Monday, November 27, 2023

Foods We Never Want to See Again

 

RHYS BOWEN: When I moved to the US, as a young bride of 24 I realized quickly that food was very different from the food I'd grown up with. Older women were eager to share their recipes with me, and all of those recipes included a can of Campbell’s soup (chicken or mushroom), Jello or Cool Whip, marshmallows with sweet potatoes or in salads… the list of horror goes on. We had jelly in England but it was served with custard as a dessert for young children. Certainly not as a salad with unidentifiable bits of whatever in it. For some reason I never liked Jelly in the first place. It’s the slimy texture and a panic that I can’t swallow it. But jelly with bits of celery in it, lying there still twitching on my plate? A nightmare. I still shudder.

I’m thinking about this now because we’ve just had Thanksgiving and I’m sure many of us have had the green bean casserole (with the mushroom soup), sweet potatoes with marshmallows, Cool Whip with the pumpkin pie.  Thanksgiving is all about tradition, isn’t it? Dishes we’d never eat for the rest of the year have to be recreated because it is expected.  Also because it reminds us of those family members who are no longer with us. Grandma always made the sweet potatoes, Aunt Sue always brought the casserole. I really don’t mind the green bean casserole but sweet potatoes with marshmallows have me running fast in the other direction. (A small insight here that may explain my revulsion. I was fed that sweet potato thing when I was newly pregnant with my first child. And throwing up all the time anyway. I took one bite and.... )

I'm not a big fan of pumpkin pie, again because it's too sweet. But the rest of the family loves it so there was one on the table, along with apple crumble.

So I’m anxious to know your feelings about those traditional foods. Which ones did you eat at Thanksgiving? Which will you never eat again?

HALLIE EPHRON: I confess, I miss Jell-O. Red. We had it all the time. Plain. Now I associate it with hospital cafeterias and getting over stomach flu. 

And Campbell’s soup? I still make what we called “mushroom potatoes” – scalloped potatoes with condensed mushroom soup. It’s lovely. I think the one change they’ve made to those soups is now there’s less salt. 

I don’t think I’ve ever (knowingly) tasted Cool Whip, though my children like it straight from the can into the mouth. 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Ah, the suburban cooking of my childhood. Even back then, I never liked the famous green bean casserole. We used to always have Birds Eye Green beans and Spaetzle, a fave from Ross’s childhood, but it was discontinued several years ago, and - sorry kids - I’m not trying to make it from scratch.

I’ve also never been a big fan of marshmallows in my sweet potatoes. I use the recipe from RECIPES FROM A VERY SMALL ISLAND, which has a delicious crusty pecan topping. 

Food from my childhood I’ll never eat again: brussel sprouts boiled into submission and then tossed in butter. So gross. I can only assume the concept of roasting vegetables simply didn’t exist back in the ‘70s.

RHYS: Ah yes, Julia. That's how vegetables were cooked in England when I was growing up. Boiled into submission. So true. 

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Giblets. No way. And so agree about sweet potatoes with marshmallows. (or anything with marshmallows, except plain roasted marshmallows.) Although we never had sweet potatoes back then.  And oh,  roasted chestnuts! We had a huge family argument over those once, and my sister and I got sent away from the table for refusing to eat one, until my parents realized we were very happy about that, so we had to come back to the table and stay until we ate one. Disgusting.

RHYS: That's funny because I love roasted chestnuts. I associate them with roasting on a shovel over the fire or buying from a stall in Austria and eating them while I walk around a Christmas market.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Laughing here,  Hank! I loved the idea of roasted chestnuts until I actually ate them–so mealy! Ugh. Although my mom and I did make a Christmas chestnut stuffing a few times that wasn't bad. I never liked marshmallows on sweet potatoes–sweet potatoes are already really sweet. I always thought Jello (Rhys's "jelly") was disgusting, too. And that composed fruit salad with canned mandarin oranges. My mom was a good cook, so most of these are things that other people made for holidays and parties. 

And you all know how I feel about Cool Whip!

JENN McKINLAY: I’m not a traditionalist. I even said to the Hub we should ditch the turkey and make a ham or a prime rib. Since he’s deep frying the turkey, we agreed to go forth (less work for me) because even though I no longer cook (huzzah, empty nest!), for the holiday I will don my apron and cook and bake up a storm because sides are not Hub’s gift. We do not do the green bean casserole but I do steam green beans. I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes so it’ll be my scratch mac and cheese (baked) instead, and then it’s all the usual turkey, mashed potatoes, apple-butternut salad, blah blah blah with CANNED cranberry sauce on the side :) 

LUCY BURDETTE: No marshmallows, no giblets, no Cool whip if I can avoid it. I’d love some of your mac n cheese Jenn, we are blood sisters on that!

RHYS: Now it's your turn. Which traditional dishes do you still serve over the holidays? And which dishes from your childhood can't you stand to see (or taste?)



104 comments:

  1. No green bean casserole; no Cool Whip; no Jell-O for Thanksgiving.
    When we were children, we had sweet potatoes with marshmallows [it’s okay, but not my favorite]; also, cream cheese-stuffed celery, which I haven’t thought about making in years [but it’s yummy]. Pickles and olives, too, but I usually forget about them these days . . . .
    Now we have turkey, stuffing, gravy, maple sweet potatoes [no marshmallows], mashed potatoes, a vegetable [asparagus this year, sometimes roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon], cranberries, rolls and butter. We always had both pumpkin and mince pies for dessert, but these days I just make a mince pie and skip the pumpkin . . . .

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    1. Roasted Brussels sprouts! My favorite!

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    2. Joan, I remember the relish plates of my childhood. An absolute necessity for holiday meals, with homemade pickles, olives, cornichons, celery sticks (the ones for the kids were filled with peanut butter.) I don't know why we don't do that anymore, except that I can't see my kids diving into a pickle tray with delight.

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    3. Julia, they've been supplanted by charcuterie boards!

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  2. We never put marshmallows on our candied yams. Cool Whip - gross. Two things I do not like anymore are turkey and stuffing/dressing.

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    1. That’s difficult at Thanksgiving, Dru. What do you have instead? We cooked a ham for those who don’t like turkey

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  3. Fortunately, our family never ate many of the Thanksgiving dishes you described above: no green bean casserole, no Jello molds with weird stuff inside, no candied yams with marshmallows!

    But I'm sure we had Cool Whip on desserts...no way I would eat that now. And overcooked veggies, yuck. I hated the way my mom served Brussels sprouts, now I love eating them roasted with balsamic vinegar.

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  4. No marshmallows for me either. My mom made it every year. No candied carrots either, mom always saved some plain for just me. I am the picky eater in the family. As I got older I was assigned to bring the green bean casserole every year. Now it's just my husband and I so we go to a restaurant and still have leftovers for a sandwich.

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    1. Paula, one of these years I would LOVE to just go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving!

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    2. I once asked our kids what their favourite Thanksgiving meal was. They told me that it was the year we went to a restaurant and they ordered hot dogs.

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  5. Since I've been a vegetarian for over 25 years now (okay, technically pescatarian because I eat fish), I have a good excuse for avoiding Jello and marshmallows. You don't want to spend too much time thinking about what gelatin is made from. I do, however, eat eggs and dairy so on family holiday gatherings, I'm always tapped to make my mom's deviled eggs. Funny because Mom never had a recipe for them, so neither do I. As for Cool Whip, no thanks. But I love real whipped cream!

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    1. I didn’t think about jello being made! We have two non meat eaters in the family. Luckily no Jello !

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  6. As a kid, my favorite Thanksgiving food was the turkey and dressing (in my non veg days), but I never liked sweet potatoes or candied yams. What I did like was plain old mashed potatoes with butter or gravy. And cranberry sauce from the can. And dessert? Fruit cocktail from a can. (I know - pretty unimaginative). As family members passed away, though, we spent years doing potluck with our godfamily, and our contribution was always samosas (me) and vegetable curry and rice pilaff (husband), and our god family members were into things like salmon (my favorite fish), and one member brought what we all called her "killer mashed potatoes," because of the butter and cream that went into them. I could eat them, but Rajan couldn't because he was watching his cholesterol by then. Here in Portugal, we eat out for Thanksgiving lunch, But I made a really great sweet potato soup for the evening from a recipe I found on the Internet. Not sweet, because the primary seasonings are onions, garlic, and ground cumin (a tablespoon of it) and salt and pepper.

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    1. Sweet potato soup is delicious! I’m
      A big fan

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    2. It really is. This was my first time, and now I'm a fan!

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  7. My mother grew up in the 1920s and 1930s with a cook, so when she married in 1946 she had no idea what to do in the kitchen. Then she had five children. Despite having no interest in cooking, she tried manfully. At the holidays she did make sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and we loved them. My children still love them. (Living in maple country, it would be easy for me to switch the glaze to maple syrup, but that wouldn't be Tradition.) The other items mentioned in the list never appeared in our house. We got cherry Jell-O at school, with nothing in it. I liked it.

    Pumpkin pie does not have to be too sweet. You can make it with any squash, pumpkins are just the most obvious (and of course, for settlers, easy to grow; throw old pumpkins on a compost pile and you'll have a crop of new pumpkins running over the pile next summer) and squashes are not sweet. And it's the spices that make it taste "like pumpkin." You can make it with zucchini.

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    1. Anon, I like "big squash" in the fall and winter, and I actually prefer pumpkin in savory dishes rather than sweetened. I used to make a tasty beef stew with cubed pumpkin from the Sugar Baby variety, which my local store still sells.

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  8. Pumpkin pie using canned pumpkin - but doubling some of the spices - is one of my favorites from childhood. Always an apple pie, too. My mom would put brown sugar and butter on the yams even though they were already sweet. I loved her jello salad with apples and walnuts in it, but it's not something I make as an adult.

    Otherwise, why would one eat Cool Whip when you can have real whipped cream? Marshmallows are for camping and for rice krispie treats, period.

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    1. I have to admit to liking a mini marshmallow or two on hot cocoa.

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    2. Debs, I was at an outdoor winter gathering during The Lockdown and the hostess had gourmet salted caramel marshmallows to add to the hot cocoa. It was AMAZING and I don't particularly like marshmallows.

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  9. I must confess, I loved Cool Whip as a child, not just on top of things but also there was a dessert that was half Jello/half Cool Whip (pause to allow everyone to shudder). But then I was about 16 or 17 and ate something with Cool Whip and realized it gave me horrible heartburn. And then I took the time to really taste it and noticed it tasted very oily and artificial.

    My mom was obsessed with all things low-fat (it was the 80s) and bless her, she really wasn't much of a cook or baker when I was growing up. She got very good at cooking once she was retired with an empty nest and more time on her hands. Now her thing is everything should be both gluten free and vegan, but we don't live together (thank goodness!) and she doesn't try as hard to impose it on everyone else. A lot of my fondest food memories as a child are about going out to eat together not "Mom's homemade XYZ." ;-) I was quite happy with college cafeteria food in comparison.

    As for specifics, there was definitely a lot of Jello (b/c of course, it's low fat) growing up. I neither crave it or like it, but I'll make it for my children and let them have my share usually. Lots of margarine, which I won't eat now, but I don't think most people do. Any type of baked good was from a box. I still love boxed brownies, but I rarely make them. There was an angel food cake mix that she loved that was always leathery and dry. I still avoid angel food cake. Also very leathery overbaked meringues. My husband made meringues a few years ago and I was amazed at how delightful they were.

    Not to make out like my mom was the sole offender, my Dad, who was generally the better cook when I was growing up, still makes pancakes that are way underdone and raw in the middle (I try to find an excuse not to eat them now, 'Dad, I'm so full already') and he makes cookies with butter flavored Crisco. I loved them growing up, but all I can taste now is the artificial Crisco taste.

    My kids don't care for a lot of what I make, so I'm sure the cycle will continue. . .

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    1. Bless your heart, Jill. My mom wasn't much of a cook, but I don't ever remember thinking that college cafeteria food was better. Congratulations for reaching adulthood with cooking skills and a discerning palate. Go, you!!!!

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    2. Gigi, I actually took over cooking dinner for the family when I was about 16 or 17. No regrets!

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  10. Oh my goodness! Thank you for writing this post, Rhys! Yes, I was faced with these dishes growing up but now my husband and our one son living nearby ignore this yucky stuff. We have either lobster tails or steak for the holiday dinners. I enjoy a turkey leg but the rest of this stuff makes me turn green. Don't get me started on Jello. Growing up, my neighbor had me over for cake and Jello to celebrate her birthday. Trying to swallow the Jello was awful! I'm betting there are lots of people that do not care for these "traditional" dishes.

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    1. When I had my babies, you stayed in hospital for a week if you had a caesarian. You also were not allowed anything to eat for 3 days, while all the other mothers were stuffing down anything. There was nothing more beautiful than the day they brought in those first cubes of rubbery Jello!

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    2. I’m so religious that someone else in the world had the jello phobia!

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  11. Growing up we never had sweet potatoes with marshmellows, or green beans with onions on top. Actually I'd never heard of either for Thanksgiving.

    Looking back I think ours was pretty healthy - nothing came from a box everything was homemade. We always had mashed potatoes, turkey of course, stuffing (both from inside the turkey and stove top), green salad, gravy and cranberries (not canned). My aunt made her homemade pies (including beautiful homemade crusts) - pumpkin, mince meat, apple.

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  12. No green bean casserole here, nor sweet potatoes of any kind. But pumpkin pie yes with either real whipped cream or at least Redi-Whip. No CoolWhip. But canned cranberry jelly, yes.

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    1. Oh, we always had Redi-Whip in our house, Liz - Ross loved to squirt it in decorative swirls on his pancakes. (He was the pancake maker.) I never got into it, but the kids adored it. If I need whipped cream for a dessert I'm making, it's homemade, because it's so easy, why not?

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    2. It's easy as long as you have heavy-whipping cream. But I still have to chill the metal bowl (tip from Grandma), drag out the Kitchen-Aid (because I don't have egg-beaters), blah, blah. Just give me the can. LOL I'll do homemade for special occasions.

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    3. Totally agree, Liz!! — Pat S

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  13. I love food, but I don’t love bad food. Since my diabetic diagnosis, I admit that I use that as an excuse for not having to be polite and eat/taste what I consider bad food. So top of list – Cool Whip or even ‘cream’ from a squirty can. Real whipped cream please.
    Cake mix – no it does not taste as good as home-made even if you put in pudding mix, eggs and oil. If you are going to that much trouble, just make a cake. I have several recipes that will take less time, than all the work and taste fantastic – and cost much less.
    Marshmallows – on/in anything.
    Campbell’s tomato soup – they took out the salt and filled it up with sugar – read the label!
    Canned mushrooms – just why?
    Roasted vegetables – nope can’t do that unless it is parsnips cooked in the drippings at the bottom of the roast. Lima beans in the pork fat is delicious as well. Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, beets in the oven – nope. They just come across as limp and burnt-tasting.
    I do love Jello – now ours is sugar-free. A small bit with fruit in it is our usual dessert at lunch. I loved when my mother would make it, especially red – cherry, and if made correctly, when my father put the spoon in it to serve, it would go “gluck”. A round of cheering would go up around the table that tonight we were getting ‘glucky jello!’
    As for all your left-over giblets – send them my way. Nobody in my house or my mother’s before me has ever tasted them roasted in the bottom of the pan, as those and the wings are considered the cook’s prerogative. I also love a good giblet pie…
    There is no reason on earth for any kind of Mac & Cheese – ever.

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    1. Giblet pie, Margo? Sorry I don’t think I’ll add that recipe to my collection. I had enough horrors to eat growing up in England after the war: heart, tongue, kidneys etc.

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    2. I love fresh lamb kidneys - just pan-fried thank you. No accompaniments except butter and salt and pepper. My cousin went on an economy kick one year and served bee-fart (proper pronunciation). It was surprisingly delicious. As for the giblet pie - it was considered a treat in my mother's family - can you imagine how many farm chickens had to be killed to get enough gizzards - and to this day, if you suggest that is what you are having for supper, they all would be pounding at your door.

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    3. Interesting, isn't it, how one person's ICK is another person's YUM. I'll pass on the lamb kidneys, too, but my French-born neighbor had me pick some up from an Italian butcher in Boston's North End (He brought out an lamb carcass and sliced them off. I do miss old fashioned butchers. Now my Stop n Shop has NO in-house butchers... it all gets to the store ready to be sold.

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    4. I miss local butcher shops too Hallie.

      We had one that was excellent just around the corner and they included Kosher meats as well. When they went out of business another shop popped up about a mile or so away (still close by). Their meat was from locally raised cows that were grass fed. The steaks were outstanding but they were super expensive. I realized that they also sold their meat at Whole Foods and Costco for much cheaper.

      Someone told me that Trader Joe's here in Calif sells Kosher beef so that will be a new option for me.

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    5. We are so lucky to have a great local butcher on our town square. Locally raised beef, chicken, and produce.

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    6. Margo, you'll have to give me your tip for keeping homemade cake moist. I have yet to make one that isn't dry and crumbly. Same for The Girl and she's an excellent baker.

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  14. Thanks for the laughs, Rhys! My mom made "jello salad" a lot when we were growing up. Sometimes it was okay, but other times it had lumps? How can jello have lumps? Anyway if it was lumpy, I could not swallow it, so gross. I think she might have used the liquid from canned fruit cocktail instead of water--whatever, it was disgusting.

    I've never liked the marshmallow/candied yam approach to sweet potatoes. That's what dessert is for. This year I was in charge of the sweet potatoes and told to make them in a crockpot. I found a wonderful recipe that includes a little olive oil, butter, parsley, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Delicious and the contrast between savory and sweet was perfect.

    Cool whip is disgusting--it's not real whipped cream and the taste is very different. Ideally, whipped cream involves work, but in a pinch a can of Redi-whip will do. Pecan pie is too sweet in my opinion, but pumpkin pie is delicious. I took a pumpkin pie (from Safeway) and a can of Redi-whip over to my Nicaraguan friends last week. They thought it "not very sweet"--interesting.

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    1. Gillian, I made Crock Pot sweet potatoes this year and so liked the way they came out, I'm doing again next year.

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  15. Ugh. Frozen lima beans. Blech.

    Our traditions change as family members sample new dishes. When my daughter's friend made Louisiana sweet potatoes with brown sugar and chopped pecans, it joined the Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve menus. When Mom discovered wrapping the turkey in butter-soaked cheesecloth before roasting, it became the standard way to cook a turkey. I published a short story, "Double Crust Corpse" in Rhonda Gilliland's Cooked to Death: Cold Cut Files anthology. Rhonda's apple pie recipe that accompanied the story is perfection. I drain the pie apples for an hour and then reduce the liquid with butter to make a caramelized sauce rich with flavor to add to the apples in the pie shell.

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    1. Oh that sounds wonderful!

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    2. LOVE lima beans. Some day I'd like to find them fresh.

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    3. Oooh, I do butter-soaked cheesecloth, too!

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    4. Hallie, I grew Lima beans this year. They're so good, and I got a lot of yield from just a few plants, including two harvests. We love them.

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    5. Hallie, I've found fresh limas at our farmer's market. But my favorite is the fresh pintos, and in season we get black-eyed, purple-hull, and lady cream peas. We have fresh peas or beans pretty much every week during the season.

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  16. From Celia: JRW is my first read each day and there’s always someone in the discussion to laugh about. Yes Rhys, my introduction to Thanksgiving food was much the same as yours - Yuck. But as Tevye says, “Tradition”! Usually we are with daughter etc but that couldn’t work this year so my JRW fairy godmother had our dinner delivered from her table by her elves or were they mice? I may be crossing my stories. Anyway it was delicious with non of the aforementioned foods of dread. And there’s leftovers too though I can’t get the carcass from her. I hate to raise the G word but giblets can go into a killer stuffing I make with onion, chestnuts, giblets without bones like the liver, herbs, celery etc all sautéed up and put through the Cuisinart if necessary and preferably roasted in the crop of the bird though unfortunately current butchering doesnt leave enough skin. So sad. I can pass on pies just leave me the stuffing.

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    1. My mom used to use the giblets in stuffing sometimes, Celia, but I don't - usually because the stuffing is the first thing I have to make (to get it inside the bird) and I don't have the patience to defrost the giblets and cook them and chop them. Gotta get that turkey into the oven!

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  17. Oh dear, SOMETHING not a person, apologies - Celia

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    1. Celia - good one! LOL.

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    2. You need the giblets to make the stock for the gravy!

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    3. The first step of preparing the turkey here is putting the neck and giblets in a pan of water, with herbs and celery leaves, to simmer all day.

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  18. Isn't it funny how we mostly prefer what we grew up with, no matter how truly awful it really was? Luckily, our family did not use marshmallows in yams; my mother "candied" them on the stove with butter and brown sugar, and I always liked them growing up. Now they'd be way too sweet. We didn't have a green vegetable back then, but now everyone in our family likes roasted sprouts, and we usually have a green salad. We always had both sweet potatoes/"yams" and mashed potatoes, but now I make one or the other. Mother always made pumpkin pie, but now both she and I like pecan pie better, so if she's with us I usually make one just for us alongside everyone else's favorite pumpkin.

    The big holiday dividing line in families, I thought, was what kind of bread was served. Parker House rolls from a package? A roll of biscuits cracked on the edge of the counter? Or some kind of homemade yeast bread, fresh from the oven? My son-in-law's mother used to make Yorkshire puddings, which took forever and always delayed the meal. And were never as good as they smelled.

    Of course we ate Jello; I am a child of the 1950s, after all, and it was unavoidable, either at home or at school lunch. Or in cafeterias--remember those? When I was a broke young worker my friend and I would go through the line together on our lunch hour and there was always a Jello option in the "dessert" area. But I really, really liked tapioca and other puddings, even from the package, especially chocolate or butterscotch. I had to stop making tapioca from scratch because I was the only one who'd ever eat it. I made gallons of Jello for my children (35 years of child-rearing, remember), including the kind they could pick up with their fingers, made with half the water. None of them would touch it today, I'm sure. However, they all LOVE Cool-Whip, which I utterly detest. Philistines.

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    1. Isn't it interesting when you're the only person in the family that likes something? You had to stop making your from-scratch tapioca. I gave up on mince pies. They were my favorite, growing up. One year I asked for mince pie instead of birthday cake. But I married into a family of Germans, and the only time I brought a mince pie to Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's house she took one look, sniffed, and said, "Oh, that's right. Your family's English, isn't it?" I was the only one who ate it, and the next year I brought an apple pie instead.

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    2. My son in law is the odd man out at Thanksgiving, but we do include mashed turnips which he loves and grew up with on the Thanksgiving table, alongside mashed potatoes.

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    3. nope nope nope to turnips. :-) But I adore tapioca! SO much fun to eat...

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    4. Poor turnips, getting undeserved approbation. I sneak them into stews and soups all winter. Love the spicy earthiness.

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    5. I like turnips, too, Karen. And Gigi knows I love mince pies, too.

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    6. You need turnips as the water makes the best gravy - that is a fact. Boil the turnips with a carrot or two and add a bit of cabbage at the end, then mash it. Drain into the gravy and butter and S&P to the turnips - delightful! As for mince meat pie - as far as I am concerned it has to have MEAT in it, and preferably deer. I still have one serving of my grandmother's which may be a hundred years old, and will serve it at Christmas. Thank heavens he who harrumphs likes it too. ED Smith or my sister's made from green tomatoes just doesn't cut it.

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    7. Margo, when I came to our boarding school in the early 80s the elderly cook still made mincemeat pies at Thanksgiving. I think many of the hundreds of guests were confused (meat? pie? for dessert?) and there were always dozens of leftovers, which my soon-to-be husband, a young athlete, ate happily. He naturally became a favorite of the cook.

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  19. Some fun reminders of my childhood here: red jello with canned fruit in it (my great-aunt made that for my sister and me, and we liked it, although even as kids we thought it was an odd thing to refer to as a "salad"), Pillsbury rolls in a cardboard tube that you opened by bashing it on the edge of the kitchen counter, and Joan's celery sticks stuffed with cream cheese, which was one of my parents' favorite appetizers in the sixties. I thought the celery was pretty good, but today I don't miss any of these things. The traditional holiday food I miss the most from my childhood (Christmas, not Thanksgiving) is old-fashioned fruitcake, which was a joint parental product, with my father chopping all the dried and candied fruit. The holiday food I religiously continue to make every year, as I mentioned in a previous post, is my mother's pecan pie.

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    1. Kim, how do you get pecans in Switzerland? They must be quite the rare import.

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    2. Kim, I am the only pecan pie fan in my family. This year we were at the newlyweds’ house and I thought, with my d-i-l having spent a good chunk of her 24 years in Texas, I might get my pecan pie. Nope, she made a delicious, homemade berry pie. (I did have to buy a can of ReddiWhip because she didn’t see the need for a topping.) I used to make my late f-i-l a pecan pie for his November birthday so usually got a slice. Ah well, I don’t need the calories… — Pat S

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  20. Sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans, please, no marshmallows. We had canned green beans straight from our garden growing up, no green bean casseroles until other people joined the family. I never make it. Lots of jello growing up but not usually at holidays--more of a Sunday-after-church kind of dessert with Angel food cake. Redi-whip from a can instead of cool whip.

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    1. I had lots of Jell-O desserts as well, Flora - my mother believed in having dessert with (almost) every dinner, and Jell-O was an easy fallback - sometimes plain, sometimes with canned fruit salad, sometimes with fresh banana slices (my favorite!)

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  21. Never had green bean casserole, though I love to shop for green beans at the farmer's market. Never had sweet potatoes with marshmallows. I love sweet potato chips from a local gourmet burger restaurant. Sweet potatoes and yams - yummy! With my sweet tooth, I still like food that tastes sweet.

    Surprised that they still have Cool Whip. I have not seen Cool Whip in 40 years. Jello seems to be something that you eat if you are in the hospital because it is smooth and goes down easily?

    Which food did I never want to see again? Cannot recall, though I'm sure there are food from my childhood that were weird to me and still are weird. With the shift to plant based diet, I like everything that I eat these days.

    There are once a year dishes that I love to eat and that happens at Thanksgiving. A relative makes wonderful gravy for the turkey and that is the ONLY time I like gravy.

    Diana

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    1. That is so funny--I love gravy, too--but ONLY at Thanksgiving!

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    2. Gravy has flour, not gluten free.

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  22. I despise turkey, and the only time I ever made green bean casserole was as sort of a joke. I was going to a holiday potluck dinner with a bunch of terribly chic, perpetually dieting Dallas ladies. I expected my offering to sit forlorn but spark a discussion rather like this. The joke was on me, though. Those skinny girls cleaned out the GBC before I even made it through the serving line! I understand you can now buy it, pre-made, in the frozen food section, because dumping canned soup on canned beans requires too many cooking skills.

    My grandmother was a great cook, however, and her crowning holiday achievement was from-scratch jelled cranberry sauce. Like the can, but not from the can. It was delicious, but none of us in the younger generations ever learned her secret. She tried to teach us, saying things like, "boil them until they just start to pop," and "stir them until it looks like they're going to set." All I can tell you is that un-jelled cranberry sauce--the kind you can spoon over your turkey instead of gravy--tastes great, too.

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    1. Gigi, your comment about too many cooking skills made me spit my coffee all over! LOL

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    2. Yes, that's how I make it, too...it's SO delicioius!

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  23. None of those traditional dishes appeals to me or sparks a Thanksgiving memory, but I was gobsmacked at the mental image of a deep fried turkey! We always include a salad with greens, some fruit -oranges, dried cranberries, apples or persimmons - and nuts, with a light vinaigrette dressing as a balance for all that heavy food.

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    1. We had all those beautiful fruits (persimmons!) but as a piled up center piece. I don't remember eating any of it.

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    2. We deep fried a turkey one year. It was an...adventure. It was delicious. But it was also, a) dangerous--five gallons of boiling, splashing oil! And b) you have to deal with the aftermath. What to do with five gallons of used peanut oil?

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  24. We still do a jellied salad for Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other excuse that my beloved can find. There is a fixed recipe of two flavours of Jello, four cans of fruit and a good amount of orange (not any other flavour!) sherbet. So try finding orange sherbet in December (*sigh*). Why on earth my best beloved and our daughter insist on having this way-too-sweet concoction at every major holiday is beyond me. Unless the clue is in the “sweet”.

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    1. If it's a tradition, it's a tradition, Sandra, and there's no way around it without inspiring rioting.

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  25. Postscript: We ended up making a ham in addition to the turkey as we had some last minute but very welcome additions to dinner :)

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  26. I always thought Thanksgiving was a holiday celebrated only in the US in remembrance of the Pilgrams and Native Americans getting together. However, I just Googled it and found out that "Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in October and November in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Liberia, and unofficially in countries like Brazil, Germany and the Philippines. It is also observed in the Dutch town of Leiden and the Australian territory of Norfolk Island."
    I love Thanksgiving because it involves food and getting together with family and friends, so simple.

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    1. Me, too, it's an uncomplicated holiday. Just family and gratitude. What's not to like? Unless someone starts talking politics...

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    2. Does anyone have a good Sweet Potato Pie recipe? I gather the sweet potatoes have to be made from scratch - I haven't seen canned sweet potatoes.

      Second, what is the taste difference between deep fried turkey and oven baked turkey?

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    3. Anon, I've had deep fried turkey on two occasions, when I was a guest at someone else's house. It really is delicious - the outside is beautifully crispy and the meat stays moist and flavorful. It is SUCH a pain in the neck, though - to do it safely, the deep fryer must be outside on a non flammable surface, like a patio or driveway. And someone needs to keep an eye on it. Not the most comfortable thing in New England, where our temperature at that time is an average 38 °F/ 3.7 °C.

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    4. Anon, times have changed. In the 1950s and 1960s I never saw anything but canned sweet potatoes! And ugh, they were awful! Had my first from the ground fresh sweet potato, baked like an Idaho, and hopelessly addicted. A little cinnamon, a little nutmeg, a glob of butter…heaven. Elisabeth

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  27. I loved my mother's cooking, and holiday meals were the best. I still dream about her dressing balls with gravy over them. I didn't really appreciate the asparagus casserole until I go older, but it's a favorite now. Her plain mashed potatoes were perfect. Green beans fixed in the pressure cooker with bacon grease were the best. Scalloped oysters and cranberry jelly from the can. Country ham that was cured by my father and baked by my mother with cloves dotted around the outside. Frozen fruit salad that did have marshmallows, but they were fine in it. Oh, corn pudding, always. Transparent puddings, little pies in small tins. And my mother's wonderful jam cake.

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    1. I'm salivating, Kathy! This sounds like a very southern-influenced holiday meal, and I am here for that.

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    2. Julia, it was the best cooking I'll ever have. I forgot to mention that we also had a turkey and deviled eggs and rolls.

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  28. So funny about soup! I do love Jell-o. My mom used to make an orange Jell-o with carrot salad that was a particular favorite. When I'm feeling under the weather, Jell-o and whipped cream (not cool whip) are among my craved foods.

    When I moved from home and began my own family traditions, the first items that hit the trash were any recipes that included soup. I can make cream sauces, thank you very much. When my mom died and my dad moved in, Thanksgiving was the first invite the masses holiday. Seriously, I used to cook for 20. He watched me prep and cook gobs of things and the day before he made one final check of my recipe cards and asked, "Where is the broccoli cheese casserole and the corn pudding?" I gently explained that I didn't cook with soup, but I'd happily make both recipes with real sauces. He assured me not to worry. When I got back from work on Thanksgiving eve, Dad had been shopping and made both recipes ready for the oven. It wasn't Thanksgiving to him without them. Needless to say, both recipes were in the holiday rotation from that day forward.

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    1. Hat's off to your Dad, Kait!

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    2. I like Jello too Although I never make it anymore. But if it’s on offer at a family do, I’m first in line.

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  29. You will all be happy to know that Redi-Whip makes a zero sugar whipped cream that is, wait for it, made with REAL CREAM and only real cream!!! No artificial sweeteners, either!

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  30. No quinoa again, not ever. Sticks in the back of my throat. I think maybe it is now an idea whose time is done, though? At least, I hope so.
    Also, remember aspic? Ugh.
    (Ellen K, anonymous when on my phone)

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  31. Growing up in Texas, my family had all the traditional gross dishes, and I hated every one of them. Marshmallows do not under any circumstances, ever, belong mixed with a vegetable, even one with "sweet" in the name. I always thought I hated sweet potatoes growing up. I discovered when I became an adult that I actually like sweet potatoes, just not with marshmallows and copious amounts of brown sugar and more butter than a human should ever ingest. And any sort of Jello concoction sends me running for cover. I can stomach the green bean casserole (even though I hate canned green beans, which is what my family usually made it with), but I've become allergic to mushrooms (sadly) so that knocks that off the list too. When it comes to food items, I'm all for throwing tradition out the window and making good food instead!

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  32. I make killer turkey gravy that everyone raves about. Growing up we always had giblet gravy but Julie would starve before eating offal.

    So what to do?

    The day before I cook the giblets, toss them in my food processor with the cooking broth, and that’s the base for my gravy. No one can figure out what makes it sensational! But now that you know my secret, I may have to kill you

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    1. Love this, Ann. My mother was equally sneaky when making turkey salad sandwiches. Everything went through the hand cranked grinder: white meat, dark meat, the part that went over the fence last, giblets, celery leaves and stalks. The highlight of post-holiday lunch boxes. Elisabeth

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    2. Ann, my mom always cooked the giblets (exactly as someone described above with the neck, celery, etc.) but I don’t recall any of us enjoying them in the stuffing. I like your idea!! — Pat S

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  33. A line stuck in my head, from Kauffman?play. “Red jello. It’s any flavor you want it to be…strawberry, raspberry, cherry.” Elisabeth

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  34. I went to baking the sweet potatoes instead of the marshmallow version a few years ago when my husband needed to watch his triglycerides and we haven't gone back. Didn't give up the pie though.

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  35. I am a fairly decent cook and tend to cook fairly healthy balanced meals. My husband is from a family of amazing cooks, but they tend to be old-fashioned farm cooks…lots of meat and starch. Potatoes are a vegetable types. We were invited to Thanksgiving several years ago at my husband’s uncle’s home. We were all sitting at the table groaning with food including one small bowl of canned green beans when Aunt Mary jumps up and says “I forgot the salads!”. I’m thinking to my self, thank goodness something green….when she walks in the door carrying three jello salads….red with a layer of cool whip and pretzels, green with green olives and celery, and orange with canned fruit cocktail. Ugh. I’m sure the look on my face was priceless… I think I was the only person to eat the green beans!

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  36. We do the traditional roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, sweet potato soufflé with the pecan streusel ( I have never eaten them with marshmallows), squash casserole, green bean casserole, homemade cranberry sauce & rolls. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake & apple pie this year.

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  37. Our family has a contest to see who can make the most bizarre jellied salad. Oh my gosh! Some of those creations! Only rule…..they may not contain fish or meat.

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