We just had Thanksgiving here in the States. I love Thanksgiving with all of my little heart. It celebrates two things that I feel strongly about- Thankfulness and Harvest. It is a particulary sweet holiday in New York. So many of us who live here are far, far away from our families. The most time anyone ever gets off from work for Thanksgiving is four days…..no where near long enough to travel home. This could be a very sad situation, but it isn’t at all. The city is full of orphans and chosen family banding together to cook and celebrate on Thanksgiving. We always have orphan’s Thanksgiving at our house because I live to cook…but if I ever didn’t want to host Thanksgiving there are at least three other standing Thanksgiving dinners in my community that we would be warmly welcomed to. I am thankful for my family near and far, blood and chosen.
I have a fairly set Thanksgiving menu for seventeen people, which is for reasons that are mysterious to me the number of people that usually show up regardless of how many were invited. This year was very small so I made less sides and pies….
- arugola salad with pears (sometimes apples when the pears don’t ripen in time), blue cheese, celery and cashews (or sometimes candied pecans), one year I added duck confit
- smokey pumpkin soup
- wild mushroom cobbler
- fresh cranberry chutney
- Turkey with gravy
- stuffing (changes every year. I liked Bethany’s cornbread stuffing this year…it had fennel and sausage in it)
- roasted root vegetables and/ or mashed potatoes
- Alex’s brussel sprouts and/ or green beans almondine
- cranberry raisin pie and/ or pear sambuca pie (again, if the pears ripen in time)
I start cooking the day before and I usually have one or two folks helping me. I usually ask guests to bring wine or booze or ice cream or one of the vegetable side dishes. I don’t really like making the turkey so if anyone else is willing to do it I am happy to hand it over. This year Bethany did the soup and the stuffing. If I am making everything myself, I do the following things one day ahead….
- Make giblet stock
- brine the turkey
- make the cranberry chutney
- bake cornbread for the stuffing
- Make the soup
- Make the mushroom filling for the cobbler
- make the pie crusts (if I am making pie crust that likes to spend time in the refrigerator before being rolled out)
On Thanksgiving I do the following, more or less in this order…
- assemble and bake the pies
- roast the turkey
- finish the stuffing
- make the vegetable sides
- assemble and bake the mushroom cobbler
- reheat the soup
- prep and plate the salad
- make the gravy
The recipes for smokey pumpkin soup and Alex’s Brussel sprouts can be found in past posts on this blog. I’ll post my recipes for entrees and pies seperately so they will be easier to find!
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I am sad that we have never attended an Erin’s Orphan Thanksgiving…alas, we were never far enough away from home and always expected to be there! This year we actually opted out of family Thanksgiving and stayed home, entertaining a friend and her daughter while my friend’s husband was working. This is what we ate:
*Turkey (not even brined)
*We forgot to start the giblet stock in advance, so we had basic roux-and-stock gravy that was rather bland. We still crowned our friend Julie Queen of Thanksgiving, since she made the gravy – we were all stressed out that we’d forgotten to do it the “right” way!
*Mashed butternut squash with butter & maple syrup
*Cranberry relish (just cranberries, one orange and a lot of sugar blended in the food processor the day before – SO YUMMY!)
*Cornbread stuffing (the recipe I learned from Erin – with dried cherries and sage. I used dried ’cause I forgot to buy fresh)
*Cornbread Pudding – basically corn spoon bread. This is what Julie brought and was the highlight of the meal, especially for the kids. The best part: it’s made with canned creamed corn and Jiffy mix!
*Pumpkin Pie (from the New England cookbook)
*Apple Pie (My mom’s recipe. Actually, she made the apple pie for me while I took a nap. We baked pies together the day before Thanksgiving. It was great.)
The point of this meal was to be easy and low-stress. The only stressful moment was when we realized we hadn’t started the giblet stock.
We cooked a 16 lb Turkey (’cause we had one in our freezer) for 3 adults and 3 children, only one of whom eats meat. Lotsa leftovers!
I made smokey pumpkin soup on the weekend when Alex’s parents came for dinner. We also had turkey sandwiches, of course. I had baked the pumpkin in advance but then I looked at the original recipe (in the Northwest coast cookbook that Erin gave me) and saw that you could just as easily use canned pumpkin in the soup. I have never tried this, but I want to! Although this is one of the easiest soups EVER, it would be even easier without baking and scooping out a pumpkin. I am all about simplicity these days, what with the three children and all that!
Oh! I had forgotten about the cornbread stuffing with sage and dried cherries! That WAS a good stuffing! Maybe I’ll make that next time now that you have reminded me about it. I love that pumpkin pie recipe from the New England cookbook. I don’t even like pumpkin pie normally, but that one is special. Thanks for sharing your menu Katherine. You are right about the canned pumpkin. I think it would work just fine.