Thanksgiving

cranberries.jpgPudgy, glossy and scarlet red. There they were, bright and fresh, in plastic bags piled one on top of the other in the produce department of the grocery store, reminding me the holiday season is quickly approaching.

Images of Thanksgivings of the past appeared in my mind. I pictured our family gathered around the dinner table, nearly finished with a big turkey meal, when suddenly my mom yelled out, “The cranberries!” The roll of jellied cranberries pushed from a can (I know, I can hardly believe it, either) into a long, narrow crystal bowl had been forgotten in the refrigerator.

Those who don’t care for cranberry sauce may be familiar with only the canned varieties. Nothing beats the flavor of firm, fresh, deep red cranberries that have been cooked with water and sugar until they pop, pop, pop.

These little red jewels are so lovable. They are easy to store, they’re versatile and they’re so good for you. Refrigerated in their original packaging, they can last as long as two months. Put the original bag inside of a freezer bag, and you can store them frozen for about nine months. This is good news for all cranberry lovers, since the season is short.

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From the LA Times

Roasted TurkeyWe've been writing about dry-brining turkeys for four Thanksgivings now and the response from readers has been overwhelming. Most say it's the best turkey they've ever made. But there are always some lingering questions. Here are answers to some of those most frequently asked. If you've got one that's not covered here, drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll add it to this list:

How did the turkey get its name? The "Judy Bird" is named for famed chef Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café in San Francisco. It was inspired by her method for preparing roast chicken, which is legendary among food lovers.

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turkeytacosYou probably snuck down into the kitchen at midnight after Thanksgiving dinner and made yourself a sandwich – come one, you know you did. White bread, mayo, cranberries, turkey, lettuce, toasted or untoasted, you couldn’t help yourself. And the next day the stuffing was awfully tasty, too.

But now it’s day three and there’s still a lot of meat on the turkey carcass – not because it wasn’t good – but because you couldn’t resist making five sides and someone insisted on mashed potatoes as well as sweet and Brussels sprouts, even though you’d already planned (and were not willing to give up) your mother’s green beans with toasted almonds, not to mention three pies and that chocolate cake that someone slipped onto the dessert display (or rather slipped into the oven) and then onto the cake plate because it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a cake, too!!

So, what do you do with the leftover turkey meat. I know the answer, partly because I live in L.A. and it’s the answer to everything leftover (practically.) But also because it’s a complete change of pace and won’t feel like leftovers.

Make turkey tacos and a couple of simple Mexican sides!!

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mashedsweetpotato.jpgThanksgiving isn't complete without some sort of sweet potato dish. There's the traditional marshmallow-topped sweet potato side dish or the classic dessert of sweet potato pie. Sweet potatoes are almost magical when cooked or baked. Their bright orange flesh turns soft and almost creamy. Roasting them heightens their natural sweetness even more. Many holiday recipes further improve upon the sweetness by adding brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup. With the holiday only one week away, it's time to start planning. I'll be making a few new recipes to add to my repertoire.

Sweet and savory flavors are the basis of many classic Thanksgiving recipes. This side dish strays from the typical in favor of something a bit more gourmet and savory. Roasted sweet potatoes are mashed with butter, cream, and maple syrup and then spread in a gratin dish. The mashed sweet potatoes are then topped with fluffy panko breadcrumbs, fresh sage, and chopped walnuts. It's then drizzled with melted butter and broiled, turning the top golden and crunchy. It's a side dish that's sure to please both sweet potato traditionalists and those looking for a new take on a holiday favorite.

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