I love Thanksgiving for many reasons, including that while its religious undertones are undeniable, people can give thanks to whomever or whatever they choose in whatever way they please.
The most important components are friends, family, a grateful heart and–let’s not kid ourselves–fabulous food. In regard to the latter, I’m all about tradition, but I especially love to gently twist or even break it!
The one constant in our celebration is that, except for the first year we were married, my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving in our home for both families, his from Philadelphia and, now, parts south and west; and mine from Laurel, MS. The total number of guests has fluctuated in the ensuing 21 years, depending on who was available to travel and, sadly, who was no longer with us. Some years, we have even enjoyed the company of Joe’s aunts and our friends, Art and Donna.
This year, my sister is facing some surgery and, though still working and going about her daily activities, isn’t 100% and wasn’t up to traveling. So my sweet mother stayed home with her, but encouraged my similarly sweet father to fly over. He debated but, in the end, when Gin’s surgery wasn’t scheduled until December, decided he would enjoy coming. We certainly enjoyed having him, “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” as my sister referred to him in emails, a reference to Truman Capote’s book by the same name. But we all missed the Gough girls.
Though the locale has stayed the same, the menu has varied widely. I especially enjoyed the several year run during which we hosted “Thematic Thanksgivings,” from “American Diner”–complete with fried acorn squash rings (instead of onion rings)–to Thai, to Tunisian and much more. After Joe’s mother, who had survived his father by a few years, passed away a couple of years ago, his sisters were feeling nostalgic and requested a traditional celebration, complete with a roast turkey. Eek. I don’t purchase, cook or, certainly, eat animal products, but I told them that if they wanted to cook it and bring it, they could. And they did, bringing the bird from Philadelphia and cooking it in their suite at our oceanfront. As my sister-in-law Tina said, she wasn’t sure who was more excited to see the turkey, my papa or our Great Dane, Huff!
I thought this year’s side dishes, gravy, and desserts were particularly tasty, healthy, and beautiful on our plates. But they would be just as tasty alone or combined with other favorites of yours during any cool month of the year. So I wanted to share our menu and links to the recipes (just click on the recipe titles) with all of you for whom I am very grateful. I hope your Thanksgiving was tremendous!
Thanksgiving Menu 2012
Note that I used 4 small striped pumpkins about 6 inches in diameter instead of a Turk’s Turban Squash as recommended in the link and doubled the Pesto to serve 8 people with other side dishes.
Note: to the filling of my tried and true Cranberry Crunch recipe, I added the zest of one large naval orange to the cooked filling.
Caymus Cabernet/Hot Tea/Coffee