Happy Thanksgiving readers! Preparations are underway in my house and the pie is not as perfect as I had hoped, but will taste good. This year‘s pie is pumpkin with maple sugar candied pecans and diced candied ginger.
My husband brined the bird (a beautiful fresh turkey from Loags in Elverson, PA). Now the lady of the day is resting in refrigerated splendor waiting to be stuffed and roasted. The stuffing has been prepared and is also being refrigerated in a mixing bowl. This year I am doing a sage and sausage stuffing with mushrooms and diced apricots.
This year I chunked and par boiled the sweet potatoes slightly . I will roast them in the oven when the turkey comes out to rest. I think they will be roasted savory and sweet with just a hint of spice. I will also be serving a green salad with a maple mustard vinaigrette and it will be topped with some candied walnuts and cranberries. And yes there is homemade cranberry sauce. This year I made cranberry sauce with tangerines.
I don’t actually consult lots of cookbooks for Thanksgiving. It’s kind of based on things I’ve seen, other things I’ve been reading about and flavor profiles that I just think will go together. If you can read my chicken scratch and homemade shorthand you can see some of what I wrote down because I do write it down sort of…
I’m lucky this year I have lots of fresh herbs in the garden and although I’m only making one pie and one turkey as opposed to Martha Stewart posting on Instagram the ridiculous amount of turkeys and pies she was baking. I guess she’s feeding an entire town or something.
I think one of the things I love best about Thanksgiving or the smells that fill the house. It’s familiar, comfortable, holiday.
I also watched the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time in decades. It was really good! I think I liked it better than the New York parade! It was more holiday happy!
I don’t know that I have anything particularly profound to say this Thanksgiving. It has been quite a slog these past two years between hideous politics and COVID-19. This will be the year that a lot of us finally have a true holiday with family. Hopefully it will be a day to just pause and be together.
Some will travel, others will open their doors to friends and family. For some I know, it will be a perhaps bittersweet and poignant start to the holiday season – it has been a year of loss for so many.
I lost a few friends this year who passed away. Two were friends I made in adulthood, two were among the great ladies of my childhood, and one more recently was a neighbor for many years and a friend for so many more years preceding that.
How do we honor these wonderful people who were in our lives? I guess by trying to be the best people we can be. It made me think of this Dutch Hymm we used to sing this time of year when we were at St. Peter’s titled “We Gather Together”.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday filled with history and tradition. Hopefully we can all gather and have wonderful days wherever we are. Awesome that will mean watching endless football, and the first year I do that will be I don’t know when because I don’t really watch football. And I bet some of my armchair critics are saying “Aha that’s what’s wrong with her!” (Should I ‘fess up that I don’t like beer now too?)
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday for us and dates back to 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is now acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the “colonies.”
For the centuries that followed here in the US, “days of thanksgiving” were celebrated by individual colonies and then states. It wasn’t until 1863, during the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
This year a lot of Thanksgiving Day Parades will return. Our new normal thanks to COVID19 will be meeting our old normal, Thanksgiving Day Parades and activities.
But for some the holiday season is hard, and it kicks off tomorrow. I hope they get through it o.k.
Take tomorrow to enjoy your time with your people whomever they may be: your family, your friends, your neighbors. And take a moment to give thanks.
It’s almost Thanksgiving. Our little turkey is resting in the refrigerator and the cranberry sauce has been made. I am trying to figure out which dishes I’m going to use and what the table will look like. I don’t think I’m going to get out all of my little ceramic turkeys this year, but I still want my table to look pretty.
Someone remarked to me that they are just navigating this COVID-19 world the best they can, and trusting God has it all in hand.
I replied that part of it was people had to be willing to listen that it was time the world was a little different, time for us to take things a little less for granted.
Thoughts like this was also partial impetus for me to write my “broken people” post on this blog the other day.
There are so many people that want to blame everyone for what is going on with them. And they don’t realize that you do have to take ownership of yourself, and with ownership comes grace. Or hopefully that’s how it works.
And as you know I do not really ever get religious in my writing. And as an adult although still Catholic as I was born Catholic, I am more spiritual than religious.
And these are just some of the things I’ve been thinking about. I mean if you think about it and try to be positive in a year that has been so filled with negative, maybe part of the lesson here is teaching us all grace, or how to find grace.
Because of COVID-19 things will undoubtedly get worse before they get better.
So maybe, instead of worrying about the big things that for now seem to be out of our control, we look for the blessings we have.
It’s all about that magic of ordinary days.
Open your eyes, shut up about the politics, and realize that we are here and should try to be present with our loved ones and not get sucked down the rabbit hole of unpleasant minutia.
Try to love and appreciate people for who they are, not who you want them to be. As human beings we are all flawed. And if someone can’t be present for you at this time, let them go on their journey, everyone needs to find their own path no matter how old or young they are.
2020 has been a brutal year and so many regards. But when we look back, what will be the lessons we take away from it? And with a year like this we have to have learned something right?
I am grateful for my little family unit and love it very much. In the distant recesses of my mind, are the memories of Thanksgivings past, most of which contained a lot more people than this year will.
And if I’m being honest, all those Thanksgivings past were not like Hallmark movies with perfect tablescapes and happy endings. Some of them were quite stressful and not so much fun and that’s OK.
So this year, as you gather round your tables in your smaller pods of Thanksgiving people, give thanks for what you do have. And drag out the good dishes. Don’t let COVID-19 diminish your Thanksgiving. Just because we’re sort of doing it differently doesn’t mean it won’t be a great holiday!
Thanksgiving is only a matter of days away. What will it look like? What will people act like? We are now well into November, 2020 in he year of COVID19. Never in any of our wildest imaginations would we think that as an area, a region, and even a nation, we would be facing additional shut down times and continued surges of a deadly virus.
Yet here we are. Here we are.
Someone in Pennsylvania the other day how COVID19 is surging in Pennsylvania compared to other states. Why is that? Did all those election rallies and events across the state in the days preceding the election have anything to do with the recent surge? No I’m not a public health expert and I don’t pretend to be, but common sense would dictate perhaps these events had a hand in this surge?
Look for history to be your guide. Look no further than the last global pandemic, the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was one of the hardest hit cities. Why? Because the virus surged after the Liberty Loan/Liberty Bond parade that was not canceled although it should have been. So it’s not being politically negative to wonder how many people attending events that were political not social distancing and in many cases not wearing masks helped spread this new global pandemic of our time COVID-19? National Geographic has a fascinating article about the 1918 global pandemic.
While we were talking about politics, I will mention how I was treated recently because I correctly reported that a local and well known political figure who held a political office long term until this year had contracted and been hospitalized with COVID19.
I did not “virus shame” this person, I did not wish this person ill. I did comment accurately that this is why people should pay close attention to this virus because even those who don’t necessarily believe in the strength of this virus could contract it. I did not personally speculate on whether or not they may have contracted the virus at a specific time at a specific activity. And I wished this person well and meant it and still mean it because I wouldn’t wish COVID19 on anyone. And I say that even as people occasionally literally wish me dead because I am a blogger.
But because this person is a supporter of the man baby currently living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who has an almost cult-like following, some came out of the woodwork to purportedly defend the honor of the public figure and former elected office holder who was hospitalized due to COVID19, calling me despicable among other things. I did not impugn their honor. I did not virus shame. Hell, I was virus shamed personally when the virus first broke out and I didn’t have COVID19 nor did any of my family.
We were asked to voluntarily quarantine just as the virus was breaking out because I personally happened to be at an event where one of the first victims of COVID19 in Chester County (a stranger I did not actually meet) was also in attendance. The event was held before anyone even knew the virus was breaking out in Pennsylvania. So it was the final time of no masks and no social distancing.
We reported as we were asked to to the county. We followed the instructions we were given by Penn Medicine and when we came off of the voluntary quarantine, my husband was followed around while he was picking up my breast cancer meds and then as he stopped at other stores running errands. I was not with him. This person then decided to post this on social media. They had to comment how if we had been exposed he shouldn’t have been out. If we were inside the self quarantine time we were asked to keep they would’ve been correct. But the quarantine time we were asked to keep was over. It is my belief they chose to follow my husband around and try to virus shame me because I am a blogger. And vocal on issues at times. This person seemingly disappeared from social media after this.
I have been very honest all along about how I feel about COVID19 and how it has affected me and people I know. Way back when we were on self quarantine it was just before lockdown. So we came out of self quarantine to go into lockdown formally. I have also had Covid testing done. Why? Because I had surgical procedures in 2020 that were not exactly voluntary. They were due to squamous cell skin cancer which is in between basal cell and melanoma. It’s a very anxious process to have any kind of procedure or be in hospital settings in 2020, which is why I haven’t virus shamed anyone.
However, here we are with this damn virus and almost the end of the year. And this virus is intertwined in the political life of this country as well. And the reason that is can be laid directly at the feet of the current president. All along he has downplayed the virus, and he also maligned with his nicknames for the virus. Then he contracted the virus, and it’s still like he didn’t take it seriously.
Then we had the election, which he has lost. But he has yet to concede. And while he doesn’t concede and move on that causes the entire country to be stuck in this cycle. And that is wrong. These are the acts of a very selfish person at a minimum, and other things to consider which are very dark to contemplate indeed. And while all of this is happening it is sadly destroying the party of Abraham Lincoln which I find sad.
Maybe it’s time we leave the politicians and those who play them on television and twitter to their own devices? Maybe it’s time to remember we were once neighbors, friends, and even in some cases family? I mention family because I actually know people whose families are torn apart by both Covid and politics.
Maybe it’s time to remember what Thanksgiving is all about.
The American Thanksgiving – and I say American because there’s a Canadian Thanksgiving as well – was first held in October 1621 after the Pilgrims’ first harvest in their new world. Thanksgiving as we know it finally evolved after Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an act of Congress making the date of Thanksgiving a little more concrete of a thing. And I bet a lot of people don’t realize that the first Thanksgiving had lobsters not turkey on the menu. So were swans. They aren’t actually sure about turkey. My brother-in-law likes to celebrate Thanksgiving with lobsters in keeping with the first Thanksgiving.
Our Thanksgivings are going to look very different this year. Because of COVID19 there won’t really be huge family gatherings, it will be more like little family pods. That’s how my family will be doing it. I imagine that is how Christmas will be.
Yes, it’s going to be different but we should still be giving thanks that we can have holidays with loved ones, even if we will mostly be doing it in our own homes in small pods. There are many people in this country who won’t be sharing Thanksgiving with family this year. A lot of people have lost friends and family to COVID19 and other conditions in 2020. There are so many people in this country who have lost jobs and businesses and more because of this year. And it’s not just because of COVID19- also what comes into play is the wanton destruction and looting of property that had absolutely nothing to do with protesting to address and end the specter of racial injustice and flat out racism in this country.
I just hope when Thanksgiving day actually arrives people can pause and remember what Thanksgiving is about. I hope people can use Thanksgiving as a re-set to focus on home and family and what is really important. And put politics into perspective: yes who governs us is of paramount importance, but the reality is for most of us is they don’t care we exist, they don’t know we exist, it doesn’t matter that we exist. So cult-like devotion is pretty disproportionate in the big picture of life as we know it.
Come together for Thanksgiving, people. Our future as a country depends upon it. And we need to come together to deal with COVID19 as much as anything else.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Love me or hate me these are just my thoughts. I will close with wishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving in our house is going to be smaller and much simpler than years past. I didn’t get to all the little ceramic turkeys to put on the table this year so the table just has the simple candlesticks and some greens in a vase￼￼. I still think it’ll look pretty.
My order arrived today from Harman’s Cheese in New Hampshire￼￼. I love my imported cheese, but for Thanksgiving especially it’s American made cheeses. Tomorrow for nibbles before our little feast, I will put out Harman’s cheddar with crackers with a Balsamic Onion Jam. The rest of the cheese will take us through the holiday season and well into the winter.
The table is mostly vintage. Pewter napkin rings I got years ago. No one likes pewter much anymore so I literally picked these up super inexpensively.
The napkins came from The Smithfield Barn. They are of a newer vintage from Ralph Lauren.
The plates are Steubenville Adam Antique from the 1930s. I bought them for our first Thanksgiving in this house. They came from Frazer Antiques. I remember they were on sale. I have looked for years since at these plates here and there, and never been able to even come close to the deal I got that day.
The placemats are vintage Pimpernal. They belonged to one of my dearest friend’s mothers.
We are having a simple menu. Yams, green salad with a simple vinaigrette, stuffing done outside the bird, homemade cranberry sauce, and the turkey. The turkey is from Loag’s Corner Turkey Farm in Elverson and was delivered by Doorstep Dairy. Doorstep Dairy is our milk delivery service and more. We have been a customer for a few years. They are terrific!
If you are local, Loag’s turkeys can also be purchased through local butcher shops like Worrell’s Butcher Shop in Malvern Borough. We also are big fans of Worrell’s!
I didn’t mention dessert. That I am actually not baking. Someone gave us a cheesecake. Not our normal Thanksgiving dessert, but my husband loves cheesecake!
My last piece of the puzzle is a vintage turkey platter. Also from the Smithfield Barn a few years ago. American made, true vintage, and I love it.
Holidays are about traditions. Thanksgiving is about the classics: turkey, friends, family.
Here is a poem from Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.
Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
And conquers if we let it.
There’s not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.
Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.
We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.
I don’t know if I will write again between now and Thursday, so Happy Thanksgiving!
First of all a shout out to Great Jones cookware! I am a really happy customer and bought three of their pots/pans. The one above is called “Saucy“.￼￼ this is the pot I chose to make my cranberry sauce in this year. I will also note that I am not a compensated blogger, I am just telling you about certain things because I use them, buy them, like them.￼
Thanksgiving is going to be a little more simple for us because I am waiting on another knee surgery so I am limited in what I can do and should do. So today I made the cranberry sauce and Wednesday I will make the stuffing and the sweet potatoes and then all we will have to do is heat those up. (Yes,I am not doing the stuffing in the bird for the first time ever￼￼￼￼.)
Cranberry sauce is not hard to make. And basically it’s one bag of fresh cranberries, one cup of sugar, 2 cups of liquid. Today I used orange juice, and I forgot to add the orange zest although I had an orange waiting in the refrigerator￼. I also added cinnamon and ground mace to taste.￼
I brought the mixture to a gentle boil on low heat with a lid on the pot. If you don’t have a lid on your pot or a splatter screen your cranberry sauce will end up all over your stove! ￼￼ I will note that I did have a little lift to the edge of the pot so steam was able to escape. I have these little silicone things called lid rests which are made for this.￼
I did stir occasionally as the berries were cooking so nothing stuck to the pan￼.
When my mixture was brought to a boil I used my potato masher to mush the cranberries. I then added two little packets of Knox unflavored gelatin, and stirred and stirred until dissolved and incorporated into the sauce. I like my cranberry sauce to be a little bit jellied so that’s why I do this. However, I am not a fan of canned cranberry sauce.
I put my cranberry sauce into three jars, and when it cools I will tighten the lids and refrigerate. I do not do a canning water bath on these– I just cook and jar and refrigerate.￼
These three jars will take me through the holiday season. Thanks for stopping by!
The holidays are hard for people even when you aren’t a holidays-are-hard-person. You always want them to be perfect, yet they rarely are at all. It’s human nature and accepting we don’t live in a Hallmark movie set.
Thanksgiving is the seasonal kick-off to weeks of we want familial perfection. Only have you met a perfect family? I haven’t.
The holidays are romanticized and commercialized to such an extent that we think we have to be perfect every year or the world might end as we know it. I am no exception.
Last Thanksgiving was the year of the turkey that would not cook. My husband wanted to put it in the oven at one time, and me another. In the end he had his time choice and then it was like a comedy of errors courtesy of the turkey gods. We ate late, and had turkey consternation.
For a 10-13 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 350° oven for 1 1/2-2 1/4 hr.
For a 14-23 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 2-3 hr.
For a 24-27 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3-3 3/4 hr.
For a 28-30 lb turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3 1/2-4 1/2 hr.
Times are for unstuffed birds. A stuffed bird may cook at the same rate as an unstuffed one; however, be prepared to allow 30 to 50 minutes longer. While turkeys take about the same time to roast in regular and convection heat, a convection oven does a better job of browning the bird all over.
This year we are starting the turkey earlier and I think I am doing the dressing outside of the turkey. This year, I also need help since I have managed to tear the meniscus in my other knee. When I tore my meniscus in the other knee a couple of years ago, my meniscus waited until well after the holidays.
Translation? I will also need more help at Christmas and I won’t be cooking dinner for around 14 people. Maybe having that break is a good thing, but I actually like doing Christmas dinner. Cooking for people at Christmas is one of my favorite presents to give.
This also means I will be decorating differently. And more simply. It might kill me. No not really, but my inner Christmas elf might revolt. Sigh…and fewer kinds of Christmas cookies will be baked too.
Asking for help and knowing you need help is not the easiest realization. Again, I am definitely no exception. But I guess when you need it, it’s a lesson in working together and trust. Admitting I will need some help this time around for the holidays is maddening. Trust me. There is so much to do.
The other thing about the holidays is giving back. How do you give back? Do you volunteer at a shelter? Cook meals for the less fortunate? Donate to a toy drive? I don’t think it matters what or how much you do as long as you pay it forward in some small way. And it doesn’t have to be publicized for thousands of atta’ boys or atta’ girls, just do it to pay the magic in this season forward.
And back to the Hallmark movie versions of the holidays. I love my Hallmark Christmas movies, don’t misunderstand me. But it’s a little unrealistic. From the apartments and homes that 20-something characters have (in places like New York City and Chicago no less!), to the always perfect hair, perfect coupling up and don’t forget Hallmark movie characters don’t have sex ever, or show too much boob in their Christmas party dresses…it’s like life in a snow globe.
A delightful time warp bubble that transports us for a while from everyday life. But hey now, everyday life is not so bad, flaws and all. And we all have to acknowledge and accept as nice as those saccharine sweet made for TV holiday moments are, do we really want to trade that for our own realities? I mean sure it would be especially nice if the kitchen cleaned up itself magically after holiday meals, but as for the rest of it? Maybe let it inspire a tablescape or other decorations, but don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. I know because somehow I do it every year. Holiday Perfectionists Anonymous come on down!
This year I aim to be a little different. It might kill me, but I will try. Meanwhile, I will be sure to look for all the perfect holiday tableaux as seen on social media, knowing full well reality might be a lot different.
Don’t Botox your holiday social media. It’s actually o.k. to be less than perfect, look less than perfect. And I have to laugh because any time I personally express a less than perfect social media persona it starts.
“Are you ok?”
“Did you see what she posted?”
Lord love a duck, it’s quite all right to be human. Have a bad day occasionally. My plastic surgeon and professional stylists tribe are on vacay, ok? Sometimes I do not have a village, and it’s just me not wearing make-up…. (a cardinal sin in the eyes of my mother who told us never to go to the grocery store without lipstick years ago.)
And the holiday race for more social media “friends”? Oh resist. The real ones are so much better. Truth. I have started turning people down and culling the herd. I don’t need neighbors of people I barely know as friends and if I did not like you in high school and you didn’t like me, well not to be mean but why do I need to be part of your people collection?
And that is what I always find fascinating about social media. The fakeness of it. Especially when you know it’s so far removed from the truth. And that fakeness factor increases around the holidays because so many people have a hard time for a multitude of reasons.
So I guess I am saying slow down and appreciate what we have in this world. You don’t have to fake it until you make it. You can admit you love the holidays knowing it might have a couple of flaws.
Love the holidays for what they are. Don’t resent them for what they aren’t.
And pay it forward.
Enjoy the magic of the season. It’s totally there when you stop stressing over perfection. Have you seen my lipstick? I need to go to the grocery store…..
Thanksgiving. The ultimate all-American holiday. I will note however, “Thanksgivings” are also throughout history a common thing in many cultures after bringing in the harvest.
Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to the colonies of New England. Several Thanksgivings were held in early New England history that have been identified as being the first feasts including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.
However, there was a regional battle forever as to where the first Thanksgiving was held. Was it New England or in Virginia? You see, in 1619 the arrival of English settlers at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia, concluded with a religious celebration as dictated by the group’s charter. A Thanksgiving.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder
Thanksgiving and as to what it meant carried on into the Revolutionary War Era. A lot of it involved proclamations and political wrangling which is well, an American tradition, correct? As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.”
Thanksgiving was observed on various dates throughout our history. Truthfully if you research it, the actual date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century, and Halloween in 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a presidential proclamation changing the holiday to the next to last Thursday in November, for business and commerce reasons.
Then along came President John F. Kennedy and his Proclamation 3560 on November 5, 1963, which said in part: “Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together, and for the faith which united them with their God.” He wanted to bridge the gap between the North and South rivalries over who Thanksgivinged first.
There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American. ~O. Henry
So now to our family and other Thanksgivings. By “our” I mean everyone out there. Are they ever the perfect holiday we envision from Currier and Ives prints? Or Norman Rockwell? Or the Hallmark Channel movies and reruns of The Waltons?
I know mine haven’t been but I still love the holiday. Some of my favorite Thanksgivings spent as a child were all of the ones we spent with family friends who moved from Pennsylvania to Bethesda, Maryland and then to Summit, New Jersey. The celebrations were large (lots of kids), loud (lots of kids and lots of adults laughing), and happy. The food was amazing and no one was expected to be perfect.
I think the best Thanksgivings are spent with those you choose to be with. Not those you feel obligated to be with.
Childhood Thanksgivings I found less fun growing up were the early childhood ones spent with my parents’ respective siblings. Suffice it to say, the adults really didn’t get along, really didn’t even know each other as adults, but felt free to judge each other. So the end result was stiff, and slightly uncomfortable Thanksgivings. The Waltons we weren’t.
As my sister and I grew into adulthood we also had Thanksgivings we spent with our cousin Suzy and her family. I loved those because Suzy made it fun. Then my sister married first so Thanksgivings were split between our family and her in-laws. I also had the Thanksgiving many years prior to when my sister married where my parents decided they were bringing Thanksgiving to my sister and a then boyfriend in New York City and I was adopted by a friend’s family for dinner. That was one of my favorite years and we did not even have turkey. We had a huge capon. If memory serves that was because my friend’s dad did not like turkey. And my friend’s growing up home was made for holidays. It was old and cheerful and warm.
Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. ~Johnny Carson
For me there was an 8 plus year period of Thanksgivings I have mostly erased or have tried to erase from my memory. I call those the purgatory Thanksgiving years. The person I was in a relationship with had family outside Mechanicsburg and Allentown.
I loved the Mechanicsburg Thanksgivings because his sister in law and her mom were awesome. They loved holidays and celebrating holidays and it showed. Everything was festive and bright.
The Allentown Thanksgivings were somewhat awful as we were crammed into a skinny townhouse in a development on a public golf course with dark painted walls. The paint made already small rooms seem more close, and the sister who hosted had this trick every time like clockwork to let photos of his ex-wife fall out of a sideboard. Half of the Thanksgiving dishes and turkey were served in aluminum foil pans and the dinner plates were dirt brown Pfaltzgraff. These Thanksgivings were depressing and uncomfortable. The people were all basically unhappy and not particularly nice and you could feel it. You weren’t one of them and they got that feeling across.
After those years, and sprinkled occasionally throughout my life there were other kinds of Thanksgivings. These were the holidays spent in restaurants or clubs like The Merion Cricket Club. Those were fun holidays too, but part of the “thing” of Thanksgiving to me is how your whole house smells while cooking Thanksgiving dinner, combined with the smell of a fire in the fireplace or wood stove.
I will note one Thanksgiving decades ago when my mother had invited SO many we couldn’t handle the crowd my parents made reservations at a restaurant in Radnor called the Greenhouse. Now you know I am dating myself to the late 1970s because that was when we did Thanksgiving there. When you did Thanksgiving at The Greenhouse you could order your own turkey for your group if your reservation group was large enough. And it was a really cool place literally in old greenhouses and a converted stable portion dating back to the 1760s which some historians still say once housed George Washington’s horse. Not George, just the horse. Today the location is known as 333 Belrose and is owned by a high school friend.
Now as the years have past and life and time have moved forward, Thanksgiving has changed again. It’s like an ever evolving holiday in our lives. I truthfully love cooking Thanksgiving. It’s also a time for me to play with my vintage linens and dishes and is the one time of year that vintage ceramic turkey sees the light of day as a centerpiece.
Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow, which may mean every day, or once in seven days, at least. ~Edward Sandford Martin
Some Thanksgivings now are just our little family and sometimes expanded with other family and friends. This year it’s a smaller gathering so there will be lots of leftovers!
Right now the turkey gizzards, neck, and vegetables are burbling away on the stove as I make the broth I will use later. The cranberry sauce is made, and so are the sweet potatoes and butternut squash. The potato and squash purée will go into the oven to warm up after the turkey comes out to rest. There will be a pumpkin pecan pie but I am unhappy with the pie crust.
“When you love what you have, you have everything you need. ” ~ Unknown
I am grateful for my life and my family so I love the true celebration of Thanksgiving. A lot of our family and friends are farther flung this year celebrating all over, but celebrating the day wherever they are.
So I hope all of you out there have a terrific Thanksgiving. I will leave you with something to think about. I was thinking about the world we live in today, and specifically the tone of many politicians in this country and rhetoric that is nothing short of anti-immigrant. Think about those first Thanksgivings in this country when the Native Americans served feasts to what were then illegal immigrants from Europe.
“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” ~Albert C Barnes
Smoked Trout with horseradish dill sauce on party rye bread
Fromager d’Affinois with garlic and herbs and crackers
Fresh turkey with homemade herb stuffing with shallots, onions, and sausage
Green salad (spring mix and butter lettuce and homemade vinaigrette)
Roasted sweet potato and squash purée
Homemade cranberry sauce
Pumpkin pie with pecan topping
I am setting a vintage table with my old school ceramic turkey as the centerpiece with candlesticks. I am using vintage plates including my super cool vintage ceramic turkey platter sourced from the Smithfield Barn at a Gas Works in Frazer pop-up shop (there is a pop-up coming up by the way!) and my chandelier is decorated with strung pine cones and wooden “cranberry” beads and these two primitive bird cut-outs sourced from Life’s Patina in Malvern and one of their pop-up sales!
And our son is home from college, so it doesn’t get better than that!
I have a kitchen tips for the holidays that I am going to share with you. And it’s very simple.
Everyone knows homemade stuffing tastes better. And the problem with using a pre-packaged stuffing mix is it’s loaded with sodium and preservatives.
So what I like to do is create a “staffing bag.”
Everyone always has bread that goes stale. Don’t waste it. Cut it up into little cubes put it in a Ziploc bag and put it in your freezer until you’re ready to make your stuffing.
When you are ready to make your stuffing pull the cubes out of the freezer and put them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment and let them thaw. Then pop them in to the oven (heated at 350°) for a few minutes to dry them out a little more. And by a few I literally me like five or six and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn if your oven runs hot.
This is an easy kitchen hack and it beats bread either getting so stale and going to waste OR turning moldy and going to waste.