Today is the embarrassing day after the collective food binge that is Thanksgiving in the U.S. when I promise to eat light and then end up eating another plate of left-overs. Despite my mixed feelings about the origins of the delicious tradition (like croissants), I am thankful for the day of friends and family time dedicated to eating together. In a previous post I had wondered how others manage and prepare for such a traditionally standard meal. Stay consistent and true to family recipes or innovate, change?
My approach is usually a mix of tried and true recipes (that my girls like) and a few experiments (also because my girls enjoy trying new things). This year we also included frozen summer produce from Jim’s parents garden and I was so happy that they could be here to enjoy those dishes with us.
Here is how the balance of family tradition and family discovery worked at our table:
Appetizers at noon
Oysters (raw and rockefeller)
A nod to Jim’s maternal grandfather, Ray, this is now a tradition in our house that we all look forward to.
Baked Brie in Puff Pastry
Initially we wanted to have cranberry relish baked in it BUT I didn’t have enough. Instead we used our usual raspberry jam. Such decadence only makes sense when shared.
Pate and Figs on Crackers
This was Amani’s craving contribution that all of us tried and some liked more than others.
Linner (Lunch/Dinner at 3:00 pm)
Ignoring all the noise surrounding how to cook the bird, we just salted a fresh bird over night (with herbs and olive oil). This was the first time we had a fresh bird. Loved it. This will be a new tradition.
Braised turkey neck, liver and heart with celery, onion and carrots. Rachel cut all the meat into little pieces to be included in the gravy. Yum.
A doctored-up Pepperidge Farm stuffing. Nothing special just classically familiar flavors.
Creamed with buttermilk and two roasted jalapenos from Dennis and Rachel’s summer garden.
Cooked with shallots, mushrooms and cream. This was a dish I’ve made four times, a regular item that I’ve cooked better before. A “non-experiment” that didn’t work the best. It needs to soften a bit more before we have it for leftovers today. Otherwise, still good for future Thanksgiving meals.
Not usual on the Thanksgiving table but should be. Rachel brought her garden grown, home fried and frozen veggies with her. Very much appreciated.
Macaroni and Cheese
This was an experiment using a Saveur recipe. Ridiculous amounts of cream, half and half and cheese that only makes sense in a celebratory dish. The grated onion gives the dish more dimension than straight up mac-n-cheese. It even passed the Lucy, picky eater test! A successful experiment.
Baked Sweet Potato
This was a version of Patti, Jim’s sister’s recipe. I didn’t use the topping because the dessert had the same topping. Otherwise, I thought of Patti as I looked at her Senator Russel’s Sweet Potato Casserole recipe. We all missed having her and her family at the table this year. I drizzled Maple Syrup on top instead. Really good. Both Ava and Atiya got seconds.
Store bought yeast rolls, egg washed and sprinkled with rosemary and salt.
Fresh cranberry simmered with sugar and orange zest. Ava washed and prepared the cranberries, a job Atiya graduated from.
Pecan Pumpkin Pie
My father loves pecan pie and my mom loves pumpkin/sweet potato. This Southern Living recipe reminded me of them. They couldn’t be with us but were in my thoughts. This may become a part of the Thanksgiving dessert rotation. Combines best of both pies. Except maybe next time I would blind bake the crust a bit first.
Aware of so many struggling families in the U.S., I apologetically appreciate my abundant table heavy with tradition, experimentation, choices and guests in body and spirit. Delivering a meal to the local shelter on Monday doesn’t begin to show my gratitude.
Now for my plate of left-overs.
Wishing all of you appreciative good eating with loved ones always,