With Thanksgiving fast approaching here in the United States, the topic of the holiday meal can no longer be ignored. Oh sure, the turkey has been ordered from the butcher, and my sweetheart has decided that this year he would like to smoke it, so that decision has been made, but we aren’t done yet.
Thanksgiving dinner is probably my favorite meal, closely followed by a nice lobster dinner. When I found out the Pilgrims had lobster at their Thanksgiving I was almost jealous of them for a minute, then I remembered the other details of their story and got over it pretty quickly. Besides, they had to prepare the whole feast without the help of even a single reliable oven, let alone a Kitchenaid stand mixer.
I hosted Thanksgiving for many years when I was married, and I enjoyed it very much. I think our largest group of friends and family was 18 one year, and it was wonderful. Another year with a fairly large group we set up tables on the patio and ate outdoors. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday. By contrast, my Thanksgivings have boiled down to a small celebration including me, my sweetheart, and this year, my son. Still, we need all the food.
Our menu isn’t as extensive as many other people’s but here goes:
turkey- this year smoked (we’ve also done roasted and fried)
stuffing- the jury is out on which recipe (Mom used to bring Oma’s recipe, but she’s out of town)
brussels sprouts- thank you internet for your wonderful recipe with Andouille sausage
mashed potatoes- this is where the Kitchenaid comes in
gravy- you can never have too much
cranberry quick bread- from a box, but so yummy
pies- thank you Village Inn
and cranberry sauce.
Ah yes, the cranberry sauce. It’s not my favorite part of the meal, by any means, but it’s necessary. The sweet, tart taste balances the other flavors perfectly, and the color on the plate is beautiful. A little cranberry sauce goes a long way, in my opinion, like wasabi. But what kind?
When I was a kid I hated cranberry sauce so I avoided it at all costs. Then, as I got older, I began to understand its importance. This was around the same time my mother discovered that it’s really easy to make it following the simple directions on the bag of cranberries. I was hooked. I used that recipe for years, and everyone always liked the cranberries.
Then I met my sweetheart. He is a wonderful man who asks very little. When he does have some sort of request or preference I’m only too happy to accommodate him, usually with a smile. But then there’s this. His cranberry sauce preference. Yes, he’s one of the people in this country who keep Ocean Spray busy making the gelatinous version of cranberries that keep the shape of the can when you open it. Goopy cranberry rounds are a better description of this product. I don’t get it. Why not have delicious tangy yet sweet fresh cranberries lovingly made in our very own kitchen? Why open a can and wait for it to make a noise akin to a teenager’s bodily function as it slowly descends from its aluminum casing only to plop out onto a plate? Where is the beauty in that?
I’ve given in to this strange request in the past, and I probably will again, after all, it’s important to him to include this tradition from his upbringing. This year, however, I will make fresh cranberries too. I know it’s too many cranberries for three people. It’s too many for fifteen. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is about gratitude and appreciating the ones you love, while also respecting tradition. I think two types of cranberries will be our family’s new tradition.
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