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21 November 2013

US Thanksgiving is in one week! Let's talk FOOD! What are you cooking and/or eating? [More:] I bought a turkey breast at the grocery store today (got a great deal- it was on sale for 1.99/lb but rang up at 2.89/lb; I asked them to check it for me and they confirmed the lower price, but instead of correcting it, they just gave me $10, so I got a 5.73 lb turkey breast for, like, $6). I was thinking of doing it in the slow cooker, like this- anyone done that before? Any tips? Also hoping to make the Pioneer Woman mashed potatoes, recommended on AskMeta in the past few weeks. I'll have to get a can of cranberry sauce, too- stynxno loves the can shape!
My brother will take his family to the in-laws in El Paso and my mom isn't around anymore to mount the whole production dinner, so it'll just be my dad, my brother's dog, and me. It will probably be my last Thanksgiving down there for awhile, since I'll be leaving the country early next year and I don't know how long it will be before I'm back around in late November.

So my dad made afternoon reservations for us at a nice local restaurant serving New American cuisine in an old manor home. The Thanksgiving menu is online, so I've already chosen:

Butternut squash soup topped with maple glazed chestnuts & cinnamon scented cream

Duck confit served with a savory shallot pumpkin bread pudding & a poached pear

Fried oyster salad, oysters served over bibb lettuce with marinated tomatoes, bacon & scallions finished with a mignonette dressing

Braised beef short ribs served with roasted garlic whipped potatoes, haricot verts & a red wine sauce

I'm not really big on desserts, though I might enjoy a coffee after the meal. If pressed I will have a slice of apple pie, sans glace.

I'm excited to be eating at a restaurant for Thanksgiving because I don't have to eat turkey, which has never been a favorite. I chose the braised short ribs partly because they sound great, but also because they are among the few items on the Thanksgiving menu that are also on the regular dinner menu. That signals to me that they are specialties of the kitchen. The duck confit and fried oysters are likewise featured on the standard menu in some incarnation or other.

I'm looking forward to it. I'm sure the dog will sleep the whole time we're out.
posted by Hugh Janus 21 November | 21:46
I was thinking reubens, but had one earlier and I think I'm good a while.
posted by ethylene 22 November | 02:40
My mom's oven has been busted for a few years. So in a drunken stupor I suggested that they should do thanksgiving in my studio apartment. I didn't think they would agree. So now five people are coming over and I only have one chair. My plan was just to have my mom use my oven for the turkey and leave me half the bird as leftovers.. Now I am hosting and terrified.

If history is a indicator I am going to start drinking at 8am and during dinner I will call someone a racist. *History == My Sisters Wedding
posted by johnpowell 22 November | 05:32
Oh TPS - I love those mashed potatoes. I make them every year I host. Yum!

This year we're traveling, and not doing thanksgiving with family - we're doing it with my best friend in Raleigh! :) She's handling all the food, and we're bringing wine and will help with the cooking if we're there early enough. I can't remember exactly what she's cooking, but I know the usual is there - turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, along with a bunch of other stuff.

This is the first time in several years where I'm not the one responsible for the meal in some way, so it's a relief.
posted by needlegrrl 22 November | 06:16
My hub still hasn't decided yet if we're going to see his family. I very much do not want to; it's an 8 hour drive, I don't really like them at all, the packing of stuff (we have to bring all of my son's food in a cooler), managing of stuff while we're there and then dragging it all home and dealing with it here is dreadful.

But both his parents have been quite ill for the past year and aren't doing great now. If I say I don't want to go, and we don't go, and it turns out to be The Last Thanksgiving, then I'm a jerk for saying I don't want to go.

But I'll say it here: I Don't Want To Go. They've never made any effort to play with or read to my son, their only grandchild. Their house is very small and very hot. My sister-in law --

oh wait this was supposed to be about food. I love to cook. If it turns out we don't have to go, I'll report back on what I'm going to cook. Fingers crossed we stay.
posted by Kangaroo 22 November | 07:13
Heading up to my sister's place in Western Massachusetts on Wednesday. Doing the usual Turkey and fixings and pies. Family gets along well although my brother-in-law will go on some anarchist rants at times.
posted by octothorpe 22 November | 07:34
Thanksgiving this year is our first one without my husband's dear aunt, who passed right after Thanksgiving last year (she was in home hospice during Thanksgiving), followed in April by her daughter, my dear dear friend who I miss terribly every day. Breast cancer took them both far too soon, so this is a Thanksgiving already infused with sorrow. It's the first major holiday without two of the most important women in our lives, and I think I speak for all of us, when I saw we are feeling a bit unmoored.

That said, we are a family who drowns our sorrow in good red wine and lots and lots of food! My father-in-law and I are the twp remaining cooks in the family (aunt and cousin had been as well), and we love to do it. Our menu each year is set in stone: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and gravy. Then we have both a pumpkin and a pecan pie. Since this is the first year without beloved aunt and cousin, we intend to honor their memory by making a few extra dishes that they loved. Aunt loved homemade cranberry relish, and cousin had mastered roasted brussel sprouts.

We will eat and cry, drink, then eat some more. If we can all stay awake for it, the Steelers play that evening, so I will play with the children while the other adults watch football. I swear, if anybody fucking dies or announces they have cancer (four years ago cousin was diagnosed and was rushed to the ER on Thanksgiving day, three years ago, aunt was diagnosed just before), I am going to lose it. Fuck cancer. Fuck it hard.

posted by msali 22 November | 08:58
Sigh. I never get to watch football on Thankgiving, most of my family barely knows what team plays in their city.
posted by octothorpe 22 November | 09:11
I don't really do holidays much, and have no family left, but since Chanukah is the same day, I am super-tempted to make sweet potato latkes. Or just regular latkes. You can't go wrong with fried potatoes.
posted by wens 22 November | 09:25
I'll pack up the kid & dogs and head down to my mom's Wednesday night. The year I brought my house they came up for Thanksgiving and while fun but it wasn't really worth it. Plus Dad would be sad if he doesn't get to see "his girl". Mom will make all the family standards -- turkey, mac & cheese, broccoli, sweet potato fluff, etc. I'm mostly looking forward to feeding the kidlet bits of turkey and mac & cheese.
posted by bluesapphires 22 November | 10:21
My friend from Raleigh will be down on Friday, and is excited to show off an electric turkey fryer. So, Mom and I are waiting till then.

Mom will make her green bean casserole (from scratch, not the standard creamomushsoup recipe) and sweet potato casserole (with pineapple, not nasty marshmallows)

I'll make the dressing, fresh cranberry relish, some other veg and some kinda sugar free dessert. I'll bring Riesling and there's always a black box merlot at Mom's.

(We'll eat at her house)

The best thing of all is leftovers!
posted by mightshould 22 November | 12:12
We are going to 2 thanksgivings this year.
My mom's side in the W village at 3pm then husband's side in the Bronx at 7pm.

For the first one, I am making my annual curried butternut squash soup (making it vegan this year for a relative who can no longer do dairy). My sister is making green bean casserole but with all fresh from scratch ingredients and I am psyched for that. I might also make gougeres or rolls. My mom is making the gross sweet potato marshmallow thing, one aunt is making the turkey, one aunt is probably just getting sloppy drunk, and my uncle is making his mashed potatoes baked with onions on top. One cousin will probably make salad and choc chip cookies. The others just kind of eat and don't bring things, which is fine since most of my family is TERRIBLE at cooking. My sister and I are trying to take over.

For the second thanksgiving, I think I might make a dessert but I am not going to worry as much about it since MIL prides herself on her cooking and doesn't do the potluck thing that my family does. We could just pick up something store bought or flowers instead. Or maybe something easy like a tart with pre-made puff pastry.

On a personal note, I am dreading splitting time between 2 thanksgivings again this year and I feel like I've lost some cosmic argument since I also didn't want to do it last year and now this seems like "a thing." Esp because we just learned this week that my cousin has kidney cancer and I just want to spend time with her (if she decides to come).
posted by rmless2 22 November | 12:17
Are you people nuts?
We obviously have to go to the Powell Racist Naming Thanksgiving. I already know all the racists in my family and it is way more amusing then you are not sober or related.
posted by ethylene 22 November | 13:25
We are eating whatever my husband's niece and his collected family/in laws provide. It will be an enormous amount of food, served up buffet style. I will eat small dabs of non-meat things.

Sigh. I love/like them but it'll be a long day.
posted by bearwife 22 November | 16:00
I LOVE the sweet potato/marshmallow thing. The first time I had it, at age 19, at my brother-in-law's house (other side of the family from the rant I wrote in this thread earlier) I thought it was one of the finest vegetable dishes EVER. I've never been able to duplicate it even though my BIL's mom showed me the recipe; it was printed on the bag of mini-marshmallows.

Shut Up. It was So Good.
posted by Kangaroo 22 November | 16:38
Anyone else eat boiled onions and/or mashed turnips on Thanksgiving? My wife thinks that they're both weird foods but we've always had them. Might be an east coast vs. west coast thing.
posted by octothorpe 22 November | 18:16
My grandmother had mashed turnips on the table at every big holiday- Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, you name it. Yes, she was Irish as they come and grew up in the Bronx; so I'm going with "East Coast thing."

I'm excited to head for NJ for turkey and all the trimmings. We do some southern dishes because half the family is Texan. I make the sweet potatoes, and I make them with half the pecan crumble topping that I like, and half with the browned marshmallows my dad likes.

Can't wait!
posted by Miko 22 November | 21:50
God I remember going to like five thanksgivings after we got engaged. Never again.

We just do leftovers and pies. The best time I had was when my siblings descended on us just after Older Boy was born. SIL and Sis were pregnant and I was nursing, but despite all the estrogen we had a blast making turkey enchiladas (storebought smoked breast) and ALL THE PIES. Pumpkin, cherry, pecan, and chess.

I never cared for the yam/marshmallow thing, but one year my BFF and I were single, so we had it at my place. She did the yam thing, and for kicks I used the sugar sauce in the in-the-pumpkin pumpkin pie. It was divine, and made up for the fact that the "turkey" was a five dollar loaf.

I've never had mashed turnips. What I remember from stews is that they have a kind of bite in the flavor. Does that carry through in mashed?
posted by lysdexic 22 November | 23:46
Not really, as I recall (it's been almost 30 years since I ate it - sorry, Grandma). It was pretty smooth actually. It didn't help that she probably used a loooot of butter in it. I actually kind of liked it, with plenty of black pepper. She must have put it through a ricer, it was so velvety.
posted by Miko 23 November | 08:44
The slight bite of mashed neeps is mitigated by the wondrous flavors of tatties and haggis, all together on one fork. O what a glorious sight, warm-reekin', rich.
posted by Hugh Janus 23 November | 09:40
My grandmother had mashed turnips on the table at every big holiday- Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, you name it. Yes, she was Irish as they come and grew up in the Bronx; so I'm going with "East Coast thing."

My mother was Irish and grew up in the Bronx too so must be a thing.

I love the turnip and/or rutabaga which tastes pretty much the same.
posted by octothorpe 23 November | 11:36
A good friend of ours who currently lives in Hawaii I remember loves turnips (I find them bitter myself). It's his favorite vegetable. He even named his dog Turnip.

I was stressing this Thanksgiving -- it's just the two of us again this year -- until it occurred to me I don't have to make a turkey with all the trimmings, which seems like way too much food and fuss for two people (plus Jon doesn't even particularly like turkey), so I'm making baked glazed salmon, sweet potato casserole, and asparagus. What could be bad? With the sweet potatoes and a side of cranberry sauce (with obligatory can lines, naturally), it'll still feel somewhat traditional. I've also got a few apps to snack on before dinner, some pigs-in-a-blanket, mini-spanokapita, and latkes with sour cream and apple sauce (a nod to Chanukah, of course). We won't starve.
posted by Pips 23 November | 12:47
It was tradition when we lived in Madison that we host Thanksgiving since we don't have kids (so travel to people's houses for Christmas to watch kids open presents). Now that we are in Portland, we mostly get to do our own thing.

But this year my sister, niece and nephew are coming so I am pulling out all the stops: organic freerange local turkey! Green bean casserole from scratch! Mashed potatoes, roasted carrots with tarragon, roasted brussel sprouts with bacon, my grandmother's yeasted rolls, stuffing made from sourdough bread from my favorite local bakery, and two pies (not making these, I am a middling pie maker) - pumpkin and bourbon-chocolate-hazelnut. Mmm.

I'm excited and slightly nervous - my niece and nephew are teenagers now, and both starting high school and I didn't like teenagers when I was one. So it'll be fun but I know I'll have to have a thick skin and laugh off the rolling eyes and sulkiness.
posted by Sil 24 November | 15:47
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