"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

My last post was about my anger over losing Thanksgiving to capitalism (I am still angry about that - if you agree here is a petition you can sign). This blog is about family traditions - some which are old and some which I would like to start.
I recently broke down and created a Pinterest account. There are so many cool things posted there about the holidays, but I have to admit, most of them are so beyond my energy level or capability. They just seem to create more pressure on people during an already stressful time of the year.
Holiday traditions should be fun. They should be memorable. They should be things that we look forward to every year. In my house those things mostly revolve around food! But I would like to start some new fun things that we can create or do every year!
Let us start with the Thanksgiving meal. In my house there are some things that you have to have:
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Boiled Onions
Turnips (for my dad - no one else seems to eat them)
Butternut Squash
Crescent Rolls
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Feta Cheese
Kalamata Olives
Baby Gherkins
I have the BEST turkey recipe! Recently however I found a post somewhere that said if you cook your turkey breast side down - instead of breast side up - your turkey will be moister. I think I am trying it this year. The rest of the recipe is below:
I start my turkey the night before with a brine recipe I found. I know it looks weird but it works! The only change I made is that I use fresh thyme instead of dry. The next day I dry the turkey, and then cover it in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Inside the turkey I put lemons, onion halves and some more thyme. Then I put some slices of butter under the turkey skin. I put the turkey in an electric roaster at 325 degrees and roast based on the chart below.

Whole Turkey (pounds)
Unstuffed (hours)
Stuffed (hours)
3.0 – 3.5
3.0 – 3.75
3.5 - 4.0
3.75 – 4.25
4.0 – 4.25
4.25 – 4.5
4.25 – 4.75
4.5 – 5.0
4.75 – 5.25
That is it! I don't baste, I don't touch it until it has been cooking for awhile - and then I am only testing for doneness. I use a thermometer and turn the roaster off at 165 degrees and let it "rest" in the roasted while I put out the other things.
This year I am adding corn pudding and roasted parsnips to the menu - we will see how those go. They are new recipes and if they don't turn out it is ok because there will be plenty of other things.
I listened to a news program today about planning your dinner so it is less stressful. They talked about writing out a plan and using post-it notes and all these other things. Listening to it made me stressed!
I have a simple plan - make desserts the day before. Prep as many of the vegetables as I can the night before. And then begin cooking with the things that take the longest to cook. I like to keep things as simple as I can (we recently had a Halloween party where I forgot my basic plan and I was still cooking when people got to the house - I hate that)!
This year I would like to have a things that I am thankful for activity. Maybe have everyone write one thing they are thankful for on a canvas. Then next year I can put it out again and we can add to it every year.
Basically I just like having people at the house! I like sharing the holidays with people that are important to me and I like feeding them! I worked a lot of years to be able to have a house for people to come to (and if I do say so myself - my husband and I have some pretty awesome parties). This is what I am thankful for.
I would love it if people who read this blog share what their Thanksgiving traditions are. New ideas are always fun to share and perhaps a new tradition for my family will come of it.

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