Turkey Day has come and gone, but before we move on to the next holiday, how ’bout a recap?
Some of you might remember last year, when I cooked nothing for my family’s Thanksgiving feast. I was rather saddened by this, since, you know, I’m rather fond of cooking. When I’d asked my mom what I could contribute, she said “Oh, we want a traditional meal.” I figured this had something to do with my mentions of “weird” dishes I’d prepared, specifically an octopus dish. I was a little perturbed that she didn’t think I could cook a basic batch of mashed potatoes; after all, even I don’t have “crazy” meals every night.
This year, I offered up a deal: I’d cook the side dishes, and my parents could cook the turkey and the desserts. And hey, my mom went for it! I even managed to keep it traditional, not only because I can actually cook things, but I’m also not one to disrespect my mother’s wishes!
Traditional Thanksgiving dish #1: Mashed potatoes! Wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them, right? My mom usually makes them with russet potatoes, but I prefer Yukon golds for their waxy texture and buttery flavor. I boiled them with some garlic, and then pressed them through a potato ricer to get a super smooth mash. For those who don’t know, a potato ricer is basically like a giant garlic press that squeezes the contents through little holes to get out any lumps. I heated butter and milk together and added the mix to the potatoes, along with a healthy dose of salt and pepper. Mmm….
Next up on the traditional menu: green bean casserole. I used French green beans (aka haricot verts), natural fried onions, and made my own cream of mushroom soup from scratch. I even started with a homemade mushroom stock, so the whole things was vegetarian and had a prominent mushroom flavor. My mom was impressed with what a difference it made! Yes! More good daughter points!
I gave my mom a choice of three vegetable dishes: honey-thyme carrots, balsamic Brussels sprouts with shallots and pine nuts, or creamed spinach. If any of my readers out there have graphic design experience, you know this game. You give three options, and throw in at least one kinda lame choice, in attempt to make the others look even better. Aaaand if you’re familiar with the set up, you also know that much too often, the client picks the lame one. Creamed spinach was my “lame option” here, and yeah, Mom wanted that one. Then again, I should have known, as it’s pretty traditional, right?
It’s not that I don’t like creamed spinach, I just never eat it. Or think about eating it. I prefer spinach in a less… doused with heavy cream… way. But I will say that if you’re making it, you need to add some freshly grated nutmeg. This secret ingredient will take your creamed spinach to the next level! I really wanted to add some crushed red pepper, or perhaps some prosciutto… but I was trying really hard to keep it as basic as possible so my mom would be happy with me!
I did make one not-so-traditional thing, but it wasn’t that odd.. just something we’ve never had at our Thanksgiving dinners before. I made rosemary cracker flatbread (that I once used as a base for pizzas) and served it with cranberry chevre. A stunning combo, if you ask me…
And, going back to tradition, of course there had to be cranberry sauce! It was my first time making it from scratch, but certainly not my last. It’s so easy, and SO delicious… I can’t see myself eating store-bought varieties ever again!
I was very thankful for the appreciation I got for making all of this food, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be offered a similar opportunity next year! Maybe, just maybe I can be a little more creative in the future (it really doesn’t take much for something to be considered “wild” in my family…), but hey, I’ll take what I can get. It is a holiday about gratitude, after all!