Thanksgiving Open Post

Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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37 Responses

  1. NewDealer says:

    This is the first year where my family is not hosting so I have no idea. Besides Turkey and Pecan (sometimes Walnut) Pie, we liked to switch it up every year with the sides and other dishes.

    I’m hoping for Pumpkin Pie. My parents do not like Pumpkin Pie and it is the one thing always absent at our Thanksgivings. Now that we are going somewhere else….Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

      I’m hoping for pumpkin pie and candied yams.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I can never figure out how these aren’t the same thing.Report

      • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yams are african food that grows in the ground, and generally likes to absorb all sorts of heavy metals.
        Pumpkin is actually a squash, so it’s American food.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq says:

        One is a starch made festively sweet, while the other is …

        Look, a UFO!Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yams and sweet potatoes are also often confused, because the tubers are similar in texture, appearance, and sugar content.

        Sweet potatoes are related to the morning glory, and yams are related to lillies and grasses and tend to be starchier and less moist than sweet potatoes. Yams are thought to be indigenous to Africa while sweet potatoes are European or New World.

        “Canned yams” in the United States are typically actually sweet potatoes, and if you look closely at most cans of yams there is a disclosure to that effect on them.

        Both, of course, are quite tasty when prepared.Report

  2. David Ryan says:

    We will have Thanksgiving at my wife’s mother’s house in Flatbush. It will be smaller than years past because some siblings have moved away and now come back for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but not both; and others have died and won’t be coming back at all. Not our first experience with these diminished numbers, but we’re still getting used to it. The house is not as noisy, and that makes things a little somber. We need babies to liven things up.Report

  3. Don Zeko says:

    A 500-mile drive to my parents’ house down I-95 in the middle of a winter storm. I am not enthused for that aspect of the holiday.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Don Zeko says:

      I offer my condolences — while there is no substitute for I-95, it’s still not a palatable prospect. And having recently had my own snowstorm driving experience, I can sympathize well with the exhaustion ahead.

      Just think: there’s a good meal at the end of that road.Report

  4. Will Truman says:

    We had Thanksgiving Tacos with my aunt last Saturday. Unfortunately, all of our avenues for Thanksgiving get-togethers dried up (sister-in-law out of the country, wife’s aunt not holding her annual thing, etc.) and we’ll do something here.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    I will be making dinner for two this year. Which is OK although I regret not spending the time with friends. Still, it beats preparing for trial, which has been on my thanksgiving plate more often than not for the past decade.Report

  6. Anne says:

    Thanksgiving brunch at my sister-in-laws, 2:00pm at my brothers for our first Thanksgiving without my father. Will be bitter sweet as I will get to see my twin sister who is coming in form Louisville with her husband, then 5:00pm with my in-laws for more food desert and football. I will not be eating for the rest o f the weekend.

    Help I need a recipe for a veg appetizer and though Jaybird graciously shared his suggestion of carrots and a bottle of wine, I am looking for something more substantial. My Tod do you have anything for me?Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Anne says:

      What type of appetizer are you looking for? Finger food, vegan, filling, spicy, containing specific veggies?Report

      • Anne in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        just no meat any veggie and cheese is great leaning more towards the finger food noshy type of food for socializing whilst turkey cooksReport

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Well, depending on how involved you want to get, here are three suggestions that incorporate Thanksgiving ingredients in very different ways than will be served at dinner, and that people tend to devour:

        Causas (Complicated): Basically, a small tiered torte, with layers of potato, avocado, and mushroom. You would need some kind of cylinder to make them. (I use a piece of aluminum pipe that’s about two and a half inches in diameter, cut to a four inch length.

        Curry-Ginger Sweet Potato Fries (REALLY SIMPLE, but does require a step being done a day or two before Thanksgiving): This uses a curry-ginger oil that you would make (easily) sometime this week, but on the day it’s amazingly simple to do, and people chow down on them. (These are baked by the way, not deep fried).

        Vegetable Tamales (Very complicated, and pretty time intensive): Yummy, though, and you can make them with a sautéed mushroom stuffing that is very different tasting from stuff you’d get at a Mexican restaurant.

        And of course, you can always put together a really nice antipasti place with veggies, pickled veggies, olives, cheeses, crackers and crostini.

        And if you wanted to have bowls available, there are a number of great soups (e.g.: North-African Peanut & Sweet-potato Soup) or unusual salads (e.g.: Jerusalem spinach salad with pita, almonds, dates and sumac.)

        If any of the above sound interesting I’ll post the recipes.Report

      • Anne in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Tod you are the best! This is why I love the Gentlemen…errr the OT. I’m interested in the Curry-Ginger sweet potato and the Causas if you don’t mindReport

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        OK, I’ll post below for space.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    Can I vent? I’m going to vent.

    We have settled on a system of holiday sharing wherein we spend Thanksgiving with Zazzy’s aunts and uncles and Christmas with my mom and siblings.

    Zazzy’s family is great. They’re not perfect, but they are welcoming, friendly, generally non-judgmental, collectively good conversationalists… they’re great people to have dinner with. Contrasted with my family — which sometimes seems determined to fulfill every Italian stereotype ever, right down to most meals ending with people throwing things — it is a welcome breath of fresh air.

    But the food? Ugh. The food. My mom is a *fantastic* cook. She makes the sort of stuff you see on Martha Stewart shows. It is really amazing. But Zazzy’s family? Potatoes out of a box, frozen pie, and turkey dry enough you could use it as a sponge. It is torture. One year, I bought a fresh baked pie from a local bakery that you need to order from weeks in advance the pies are that good. It didn’t even get eaten. “Why did you go to all that trouble? You know we had a pie in the freezer.” “Oh… yes… how silly of me.”

    Based just on food, I’d rather give up Christmas Eve/Christmas dinners than Thanksgiving. But, alas, that is not our case.

    So what’s on my menu? Blegh. That’s what.Report

    • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

      which sometimes seems determined to fulfill every Italian stereotype ever, right down to most meals ending with people throwing things

      One of my more vivid memories of my childhood is my great aunts, great uncles, great great aunts and uncles (who were, at this point, in their late 80s or early 90s), grandparents, cousins, etc. gathered around a large table for dinner at my Great Uncle Gino’s house outside of Pittsburgh. The first course, salad, was served in what was to the 7 or 8 year old Chris a humongous glass salad bowl. As we were eating the salad and the rest of the meal’s food was being placed on the table, a conversation in Italian began to grow louder and louder until people were standing and yelling at each other, still in Italian, and my tiny, ancient great great aunt picked up the giant salad bowl and threw it. It landed at the other end of the table, shattered, and spread glass into all of the food, including the salad on my plate. Since I didn’t speak Italian, I had no idea what had just happened, but I got to eat McDonald’s for dinner, so it all worked out for the best.Report

    • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

      Better the Italian stereotype than the Irish.
      [I wasn’t there for this one: Guy tries to steal
      his brother’s potato — his brother promptly
      drives a fork straight into his hand. Blood was drawn.]Report

  8. Tod Kelly says:

    I had thought that it was just going to be the four of us this year, which I found strangely depressing. Now it looks like we’re going to have my mother-in-law, an “orphan” friend who can’t make it back to her family, and the parents of our next-door neighbors who are house-sitting for a week of their kids trip to Thailand thanks to a airline ticket snafu. So it looks like we’ll have a pretty full table after all.

    Because of all the guests, we’ll be doing a pretty traditional Thanksgiving: turkey, bread/sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, spinach salad, acorn squash, some kind of green vegetable, and quite a lot of red wine. Also, probably, either Old Fashioneds or Manhattans during the cooking process, which I believe is what the indians served the pilgrims on the original Thanksgiving. (“Yeah, I know — in-laws, right? Here, I poured you a nice Manhattan. Trust, me, you’ll need this before the night is over.”)Report

  9. Tod Kelly says:

    For Anne, from up above…

    Curry-Ginger Sweet Potato Fries

    This is a recipe originally from Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger.


    1 Cup + Two Tablespoons Curry-Ginger Oil (See below)
    Four large Sweet Potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
    One bunch scallions, chopped
    Sea Salt or Kosher Salt, Ground Pepper


    1. Trim the very ends off the potatoes, then shave to make rough rectangular shapes. Cut lengthwise into ½ inch slices, then cut those slices until you have a bunch of ½ inch by ½ inch long fries.

    2. In a large bowl, combine about a cup of the curry ginger oil with all but a couple tablespoons of the chopped scallions. Add potatoes, a bit of salt and pepper, and toss.

    3. Place a cooking sheet, pan or heavy skilley in the oven and preheat to 400. (You want the pan hot before you put the fries on.) When the oven reaches 400, dump fries on and using a spatula separate them out. (Note: The oil from the potatoes should sizzle when you put them on the pan/sheet. If not, let the pan heat longer and try again.)

    4. Bake about 10-15 minutes, until the tops are looking golden brown. (If they are browning too quickly, turn and reduce heat to 350.)

    5. After the tops look golden brown, flip the fries with tongs or a spatula, and let cook for another 5-15 minutes, or until the parts now facing up are also golden brown. You will know that they are done when you can easily stick a toothpick or fork into the fries.

    6. Remove the fries, and toss with the remaining tablespoons of oil and scallions. Serve.

    Curry-Ginger Oil

    You can half or double this easily, and once made the oil will last pretty much forever.

    Ingredients to make 1 Quart

    1 quart grape seed or canola oil
    ½ Cup peeled & minced fresh ginger
    1 cup madras curry powder

    In a large heavy saucepan, heat oil and ginger over medium heat until the oil is fragrant and the ginger is just starting to color (about 8 minutes). Remove and let cool completely, usually about 20-30 minutes.

    While the oils and ginger are cooking, place a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry powder and toast, stirring, until the powder starts slightly smoking. Remove and let cool, usually about 40 minutes.

    When all is cool, transfer the oil and the powder into a glass container, being sure to scrape each pan well. Let stand until the oil and the powder completely separate (overnight is best). The oil is then ready to use. Refrigerate.Report

  10. Tod Kelly says:

    This is also for Anne, from above:


    Causas (pronounced COW-saws) are from Peru, and other than potato and lime, you can use whatever you like when making them. The dish is fairly beautiful when done, being a long cylinder of layers. If you can find purple potatoes their purple reddish hue can add to the festive look of the dish.

    As I said above, you will need some hind of cylinder to put these together, and you would be wise so just slightly grease it with oil.

    For meat eaters, layers of shrimp, sashimi grade tuna, crab meat or spiced chicken work really well.


    Several large yellow potatoes, peeled
    Ripe Avocado, sliced into thin slices
    Fresh Mushrooms chopped, shitake or chanterelle is best
    1 clove Garlic
    Olive oil
    Can chipotle chilies in Adobo sauce (You will only be using a tiny amount of the Adobo sauce)
    Salt, pepper

    1. Boil the potatoes until cooked (when a fork can slip easily into each one). Place on large bowl, and mash, just as you would mash potatoes. Instead of adding butter or milk, however, add fresh squeezed limejuice, salt and pepper to taste.

    2. Sautee garlic and mushrooms with as little olive oil as you need to do this. Near the end, put in a tiny amount of the adobo sauce and let the mushrooms cook for a minute or two in the sauce.

    3. Put your cylinder in a small serving plate. Put in mashed potatoes until it’s a quarter full; push down lightly with your fingers to make sure that the potatoes are evenly distributed and there are no air pockets.

    4. Put in a thin layer avocado slices, then put in the mushrooms over those.

    5. Put in another layer of potato, pushing down light again.

    6. Cover the tops of the potatoes in avocado slices, fanning them in a circle so that the top looks like a green pinwheel. Place plate in refrigerator.

    7. Do this with on other plates and with other cylinders, until your ingredients are used up.

    8. After at least an hour, take plates out. Carefully lift the cylinder, sliding it off the causa. You should be left with a layered torte.Report

  11. Patrick says:

    We’re hosting. Attending: my parents (2), Kitty’s parents (2), Uncle Jesuit (1), Sister and Nephew (2), Brother, Sister-in-law, and kiddos (5), Jack’s godmother, her husband, and their kids (4), and us (4). Other sister is doing the in-law thing, so three out of the usual, but still 20.

    Kitty makes the pumpkin pie from Cook’s Illustrated (not the crust, which is her own, just the filling), which is part pumpkin and part sweet potato/yams and takes a million years and is totally worth ever second of it, and probably lemon meringue.

    One of these years I want to smoke a turkey, but smoked turkey = no gravy, and that’s right out, so I have no suitable alternative… although with 20 people, I could probably roast a whole bird and smoke half of one… hmmm….. hmmmmmmmmmmmReport

  12. Maribou says:

    As is usually the case, we will be going to Jaybird’s sister’s mother-in-law’s house. (All family gatherings on his side consist of us, his sister and brother-in-law, their kids, and both grammas.)

    We’ll be bringing 3 pies from the local awesome pie place, there will be turkey and mashed potatoes … and (probably) a lot of very delicious side dishes cooked by people who don’t really care that I’ve been allergic to onions for the past 4 years. (Usually, this includes the stuffing in the bird having onions, which means I’m allergic to the turkey, but dude. TURKEY SO GOOD.)

    So my Thanksgiving will either be turkey, mashed potatoes, maybe a sweet potato (YUM), pie, and a few hives, or turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, 3 or 4 other side dishes with onions in them, pie, and many hives, depending on my level of self-control… I really love onions despite being allergic to them. Thank goodness for cetirizine.

    Ooh, there will probably also be freshly baked rolls! YAY.

    (I love Thanksgiving.)Report