Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving in Paradise

Hi, this is Hayley Snow, the food critic from Lucy Burdette's Key West mysteries. One of my favorite writers, Deborah Crombie, asked me to talk about Thanksgiving in Paradise--that's Key West for those of you who don't know me. 

To be completely honest, sometimes I do miss the way we used to celebrate the holiday in New Jersey
--it was all about tradition. And we rarely broke from it. But I can remember one year when Mom felt sorry for a family who'd recently moved to the neighborhood from South Carolina. They knew no one and so they invited us. My father and grandmother and I grumbled like mad, but Mom held firm and we carted our side dishes and pies and relish trays up the street to their house. Oh horror of horrors, there were no mashed potatoes on the menu--only white rice!Well, Thanksgiving doesn't have to be traditional in Paradise. If you're unhappy about your meal or sad about your family, heck, you can ride your bike to the beach and have a picnic. Or pop down to Louie's Backyard for a cocktail on the deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. And if you don't feel like cooking at all while in Paradise, plenty of local restaurants will do the work for you

But we're definitely cooking at Miss Gloria's houseboat. Eric and Bill will be there, and Miss Gloria of course, and Danielle and Wally. Even Officer Torrence said he might stop by. And when we're done eating, I'll take some leftovers to the guys at Mallory Square. Because what good is a fabulous spread if you don't share it? 

Here's what's on our menu: Guacamole, pimento cheese, and bloody Marys to start, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and turnips, brussel sprouts sautéed with shallots and bacon, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce out of a can--because that's the only kind Miss Gloria will eat. Oh, and two kinds of chocolate...

When my guests first arrive, I like to ply them with the best ever bloody Mary. For hors d'oeuvres, I've decided on pimento cheese dip and guacamole. 

 And to go with the turkey:Pumpkins stuffed with cornbread, leeks, cheese, and bacon

Cornmeal-sausage stuffing

For dessert, I love to bake, but it's awfully tempting to order pies from the Old Town Bakery. 


Then I'll save my baking for two chocolate treats, Scarlet O'Hara Cupcakes and a really easy chocolate cake that came directly from my grandmother's recipe box.

And finally, here's what I'll do with any leftover turkey.


  1. Hi Haley,

    I would love a Bloody Mary, thank you.

    I'm not sure what we'll be having, because I waited too long to call in my order, and there weren't any delivery times left before Saturday. Steve will be shopping for me, so there's no telling. We're planning on a fresh natural Turkey with wild rice stuffing and the traditional squash, mashed potatoes, gravy, whole cranberry orange relish, and string beans. Not very original.

    Our youngest son has to have pecan pie for dessert or he sulks until Valentine's Day. He says he picked up the habit at his buddy's house in Georgia. Is that possible? I suspect he started requesting it at home when he discovered no one else likes it. He gets to take the whole thing home. The rest of us will be having bourbon squash pie with drizzled cream. He hates squash or anything yellow, so we are safe with our dessert.

    If nothing is left in the store, or if it's closed by the time Steve gets there, we have bourbon and some pretty good scotch. I can throw together A pan of macaroni and cheese.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  2. Thanksgiving here is all about family together . . . and a very traditional meal: turkey and stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberries, green beans, corn, bread, mince pie, pumpkin pie . . . Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. It all sounds wonderful Reine and Joan--except for the mince pie. My dad used to insist on that, along with homemade hard sauce. Like Reine's son with the pecan pie, he was the only one who ate it!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    ps even mac and cheese sounds good.:)

  4. We had our Thanksgiving yesterday, because of people's work schedules. We did a very traditional meal (turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, yam casserole, rolls, corn), the only exception a chilled broccoli salad and marinated asparagus rather than the usual green bean casserole. Our pies are pumpkin and pecan.

    Now my fridge is crammed with leftovers, so I can watch the parade and sip on Mimosas tomorrow. (Which is my husband's birthday--his 50th--so we are going to have steaks on Thanksgiving Day.) It's a screwy year, but it works for us, and we are certainly not going hungry!

  5. Lucy, your dinner sounds amazing! What time should we arrive?

    Our Thanksgiving has Southern touches, since my husband's family is African-American. So we have the traditional turkey and stuffing, but also collard greens, biscuits, and mashed sweet potatoes. I like trying out new cocktails and this year we're making a cranberry sangria.

    We have lots of friends coming over (some straight from the Macy's Sesame Street float!) and so we usually have some performances after dessert. My husband, Noel MacNeal, and son will be performing some puppetry from his upcoming show in Miami, Mouse King: The Untold Story of the Nutcracker.

    And this year, our friend Alex will be performing fire poi (but with colored lights, not real fire!)

  6. Hayley Snow! Such fun having you put in an appearance on Jungle Red.

    I knew in liked Miss Gloria... For all my particularities about food, I agree with her on canned (whole berry for me) cranberry sauce. Does that pumpkin stuffed cornbread taste as good as it looks?

    Yesterday I cut up our Halloween pumpkin and baked it. It'll go into a creamy squash/pumpkin soup we always have to start, a tradition my younger daughter started, and of course pumpkin pie.

    Dear friends that we've celebrate Thanksgiving with for years will bring a pan of southern cornbread stuffing, and this time I will remember to get the recipe.

  7. My nephew and his wife are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, and his wife is a gourmet chef. Whatever it is that she serves, I know it will be a real treat! It's great to have them back in this part of the country; they were out west for a few years, and this is their first holiday season back on the East coast. Before they moved out west, they had Thanksgiving dinner at their home, and it was an 8 course meal. All the traditional items were there, but prepared so elegantly that we felt like guests at a royal meal!

  8. We always get together with my dad's side of the family on Thanksgiving for potluck. There's always turkey and dressing, but the rest is up in the air. One aunt traveling several hours usually makes a salad (she makes fantastic salads - I actually look forward to them). Another brings bread from the local bakery. We all contribute an appetizer of some sort, which usually includes shrimp, chips, veggies, dip and salsa, cowboy caviar, that sort of thing. It sounds like this year someone's bringing sweet potato casserole, but I don't know about the rest. I'm in charge of dessert, as usual. I always make pumpkin pie with real whipped cream (sometimes brandied whipped cream). One aunt hates pie crust and it offends my pie crust loving sensibilities to see that naked shell left on her plate, so I double the recipe and put half in custard cups. This year I found a couple of pies on Pinterest that I'm going to try: Black Bottom Cashew Butterscotch Meringue Pie and Caramel Apple Upside Down Pie. And that day I'm going to sample everything without guilt, then jump straight back on the wagon.

  9. Ramona, how clever to have your dinner ahead of time and celebrate the big birthday in a different way!

    It sounds like there's some question about whether the Thanksgiving parade will proceed because of the high winds. Susan, we'll all come over and watch that ultra-fun puppet show!

    Yes Hallie, the pumpkins not only looked good, they were delicious!

    And Deb, wow, we'd love to hear what your chef relation makes...

  10. When the local country clubs refused him membership, my father-in-law and some other characters started one of their own. It's my wife's tradition that the family go there for a Thanksgiving buffet -- every table gets their own turkey to carve. Not my favorite hangout, but it's important to Barb, plus the food's good (homemade, locally grown cranberry sauce) and it's the one place in the world I feel like a VIP -- I get to tell the bartender and waiter our membership number is 3. :)

  11. We're going to some friends' house..and I am assigned to bring green things. So a big salad with baby romaine, craisins, blue cheese and candied pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette.

    And roasted tiny tiny baby brussels sprout with toasted pine nuts. (And parmesan? Would that work?) Which are delicious --except now I have to wash and trim them. About TEN MILLION. I mean, how many baby brussels sprouts for 18 people?

    (Jack, that's very cool.)

  12. Susan..I want to hear the untold story of the mouse king! While drinking cranberry sangria. Sounds wonderful!

  13. The stuffed pumpkin!!

    We are trying a few gluten-free options for our youngest daughter, including a wild rice stuffing and a pumpkin pie with an oatmeal crust.
    Oldest daughter has baking plans with six year old grandson: corn muffins (the shopping list asked for buttermilk and frozen corn, so they sound great) and a chocolate pie.
    We will be twelve for turkey, mashed potatoes and sweet, green beans and brussel sprouts. BOTH canned cranberry sauce and a cran/orange relish.
    Did I leave anything out Oh, yeah -- I'll make some bread stuffing too.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  14. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    I love all the traditional and non-traditional things we all do during the holiday.

    Last year Donald and Mother and I went out for Thanksgiving dinner and I do believe that's our new tradition, 'cause we decided to do it again this year.

    Right now it's snowing and blowing like crazy, so I do believe I'd enjoy being with Hayley and friends and tasting all those delightful goodies - Yum!!!

  15. Oh my gosh, everything sounds wonderful!

    Hank, baby brussel sprouts for 18--you could be there all day trimming!

    Sandi, your pies sound amazing! I misread your post at first and thought it said: "We are getting together with my dad's DARK side of the family"--story there...

    Jack, you're a good guy to go along with your wife's traditions. From now on, you're #3 to us...

    And Kaye, wow, snowing already. Hope none of you have to travel very far. Be careful out there!

  16. Sandi and Lucy, the "dark side" of the family…. Freudian? ; )

    Here's a little secret about the Sesame Street float — those are the real puppets! One year my husband was performing Ernie in the rain and Ernie and Bert got black paint from the float all over them. These are the ORIGINAL PUPPETS that Jim Henson and Frank Oz used! So they had to take them back to the Muppet workshop and wash and blot as well as they could….

  17. Going to my sister's, and I've been instructed to bring nothing, but I thought I'd bring some appetizers for everyone to snack on beforehand--homemade guacamole and hummus and a wonderful savory olive-orange dish.

    Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to all!

  18. Happy Thanksgiving to the best authors and bloggers on the interwebs!

    We're going to join my mother at her senior housing for dinner tomorrow. Six of us plus Mum. And a few bottles of wine. The staff there does a great T'giving dinner (they even provide wine glasses) and none of us has to slave over the stove. It's sad that so many of the "old folks" have no one to celebrate with. We share our wine; they love it.

    Hubby and I had a traditional turkey dinner yesterday so he can have leftovers. I make my own cranberry sauce and have for almost 40 years.

    That stuffed pumpkin does sound awesome. I'm not big on desserts but I am going to make a banoffe pie for Christmas. I thing's it's British and it a combination of cookie crust, toffee, bananas, whipped cream, and shaved chocolate. To die for. Or from, in my case. :-)

  19. I wish I could go back and correct typos. :-(

  20. Lucy/Haley, I want to come to Key West for Thanksgiving!!! All the recipes sound fabulous--but what happened to the pimento cheese? I imagined it would be really special Key West pimento cheese...

    Hank, parmesan on Brussels sprouts is heavenly--go for it!

    We will be going to my aunt's tomorrow. My lovely Finnish aunt took over the Thanksgiving gathering years ago from my grandmother and my mother, and everything will, as always. Turkey, gravy, cornbread dressing (in the south, it's not stuffing, it's dressing), mashed baked sweet potatoes with marshmallows (I don't like the marshmallows but it's tradition. I just scoop mine off.) Greens can vary--maybe green beans, maybe a layered spinach salad. (Maybe I can talk my daughter into doing Brussels...)

    Desserts can vary, too, but there will definitely be pumpkin pie.

    Our contribution this year? My daughter has ordered a Cloud Nine Pie from the new Emporium Pies shop here in McKinney. Here's the link:

    I bought a brisket which my son-in-law is smoking, and champagne.

    This is the first year I can remember that haven't made my cranberry relish recipe... working...

    And it will be our first Thanksgiving without my uncle, who passed away last month.

  21. Oh, and Susan, the puppet float and the puppet show in Miami sound wonderful!

    I will have to watch the parade in the morning!

  22. P.S. Should have been "everything will be, as always, PERFECT."

    Wish I'd see typos before I publish...

  23. Everyone's meals sound so good. And thanks for the insider secret about the Muppets, Susan. That's a cool fact I can tell my grandson, which is important. It's not so easy to impress kids nowadays. :-)

    For the first time in many years I'm not cooking the bird, my new sister-in-law is. She's nervous about it, too, especially about the turkey. I think that's the easiest part, myself. Who knows what she'll make, although my brother is the mashed potato pig, so I know she has to make those. They like broccoli with Velveeta on it, and I suspect that will be our "green thing". I'd rather have Hank's Brussel sprouts and salad, but that's okay. Someone else is cooking, right?

    She also ordered two pumpkin chiffon pies from a friend who makes them. Not my favorite (why chiffon, I wonder), so I offered to make a pecan pie. Since I've not been eating wheat I'm going to make it with a pecan/cocao nib crust I developed. Will let you know how it turns out.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and know that among the things I'm grateful for are your daily entertainment, your many wonderful books, and your friendship here on this blog.

  24. Oh my god, that sounds delicious. I'm already salivating for tomorrow. I'll be going to a Friendsgiving. A big potluck with everything traditional plus the equivalent for vegans (amazingly yummy). I do a mean winter squash galette with gorgonzola, walnuts, and lots of butter. It's the craziest, yummiest, most fattening thing ever.

    It's only once a year, so that's OK. ;-)

    Have a great Thanksgiving, Lucy and everyone in the extended JRW gang!

  25. Thanks Lisa! We love you all dearly, friends of Jungle Reds!

    If you have a minute tomorrow while waiting for your meal, stop over for the silly things we're thankful for, and tell us yours.

  26. Thank you, LIsa..and everyone. SO wonderful to know you all...xo I am so grateful!

  27. Linda, your savory olive-orange dish is intriguing. I don't see it in your cookbook. I hope you'll post it somewhere. Maybe I could do it for Christmas or New Year's. I'll take another look in your cookbook in case I missed it. xoxo

  28. Reine, I think I posted that recipe last year on Jungle Reds. It's not in my cookbook because it's Moroccan and not Mexican.

  29. Thanks, Linda. Moroccan--well that explains it! I'll do a search of the JRW archives. Happy Thanksgiving. xoxoxoxo

  30. Jack, that's a great story! Happy Thanksgiving buffet, #3!