Cooking. Relaxing. Friends and family. Great food. No pressure of gifts! I love Thanksgiving.
When I was a kid, my parents would host all of our aunts, uncles and cousins for Thanksgiving dinner at our house in Kingsville. It was so much fun...laughing, catching up, hearing old stories from our parents, watching football and the best part...eating! We had a traditional meal of roast turkey and sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, sauerkraut (you have to have it, no questions - this is Baltimore), gravy, soft dinner rolls and butter. Old school. So many great memories. I loved every minute of it.
Over the years we got together as a big family less often, cousins moved south, my brothers had their own families and in-laws, etc. So, during much of my adult life, I've celebrated the holiday with different groups of friends and family and it's actually been lots of fun. Once I went to the home of a vegetarian friend and had tofurkey - not bad at all, but I kinda missed the real bird. One year, my friends and I made pizzas using ingredients from Baltimore's amazing Italian grocery, Trinacria.
That was a Thanksgiving I will never forget!
While I do miss the old days of Thanksgiving for 30, it's also fun to mix it up and also to start new traditions, too. The last few years, I've hosted my mom at my house in Hampden. As the youngest of six kids, it's pretty darn cool to get to be in charge! I do the turkey, a few sides and sweet potato or pumpkin pie and mom brings a few sides, too. Two years ago, we just roasted a turkey breast and a couple of legs...and that was great for the two of us. But last year I wanted lots of leftovers, so I ordered a whole local, organic bird from Andy at Andy's Eggs & Poultry at the Waverly Market. Doing that again this year - thanks, Andy! Thanksgiving is the one time of the year when I actually love leftovers. Nothing like hanging out in your jammies the day after Thanksgiving enjoying a plate of leftovers for lunch. Heaven.
These days, thanks to Tyler Florence, I butterfly the bird. I happened to catch him on the Today Show last year and he showed how to easy it is to split it in two right down the back. This way, the turkey only takes an hour and a half or so to cook, stays very juicy and the skin is nice and crispy. I thought, I can do that (you need a good, solid sharp chef's knife or kitchen shears.) And, I did it. It was delicious.
Also...check out this piece from the food lab over at Serious Eats - some very helpful advice to guide you as you prepare to cook your feast, And here are some recipe ideas from Epicurious, Gourmet and Food52. Good stuff!
After Thanksgiving, two of my favorite things to make are turkey pot pie and pumpkin ice cream.
photo by the kitchn
For the pumpkin ice cream, it couldn't be easier. Scoop filling out of leftover pumpkin pie, mix with some really good vanilla ice cream, freeze and enjoy later. Ridiculous.
Here's what I want to know: What are your favorite things about Thanksgiving? Do you and your family or friends have any interesting traditions? Any recipes you'd care to share? Post them on my facebook page!