Thanksgiving

turkeycransandwichMe: I should post the turkey sandwich with the cranberry sauce. Everyone will have leftover cranberry sauce to use up.

Me: Nope. Too much like Thanksgiving. I'll go with the Southwest sandwich.

Me: But cranberry sauce won't be around much longer; habanero Gouda cheese is around all year.

Me: No, no. Too much like Thanksgiving.

Me: I'm just gonna post both; that way, people can decide for themselves.

Jeff: Who are you talking to?

This Turkey, Cranberry, and Gruyere Sandwich with Sage Mustard is all about opposites attracting: toasty, fragrant rye bread and moist, savory turkey; tart cranberry sauce and mild Gruyere cheese; earthy sage and tangy mustard. Somehow, they all come together in perfect harmony.

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pumpkinbread.jpgIn a recent headline in the "Dining" section of the New York Times, the following question was posed: at Thanksgiving is it all about the turkey or the side dishes?

For me, hands down it has always been about the sides.   Never a fan of the tryptophan laden bird, I spend most of fall dreaming of the day in which gorging on cornbread dressing, broccoli casserole (made with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup), and sweet potato casserole loaded with pecans and brown sugar is encouraged.   But the side dish I love the very most, the one that is made only at this special time of year, is pumpkin bread.

Whether served hot out of the oven with butter while the top is nice and crunchy; or the next day cold with a dollop of cream cheese...homemade pumpkin bread rocks! 

Especially the recipe for this tasty treat that has been knocking around my family for years now.  It's, by far, the absolute hands down best there is.   But enough of the hyperbole, here's the recipe for you to try, guaranteed to make this Thanksgiving a memorable one.

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turkey-hash-630x407-1Forget about Thanksgiving dinner. I can’t wait until the day after Thanksgiving for leftovers. When else during the year can you look forward to turkey soup, turkey chopped liver, smoked turkey sandwiches, and above all turkey hash in a single day? All this month, on www.barbecuebible.com, we’ve been telling you how to cook turkey on the grill. Make sure you manage to squirrel away a pound or so of the cooked turkey meat for hash.

Our word hash comes from the French verb hacher, "to chop." (Yeah, it’s the same etymological root as that chopping device favored by George Washington, the hatchet.) Hash originated as a way to use up leftovers, but it now turns up not just at hash houses (a nickname for diners) but at high-falutin’ restaurants from coast to coast.

The most common version of hash contains corned beef and potatoes, but you can make hash with an almost endless variety of ingredients. Rural New Englanders combined corned beef, potatoes, and beets to make red flannel hash. In seafaring communities it was common to find salt cod and fish hash. Hachis parmentier, garlicky chopped lamb and potatoes, is classic comfort food in France.

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THANKSGIVING BEAUTY 1You certainly don’t need me to tell you that the Big Food Holiday is next week. Everywhere you turn you see tips, tricks and ideas for Thanksgiving so you’ll understand me when I say that I’m going to join the chorus!

What are your plans? I’m giddy just thinking about our week: my parents fly in Monday, my sister joins us Tuesday, and we’ll all be celebrating a giant Thanksgiving meal here at our home. Adam will do the bird, I’ll be in charge of music, decor and the hosting duties, while we’ll be joined with our friends, neighbors and extended family.

We will toast a guest’s birthday, share what we’re thankful for, and wish my parents a 50th wedding anniversary all at the same time! While the exact anniversary isn’t until the end of December, I’d be a fool to not take the time to wish my loving folks the best of celebrations a bit early. When you make it to 50 Years you almost deserve to have those around you toast you many times over!

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thanksgiving tableDon't feel sorry for us. We prefer it this way. My husband and I are both transplants. He's from Chicago. I'm from Massachusetts. Not Boston. Yes, there is a state beyond the Beantown borders. We have both lived in Los Angeles for over 20-years, longer than either of us lived in our home states. We think that makes us honorary Californians, but am not sure these days that's something to brag about. At least we still have the best weather, great wine and the option to go from surfing to skiing in the same day. Well, not for us in particular, but it's still a cool thing to be able to say.

Neither of us has blood relatives here. We are what we like to call "child-free." However, we do have family. Friends who mean just as much because we've shared each other's lives for the past 20 years. Kids we've watched grow up who call us Aunt and Uncle, which is a role we can handle. Some years they take us in, allowing us to bask in the glow of the holidays without all the strum and drang that would accompany actually spending time with our own parents and siblings. Even when there's drama, since it has nothing to do with us, it's more amusing than annoying and certainly never affects our ability to put away more than our caloric share of the meal.

We are in demand because we bring good wine, eat everything - if you're not cooking you can't complain about other people's holiday traditions - and don't expect to be entertained. We are boring, which is just what those who are dealing with family want at the holiday table. We are the Thanksgiving equivalent of the bomb-squad, the guests whose mere presence diffuses the tension for another day. It's much harder to fight in front of guests. God forbid there's a scene at the table. How embarrassing would that be?

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