Monday, October 30, 2023

Turkey with a side of...?

JENN McKINLAY: This time last year, I was in Ireland (research!) and it was fascinating because as they were taking down the Halloween/Samhain decorations, they were popping up the Christmas ones. I know retail stores are now doing Halloween-Christmas mashup displays that start in July  (good grief!) but this was private residences and whatnot. Of course, I realized after a beat, that they don’t have Thanksgiving in Ireland so of course they can roll right into Christmas. It made me actually appreciate Turkey day as the stop gap it is.


For some inexplicable reason, I volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner this year. Hub is cooking so that technically leaves me with cleaning and baking duty, which is not a hardship but given that the Hub’s definition of cooking is meat – just meat – well, I suspect I’m going to have to produce some side dishes.



So, I implore you, Reds, what are your favorite Thanksgiving sides? I need the next three weeks to practice if we’re really doing this, which apparently, we are. 


HALLIE EPHRON: My favorite side from growing up was a sweet potato and apple casserole. Sadly I have never been able to reproduce it so I post a plea, just in case any of our readers have a recipe! It was layers of sweet potato and apple slices, layered with something like brown sugar and butter. There must have been some liquid …I’d have guessed apple juice. Or water. But I’ve failed miserably trying to make it, figuring out what the proportions are to make the potatoes and apples absorb the liquid and congeal into a delicious sweet gluey hunk. Anyone??


JENN: This sounds amazing!


RHYS BOWEN:  we are having a big celebration for John’s birthday at the same time as Thanksgiving, renting a huge house in Paradise Valley and thus I’ll be cooking for 16 (actually I’ll be overseeing. I’ll have help) Among those 16 are gluten, lactose, vegan challenges!

We always have to have the green bean casserole for my son in law but my son Dominic has promised to make it with real beans, mushrooms and coconut milk so that our lactose intolerants can eat it. Clare will make gluten free stuffing. The stuffing is my favorite dish. Lots of onion and sausage and herbs in the non vegan one!


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I also have a lactose-intolerant guest, and very frequently either vegetarians or vegans as well, Rhys. A standard for the vegetarians has been a couple of quiches: fairly quick and easy to make, and everyone likes them. One year I made a vegan version (using egg substitute and fake cheese from Trader Joe’s) that was a smash with the meat eaters as well!


As for sides, Jenn, I like ones that can be made a day or more ahead. Coleslaw would be great, considering your warmer temperatures, and maple baked beans (very New England) can cook and be reheated in the crockpot. If I’m not prepping them ahead of time, they need to be quick and easy - mashed potatoes, canned cranberries with some spices and mandarin oranges stirred in, good store-bought buns. 


We’ll be skipping it this Thanksgiving, as I’ll have TWO sober kids there (my son is four months and counting!) but in the old days when we used to host a crowd, I liked to make a punch instead of offering cocktails when guests arrive. Everyone can help themselves, and you can also do it as a non-alcoholic base with a bottle of rum/tequila/gin on the side.


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: One, mashed potatoes. You can make them in advance, and put them in the fridge. To reconstitute,  put in a baking dish, dot with butter, cover and heat at 350 for 30 mins. DELICIOUS. Add chives or bacon bits.

Same with mashed sweet potatoes. WIth just salt  and pepper and butter, I don’t gussy them up with sugary stuff.

Green beans. Cook in advance until almost done, blanch, wrap in paper towels, refrigerate. Day of, throw more butter in a frying pan, saute quickly, add slivered almonds and s & p, go.

Stuffing. SO EASY. Follow the instructions on the Pepperidge Farm stuffing package. I usually saute onions and celery first, then do the rest. DELICIOUS. You can also make in advance, put in a baking dish, and reheat with the potatoes.

Oh, cranberries. Buy a package of Ocean Spray. Follow the directions. Add zested orange rind. You can make this in advance, too, and it’s much better.

THE GRAVY IS THE HARDEST PART. We’ll talk.

Backtime the turkey, but it can rest an hour. 

BE SURE TO TAKE THE GIBLETS AND STUFF OUT OF THE TURKEY.

Get fresh parsley for garnishing everything.

Oh. Make sure your turkey pan fits in the oven WITH the turkey. Seriously. 


DEBORAH CROMBIE: My absolutely favorite side is my own homemade cranberry relish, so I will make this even if I'm not cooking anything else. Next up is my daughter's roasted Brussel sprouts. I don't cook Brussels, because Rick doesn't like them, so they are a real treat for me. Kayti roasts them with lots of olive oil and flaky sea salt until they are starting to get crispy and caramelized, then once out of the oven, drizzles them with a little balsamic vinegar. So yummy, and good for vegetarians, too.


We make dressing, not stuffing, so cornbread is an essential, although I usually use half cornbread (homemade!) and half a good country wheat. Lots of celery and onions sauteed in butter (it's Thanksgiving!), then mixed with the dried cubed breads and loads of sage, moistened with chicken stock. Can be baked ahead and frozen. Easy to sub olive oil and veg stock to make vegetarian/vegan. 


We also really like haricots vert, the way described above. I actually don't care anything about the turkey–it's all about the sides for me.


HANK: What’s the difference between dressing and stuffing? Whether it’s cooked IN the turkey?


LUCY BURDETTE: I don’t know the answer Hank, but I suspect it’s regional. We call ours stuffing, even though it’s no longer stuffed into the turkey. Mine sounds a lot like Debs’, sometimes with the addition of sausage, but always cornbread. Once I made it with oysters–it was good but weird. Here’s the link to my recipe: https://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-cornbread-and-sausage.html


I love the sound of Kaytie’s brussel sprouts, but prefer the can of cranberry jelly to anything homemade. Oh, and here’s one more recipe for decadent corn spoonbread: https://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2019/01/donna-kleins-corn-spoon-bread-revised.html


The cranberry debate is a blog post for another day as I am firmly on Team Canned Jelly with Lucy.





Okay, Readers, your turn. What's your favorite side dish? And are you a canned cranberry jelly or homemade cranberry relish person?


94 comments:

  1. Definitely homemade cranberry relish . . . mashed potatoes . . . sweet potatoes . . . green beans . . . maple carrots . . . rolls and butter . . . stuffing . . . gravy . . . turkey. Once you eat your way through all that, there's probably not room for dessert, but we'll have some of Celia's delicious pumpkin mousse and mince pie . . . .

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    1. Joan, your dinner sounds almost exactly like ours! In addition to all those sides, our first course is always a chicken noodle soup, made with homemade noodles. The noodles are made from parm cheese(or a combination of Parmesan and Romano cheese, but I prefer all Parmesan), plain breadcrumbs, and enough eggs to get the mixture to hold together. Then the dough is kneaded, and finally the noodles are made using a strong ricer(because the dough is tough) or a device my grandfather made for all his children when they got married( hard to explain what it looks like); in my family it got passed down to the oldest grandchild when my mom died) or any other way you can find that will result in noodles. I’ve rolled the dough into small balls, and then pushed them through the cheese-grating side of a hand grater. My late brother used a cookie press. I think my sister-in-law is using that method. The soup is really the star of the show! After the soup, I just eat small portions of everything else.
      DebRo

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    2. Celia has leveled us up with the pumpkin mousse!

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    3. Those noodles sound fantastic, DebRo! -Melanie

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    4. Oh, my goodness, DebRo . . . those noodles sound absolutely amazing; I can see why the soup is the star of your meal!

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  2. My favorite side dish is stuffing. Add sweet potatoes, green beans and yum.

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    1. Not the turkey? I am the exact same way!

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    2. As to sweet potatoes: just plain baked potatoes…no sweet sauces, no marshmallow…just bake them as you would an Idaho potato, offer butter and nutmeg and cinnamon. No stress. And what my Grammy called “a relish tray” carrot sticks, celery sticks, some pimento stuffed olives, and scallions (for those wishing to get a head start on indigestion). And any kind of cranberry not on my menu, ever! Good luck, Jenn. Elisabeth

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  3. Mmm, the brussel sprouts sound delicious, and my husband and I both like brussel sprouts. Likewise the green beans. And quiche! Yes!

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    1. I have never warmed up to brussel sprouts but i do keep trying.

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    2. A lot of people hate Brussels sprouts, so you are not alone. 😊

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  4. I do love stuffing ( in the bird) and dressing (cooked in a pan), too. I have made it many different ways over the years for different holidays. I also love a yummy soup to begin the meal. For vegans and everyone SWEET POTATO AND APPLE.
    This year we will be dining at a nearby restaurant, just us 2.

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    1. I honestly love restaurant Thanksgiving. Or even better the year we went to Mexico and had fish tacos :)

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  5. I might be having TWO Thanksgiving dinners this year so I'm sure that I will have a LOT of sides.

    But I'm a basic eater so you don't have to get all fancy with the sides. Just give me some potatoes, gravy, biscuits/rolls, some applesauce (my sister makes hers) and CANNED cranberry sauce to go along with a heaping helping of turkey and I'm good. No vegetables to contaminate my plate thank you very much.

    And some kind of fruit pie for dessert. Apple, cherry or blueberry would fix me up nicely.

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  6. Hmmm, Canadian Thanksgiving was 3 weeks ago on October 9 & already a vague memory. I did not make a lot of food since I was flying to Vancouver that Friday (the 13th) and wanted a mostly empty fridge since I would be away for 11 days.

    OK, I did make mashed potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar. Oh, and a potato & leek soup that was delish.

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  7. https://www.food.com/recipe/roasted-apples-and-sweet-potatoes-363269
    Hallie, above is the link to a Southern Living recipe for apples and sweet potatoes. I'll post my divine Louisiana sweet potato recipe later this morning. Good luck! This year I'm doing an intensive teach-in for my daughters and son-in-law on cooking all things Thanksgiving-related. It's time they learned.

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    1. THANK YOU, Margaret - Taste-wise that sounds about right. But why mix it in a freezer bag and then line a pan with foil for the baking?? How to make the maximum amount of trash with a minimum of food output... BUT the ingredients seem right. And if I sliced instead of cubed the potatoes and baked in a greased heavy skillet or dutch oven... THANK YOU!

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    2. Hallie, sounds like a plan. We lived in ATL 15 years and I trust Southern Living recipes.

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  8. Yummy stuff! I'm in the homemade cranberry sauce camp, and I would add garlic to Hank's green bean recipe - and to the roasted Brussels sprouts. But my favorite side is my mother's bread stuffing. Celery and onions sauteed in butter, torn-apart stale bread, fresh rosemary, sage, and parsley (she used powdered poultry seasoning, but...), and chopped walnuts. These days baked in a casserole dish with some stock, plus a vegetarian version for those people. Gluten-free friend usually brings some kind of rice dish.

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    1. Oh, and so fun to meet Deana in person at my winery launch event north of SF yesterday!

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    2. It was fun meeting you and hearing about your writing journey to fill time author.

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    3. Stuffing is one of my favorite sides - this one sounds amazing.

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  9. I think the key to Thanksgiving is the timing— each individual part of the deal is not complicated, it’s just getting it all to be hot and ready and gorgeous are exactly the same time. Luckily, the turkey can rest.
    And I love the idea of a separate cranberry blog. Let’s do a separate stuffing one, too. And the debate over whether there are appetizers for Thanksgiving. But not today.
    Today is sides, and I am firmly in the brussels sprout balsamic bacon camp. Yum yum yum.

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    1. Well, if we're adding bacon...I might reconsider the brussels.

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    2. Jenn, here it's roasted Brussels sprouts with onion, cranberries, bacon jam, and bacon . . . we never have any left over!

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  10. I like collard greens and baked macaroni and cheese as my sides.

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    1. You must be a southern girl Dru Ann!

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    2. Baked nac and cheese is the ONLY mac and cheese allowed inmy world. YUM!

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  11. Now my usual square of dark chocolate for breakfast is not cutting it. I'm salivating here!

    We are not hosting this year, although I will probably cook a chicken with sides for our neighbors next door before we head to Michigan for Thanksgiving. They're not big fans of turkey.

    Since my daughter and son-in-law are hosting, it will be a big, hairy deal, even just for the five of us. Christy makes the biggest organic, free-range turkey she can find, a whole five pounds of mashed potatoes with whole cream and dripping with butter, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, haricots verts, stuffing galore (the boxed stuff, which all three of our kids prefer, the cretins), and cranberries from the can--the stripes must be there! She makes very good apple pies, and I'm sure she'll make one this year, along with a pumpkin one. I might try to convince her to let me make a salad. However, both my son-in-law and grandson have their cooking chores, so I can probably just sit there and look pretty. LOL Usually Steve and I go for a walk if the weather permits, to get out of the frenzy.

    You see, the meal is not the deal for them, it's the leftovers! A truly successful holiday meal will result in a groaning fridge supplying meals on demand for days. And maybe a take-home package for Mom.

    Hallie, what about some kind of liquor as the mystery ingredient in your sweet potato/apple dish? My mother used to make candied sweet potatoes, with gobs of butter and brown sugar, and it was delicious. But these days the meal is heavy enough without all that. I've added applejack brandy to mashed sweet potatoes, sometimes with pecans. Adding apples sounds really good.

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    1. Knowing the cook, I don't think there could have been liquor... Howevah...

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    2. Hallie, Here is my recipe for sweet potatoes and apples: Cook the sweet potatoes until nearly done, either by boiling, baking, or microwaving. Peel and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Peel and slice Cortland apples. Layer with sweet potatoes in crock pot, dotting layers with butter and a little brown sugar. No extra liquid is required. I like to cook this in the crockpot because it frees up a burner while cooking dinner. This is a very forgiving recipe as you can see by the vagueness of the directions. In the crockpot the sweet potatoes and apples will be done in about 4 hours. They can also be baked in a covered dish, 350 for 1/2hour or so. My grandmother and mother used to make this every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so this recipe goes back a way! Good luck! Irene

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    3. You have to have th4e stripes on the jelly - that's how you know where to slice!

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    4. Jenn, I have a special cut glass dish for canned cranberry sauce, that came with a round silver server. It is very pretty, with a design of cranberries and leaves.

      I like cranberries both ways, so if I'm cooking we have both!

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  12. Hold the turkey, but yes to the sides: roasted brussel sprouts, green beans, stuffing, HOMEMADE cranberry compote (that's what we call it, not sure why) and, way back in the childhood day, bread sauce https://www.thespruceeats.com/traditional-bread-sauce-recipe-435729

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  13. I call stuffing dressing, and I prefer Pepperidge Farm, adding sage and celery and onions and sausage , all in the bird. Cranberry orange relish, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed rutabagas or turnips, giblet gravy — I purĂ©e the cooked giblets so no one can pick out a chunk of liver and piss and moan. Gives the gravy an astounding flavor! But don’t tell Julie. It’s my little secret. Followed by pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

    I’m so ready for the feast. Happy Almost November everyone!

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    1. Yes to Pepperidge Farm! ( Not without a little embarrassment that I don't do it from scratch) First time I ever made a turkey, being nervous young bride, I cut myself a break and used Pepperidge Farm mix. We liked it so much I've been making it ever since! A whole lot of years.

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    2. Pumpkin pie is a non-negotiable MUST.

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  14. Already? Turkey--the only time of year I make it because I don't care for turkey--maybe just a breast this year. The sides are the winners--for years I've done broccoli with bacon and onions, but this year we're going with roasted sprouts as a welcome change. Stuffing from the box or bag, because that's what youngest nephew likes (and leftovers can go into a casserole). No cranberry jelly or relish, although I'd come down on the side of home-made, grew up with the canned stuff which I don't recall any of my siblings actually eating (sorry, Mom!). Mashed spuds, corn, coleslaw, green beans, rolls. And yes, it's all about having leftovers! Dessert--we'll stick with pumpkin pie and if I get motivated, pumpkin bars. And apple pie from my sister.

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    1. Sprouts are really the hit this year!

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    2. Flora, a suggestion for your turkey part: thigh and leg, not breast. White turkey meat is only tasty in sandwiches with half a jar of mayonnaise. The dark turkey meat is nectar to the gods. My mother made a devoted fan out of me. Elisabeth

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  15. As I understand it, yes, the difference between stuffing and dressing is whether it's cooked in the bird.

    I make my mashed potatoes with sour cream and a little roasted garlic. And green beans sauteed with shallots in bacon grease. I used to make what I considered a far superior cranberry relish with whole berries, orange zest and something else, but The Hubby insists on canned cranberry jelly. Whatever.

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  16. Since we have already had Canadian Thanksgiving, I will tell you the menu that just goes with turkey at anytime. I am ignoring the ‘other’ recipes needed to feed the ‘other people’ – other than lactose intolerant (I use a LOT of butter), there are lots of vegetables, or bring your own side dish. (I am not cooking a dish for 1 vegan). Menu includes: turkey (depends on number of people – I have cooked 4 at one time). Turkey is brined and dried 24 hrs – I don’t know but I was told it makes the skin crisper. Stuffing belongs in bird. Needs onions and celery, then I have added many other things – sausage, garlic, lemon peel, apples, broth, egg, butter – always on the search for the best dressing, which still alludes me. Local custom is summer savoury as the herb. Giblets and neck are popped in the bottom of the pan, and water/wine is added and turkey lidded (it helps make a lot of juice for the gravy). Giblets and wings somehow disappear before the meal (cook’s prerogative). Do you know to remove the breast meat as two pieces when cutting, and then slice the meat into nice sized pieces?
    Potatoes – mashed and hot, with butter and sour cream, turnip/carrot/cabbage cooked together and roughly mashed again with butter and salt and pepper. Make sure you drain these vegetables into the gravy fluids – it makes the tastiest gravy. Cauliflower – it always was a special treat because as kids we did not get it, Brussel sprouts – both only butter and S/P. Peas maybe if there are kids who will whine about the other vegetables. Mandatory – candied sweet potatoes – boiled, drained and then covered with a generous amount of butter and brown sugar. My mother made the best ones cooked in the frying pan, but due to lack of space I usually use the oven. Needs to be sticky enough to pull out your teeth. Gravy – of course – make lots and serve it in a 4-cup measuring cup if necessary.
    Condiments – Celery, olives, pickled onions, and lots of homemade spiced apple and hot pepper jelly. I often make cranberry sauce, but nobody eats it.
    If you are of Newfoundland decent, cook a salt beef dinner and serve alongside.
    Next day – hot turkey sandwiches, and then give the rest away – enough turkey. If in Newfoundland, it is salt beef hash with turkey gravy on top – I don’t know, my brother says it is delicious!
    I don’t know how you can eat green bean casserole – I cannot get it from my visioning into a thing – it just sounds gross.

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    1. I had no idea about the salt beef dinner - fascinating!

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  17. I love canned cranberries but I also love fresh cranberries so why not both!
    I've also included a green salad along with the usual sides of mashed potatoes and stuffing. My mother & aunt always worked together to produce the best Thanksgiving but we never had green beans or brussels sprout growing up.
    My son-in-law is a great cook and he always made his grandmothers sweet potato pie which was actually made with carrots and brown sugar which was absolutely DELICIOUS!! Everyone wanted the recipe. But like Hank's suggestions - less butter, less sugar, less salt (me) doesn't mean less flavor.

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  18. I had a habit of burning the rolls nearly every year because I was busy getting everything to the table and forget to set the timer. I love mashed potatoes and gravy, mashed sweet potatoes and dressing with no nuts, oysters or other surprises.

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    1. I burned the rolls several years in a row too! Last year my youngest son was disappointed that I hadn’t!

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  19. Hasselback potatoes have become my must have for turkey day! As for cranberry sauce. Mom always served both homemade sauce and jellied right out of the can with the the little ridges. I can't make up my mind which I like best, so you'll find both on my table too!

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    1. Both seems to be the most democratic choice - let the consumers decide.

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  20. I love cranberry relish but my hubby never liked it til I found this receipe. A package of fresh cranberries; 21/2 cups white sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1 can of ginger ale. Cook in saucepan until sugar is dissolved and cranberries pop. Remove from heat and dissolve one packet of raspberry jello into cranberries and stir well - pour into sterilized jars and refrigerate. Yum! Makes enough for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving! I am in Canada so have already had ours.

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  21. Great topic this morning! I am gearing up for National Novel Writing Month (November).

    All of the JRW's comments about Thanksgiving food sounds yummy! I would say that I love everything about Thanksgiving. The only dish that does not seem to appeal to me is Mashed Potatoes. However if it was Mashed Sweet Potatoes, I would eat it. With the advent of Menopause, I find myself eating more Yams and Tofu these days.

    HANK: Your comment about Gravy reminded me that I rarely like Gravy. However when a relative makes Gravy for Thanksgiving dinner, she showed me how to make it and it looks very simple. Just add flour to the bottom of the turkey pan AFTER taking out the turkey. There are (I think) drippings at the bottom. Add the flour until the liquid becomes thick and it becomes Gravy. This Gravy is really delicious! Only time of the year that I would eat turkey with Gravy. These days I have to be very careful eating turkey.

    JENN: I loved what you said about the differences between Ireland and the USA regarding Thanksgiving. Can you imagine what it is like for Prince Harry celebrating his first Thanksgiving, living in the USA now?

    RHYS: I would love the recipes from Dominic and Clare for their diary free and gluten free dishes.

    And pumpkin pie is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert. However I do not seem to like the taste of whipped cream anymore.

    Diana

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    1. Good luck on NaNoWriMo, Diana!!! Get her done!

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    2. Jenn, thank you! I can use all the good luck I can get... Diana

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  22. I used to make two different cranberry sauce/relish. Both can be made in advance. The traditional raw cranberry orange relish. I make it on Sunday or Monday so it can macerate and get really juice. The other is a cranberry and green chili sauce. It had vinegar and brown sugar, cilantro is added at the end. I like the relish better than the sauce.

    I grew up with oyster dressing. Mine is the plain sage dressing with oyster added. I use stale sourdough bread and some of the broth being created by the giblets cooking on the stove.Giblets are being cooked for gravy. If I don't have goblet juice, I'll use chicken stock.I can pass on the potatoes but I really want that dressing.

    I'll take Brussel sprouts any day, over green beans. I'm wondering about Hallie's sweet potato and Apple casserole. I think I've seen a similar recipe but was with acorn squash instead of the sweet potatoes.

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  23. Louisiana Sweet Potato Casserole: bake 6 potatoes until tender (1.5 hours for the big ones) and cool. It takes a while. Peel and mash. Mix in 1 cup sugar, 1 stick melted butter, 3 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup milk. Spoon into large buttered baking dish. I do this a day ahead.

    crunch topping: combine 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/2 cup flour and blend. add 1 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup chopped pecans. Mix and spread over sweet potato mixture. Bake in preheated 350 F oven 30 minutes.

    The most popular leftover in the fridge. In addition to Thanksgiving, I make the casserole Christmas Eve to accompany ham with a spiced cranberry sauce.

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  24. My Thanksgiving sides are not fancy. Jellied cranberry slid out of the can with shape and ridges intact, mashed potatoes, dressing made according to directions on the bag of seasoned bread cubes. The last few years I just baked sweet potatoes for those who eat them. Rolls. A relish tray with crudités and dip. Some sort of hot vegetable that varies. The biggest challenge is trying to gather the people together so to me the food is secondary.

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  25. Oh, I am laughing! My husband also will volunteer to "cook" for the holiday. That means make the turkey and stuffing. He doesn't think anything else matters! And he will occupy the kitchen all day, checking on "his" turkey. For sides? Over the years I collected a variety of interesting ways to make sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and string beans. All delish. And my family always wanted same old, same old. (Somewhere my mother is laughing. She always wanted to experiment too...over our protests) My most recent find is cornbread with fresh cranberries. Honestly, it is fabulous. And easy. And it freezes well, for making ahead or managing leftovers. And if no one else wants it...more for me. Breakfast for a week. In fact, I might just go bake it now. ( we will actually be on an anniversary trip until 2 days before Thanksgiving. Must plan ahead) Happy holiday planning to all!

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    1. Corn bread with cranberries sounds amazing - I will look it up.

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    2. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1022718-cranberry-cornbread

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  26. Hallie

    My mother made sweet potatoes and apples every fall for holidays. She used two large casserole pans and then froze everything to use the rest of the year.
    The sweet potatoes were cut in large probably two inch slices, then a layer of apples peeled and cut into quarters and spread out over the potatoes. She then poured maple syrup and sprinkled brown sugar over the layers and continued until it reached the top of the pan. Every so often she would baste it with the liquid so it wouldn’t dry out.
    Though we liked the canned cranberries in both forms, sometimes we cooked them with strawberries
    which gave both a nice contrasting flavor.

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    1. Oh, that sounds delicious. I am now joining Hallie in the quest!

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  27. Should clarify that you keep alternating each layer sweet potatoes, apples, brown sugar and maple syrup

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  28. Thanksgiving is a big deal for my family and as of right now it sounds like we’re hosting. Probably our #1 side is Sweet Potato SoufflĂ© ( which isn’t really a soufflĂ©). It’s my Nany’s recipe and is pretty close to Margaret’s above. We do stuffing in the bird but quite often an extra pan also which I suppose makes it dressing. My dad is the only who eats the canned cranberries but we discovered that the rest of us love homemade cranberry sauce.

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    1. I'm with Dad! Hub is frying the bird so my stuffing will also be dressing.

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    2. We all love deep fryed turkey with french fries and gravy as a side!

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  29. Ewww. I don't want to think about Thanksgiving! Last year I was by myself and didn't cook a thing for the first time in years. In past years we always invited friends and family. But things are different now since I moved away. Frank smokes a turkey usually. He swears he'll be here for Thanksgiving but since it's early this year I'm not holding my breath. I've gotten like Mom in her later years. We both got sick of the same ol' menu and having to cook the same ol' things to meet expectations. But, if there's turkey, there must be cornbread dressing. I hate canned cranberry sauce. I do like an uncooked cranberry relish with oranges and pecans.

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    1. Smoked turkey sounds amazing. Hopefully Frank with get it done.

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  30. I would swear I'd put my cranberry relish recipe on the blog but it doesn't come up in the search function. Maybe we will have to do a cranberry blog:-)

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  31. Hallie, I've got you.

    Okay, so this may not be the recipe you had growing up, but my family makes a sweet potato/apple dish we all love. And it's very simple. (And my family, I mean my parents so I don't have all the particulars.)

    It's just layers of sweet potatoes, apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and raisins. Slice the sweet potatoes and apples thinly. Then it is baked (or put in the crock pot) until things are soft. I'm sorry, I don't know how long it gets baked for.

    It sounds like yours had other ingredients in it, but trust me, this one is absolutely fabulous! And it's even better cold the next day. Almost a dessert.

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  32. We’re going to the newlyweds’ (son and d-i-l) for Thanksgiving. Still waiting to hear if my college friend will be joining us (and if so, perhaps hosting?). So I don’t know what I’ll be doing. For years before we had kids, we ate at a local restaurant that puts on quite a spread! I’ve made the turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole with bakery bought pies, but not as often as eating in the restaurant. I like my sister’s cranberry relish recipe but am a cranberry-sauce-from-the-can devotee. Not a big stuffing (in the bird) fan as I have gotten older, though that’s what I grew up eating. I love Pepperidge Farm dressing. Mashed potatoes and white meat with a little gravy are probably my favorite parts of the meal, except dessert! — Pat S

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    1. The advantage to eating at a restaurant is not having to cook or clean up. The disadvantage? No leftovers! I love leftover turkey for sandwiches! — Pat S

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    2. Pat, when I was growing up, my folks and I always ( and excruciatingly) had to go to huge family celebrations. Mother would cook a turkey on Wednesday for us for just the left overs. Elisabeth

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  33. I'm all about the sides too. I am trying to plan a really healthy Thanksgiving but am probably going to give that up for a day of old-fashioned family recipe. I also prefer the canned cranberry sauce that has the cranberry pieces in it. aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

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  34. We will be hosting but it will be more or less a cooperative dinner with our daughter and her family. I will roast the turkey, son-in-law will carve. I'll do homemade dressing, made with whole wheat bread. My husband will make his traditional cranberry sauce. They will bring a green bean casserole made from scratch and maybe homemade sweet potato fries - not traditional but something the five year old will eat! I will bake a pumpkin pie and a Dutch apple pie. The next day I will make mashed potatoes and gravy to have with leftovers for just the two of us - my favorite because of less dishes to wash!

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  35. I promise that in time my comments won't all have a connection to my dear son who passed in May, but Thanksgiving is especially hard this year. Last Thanksgiving was the last time I saw and was with my son. I have to tell you if you have a kid (grown-up as mine was, 35) and they haven't been in for a while, fix them one of their favorite foods. It's something I'm so glad I did now. Last Thanksgiving eve, when Kevin arrived home, I had his spaghetti casserole made for him, and I sent some back with him after Thanksgiving. I always have the house decorated for Christmas for Thanksgiving because we have Christmas at my daughter's. This year, we're planning on eating at my daughter's for Thanksgiving, but I would just as soon go somewhere away from it all. Ireland sounds good, Jenn

    OK. It's sides I'm supposed to be commenting on. First, I go with the plain canned cranberry sauce (Kev's favorite). Although, I admit the zested orange rind you mentioned, Hank, sounds like a great addition to the cranberry. One side dish I always have is from my mother, scalloped oysters (oysters and crackers and butter and salt and pepper and half 'n half, oh my). It's rather an excellent substitute for dressing, but I always want my dressing, too. Now, if I could only duplicate my mother's dressing balls. She made her dressing with dried bread cubes (plain cubes are my preference) and rolled into nice-sized balls to bake. I've always said that if I could have anything to eat again that my mother made, it would be her dressing balls and gravy. Another dish from my mother is asparagus casserole (yum). I have a mashed potato baked dish I've made sometimes, the recipe from author Kristi Belcamino. You can make it ahead and then bake, and it's delicious, so rich though. Either my daughter or I make the pumpkin pies, or I make a chocolate cake. I used to make a pecan pie, and while it was delicious, I usually buy one these days.

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    1. A hug for you, Kathy. Elisabeth

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    2. Ye, big hugs, Kathy. I will be thinking about you on Thanksgiving. — Pat S

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    3. My heart is with you on this first Thanksgiving. Much love

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    4. Kathy, those firsts are so painful--glad you are going to your daughter's, but I think Ireland would be an excellent alternative!

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  36. Stuffing, my mostly Scottish family demands lots. I fry up bulk sausage and onions and let that cool. Then I pull out my food processor and pull apart 3 or 4 pieces of bread, some poultry seasoning, a bit of salt and a spoonful or two of the sausage. Whir and repeat until the sausage is gone. I make this a day ahead and stuff it in the turkey. This is my amendment of my mother in law's more labour intensive recipe and all the grandchildren love it more than anything else. My husband buys the biggest organic turkey available, and we make some rather plain veggies and the necessary pumpkin pies and sometimes a nonalcoholic trifle. And then I do it again at Chrismas. Chris Wallace

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  37. Being a bachelor, I usually receive an invitation to someone’s family Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is my good fortune to enjoy eating almost everything in the Great American Cookbook. I am sober now 31 years; so, I do avoid anything cooked with alcohol. Also, bananas and milk do not agree with my stomach. However, canned or homemade, I love cranberries.
    ----------The last few years, I have earned a free turkey from the local Acme. We’ll cook it on the weekend after Black Friday. I subscribe to NYTimes Cooking and on the rest of the web, there is a plethora of recipes and other guidance on any dish that one can conceive. So, this year, I am going to try my hand at roasted Brussell Sprouts with some kind of sweet buttery glaze. Perhaps, I will try brown sugar. Perhaps, I‘ll try maple syrup.

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  38. I like homemade cranberry sauce but my boyfriend only likes the jellied stuff in the can so we have both. Otherwise I make stuffing and a green vegetable. None of us are big eaters so I keep it simple

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