Give Thanks and Pass the Pumpkin Bread

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by Darryle Pollack

pumpkinbread.jpgOur family will pause during Thanksgiving dinner and each of us will take a moment to mention what we're most thankful for in the past year.  Other than that, I have to confess our holiday is all about food. 

The eating begins the moment I arrive at my sister's house.  I put down my suitcase and head for the kitchen where a loaf of fresh pumpkin bread is waiting.  I'll eat my first slice of many before I even take off my coat.   

We have turkey of course, but pumpkin bread is the official food for the week of our family's Thanksgiving.  I've already done the math – and I'm worried whether the 14 loaves Carla already made will be enough for the 14 people in the family  before fights break out over the crumbs. 

Watch Out, Lil' Ladies

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by Claudette Sutherland

turkey.jpgAh, so it begins. 

From my cousin:
“Well, so far, there will be about thirty of us.  We should talk about the menu and see what we want everyone to bring. We’ll need two turkeys. Kevin says he wants to deep fry one.”

This, from my cousin Leland in Kansas where we will meet for Thanksgiving.  I will happily fly to Tulsa from Los Angeles, then drive on cruise control 120 miles to the small town of Parsons for Thanksgiving dinner at his big blue Victorian home with a host of cousins, grandchildren, stray local teen-agers and two uncles well into their 80s. (One will bring a cream pie and the other, green jello.) 

Once we settle where the out-of-towners sleep we will find ourselves smack in this small town of 13,000 in the middle of the country, the grocery shopping dependent on a Wal Mart just outside the city limits where there is never a shortage of iceberg lettuce, year round.  (A side note: I felt slapped down, yet hopeful to discover a small plastic container of basil buried among the radishes when last there.) 

The Space Shuttle Turkey

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by Claudia Young

spaceturkey.jpgIt was an angela thing and it all started when she sent me a link along with a two word email that said “interesting, huh?”. 

My god, so much has happened since then.

The birds have long been roasted to a golden hue and feasted upon while the carcass has been turned into a rich stock tucked away in my freezer.  But at the risk of whatever reputation I might have it is both my pleasure and responsibility to present to you the saga of an inside-out very misunderstood version of the much more familiar and accepted turducken - the ducurkey.  Or as we like to call it, The Space Shuttle Turkey.

Let me continue on by reminding you that I’m an excitable kinda gal.  It doesn’t take much to get me up and on a bandwagon and so I was all about the space shuttle turkey.  Because why can’t the Thanksgiving turkey have a little fun?

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Rice on the Wild Side

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by Sue Doeden

wild-rice-003.jpgThanksgiving may be my favorite holiday. Families gather. And as they surround the dining table they celebrate and give thanks for all blessings, including the bountiful meal before them. When my mom was living, she prepared most of the Thanksgiving meal herself.

Trying to please everyone, she’d make baseball-sized dumplings and sauerkraut for my German dad, lump-free mashed potatoes for the grandchildren, sweet potatoes with a crunchy topping of melted marshmallows for her daughter-in-law, stuffing for her son-in-law, and lentils for herself and me. My brother wasn’t hard to please. I think he ate everything. And, of course, there was always a huge turkey. I am not kidding when I say there was hardly room on the table for our dinner plates.

Not to be forgotten was the wild rice. In Minnesota, where wild rice is plentiful, most cooks have favorite ways to prepare this “gourmet grain.” It seems my mom could never come up with a recipe that lived up to her expectations.

Thanksgiving Tips & Techniques

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by Amy Sherman

thanksgiving101.jpg I have a confession to make. I've never made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I always cook something for the feast at my parent's house, but not the whole meal and certainly not the turkey. I'm not sure I could take the pressure! Thanksgiving is one of the most traditional of meals and most of us have very specific expectations about what that dinner should be.

Here to help make yours a success, whether you are cooking one dish or ten, is cooking teacher and cookbook author extraordinaire, Rick Rodgers. His book Thanksgiving 101, is out in paperback and in stores now. Rick is answering questions about Thanksgiving and sharing his advice over on the Epicurious blog but I snagged him for a few questions of my own...

What kind of turkey do you recommend for Thanksgiving – organic, heritage, wild, fresh, frozen?
Look for a fresh bird from a local source.  Where I live, organic Eberly from Pennsylvania is my bird of choice, but when I teach in Northern California, I am happy with Foster Farms. There are a lot of very good supermarket birds out there at a reasonable price.  Look for the words "all natural, minimally processed" on the label, and your bird won't have been shot up with lots of gunk.

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Pardon My Bird

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by Robert Keats

cautionmen.jpgIt’s been our Thanksgiving tradition for twenty years. The men do the cooking. The women get the day off.

I am not a cook. I am a chopstick in a world of forks. I look at my hands and see ten thumbs. And most of the other guys have culinary skills no better than mine. In fact, one guy thought the TV on the kitchen counter was a microwave and tried to put his dish in it.

Yet, somehow, each year, the meal turns out spectacular. 

The tradition began in 1987 when breakups and other untimely events left four of us with no choice but to make Thanksgiving dinner ourselves.

The result could only be described as a miracle. When the Red Sea parts, you don’t ask how. You just keep walking. And when we got to the other side, we decided to tempt fate and do it again.

When friends heard about our plans for a sequel, they had a knee-jerk reaction usually reserved for lemmings. They wanted in. That’s when the original four chefs, “the founding fathers”, as we’re now known, came up with a set of rules.

The Wagon Train

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by Laraine Newman

laraine_newmanFrancois Truffaut has been famously quoted about the process of making a movie being similar to a wagon train crossing the country.  You start out the journey with high hopes and the spirit of adventure and halfway through, you just want to get there alive.

That’s pretty much what my journey with cooking has been like.  I seduced my husband with duck breast and wild rice pancakes with apricot sauce.  That was nothin’.  I really loved to cook.  People were always surprised by that and I was always surprised they were surprised.  What? Women in comedy can’t cook?  Every Hungarian Jewish woman has to be a good cook. It’s biological destiny.

Learning to Love Brussels Sprouts

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by Susan Russo

brussel_sprouts.jpgWhat exactly is the root of all this antipathy toward Brussels sprouts? Is it the color? Sometimes it's not easy being green. Or yellowish-green.

Is it the smell? You know what I'm talking about. Boil Brussels sprouts on your stove top for 10 minutes and the neighbors will begin to wonder which farm animal you recently adopted.

Is it your mother's fault? If she served mushy, water-logged, brown Brussels sprouts when you were a kid, it's not your fault that you hate them.

Let me attempt to ingratiate Brussels sprouts with you, especially since many of you will likely be cooking and/or eating them next week on Thanksgiving.

Though Brussels sprouts have been around since ancient times, they are named after the city of Brussels in Belgium, where they have been cultivated (and appreciated) since Medieval times. Brussels sprouts are members of the brassica family, so they're related to broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kolrabi, none of which are going to win any popularity contests. That's why Brussels sprouts taste like cabbage and are sometimes referred to as "mini cabbages."

Breakfast Buffet At The Wynn

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by Amy Ephron

amy_ephron_color.jpgIt's not about over-abundance, although it sort of is. I'm not the kind of person who loads their plate up full to the brim -- wynnfood.jpgin fact, I don't even like it when my food groups touch, although that's part of it, too, I guess, the fact that you can have multiple plates, like as many as you want.

Like an egg plate (any omelet you want, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage) and a fish plate (high-end fish, like Nova Scotia salmon and seared albacore and shrimp) and a fruit plate and a turkey plate (if you actually wanted roast turkey and all the trimmings for breakfast) and a konchee plate, whatever that custardy konchee stuff is (and I'm not even sure I'm spelling it right) and a sushi plate, made fresh there right at the bar, and I don't even want to discuss the dessert plate although I have to mention the candy apple.

In Season - Roast Turkey

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by Russ Parsons


roastturkey.jpgRoast Turkey

After more than 20 years of writing Thanksgiving turkey recipes, I thought I had seen it all. And then came the "Judy Bird."

Inspired by the chicken-cooking technique of my friend Judy Rodgers, chef and owner at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe, it couldn't be simpler: You just salt the turkey a few days in advance, give it a brisk massage every so often to redistribute the salt, and then roast it.

The results are phenomenal. Without the fuss and mess of wet-brining, you still get the deep, well-seasoned flavor. And while wet-brining can sometimes lead to a slightly spongy texture, with dry-brining, the bird stays firm and meaty.

It has become a holiday staple for many of our readers, so we're reprising it again this year.

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Victorian Thanksgiving

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by Katherine Reback

victorian_thanksgiving.jpgIn a Thanksgiving article Harper’s Bazaar published in 1900, the author, Anna Wentworth Sears, recommends a jolly game of Pin The Head On The Turkey.  Rather than a tail and donkey, this requires a large paper bird missing his noggin which, given the bill of fare, seems to me not so jolly and also somewhat tragic.  But that’s just me. She also suggests, should this game grow tiresome, that ‘reciting Longfellow’s poetry to music’ makes for swell after-dinner fun.

All About Thanksgiving

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by Amy Sherman

country_home.jpg Thanksgiving is an annual American holiday celebrated by families, friends and magazines. Yes. Magazines. In fact, you could say our current version of Thanksgiving was invented by a magazine or more specifically a magazine editor.

Around this time every year, historians regale us with stories of what the first Thanksgiving was really like. We learn that it was unlikely they ate a stuffed turkey, there was no pumpkin pie, no cranberry sauce, and most of the food was provided by the Wampanoag not the pilgrims--who feasted on venison, lobsters, clams, oysters, and fish.

Harvest festivals were a long standing tradition for the Wampanoag natives going back way before the arrival of the pilgrims. The pilgrims and colonists, devout Christians, observed many days of "thanksgiving" throughout the year in which prayer and fasting were the order of the day, not feasting.

The first national Thanksgiving was held in December of 1777 by colonists to celebrate the surrender of British General Burgoyne at Saratoga. But Thanksgiving was not celebrated consistently all over the country until much, much later.


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by Katherine Reback

nyc_1900.jpgMy grandfather and several of my great uncles had a fur store in N.Y.  It was called Windsor Furs (to indicate, one can only guess, a regal presence previously unknown to 14th Street and 7th Avenue). Uncle Simon and Uncle Harry kept Windsor Furs well into their 90’s. And I would like to tell you all the funny, memorable stories I know about them and the shop.  But the thing that springs to mind at this moment is their business card. 

“Windsor Furs
Shop Here! Soon you will know the reason why.”

I loved it.   It was succinct.  Filled the reader with expectation.  And had a confidence so total that no other words were necessary.

I tell you this because of the stuffing recipe I found last November from Bruce Aidells, the founder of the eponymous sausage company.

Thanksgiving Popcorn

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by Susan Russo

thanksgivingpopcornYou've heard of Thanksgiving stuffing, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving turkey. But have you heard of Thanksgiving popcorn? Of course you haven't. That's because I just created it.

Why "Thanksgiving" popcorn? Read on.

I handed Jeff a bowl of popcorn and said, "Here, try this." He ate a couple of handfuls and said, "This is the best popcorn you've ever made."

"Really?" I said. (I thought my best was my maple walnut popcorn.)

He took another handful and tossed it in his mouth. "Oh, yeah. This is definitely the best. What's it called?" he asked.

"I don't know. I can't think of a name I like," I said.

"You should call it Thanksgiving popcorn. It's got all the flavors and smells of Thanksgiving," he said.

And that, my friends, is how today's popcorn got its name. Hmmm... I wonder if I can get my own Wikipedia entry for it.


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