Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Thanksgiving Menu

This has been our weather this week:

I'm posting this especially for those in sunny South Carolina or for those enjoying SUMMER down under in Australia. This is the kind of winter we are in for.

And there is nothing like some snow followed by melting boots, drippy coats and soggy gloves lying in front of the doorway to get a person into the holiday mood.

Tomorrow in America it is Thanksgiving which means that today is Food Preparation Day.

We are having a smaller crowd then usual which is okay with me but the kids have been complaining. A groaning board of fantastic food is not enough for them. They want relatives and cousins filling the furniture.

Here is our menu for the day:

The Ubiquitous Thanksgiving Menu

This year since we did not raise our own and since the crowd is small enough to afford it, I bought an organic turkey. Organic is my preference over a factory-farm-raised bird. I figure that when we had raised our own turkeys, (turkeys are eating machines) we easily poured $3 a pound worth of feed into them. I didn't see any organic store turkeys that were as big as what we raised though. One of them topped the scale that year at 40 pounds. That dinosaur did not fit into the oven.


After years of experimentation I now have developed a recipe I use every year. It always has the traditional bread and corn bread (which I make ahead), apples because we live in an apple valley and wild rice. I was born in Minnesota and my dad and other relatives harvested wild rice in canoes so adding it to our stuffing is a nod to our family heritage. I always stuff the bird then put the rest in a side dish to bake. The stuffing out of the bird is moister and more flavorful then the dressing in the side dish so just before it goes onto the table I mix the two together.

Mashed Taters and Gravy

Of course. I make my mashed potatoes with heavy cream. Sometimes I add parsley or chives. I make my gravy with the cooked potato water because that is the way my mother taught me.

Cranberry Salad

Back in the early days I got a recipe from my mother for a molded cranberry salad. It has been a staple on the menu ever since. I have tried to replace it with other cranberry salads which resulted in table banging rebellion. So we always have this salad which is made with raspberry jello, canned cranberry sauce, chopped apple, chopped orange, cinnamon and cloves. It is made in a ring jello mold because, like I said, we are from Minnesota!

Squash and/or Sweet Potatoes

Because somewhere there is a law written that there must be orange vegetables on every Thanksgiving table. This year it will be only our garden's buttercup squash. Because I don't need so many leftovers cramming the refrigerator.

Dinner Rolls

Homemade. Cracked Wheat Rolls. This is an old magazine recipe from my first Thanksgiving dinner. I am making these today because I have never found a better recipe. If you haven't tried these you are missing the best homemade dinner rolls ever.

The New Menu Addtions:

Sirloin Tip Elk Roast

Our son Neal got his first elk this year. It was a beauty. We will be having this wild game (and gravy?) along with our organic turkey. I don't know if they had any elk around Plymouth Colony in the seventeenth century but somehow it seems appropriate for a Thanksgiving feast.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

We never, ever ate brussel sprouts growing up. I never fed them to my children. Brussel sprouts have a very bad reputation and the first time I ate them (as an adult) they lived up to it. The sulfurous, cruciferous flavor made me go Hoi. Then I had them again a few years ago, prepared by a catering friend at a gourmet dinner event. They were sauteed with bacon and drizzled with lemon juice. The brussel sprouts were delicious and I have been a convert ever since. I will be roasting fresh brussel sprouts with bacon and apple and they will be drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction. If anyone complains or turns up their nose, I will gladly eat them all myself.


Has always and ever been pie. Pie, pie, pie. I have made hundreds of pies this year and I'm tired of pie.  I expect another rebellion from those not tired of pie. We'll be having Bobby Flay's Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Carmel Apple Sauce and Vanilla Creme Anglaise. Who can complain about that? Again, I will be glad to eat it all by myself. We are also having a pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger cookie crust.

And okay, fine. A pie. Maybe a chocolate pecan pie.

So that's the menu and for any of my family reading this, there will now be no surprises.

We will have one unusual guest.

Last fall when Mr. Dirtywrench was hunting up in the mountains he came upon a mountain man living back in the forest with his dog. Mr. D. has since seen him a few times hiking on the road to town to get supplies and he's done some investigating about him. Last week Mr. D. located him and invited him to our Thanksgiving dinner. The mountain man accepted the invitation.

And just so you don't think that our Thanksgiving is only about food, we start our day by attending a worship service at our church to properly give thanks for our abundant blessings.

I hope that you and yours have a wonderful day together and that your blessings are always more than you can count!

What are you going to be eating on this iconic American holiday?


  1. Happy Thanksgiving! From sunny SC (67 degrees and gorgeous today) I have to say the snow is beautiful, but I'll take what we have. My dad is making our Thanksgiving dinner this year. Turkey, brisket, dressing (cornbread with giblet gravy), mashed pototoes, macaroni and cheese, corn, broccoli casserole, collards, wheat rolls, sweet potato pie and whatever other dessert I decide to take. I'm probably leaving something out believe it or not. There is always so much food I can only eat a forkful each dish before I'm miserable.

    I want to make Bobby's Pumpkin Bread Pudding. It looked delicious. Let me know how yours turns out.

  2. Wow! What a spread! Mac and cheese? Is that your own family thing or a Southern thing? I've never had collards or sweet potato pie. I'm such a Yankee!

    I enjoy having snow for the holidays. It would be so weird to have it warm on Thanksgiving. But Australians would think it odd not to go to the beach on Christmas. It's all what we know, isn't it?

  3. I figured from the picture that you were having roadkill!
    All looks good, I'll be there at 2. *jk*
    My husband likes to make a broccoli/onion casserole that is very good. The weirdest thing will be that I guess. Everything else on the menu is pretty expected.

  4. Now, the ironic thing is, that when I was a youngster living in Hood River, I *longed* for a snow like that, and we seldom saw one.

    Believe you me, I no longer long for a snow like that, nor snow of any kind whatsoever.

  5. You don't have to long for it, do you! It even snowed in **Seattle**! I wonder if they have any snowplows up there?

    @McVal- Broccoli onion casserole sounds yummy. You better get here at 1:30 or dinner will be gone. Bring the broccoli with you.

  6. Sounds good. I'll bring a bottle of La Baronne Montagne d' Alaric Carignan/Grenache, a Protocolo Castillan red, my camera, and my appetite. See you there.

  7. Bring your rubber dish-washing gloves too. I wouldn't want you to get dishpan hands.

  8. No collards (you have to add fatback to make them good) or sweet potato pie? You ARE a Yankee! ;) Yet you called them Mashed Taters. I thought that was a Southern thang. Macaroni and cheese is definitely a Southern dish.

    I like the instructions to bring the gloves. It's only fair the cook doesn't have to clean, especially when you have all those kids to help!


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