As we all celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, as perhaps you are doing with yours, we thought we’d share some of our Thanksgiving memories, recipes, and thoughts (positive and negative) about togetherness.
Kaitlyn Dunnett: Here’s a picture for the Thanksgiving post, an illustration of the two things that I learned early on (age thirteen months in this photo) to associate with the holiday—family and food. Both sets of grandparents and my mom are in the picture, which was taken by my father. The same combination of family and food pretty much still holds true today. We gather the family around the table to pig out on turkey and all the fixings while catching up on what everyone’s been doing. I don’t remember any other traditions from when I was a kid, but nowadays when we get together with my husband’s family at Thanksgiving there is always a giant ceramic turkey on the table . . . filled with jelly beans. This year I’ll have to remember to ask how that tradition got started.
Lea Wait: Sorry, friends, but Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday. On too many
occasions when I was a child it ended up in emergency room visits: both my father and my uncle cut themselves (different years) with carving knives. And blood splattered turkey … well, maybe there are reasons I became a mystery writer! Once icy roads resulted in a car accident. No one was hurt, but the car (and Thanksgiving joy) were totaled. My Grandmother had a stroke on Thanksgiving. And one year, when I was all grown up and living in New York’s Greenwich Village, I spent Thanksgiving wrapped in blankets in a cold apartment (boiler problems) with a high fever. Memorable, for sure. And then, finally, when I moved to Maine full-time with my mother, who was disabled, we decided that since there would only be two of us for Thanksgiving I would roast a chicken instead of a turkey. And Thanksgiving Day the stove died. We had cold vegetables and a pie I’d baked the day before. Not a total disaster … but very depressing. This year my husband and I are hoping Wednesday’s predicted storm will leave us with power. And although I’m planning to serve sherry-creamed white onions, and turkey with stuffing, and potatoes mashed with feta cheese and cream, and an apple/blueberry pie …I’ve made sure we have cans of tuna fish as backup. Just in case. After all — it will be Thanksgiving! Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful!
John Clark: When I think of Thanksgivings past, I remember how each family member had their specialty. Our late sister Sara was the champion baker. Her pies were to die for. Another tradition that I need to resurrect are squash rolls. Made by substituting a cup of squash for one of flour, when they’re made right, they can be a meal unto themselves. The other tradition, exclusively mine after my father died, was going out hunting before the meal was served. In the days during and after high school, there were more hunters out on Thanksgiving than any other day, something no longer the case. We had an old pump house on the north side of our orchard. It was a perfect spot to be in when other hunters worked the Teal Place, as we called the property adjoining Sennebec Hill Farm. I was sitting there lost in thought one Thanksgiving day over 25 years ago, when I heard a couple shots down by the swamp. I waited, waited a bit more and decided whatever the other guy spotted had been dropped or was headed up the ridge on the back side of the swamp toward Hope. Thirty seconds later, something that sounded like an express train started coming through the woods behind the pump house. When that buck hit the open field, I was so stunned by his size and rack, I didn’t realize I was holding a gun until he was entering the woods on the opposite side. I haven’t seen a deer anywhere near his size since and probably never will, but I still have that video stored in my head.
Kate Flora: What I remember most vividly, probably because it scandalized my father to the core of his conservative, small-town New England self, was when my mother got sick of all the women being stuck in the kitchen cooking and then stuck in the kitchen again cleaning up, and handed out numbers to all the relatives. Number one washed dishes, number two dried, then numbers three and four took their places, and so forth until everything was done. Great fun for her, I’m sure, to see the portly uncles and prim old aunts swathed in aprons and up to their elbows in soapy water. I am making sister Sara’s Raspberry-Cherry Pie for dinner. And of course, we always had mom’s raw cranberry relish. Super Easy Cranberry Relish: 1 bag of cranberries, washed and sorted 1 large orange 1 Red delicious apple, cored, not peeled Cut into chunks and throw in the food processor. Stir and add sugar to taste. Best if made the day before, to let the flavors mellow.
Vicki Doudera: Here is one dish we will be bringing to Thanksgiving at my brother Will’s home in
Portland. I pick the Brussels sprouts fresh from my garden in the morning — they are the only thing still growing! These amounts can be adjusted to your liking.
Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Pancetta
5 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and big ones cut in half
1 cup pistachio nuts, shelled
2/3 cup diced pancetta
Few squirts of fresh lemon juice
few tablespoons olive oil
Half a cup diced shallots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in cast iron skillet, add pancetta and cook until golden brown. Remove to plate lined with paper towels. Add more oil if necessary and sauté shallots until soft. Add Brussels Sprouts and cook until edges are browning. Cover skillet with foil and roast in oven for 15 minutes or so. Uncover and roast until cooked through. Drizzle with lemon juice, add nuts and pancetta and stir.
Susan Vaughan: Here is my Reduced Fat Pumpkin Pie recipe. My husband loves this pie, devours it every Thanksgiving with no clue it’s a “diet” recipe. Happy Thanksgiving!
REDUCED FAT PUMPKIN PIE 1/8 pie slice = 250 calories (egg whites recipe), 5 g fat
3 eggs or 4 egg whites
1 can (14 oz) Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
½ tsp ginger
1 can pumpkin
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
½ tsp salt
9 inch unbaked pie crust
In large bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add pumpkin, spices, salt. Slowly add milk. Mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 25-30 minutes longer or until knife comes out clean.
Loved this except so sad to read Lea’s Thanksgiving memories! Oh dear. Maybe you can turn it around? Your menu for today sounded lovely so maybe you can start all new Thanksgiving memories.
Not to worry, Mary Anne …Bob and I had a lovely (quiet!) Thanksgiving. I hesitated about sharing some of my others … but then decided … the world isn’t always wonderful. Maybe others would identify. Bob has memories of spending his Christmas college break at the Y in NYC because his parents lived abroad. That sounds a lot worse than my holidays! Hope you had a lovely holiday! (Loved seeing the pics of the boys on FB!)
I baked Susan’s pie last night. It smelled so good that my husband and I decided that a post midnight foray into tea and pie was in order. The pie is WONDERFUL. So, now, no matter what happens to the turkey (and anything can) I have GREAT pie.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and thanks for the pleasure you give.