Turkey Day 2011

In recent years, Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays. The older I get, the more I appreciate the time out to be grateful for all of the good things in life, and the opportunity to spend time with the people that matter most. This probably sounds cheesy, but it just seems that life gets busier and busier lately and it’s so easy to forget to take the time to do these seemingly simple things.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday is spending the day in the kitchen with my mom. We’ve gotten pretty good at our holiday preparations over the years—we don’t even bump into each other in her tiny kitchen. We always take quite a few breaks in between chopping onions, whipping the potatoes, and making cranberry sauce to watch the Macy’s Parade. Perhaps we’ll start our own Thanksgiving catering company someday.

I usually help out by making some of the sides and something for dessert, but my mom always does the turkey. She’s a pro at them since she makes at least one a month (maybe more?). Every Thanksgiving, someone says “This is the best turkey ever.”  But, this year, it was. Seriously. My mom got a tip from Bobby Flay on the Food Network who said that the secret to a moist turkey is to cook it until it reaches 165 degrees in the breast. My mom has decided that the instant read thermometer she recently purchased was the best $3 she ever spent.

There was plenty of other stuff on the menu, too:

  1. Stuffing, with sausage, ground pork and veal–which was probably also the best ever, due to another Food Network tip from Emeril, who suggested soaking the bread cubes in a mixture of egg, cream, and stock to keep it from drying out when cooking.
  1. Mashed and sweet potatoes
  1. Corn on the cob
  1. Two kinds of cranberry sauce (orange ginger and plain)
  1. Roasted mushrooms and brussel sprouts.
  1. My aunt’s pumpkin muffins, corn bread, and dinner rolls.
  1. For dessert, salted caramel ice cream and applesauce coffee cake. Side note: Do yourself and favor and make this ice cream ASAP. The preparation is a bit time consuming because you have to take your time with preparing the caramel (I burned one batch), but the end result is amazing. Buttery, rich, and—strangely—warming.

All in all, it was a perfect Thanksgiving. I got to spend it with my husband, mom, aunt, and brother—the best family anyone could ask for—eat, play with my mom’s three dogs, win at Apples to Apples (but lose at Scrabble), and watch Elf. Now, that I’m actually able to look at food again, it’s time to start planning for holiday baking and Christmas feasts!

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Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! What was on your menu?

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