Thanksgiving

jello_biography.jpgHere's the deal about Thanksgiving dinner at our house: it's the same every year, except for one thing.   Every year one thing changes.  

Sometimes we try something new and it stays forever, like the apricot jello mold that's been a guilty pleasure of our Thanksgiving dinner for at least fourteen years.  

Sometimes it's something that makes the cut for several years - like sweet potatoes with pecan praline - and then, for no real reason, falls off the menu never to be spoken of again.

And sometimes it's a mistake, like the pearl onions in balsamic vinegar, which turned out to be a dish that was far too full of itself. 

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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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basic-stuffing.jpglaraine_newman_cameo.jpgIn my book, Stuffing has held its place in my penalty box along with green bell peppers; cilantro, cumin and lime flavored Life Savers. For me, it’s the Buzz Kill of Thanksgiving.

I have never met a Stuffing I’ve liked, but not for obvious reasons.  I find the premise of a food item that’s made from torn up bread to be, somehow, cheating, not to mention being a food group that’s utterly unappetizing to me.  Justin Wilson, The Cajun Cook from a while back once made something that even he copped to being the height of poverty cuisine; faux potato salad! It was made with old torn up bread.  Nothing wrong with poverty cuisine by the way.  Southern fried and most Jewish food is exactly that. But substituting potatoes with bread is just sad.
 
Wikipedia outlines the history of stuffing dating back to Roman times where you could get anything from a chicken to a dormouse stuffed with vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, spelt (which is described as ‘old cereal’ by Wikipedia) and a variety of organ meat still considered palatable today. 

Nothing wrong with that, I say. But, as it had evolved and morphed, it has picked up and been dominated by bread.  Gross. Especially when you consider the quality of bread in our country.

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fatigueHas anyone noticed that there's no debate this year? To stuff or not to stuff... To brine or not to brine... Yes, you can fast-cook a turkey at high-heat but should you? I think we all have debate fatigue; election fatigue; Washington gridlock fatigue -- and it's all somehow spilled over into Thanksgiving. We're going to the mountains so even the debate about whether we should have a second "fried" turkey (since we're sort of in the middle of the forest), is off the table as we'd probably burn the hills down. Steven Raichlen (the Beer-Can Chicken guy) does have a great BBQ'd turkey recipe, I've been told, but for the above reason we won't be trying that this year either...

Not to start a debate, but Thanksgiving is either the coziest or the most dysfunctional holiday on the planet -- and this year, we're all hoping that the ceasefire holds.

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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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