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Thanksgiving Menu Plans?  RSS feed

 
D. Logan
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With Thanksgiving looming near, I thought it might be interesting to see what people are planning on their menu this year. I know a lot of people do the same thing every year with foods handed down for generations, so those are always interesting. For myself, I have tried various things over the years, trying to find what my family likes best.

In years past, some of the big success items (aside from those on this list) included crockpot turkey, dry-aged turkey, Goose (marginal success technically), orange and cranberry salad, and challah stuffing to name a few. There have been some failures as well, though often it isn't that they tasted bad. Instead they just weren't up to par with other options.

So I suppose I should get this started with what I am making this year. One thing of note is that I am a huge advocate of from-scratch cooking even in my day to day life. As such, this holiday menu does reflect that little quirk of avoiding anything that is more processed than being pre-ground where I can. Some things are unavoidable.

  • For the main, I am trying to do a brined turkey for the first time. Mostly I am doing this because the size of the bird this year is larger than I would normally have and I want to make sure it isn't too dry. I have a pretty good brining recipe and figured it is well worth finally trying this way. Once I do, I think the only things left are Deep frying and Turduckhens!


  • Gravy is a question mark this year. Most years, I make it from the drippings, but with brining, I am concerned that the drippings will be too salty. I'm going to have to play this one by ear.


  • Homemade buttered egg noodles! I decided to change up starches this year. Most years it is stuffing and/or potatoes. I remember a few family Thanksgivings where buttered noodles were a tradition and they were a constant for the holidays for my wife. I have made them before, cooking store bought noodles in chicken stock and then buttering afterwards. I hate to waste the stock though most years and use at least some of it with the gravy. This year, I am going to use the noodle maker and crank out some homemade egg noodles. I expect it will change up the dish quite a bit.


  • Maple vanilla sweet potatoes have become a must in my family. My wife never cared for the standard candied sweet potatoes topped in marshmallows. I tinkered around and came up with this recipe that uses maple, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla all to create a really nice flavor without being sickeningly sweet. Every year she insists it be included.


  • Almost everyone I know, myself included, grew up with can-berry sauce. It was labeled cranberry sauce, but it looked like thickened jelly, tasted like bitter slime and half the people I knew would serve it in slices instead of as a sauce! When I got out on my own, I wanted nothing to do with it. It wasn't until years later that I decided I wanted to return to some of the traditions I grew up with. Instead of store bought, I began doing various cranberry sauces. Among those is this one. It is pretty good and should cut some of the salinity if brining turns out to be too strong. It will be an orange cranberry sauce. Pairing these two is always a success in my experience.


  • Pumpkin soup is a maybe this year. I have a large heirloom pumpkin and only half of it (at most) is needed for the pie. I considered saving it to grill later, but on a lark I have decided to give pumpkin soup a go. I have people in the house who've never had it, so it should be interesting.


  • Old Fashioned Heirloom Pie! I have used hubbards, pumkins, pink banana squash (my personal favorite so far) and triamble squash for this and every time it is delicious. It involves one ingredient that really makes it a stand-out among similar pies that is almost never used in sweets anymore. I think what I like best though is that each squash or pumpkin is able to express itself through the pie. They are all similar, but unique. Most other pie recipes I have tried seem to mask the pumpkin/squash so that using an heirloom vs a sugar pumpkin doesn't mean much. It is a permanent item on my holiday feasting.


  • Spiced Cider rounds things off. I've only started doing this in recent years. The death of my grandmother meant the end of several traditions from my childhood. One of those was her Thanksgiving dinner. I always remember the first thing you smelled when you came in the house was a few quarts of spiced cider simmering. Drinking it was kind of like drinking apple pie in liquid form. Delicious stuff. I've begun to take on that tradition myself, though in smaller batches.


  • I'm probably going to do a posting on my blog at some point about that pie, for anyone interested. Anyway, what about yourselves? What is everyone planning? Are there any stories tied to why you are making those things? I'd love to learn more.
     
    Ann Torrence
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    This year I want to do as much food from our yard and local growers as possible. It's not as good as it could be because our garden was pretty much a fail, but a lot of it is ours or friends'.

    roast chicken (can't think of a better way to express gratitude than our first home-harvested birds)
    cornbread dressing with apples, mushrooms, poblanos and goat cheese (grinding our corn from last year, I think I still have some of a neighbor's goat cheese)
    mashed potatoes (had to do the walk of shame on potatoes) and gravy (made the stock when we butchered)
    green salad (from the hoop house)
    roast turnips (from the hoop house)
    blackberry applesauce (made with apple cores and leftover pulp from making blackberry pancake syrup)
    winter squash pecan pie (might use a pumpkin a neighbor gave me)
    hard cider (we'll start with a bottle made by a home brewer friend)

    I was thinking earlier today that a great garden goal would be to serve as much homegrown food on Thanksgiving as possible. My big misses are Brussels sprouts, potatoes and winter squash. Raising our own mushrooms would really up the bar. And of course cider from our apples. But what we can do this year for ourselves is plenty to be grateful for!
     
    Penny Dumelie
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    Our Thanksgiving was last month but we always have roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, cabbage rolls, stuffing, peas and carrots, waldorf salad, pistachio salad, cranberry sauce, gravy and rolls.
    Desserts change from year to year but 7-layer squares and butter tarts are favorites.


    If you go with the gravy and it's salty, let a potato simmer in the gravy for a bit and it will soak up some of the salt. If it's still salty after that, add a touch of sugar.
     
    D. Logan
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    Penny Dumelie wrote:If you go with the gravy and it's salty, let a potato simmer in the gravy for a bit and it will soak up some of the salt. If it's still salty after that, add a touch of sugar.


    Oooh! Thanks for the tip!
     
    Cj Sloane
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    D. Logan wrote:
  • For the main, I am trying to do a brined turkey for the first time. Mostly I am doing this because the size of the bird this year is larger than I would normally have and I want to make sure it isn't too dry. I have a pretty good brining recipe and figured it is well worth finally trying this way. Once I do, I think the only things left are Deep frying and Turduckhens!


  • Gravy is a question mark this year. Most years, I make it from the drippings, but with brining, I am concerned that the drippings will be too salty. I'm going to have to play this one by ear.


  • We brine our turkey every year! My only advice that isn't always in the recipe is that the amount of salt is dependent on the length of time you brine. Shorter brine time= more salt, of course.

    I've been doing this for at least 10 years and have never had trouble with overly salty gravy. To remove extra salt from anything, just add a potato and cook for a bit.
     
    Cj Sloane
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    I see Penny beat me to the potato tip!

    The I've been raising Royal Palm turkeys for several years and now my recipe is honed to that particular breed (its smaller than most - females can be 8lbs dressed).

    My only caution is that people get MAD when some dish they're expecting isn't served! If I want to try stuffing with apples and sausage, I better make the "normal" kind too. With 3 people that's out of the question this year!
     
    D. Logan
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    Cj Verde wrote:I see Penny beat me to the potato tip!

    The I've been raising Royal Palm turkeys for several years and now my recipe is honed to that particular breed (its smaller than most - females can be 8lbs dressed).

    My only caution is that people get MAD when some dish they're expecting isn't served! If I want to try stuffing with apples and sausage, I better make the "normal" kind too. With 3 people that's out of the question this year!


    Yeah, I already had one person eating with us complain that I didn't include green bean casserole on the menu. Until now, I'd never known anyone who ate the stuff to be honest. It showed up on almost every holiday and whoever brought it would always take a scoop out, but that was it. If I had the funds to spare, I would go out and pick up the ingredients to do it (I actually do have a from-scratch version of the recipe), but between my son's birthday and the holiday food, I am out of funds to spare for it unless I dip out of the diaper fund (never wise). I more or less had to say sorry and leave it at that.

    I did decide to add fresh yeast rolls to the lineup this year. After looking at what dishes will be used vs free, oven space, timing and ingredients already in the house, it should work out nicely and those things are absolutely delicious!
     
    Cj Sloane
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    D. Logan wrote:
    Yeah, I already had one person eating with us complain that I didn't include green bean casserole on the menu. Until now, I'd never known anyone who ate the stuff to be honest.
    ... I more or less had to say sorry and leave it at that.


    Not something I ever had growing up. If it were me though, I'd say, "it's not on the menu but feel free to bring one."
     
    Judith Browning
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    We're having our regular mostly homegrown meal with family...our son works at an organically raised chicken, turkey, pig, etc farm and always has something, this year it is ham...........I'm making an organic brown basmati rice dressing (not stuffing) with our fresh herbs, shiitakes and pecans and bits of dried persimmon; and we'll have plain roasted sweet potatoes with butter, pumpkin pies. Muscadine jam has replaced cranberries...I don't ever make it very sweet so it is a nice along with the ham.
    Some family meal though, I always wanted to do all of those dishes from growing up...the green bean casserole you mention above, scalloped corn, jello with pineapple and grated carrot.....but upgrade them with really fresh organic ingredients and cooking methods.
     
    Ann Torrence
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    Judith Browning wrote:I'm making an organic brown basmati rice dressing (not stuffing) with our fresh herbs, shiitakes and pecans and bits of dried persimmon; and we'll have plain roasted sweet potatoes with butter, pumpkin pies.

    Recipe, please!?! sounds yummy
     
    Judith Browning
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    Ann Torrence wrote:
    Judith Browning wrote:I'm making an organic brown basmati rice dressing (not stuffing) with our fresh herbs, shiitakes and pecans and bits of dried persimmon; and we'll have plain roasted sweet potatoes with butter, pumpkin pies.

    Recipe, please!?! sounds yummy


    Well, I am cooking some chicken broth tomorrow all day on the wood stove straining it off and then wednesday cooking the rice in it, then thursday morning sauteing onions and some garlic, breaking up some dried shiitakes, cutting some sage, rosemary and oregano and getting my husband to chop finely (I am impatient) mixing all together and then remembering what I forgot to put in like the chopped bits of chicken and salt pepper tumeric a little bit of cayenne (we put in everything) maybe some green onion and garlic chive. It'll will go in one of our pottery casseroles and travel to our sons house and go in the oven with with little butter on top for however long they can spare the oven from the rest of the cooking. It really just needs heating through and a chance for the flavors to blend. I think some might call this something else, but extra 'herby' especially sage, makes it dressing to me.

    ...and pecans fresh shelled and soaked for a few hours in water and drained, chopped a little.......our other son's input.
     
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