Thanksgiving. Yes, I said it. The day where caution doesn't just get thrown out the window, but tossed off the Empire State Building in flames to land on the street below and get run over by an armored truck, a yellow taxi, and a garbage truck on it's way to a scow on the river where it will dump almost as much as you'll probably eat that day. How celebrating a historic meal of thanks turned into a gluttonous feeding frenzy that will make many dig through their closets the next day to find pants that don't leave a red dent around their waist and a perfect impression of the zipper down their happy trail I will never know. But, who am I to question? I say let's get ON with it already!
I've been thinking about the day, and how it will fit in with my new and deliciousness-prohibitive eating habits, and am struggling with whether I try to make tradition fit into the pitifully small and mostly butter-free box I think I should put it in, or if it would really be so bad to just let loose and take the day as it comes? Would it kick start my dormant butter monster? Open the door to the evil cheese demon? Maybe bring to life the hideous but delicious sugar zombie that lies in wait for a weak moment? All good questions, and I may not know the answer until "T-Day", but that should not keep me from sharing the hideously delightful truth of what Thanksgiving has meant to me in the past, right? Drool bibs at the ready??
Here is a taste of Thanksgiving at our "little" family compound every year (trust me, ain't NOTHIN' little about it) - there are satellite dishes that come and go like the company that joins us, but the skeleton of the meal is always the same......we are creatures of habit, which would be a great outfit to wear when you're done stuffing your face - black is soooooo slimming.. Just don't get gravy on your wimple....
Moose Family Thanksgiving Feast
Sometimes we roast it upside down so all the evil drippings from the dark meat go through the breast, rendering it juicy/flavorful, but you have to forgo stuffing so it rarely happens because...
Some call it dressing, others use cornbread, or that crappy bread-crumby stuff that is just wrong - in my book it has to be Franz stuffing mix WITH the seasoning packet, with a very lot of butter sauteed onions and celery, and a couple eggs to help bind it so it's perfectly moist and lumpy. And you MUST cook it in the bird, and mix that with the stuff that's leftover so it's not sad.
Sure you can use dry ones out of a box, but be thankful you can get away with that crap the rest of the year and use Idaho BROWN potatoes. That along with another butt-load of butter, salt, pepper and some cream or half and half, some milk, and if you want, sour cream and/or cream cheese and did I say salt? Don't under salt it, fights will break out over who gets to lick the potato beaters if you do it correctly.
Poppa Moose's Turkey Gravy
The man knows his way around a whisk, and leaves no pan unscraped of every last bit of flavor stuck to the roaster pan....amazing that nothing but that and some flour, water and salt and pepper can produce something you want to bathe in and would still gladly eat afterwards.
Deb's No-Knead Rolls
SIL gave me this one, and it is always requested at home and when we go elsewhere - they are soft and yeasty and eggy and if I was only allowed to choose 4 things to eat that Thursday, it would be rolls, turkey, Best Foods mayonnaise and salt. Period.
Cannot be omitted, under penalty of eating crappy green bean casserole with mushroom soup and icky fried onions from a can. You must carefully trim them, cut large ones in half, put all on a cookie sheet and drizzle w/olive oil, kosher salt and roast for 25-35 mins until tender...mmmm.
Cranberry Jello Mold
It's what it's called, my mother-in-law shared her recipe, and we never, EVER go without it...it's like cranberries on crack, and is filled with sour cream so it helps in smooth processing of all the rest of the stuff you're going to eat that day.
Of COURSE there's pie....pie is the REAL reason for the season, isn't it? I've made pumpkin, pumpkin praline, sweet potato, blackberry, blueberry, apple, apple-cranberry, apple-blueberry, lemon meringue, shoo fly, peanut butter streusal, key lime, pecan, strawberry-rhubarb, lemon cream, banana cream, blueberry sour cream, cherry, and even a couple gooseberry that did not set up and turned into gooseberry soup in a pie crust. Which was highly unfortunate considering I made them for the church bazaar...oops. Vanilla ice cream, real whipped cream and even Cool Whip on hand to choose your weapon of expansion....not that you need it at this point.
OK, I know I gave you the recipe for sweet potato casserole a couple posts ago, but I have to admit that I am the only one of the Moose's that would miss it if it went AWOL. Bunch of babies don't know what's good for them, and that there is no better contrast (except roll/turkey/mayo) than the delightful crunchy/sweetness of that dish COVERED with the savory hot brown of Poppa Moose's gravy...mush, smush, Poopy girl. But that's why it's not on the staples list...whiners. Same goes for the cauliflower - I can only put things on the list if everyone eats some, and Poppa will do his best to avoid it when there are so many other options...but if I catch him I make him eat one "brain" before he gets pie.
So there you go, this is what is ALWAYS on the menu on that third Thursday of November, unless we go somewhere where they won't allow me to dictate the menu, disregarding the 30+ years of experience and knowledge of how much butter you can use if you really commit to it. If that does happen, I just make my own on Friday at home, and don't share leftovers with ANYONE...they can poke listlessly at their crappy Pepperidge Farms crumby "dressing", the can shaped cranberry jelly, the gross-bean casserole, and a sea of canned yams covered with a huge waste of toasted marshmallows while we dine on turkey and homemade roll sammiches, dipping them merrily in gravy and following up with a piece of pumpkin pie plopped neatly into a tub of Cool Whip. Jealous?
Cranberry Jello Mold
I personally love the flavor of cranberry jelly, especially with turkey, but this combines it with two other favorites I cannot say no to - cherry jello and sour cream. SO simple to make, even tho I almost always forget and it gets too hard and then it is never quite the same...set the timer, wouldja?
1 large box cherry Jello
2 C. boiling water
1 Can cranberry sauce, WHOLE BERRY. Otherwise it's just jello.
2 C. sour cream...yes, an ENTIRE pint!
Mix jello and boiling water, stir until dissolved completely (I like to use a whisk, but don't beat it, just stir or it will get all foamy), put in fridge and cool until slightly jelled. That means quite jiggly in the center, like it will fall out if you turn the bowl upside down. I would set the timer for 30 minutes, then check every 10 or so....it'll still work if it gets hard, but won't mold up as nice and is not as cohesive and creamy as it should be.
Add cranberry sauce and sour cream, stir until well blended and smooth. You might want to mash up the sauce before putting it in....it tends to be a bit lumpy. Pour into a mold or serving dish and refrigerate covered until firm. I used to use my green Tupperware jello mold with the hole in the middle, then when I unmolded it I'd fill the center with Cool Whip...classy, eh? Then my green mold disappeared...I suspect someone let it touch the dishwasher element, maybe left it on the stove and turned on a burner, or tried to use it to melt lead and make a wheel they could put a stick through and try to ride it like on the old B.C. comics....all evidence was erased, and no one ever copped to it so I use my imagination. But I found a white/blue speckled one second-hand somewhere, so the world is right again...jello mold ho!
Enjoy the holiday with your family, friends and/or people you are willing to hang with to get a free meal that will make you re-consider the sweat-pants look...I still don't know what I'm going to do, but am pretty sure you will hear about it later...Happy almost Thanksgiving!