Thanksgiving is a time for traditional foods in our house. So, yesterday we got busy making some of the dishes our family clamors for on special holiday occasions.
Usually, we have apple pies made with apples from our own trees, but the harvest from our home orchard was practically non-existent this year so, we still made pies from scratch, but used Granny Smith apples from the grocery store. We did have some leftover sour cherries from a previous year’s harvest, so those were combined with some other store-bought fruit for a cherry-berry pie. My husband is the pie maker and he got these beauties done yesterday.
The most requested dish on Thanksgiving is my stuffing, which is really my mom’s stuffing because it is made from her recipe. It is a pork sausage based stuffing and is very flavorful and moist. This year I put my own Rosemary in the stuffing from a plant I grew this summer. It has a wonderful aroma and cannot wait to heap some of this favorite dish on my plate!
My family loves sweet potatoes in all forms except mashed. So, we simply peel and cut the potatoes, place them in a casserole dish adding water, butter, and brown sugar. This is a microwavable dish that makes way for others in my oven. I don’t expect many of these to be left by this time tomorrow. Yum! Again, my husband lends his culinary skills to make this simple dish. I love it because it saves me time
Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Salad
Besides the stuffing, Chinese Cabbage Salad is the other most requested and long-standing popular holiday table dish on our menu today. We’ve been serving this for the last 20 years at our Wisconsin Thanksgiving table. But, long before that, it was served at my Grandma’s House and my Mom’s house when they hosted this holiday when I was growing up. Fresh Napa Cabbage is mixed with white onions and a mixture of white vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper are sprinkled on top. Finally, a half-pound of bacon is diced and fried. Just before serving, while still warm, the bacon and grease (in place of vegetable or olive oil) are added to the salad bowl and tossed. It is delicious, although probably not that good for one’s health. Still, we have it two to three times a year, mostly on holidays. It is a special dish for our family because of the memories attached.
Usually, we have a homemade cider to drink at the table. Again, we’ll have to forgo that this year, as we had very few apples. It will be missed. As an aperitif or after dinner digestif, I do have homemade limoncello on hand for those of age and inclined to imbibe!
For years, we roasted turkey. But, then we got adventuresome. We’ve fried the bird – and did so successfully, without a fire or oil boiling over on to the driveway. We’ve also smoked the turkey in a smoker I got my husband some years ago for Father’s Day. Last week, before holiday grocery shopping commenced, I asked my husband how he’d like to cook “the bird” this year. He told me it was up to me. And, although I like the smell that will waft through the house when roasting a turkey, I opted for him smoking it. Our smoked turkeys have been delicious in the past and this method frees up much more open space for the other parts of the meal. Sometime early this afternoon, the smoking will begin and if I feel I need a “good” smell, I just have to open the door!
There are other parts to our meal as well. This year I am adding some roasted vegetables from a recipe a friend gave me. They are delicious and colorful with a balsamic vinegar glaze highlighting the flavor of each spoonful.
We have rolls, and cranberry sauce (not homemade), and usually have gourmet potatoes which is another recipe passed down to me from my mom. It was actually from a family friend, who gave it to my mom, who gave it to me. With white cheddar cheese and sour cream, they are a delicious addition to any special meal. This will be the first year in many that I haven’t made them for Thanksgiving.
Many of our traditions focus on the making and serving of these foods for our holiday celebrations. Tell me about your favorite Thanksgiving foods or if you are fond of making a specific dish to serve.