For various reasons, I’m spending Thanksgiving weekend alone this year. I had offers, primarily to go to my parents’ and eat dinner with extended family. But my sister’s off with her boyfriend’s family, and we decided to do our turkey dinner at Christmas this year, so I made the choice to take the long weekend off. After everything that’s been going on the past few months, I think I’ve earned a break.
I did find myself with turkey dinner envy, though, so it looks like I’ll be cooking one anyway (and might even have a guest come over to help me eat it). Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite meal of the year. After years of experimentation, we’ve finally figured out how to roast a perfect turkey every time, and we have our list of traditional side dishes, both required and optional. Here’s how things usually go around Thankgiving at Casa de Shae…
Appetizers: Varies from year to year. Favorites: smoked egg dip with fresh veggies, cheese and crackers, cream cheese and olive dip, and sparkling grape juice. Just depends on how much trouble we want to go to, and whether or not we have an actual breakfast.
Turkey: Stuffed with wedges of citrus and onion, skin brushed with olive oil, and with chicken broth and ginger ale in the pan. The ginger ale adds a touch of sweetness, and the extra liquid keeps the meat moist.
Other meats: Mom usually insists on having ham. What usually happens is we have ham for dinner the night before and serve the leftovers with the turkey dinner.
Dressing/stuffing: We make both, though neither goes into the bird. Dressing is the Southern cornbread style, made from scratch by a recipe developed by my grandmother. It’s served with giblet gravy. The stuffing is Stove Top out of the box, preferred by my dad, who’s a damn Yankee (born in New Jersey).
Potatoes: Sweet, not white. We usually roast ours (in a pan with a little water in the bottom to keep them soft), but sometimes we’ll have sweet potato casserole, which is my sister’s favorite.
Other sides: These vary from year to year. My favorites are fresh green beans, collard greens, and creamed corn (homemade, not that stuff in a can). Mom likes those too, but she always wants to have an olive tray (black and green olives and sweet and dill pickles) and fruit salad, too. Dad likes creamed onions and creamed lima beans, and my sister’s a fan of green bean casserole.
Cranberry sauce: Jellied straight out of the can for us!
Breads: Crescent rolls, usually. My grandmother could have eaten her weight in those. Real butter, naturally.
Beverages: Iced tea and apple cider.
Desserts: Pumpkin and apple pies. Sometimes pecan too, because Mom likes it. Lots and lots of Cool Whip.
Post-dinner entertainment: Naps, usually. We aren’t football watchers. We do usually record the National Dog Show and watch that later, though!
Image courtesy of nongpimmy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net