soup. Homemade chicken noodle soup is also good, of course, but using the turkey for soup just prolongs the delightful aromas of Thanksgiving!


  5. Deb,
    I am with you, I love making soup. I also make a soup of the carcass and call it Honey Lemon soup, because it's turkey, turkey broth, a tablespoon of honey, a fully squeezed lemon (added when you are ready to serve) and lots of thyme.

    I add carrots, potatoes, celery, and sometimes peas!


  6. Jan, I love this story! I had no idea! What a resolute woman. I wonder if she could have imagined Black Friday coming after...

    Fave leftovers? Turkey sandwiches on sourdough with mayo and my homemade spicy cranberry relish (recipe in JR archives.) And my friend Franny taught me a version of Carcass Soup with wild rice.

    Now I'm almost sorry I'm not cooking this year...

  7. Turkey a la king. Decadent -- turkey pot pie without the crust. Also of course soup -- with wild rice?? That sounds great -- if you're still out there, say more!

    Jan, did you run across Sarah Josepha Hale researching your book, Jan, because I see from googling her that she was active in the formation of something called the Seaman's Aid Society.

  8. Toast made from white bread, buttered, with thin slices of white meat and iceberg lettuce. With a cuppa tea.

    Of course, start the day after with a poached egg on stuffing with a side of brussel sprouts.

    Gosh but I am thankful for this community!

  9. Soup is always a must . . . almost goes without saying. Vegetables, homemade noodles [the Princess loves to help with the nodles because we make them right on the countertop and then plop them into the hot broth] . . . I'm ready for the leftovers now!

  10. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    turkey curry is my favorite. Also a big turkey stew with lots of veggies. About to make the apple and blackberry crumble for dessert (I know it's not traditional but the family loves it.)

  11. No Hallie, I didn't, but you can make sure I'm going to research that connection now!!

    Denise Ann, I applaud your ability to eat brussel sprouts for breakfast!!

    And Deb, I am now on a mission to find barley-shaped egg noodles. I've never seen them.

    And I really want to thank EVERYONE for taking the time out of Thanksgiving to stop by and share!!


  12. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

    Jan, I love turkey and wild rice soup. My friends from White Earth send me a 1 lb bag of locally harvested wild rice every year. It's hand harvested and wood parched by members of the tribe using the traditional methods. I learned how to cook it when we were in school and they would bring wild rice casseroles made with the rice from home. It's unbelievably good. I think you can order it from the tribal store on their web page. Their wild rice cranberry pilaf mix is delicious.

  13. Happy Thanksgiving to all. I think all my favorite left-over turkey recipes have been covered.

    My spouse and I both love turkey, but this year we're having a honey-baked ham; it was on sale awhile back, so my husband bought it. Means we'll have to wait until Christmas for turkey.

    And I can eat brussel sprouts for breakfast. I love them any time, and since my breakfast time usually ends up being closer to brunch . . . Yes, I'm having brussel sprouts today!

  14. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and I am now officially hungry. It's 11 0'clock AM my time. Sandwiches, and please don't laugh, but I used to make fried rice withe leftovers. Really tasty!

  15. why would we laugh, Lil, that sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

    I'm still getting my head wrapped around brussel sprouts for breakfast though Diane.

    I couldn't tolerate them at all until Hallie shared a roasted brussel sprout recipe here. I'll have to work my way to lunch first, though.

    Reine, that wild rice sounds terrific.

  16. Yummy! Happy Thanasgiving everyone!

    Mashed potatoes made into pattie and fried like pancakes...yummy!

    Love you all..xoxo

  17. One thing I don't like about Thanksgiving is when someone sneakily makes a creative dish including a food that you hate, and you politely eat it. Then they brag about how you loved their kumquat-spinach-bean sprout–peanut butter and oyster casserole and didn't even notice there was spinach in it! I really hate when people do that.

  18. I call it "Hide the Turkey" Enchiladas w/green sauce. Actually - it's how I clean up the veggie platter too. I tuck in brocoli, cauliflower, & minced carrots. Sautee w/onions & green chilies - toss in some fresh spinach - and viola - a totally yummy filling for enchiladas with queso fresco!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  19. Reine, that comment cracked me up! And it's so frickin' true!

    Maybe stop eating things just to be polite? Sigh.

  20. Okay. I just have to say this. Go Pats!

    Karen... heh.


  21. Reine,

    I guess your cheer worked. That was a wild game!


  22. Jan, thank you - thank you. I do my part for my teams.

  23. PS: I might add that it was a great way for Steve and me to be together, even though I couldn't get the paratransit van to take me to be with him in the hospital. We talked to each other on our iPhones as we watched the game. It was like being together– talking about the plays, the score, the players, cheering as we watched the TV screen... not too different from other Thanksgivings. xoxo