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Friday, November 27, 2009


Mags at The Other Side of Fifty was writing about how much her cooking skills have changed over the years and I was thinking about mine while I made our Thanksgiving dinner. Mags cooked the most beautiful dinner rolls that Frieda at Lovin' from the oven says are one of the most versatile recipes ever. They looked so good on Mags' post, I had to give them a try.

I wonder how many people are cleaning their ovens today? Part of cooking the perfect turkey was putting it in the oven at 400 degrees. That makes for a dirty oven. In 2003, Alton Brown had an article on the perfect turkey in Bon Appetit. He brines his and we have been brining ours ever since reading that article. When I first started cooking, I cooked my turkey until the red button popped up. I now use a thermometer.

I have always made my gravy from the drippings. Now I make a broth the day before out of all of the giblets and aromatics and use that to make the gravy.

Some of the sides I make have varied little from how my parents made them. I have never made mashed potatoes from a box. However I now add a little roasted garlic to the potatoes for an added kick. I used to make cranberries from the recipe on the bag, frequently I try an alternate. This year, I found a recipe on Lick My Spoon for Aunt Louise's cranberry relish. The garlic, shallots and jalepenos are amazing. I did not add the cilantro at the end, I enjoyed the taste so much without it.

I started making Pepperidge Farms stuffing from a bag and putting it in the turkey. In 1995, I made a Bread Stuffing with Mushrooms and Leeks We will never have another dressing. There is so much celery, leeks and mushrooms in the dressing, it is amazing.

I grew up having hubbard squash for dinner. It has been hard to find hubbards in Texas. Some years, I get one, some years I don't. My dad would chop it up and my mother would steam it.

I take it on to the back patio.

Put the dog in the house, because she would lick it to see if there was any hope for it, and I drop it. Then I brush the chunks with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast them in the oven. I would miss squash if we didn't have it, my kids would not.

My parents grew up in New England. I think that influenced our Thanksgiving meal. We have creamed onions. You take tiny pearl onions and peel them. I put them briefly in boiling water, which makes it easier to peel them. Then you return the peeled onions to boiling water and cook them until tender. You make a white sauce with equal part of butter and flour and let that cook for a couple mins then slowly add milk and salt and pepper until I have a thick and creamy white sauce. Finish with a touch of nutmeg. Delicious. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them.

Desserts are probably the most varied thing in my house. We aren't big dessert people, have formed no real attachments. Some of us live for the mashed potatoes and gravy. I make a pumpkin cheese cake. I have tried different recipes, they are all good. I try a different apple pie recipe every year.

I love the idea of traditions, passed on from generation to generation, mixed with some new recipes. Happy Thanksgiving!