Monday, November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving Plans

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I know retailers like to name the day after Thanksgiving as the start of the holiday season, but for me, it’s always been the Monday before Turkey Day, mostly because traditionally I’ve either been 1) cleaning the house like Cinderella on amphetamines because we’re going to have twenty-some guests or 2) planning for a 12+ hour drive to Northern Virginia to celebrate with family. If you’re hosting, today’s the day to get your shopping done, and if you’re traveling, better make sure those tires are properly inflated and the oil is changed.


Of course, the last two Thanksgivings have been different for most of us. In 2020, the kids and I all managed to be together - including Youngest’s Handsome Boyfriend and the Sailor on leave - but, of course, no other guests. Last year was the smallest celebration I’ve ever done; the Maine Millennial and I shared the day with honorary Red Celia Wakefield and her delightful husband (and two Shih Tzus who were in ecstasies about the cooked turkey meat mysteriously falling from the sky into their mouths.)


This year will be another change-up: with Victoria headed for the Red-Headed Boyfriend’s parents’ and Spencer and his sweetheart staying in Virginia, it was just Youngest and I. We’ve accepted an invitation from a good friend, so this year, all I have to do is make a dessert and drive forty minutes! 


How about you, Reds? What are your Thanksgiving plans?

 


RHYS BOWEN: I always have it easy at Thanksgiving. I’m in Arizona. Clare hosts and usually it’s warm enough to sit outside. Clare lays lovely tables by the pool. We play outdoor games. And all I have to do is make the dreaded green bean casserole. I don’t like it but it reminds Tim of his childhood so I grit my teeth and open mushroom soup. This year I’ve found Trader Joe’s portobello mushroom soup which tastes better and I’ll try to find fresh green beans.  Apart from that I bring wine. 

 

We will have 11 family members which will be lovely. Kids coming home from college, Dom and Mer flying in. Anne driving with dog. Can’t wait!

 


LUCY BURDETTE: We’re going to be very low-key this year with two friends coming over for dinner. I’ll make turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and I’m going to try a chocolate peanut butter pie for something different. We’ll see a lot more relatives over the month of December so we don’t mind something smaller for now. 

 


HALLIE EPHRON: I’m so looking forward to sharing Thanksgiving with my daughters and grandkids. Turkey, Pepperidge Farm stuffing (made to package directions, please), mashed potatoes, green beans, a vanilla custard pie and an apple pie. I’m waiting to be assigned my duties (probably pies) since we’ll be at Daughter #2’s house.

We never had a tradition of sweet potatoes and marshmallows OR of green bean casserole, but I’d be happy with anything in return for family time. 

 


 

 

JENN McKINLAY: I’m on deadline so I’ll be buying dessert instead of baking (tragic!) but it’s mini bundts from Nothing Bundt Cakes so I’ll still be welcome at my MIL’s. To help out, Hub is deep frying the turkey and my SIL is bringing sides. Hooligan 1 is breaking bread with his Plus 1’s family and Hooligan 2 is working but will pop in. Weird to have these 20-somethings with lives of their own! But truthfully, I’m not a big Thanksgiving fan. Turkey is okay. Stuffing and cranberry sauce (must be in the shape of the can) are awesome but otherwise…meh. My ideal Thanksgiving is being on vacation with my people somewhere tropical with the flag up on my chair, a good book in my hand, and a tasty surf breaking on the beach in front of me :) 

 


DEBORAH CROMBIE: Ouch, that’s a bit of a sore subject at our house. The kids want to go to my aunt’s, which is our traditional Thanksgiving we haven’t done in three years. I would love to see my aunt (who’s in her eighties) and my cousins and their kids. Rick, however, thinks we still should not be doing any gatherings. So maybe we will be home with a Stouffer’s chicken pot pie… Not cooking for two people, I can tell you.

 


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, two kids and two grandkids coming. I am so devotedly happy to see them (and we might get a glimpse of the girlfriend!!), but it’s still a tad scary. But I am eager to make a turkey, it’s easy and smells SO good, and stuffing stuffing stuffing and fresh cranberries and champagne and many pies and encouraging people that the brussels sprouts are REALLY GOOD JUST TRY ONE. I will conquer the gravy this year, I have all the faith.

 

JULIA: Now it's your turn, dear readers. What are your Thanksgiving plans? 

110 comments:

  1. This year it will just be John and I. But we’ll do all the traditional Thanksgiving dinner dishes because, well, Thanksgiving . . . .

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    1. Hope it's. a lovely day Joan, I'm sure you'll be in touch with your family!

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    2. That will be lovely! Once Jonathan and I decided to just skip it, and we were so distressed when the day finally came that we ran out and got everything and brought it home!

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    3. I've seen several food articles, including in the Washington Post, which are all about "Thanksgiving for two." Because why should you miss out on the things you like just because you're not part of a large gathering?

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  2. Hugh and I host every year (except 2020, when nobody went anywhere) for sons if they are around and dear friends. Allan and his wife are with her family this year, though, and my younger son will stay in Puerto Rico, so we'll have seven adults. The next generation are now five and eighteen months, so that will add a lively spirit.

    I make the turkey (spatchcocked and dry rubbed, if that doesn't sound too scandalous), my mom's bread stuffing, smashed potatoes, and pies, and everybody else brings the rest. It's my favorite holiday, and I can't wait!

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    1. I nominate you as the host for the JRW Thanksgiving!

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    2. Spatchcocked turkey sounds like a fantastic way to prepare the bird, Edith! Next time I host, I'm going to look into having the poulterer do that for me (since despite seeing Celia do it, I am very much still intimidated about deboning myself.)

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    3. It's pretty easy but requires some force. I let Hugh do it, especially with a turkey!

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  3. Enjoy your small or large Thanskgiving gatherings, REDS and readers!

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  4. Irwin and I are going out to dinner, just the two of us. I flew home from a family wedding yesterday and couldn't consider doing anything big this week. Our cousins who live in Boston invited us to a T-Day on New Year's Day and we'll see lots of cousins there. Since that is when we can all get together, why not??

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    1. that sounds perfect Judy--if we've learned anything the last couple of years, it's DO WHAT WORKS! Hope the wedding was fun and everyone stayed healthy!

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  5. I have two invitations again this year. Last year I ended up having a crappy Thanksgiving because I found out I had pneumonia on the day.

    This year, because of the bad back issues, I had to pass on the invitation to my sister's best friend's house. It's too far away for my comfort plus it would be a packed house. So I'm going to the family friend's house which is quite literally a 30 second drive from my house. Normally I'd walk over but again the back. And if I start to ache beyond what I can handle, I can just be home real fast.

    As for the food, it will be all the staples and plenty of them. Plus...as soon as everyone is done, they tell us to make up a plate to go home and THEN they lay out the desserts.

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    1. Leftovers are so fantastic!

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    2. Jay, you sure are having your challenges this year. I hope your back feels better soon.

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    3. Jay, that sounds like a great plan. I hope the only thing that hurts is your stomach, from eating so much delicious food!

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  6. Last year was fun, this year I think we have best laid plans messed up
    by dreaded high school foootball. The family will come in n Friday instead. So my order was a quart of GF gravy, a pecan pie and giblets. Yes, I’m not cooking turkey but will make my stuffing with sausage meat, livers, chestnut, apples, etc. I think we may eat stuffing, gravy and pie on Thursday as the family will bring leftovers on Friday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone - Celia

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    1. Happy Thanksgiving Celia, please leave out the giblets in my stuffing:)

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    2. When Celia told me the ingredients for her traditional stuffing, I said, "So, it's low calorie?" :-D
      (Of course, it doesn't matter, because everyone knows anything consumed on holidays doesn't count!)

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    3. Roberta if I didn’t tell you the ingredients I promise you would enjoy it, but whatever you choose - Happy Thanksgiving. - Celia

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  7. I'll be home alone. Will make a modified Thanksgiving dinner.

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    1. I wish you could join us here, Dru!

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    2. Big hugs, Dru. I hope you enjoy whatever dinner you make and also enjoy getting to watch the parade/dog show/first holiday movies uninterrupted!

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    3. Come to my house! Xxxx

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  8. With November 3 through November 23 almost daily wedding anniversary and birthdays, Thanksgiving passes without much celebration. We have already family gathered and feasted often. Extremely thankful for all that celebration and love. Good Thanksgiving wishes to all of you at Jungle Reds. Elisabeth

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    1. We also have a birthday and anniversary at the same time as Thanksgiving.! It’s fun to have the family in place to celebrate. Rhys

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    2. That sounds like some clever timing over the years, Elisabeth!

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  9. Happy Thanksgiving planning and prepping from this Canadian, dear Reds and Readers!

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    1. Thank you, Amanda. Canada actually has Thanksgiving at the right time to be a harvest celebration!

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  10. An all-family member event, with a toddler. We divided up the cooking so I will peel and chop 20 local Ohio apples into two mountaintop pies. We seem to add traditions as we go, including Louisiana sweet potato and pecan casserole. Happy turkey day to all!

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    1. You're a rarity Margaret, adding traditions instead of taking them away!

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    2. You're making me salivate, Margaret, and there are still three days to do until dinner!

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  11. We have 9 this year including my sisters and their families and 2 friends. My son's dad is hosting and we are doing ham this year so the food is a bit simpler. My son won't be with us--but will be home in about 3 weeks for winter break. I'm very glad that my younger sister's boyfriend tested negative last night after getting COVID on election night (he's a TV news photographer and was covering an event for a candidate I did not vote for and who did not win) T-day feels very low pressure for me. I'm bringing wine and maybe a corn-zucchini casserole. My women's walking group will walk up Mt. Tabor in the morning. This Thanksgiving, I am very grateful--including for this blog community.

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    1. the walk sounds wonderful and we are grateful for you as well!!

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    2. Corn zucchini casserole! Wow, that sounds yummy!

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    3. Gillian, a morning hike followed by a low-key gathering where you have much to be thankful for sounds perfect to me.

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    4. I’m running a 10k race Thanksgiving morning. This is a short distance for me I usually run half marathons. We are having lovely bright, sunny days with highs in the seventies. Happy Thanksgiving all!
      Susan Nelson-Holmdahl

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    5. Highs in the seventies? Pure envy, Susan, pure envy.

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    6. California at Thanksgiving is very nice! All the flowers are blooming abundantly. We had one week of rain and then it warmed back up. Working outside on my computer, temp is 75. Cooler at night, around 40. I hope you have a nice and relatively warm Thanksgiving.

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  12. They’ll be 15 of us - our daughters and their families, my sis and my SIL’s parents. You name it, it’s on the table. Turkey shaped cheese and fruit board, Vovo’s soup, two turkeys (roasted and fried), prime rib, mashed potatoes, two stuffings, home made cranberry sauce, butternut, sweet potatoes, macomber turnips & carrots, green bean casserole, corn, peas, cranberry-walnut breads, butternut, feta & spinach vegetarian lasagna, Mac n cheese homemade (kiddos).
    There’s home-brewed vino served, and desserts abound - pumpkin & apple pies, apple cranberry crisp, baklava, turkey shaped - frosted cupcakes and a variety of ice cream sides.
    The best part is everyone has a hand in it, and in all parts of the day, from reading the blessings jar offerings, through the multiple courses of the meal & desserts to clean up, and the opening of the advent calendar countdowns to Christmas. Sahtein! Eat in good health! Blessings to you and yours.

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    1. Wow, that is astonishing! A turkey shaped cheese board? Is the cheese shaped like a turkey? Or the board ? Xxx

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    2. Oh Hank, it changes every year but it’s the cheese, crackers, fruits and veggies that are shaped into a turkey image.
      The grandchildren live it! There’s also cheese ball you can create on top of a bed of crackers with a turkey face on it. Google turkey shaped cheese boards for ideas.
      FYI - your SinC Magic in the Middle was fabulous. Thank you so much!

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    3. Wow! That's some spread! It sounds like a terrific and lively gathering - and I'm glad Hank asked about the turkey cheese board because I was wondering as well!

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    4. Oh yes, we are a lively group. Ages 4-75.

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    5. Wow, that is an amazing feast! Enjoy!

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    6. Thank you and you as well!

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    7. We need photos! Xx

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  13. Rhys-- Campbell's makes a mushroom soup with garlic. Much more palatable.
    (Ellen K, still anonymous)

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    1. Campbell's Golden Cream of Mushroom is also great in the green bean casserole. -- Avis

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  14. Lots of fun plans being made! Julia, as usual you made me laugh this morning! I'm quite charmed by the idea of Cinderella on amphetamines. I can relate.

    In the past I have hosted, but the only daughter who will be in town is going to her dad's for the first time in years. (And it's her 52nd birthday on Thursday!) They'll stay with us, though, so we will celebrate her birthday Wednesday night at a restaurant. We could have gone to my brother's for T-Day, but with his kids and grands, my sister-in-law's kids and grands, and her brothers and their wives, not to mention my mom clomping around in her walker, it's a madhouse.

    So Steve and I will enjoy a roast chicken, and the quiet and pleasant company of our good friends Lise and Frank, who live next-door, who have joined us for most Thanksgivings since 1988. Another neighbor gave us the gift of a pumpkin pie from one of our excellent local bakeries, so I don't even have to manage that bit. My daughter wants birthday cake for after dinner at her dad's, but she prefers one from the other good bakery. Easy, peasy!

    Let me know when to get my plane tickets for Thanksgiving in Amesbury, Edith!

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    1. We can fit you and Steve at the table this year, Karen!

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    2. Karen, I feel that one of the good side effects of the pandemic lockdown has been to excuse people to have the celebration they prefer - which may be a quiet, small meal instead of, as you say, a madhouse.

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    3. The last time I hosted was the year before the pandemic, and it was so fraught with anxiety brought on by family members I am still traumatized.

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    4. Karen - right? Youngest wants us to have our traditional Christmas celebration, ie, 20 plus guests. I've already told her I'll be happy to host dinner on the day, but it will be for far fewer guests. I don't feel - and I'm sure my friends agree - safe jamming a crowd into my house for six hours.

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  15. Thanksgiving is again a small affair this year. Just The Hubby, the Boy, ,y brother-in-law and me. The Girl is in Hilton Head with The Very Nice Boyfriend and his family. So we'll only have a turkey breast - but everything else*: mashed pototoes, dressing (Pepperidge Farm since Hubby and I are the only two who like it), spinach salad, cheddar-bay biscuits, and canned cranberry jelly ( the Hubby insists). And gravy, of course, which will have to be made from a packet because you don't get drippings from a breast.

    Oh and pumpkin pie!

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    1. Liz, Ross always wanted that damn canned cranberry jelly. Over the years we had friends who would bring beautiful made-from-scratch cranberry-orange relish, but if it didn't have those little ridges in it, it was no bueno for my husband.

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    2. I'm with Ross and Liz's hubby--the can is great!

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    3. I think the thing that bugged me the most is that no one else wanted it, and I always wound up throwing out half the cranberry sauce. It offended my frugal, penny-pinching soul.

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    4. Julia, yes! We always end up with half the can, or more, left. And really, how long can you keep it? My grandmother, a survior of the Great Depression, hammered into me that food waste is almost the biggest sin you can commit. So leftovers that never get eaten, or food that goes straight from table to trash, really gets to me. Sadly, not so for the rest of my family. Sigh.

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  16. We'll be driving to MD to take my parents (now 98 and 93) out as usual. Sigh... no leftovers. But it's great for them to get out and for us to get to see them plus two sisters and Younger Son.

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    1. Jim, you're earning your stars in heaven, as my grandmother used to say. Also, there were several years when we were guests at someone else's house and I still bought a turkey - because the leftovers are the best part!

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  17. I will not be making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in years. Older nephew and grand-nephew are spending Thanksgiving with his plus-one, so younger nephew and I are invited to my sister's on Friday--so will be with sister, BIL, and two of my older nephews and their wives, plus grandson. And maybe another brother will join us. My sister and brother-in-law love hosting, do a great meal, I will take wine. And, grand-nephew will join us, so that's a major plus. That child adores 'fancy' meals with the fam.

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    1. You won't be the only one having the celebration on Friday, Flora. Maybe we should start a movement for two-day Thanksgiving: reduce the travel congestion and cut down on needless consumerism! Of course, we'll have to follow that with a weekend dedicated to long walks in order to deal with the calorie load...

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  18. Happy Thanksgiving 🍁 πŸ¦ƒ So far the weather forecast looks decent for traveling, so we are expecting all of our offspring and several dogs at our house to celebrate. The menu will be turkey (provided free by the youngest’s employer), dressing prepared according to package directions, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked sweet potatoes, corn, apple salad, jellied cranberry sauce shaped like the can, rolls (which I will try not to burn this year), and a relish tray. Dessert will be lots of cool whip atop pumpkin pie and French cranberry apple pie.

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    1. Brenda, I love the idea that there's at least one employer following the old tradition of giving turkeys (or hams at Christmas) to employees!

      A house full of (adult) kids and dogs sounds like heaven to me.

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  19. Cranberry orange relish is getting all sweet and juicy in my fridge. I had a few seconds of panic when I couldn't find the lone orange I bought on Saturday. It was still in the grocery bag with the sugar. My plan is to drive up to Eugene on Tuesday, after I purchase the much demanded and desired loaf of sourdough bread from the local bakery. My sister's family tradition is to mix it up , with only the oyster dressing being served, often the day before Thanksgiving. I was asked for cranberries so there be a turkey but I like my cranberry relish with my oyster dressing so I'll be happy with whatever is served.

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    1. The most important part of family Thanksgiving is getting that one (or two) food items that make the holiday meal, right? In my house, it's himmel und erde, a mashed potato-turnip-apple dish.

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    2. SUCH a fan of cranberry orange! And thank you—you have reminded me to get oranges!

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  20. Reading all these luscious comments after a meager breakfast. Yum. All my favorite foods ...
    I do think it would be fun to have a stuffing bakeoff with blind tasting. Chestnuts face off against oysters against sausage against cornbread against packaged.
    PS my cranberry sauce preference is whole berry and recently slid out of the can. I never seem to buy enough.

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    1. My kids like Stovetop, and nothing can dissuade them. Which is fine. I don't much care for any but my mom's, anyway, and she can't remember how to make it any more.

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    2. I make my mom's stuffing, which is straight out of sixties suburbia - stale white bread (I buy a loaf the week before and leave it out,) onion and celery sauteed in gobs of butter, and the whole lot tossed with powdered sage and turkey broth, which she made by boiling the giblets with some veggies. It's amazing it doesn't have a can of Campbell's soup in the recipe, but everyone loves it just the same!

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    3. That sounds similar to how my mom made hers, Julia. She added an egg, and squeezed it all together with her hands.

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    4. My mom's is the same, Julia, except plus chopped walnuts. These days I make it with whole wheat bread - still fabulous.

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    5. I'm sure it was the featured recipe in Woman's Day magazine, November 1963!

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  21. Jenn - I just read your comment and thought, "Nothing Bundt Cakes!!" which answered my "what chocolate dessert will I bring?" question that's been plaguing me. I don't normally buy what I bring, but NBC is a special treat! Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. We are all about introducing readers to new books, movies, TV shows and sweets, Kathy!

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    2. It is the only substitute a baker can offer :) Happy to help, Kathy!

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    3. Jenn, the mini NBC collection was a hit! Thank you!

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  22. Hallie, I use whatever cranberries I find in the freezer for whole berry sauce. And buy fresh for my killer cranberry muffins. For stuffing, Pepp Farm herbal mix with parsley, celery, onion, and sausage. So good. I could eat a stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwich right now. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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    1. Margaret, I can honestly say I never thought of a stuffing and cranberry sandwich. My new fave is a turkey melt with the cranberry sauce spooned on the top before squishing the toast atop it, inspired by an amazing panini I had.

      Hmm... maybe I ought to add panini press to my Christmas list...

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    2. What kind of bread in that sandwich?? Curious minds...

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  23. Judi, my philosophy is all food tastes good if I don't have to cook it!

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  24. When I was in Ireland the first two weeks in November, all of the Christmas stuff was being put up everywhere and not a turkey in sight and I realized, "Oh, yeah, they don't have Thanksgiving." Not gonna lie, it seemed less stressful :)

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    1. I wish we had Thanksgiving the same time Canada does! Give us a groaning food fest in October and leave November for the ramp-up to Christmas.

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  25. I usually spend Thanksgiving with my Connecticut sister and brother-in-law and whichever of their kids and grandkids are around. This year they’re in North Carolina helping their daughter’s family move. I’ll be going to NJ, instead, to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her family there. I usually go to NJ for Easter, and have never been there for Thanksgiving. It’ll be a different kind of holiday, as my sister lost her husband suddenly during the summer. I can’t imagine him not being there. We will be there for each other.

    DebRo

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    1. Oh DebRo, that sounds so hard! I bet she'll be very very glad you're there.

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    2. DebRo, that's a great kindness. Having a holiday that's different in some way from the last one before your loved one died is super important.

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    3. Sending hugs to you and your sister DebRo, your being with her will help her forward. Grief is like a roller coaster, the time is different for each of us. Travel safely - Celia

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  26. Excellent philosophy! I had told my son that his grandmother, my mother, would be very proud of him for making pickled beets, something she always did. He didn't think that was anything remarkable since her attitude would have been "if no one else is going to make any, I'll make them myself." Whereas I am content to buy them from the store.

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  27. We are having 7 of us here… if I get over this wicked cold. Basically quarantined myself all weekend. Some years it’s just the 4 of us but we often host aunts, uncles & cousins. A few times my cousin has hosted but we still made a large portion of the food.

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    1. Fingers crossed on you feeling hale and hearty by Thursday, Jennifer!

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  28. It will be very different this year! Last year it was me, husband, son, granddaughter, little brother, and neighbor. Smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, crawfish etoufee for the nonmeateaters, etc. This year it is me, myself, and I. And we plan to not cook at all. Husband and son will be joining friends and little brother for a celebration with a smoked turkey in Houston. (yay Astros). I will be lounging about here in Virginia, NOT cooking, not groaning about having to have turkey, and generally enjoying the nonwork.

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    1. Pat, I honestly do fantasize about getting one Thanksgiving where I am all alone and can spend the day in my jammies watching the parade, the dog show, and Miracle on 34th Street with no other obligations than to feed the pets.

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  29. For a few years before covid, I cooked a huge meal for 30-ish in my mother-in-law's kitchen, as she was no longer able to travel. In 2020 we stayed home alone, but last year went to her house again, though my sister-in-law and I shared cooking duties.

    This year is a dramatic change for us. I am cooking but not even my son is coming, just one of my husband's brothers and his wife. I expect it to be pleasant and low key, but shopping for the food felt comically different from those earlier years.

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    1. I hear you, Susan. The first time I had to downsize Christmas dinner from 25-30 to five... let's just say mistakes were made.

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  30. Wonderful traditions everyone! I’m still recovering from my head cold so it will be a very quiet thanksgiving. Unfortunately turkey doesn’t like me as the trip to the ER two years ago showed me that it’s not a good idea to eat turkey anymore 😒. However I love pumpkin pie.

    Before the pandemic we would drive ten? Miles to family member’s storybook house ( it looks like a storybook cottage) and usually there are many people at the table with family friends. I never like gravy and they have gravy that I actually liked.

    Happy thanksgiving or turkey day everyone!

    Diana

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  31. I'll be driving up to Nor Cal on Wednesday. My brother and sister-in-law host, as they have since they got married. It will be a houseful of both sides of their family, and I can't wait to see everyone.

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    1. Sounds lovely, Mark! And I've made the drive from So Cal to the Bay area - one of the most beautiful drives in the US.

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    2. You might have done the 101 along the coast. I go along the 5, which isn't that beautiful. Miles of fields as far as the eye can see. Fortunately, I'll have Kinsey Millhone along to keep me company.

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  32. We won't interrupt your cleaning, Kathy, except to say it sounds like a joyful crown, and I love your idea of buying the sides pre-made. My sister's done that in the past, and it takes such a load off her shoulders.

    I, too, am a holiday cleaner, and since I'm not hosting Thanksgiving, the place is looking a tad.. hmm. Time to write down a pre-Christmas cleaning schedule!

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  33. I think I'm the only person in the group who already HAD Thanksgiving this past Saturday. Here in Switzerland, where Thanksgiving doesn't exist (although all the big stores put up "Black Friday" sales posters--huh?), my immediate family and I have celebrated for the last 25 years with three other families like us (American wife/Swiss husband/Swiss-American kids). The host and hostess (always the same couple, bless their souls) do the turkey, stuffing, and wine, and the guests provide the rest of the meal. How I love potluck dinners--no one has to kill themselves cooking everything. This year my assignment was pumpkin pies (I even used fresh pumpkin!) and a mountain of mashed potatoes. A wonderful time was had by all. I hope all of you have as much fun as we did!

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