I’m attempting to scale back this year. In the last few years, I’ve attempted to really make our dinner something spectacular. I don’t think anyone but me noticed – so this year? Basics is #1.
- Turkey – cleaned inside and out, buttered inside and out, sprinkled with salt and pepper - roasted on 250°F all night*. By the morning, it will be done, the house will smell incredible. This in itself is a tradition that’s been a part of my family history for decades. Truly, it is NOT Thanksgiving for any of my siblings if we haven’t woken up to the smell of Thanksgiving. [low-fat option for me – eating the white meat instead of my REAL love of the thigh meat!]
- Mashed potatoes – not boxed – REAL potatoes. I peel and cut them into cubes and cover them in salted water the day before. 30 minutes before I’m ready to serve dinner, I place them on the stove, bring them to a boil and then time them. 10 minutes later, they’re done (usually). I poke them with a fork to make sure. Then I mash them with some canned milk and butter. Canned milk (evaporated) just makes them SO creamy and delicious! [low-fat option for me? None really – although I might try an old standby of mashing some with chicken broth instead. I dunno]
- Baked mashed sweet potatoes – I wrap my peeled sweet potatoes in foil and bake them in a 350 oven the day before – typically when I also cook the corn bread for my next item. [low-fat option for me – I can eat these because I don’t put butter on them at all!]
- A new favorite of mine – cornbread cranberry stuffing. Corn bread, cranberries, almonds, ginger – it’s incredible. I’ll post the directions for this soon. [low-fat option for me – I can eat this if I scale back on the butter that the recipe calls for. This works out well, considering I’m the only one who eats it LOL]
- Sausage stuffing. Here’s another OLD family tradition. Although I do not technically STUFF the bird, it’s stuffing. It’s not DRESSING. DRESSING is what you put on salad! ;) Another tradition involving this particular holiday food is being sure to include your kids in the tearing the bread into bite-sized pieces preparation that goes along with it. My grandmother reminded me, every.singe.time I helped her make this stuffing to make sure “the bread isn’t too big or too small!” – just as she did with my mom – and now just as I do with my son (and soon, daughter!). If I’m on the phone with my mom or sister and mention that I’m making the stuffing, they’ll chime in with “and make sure the bread isn’t too big or too small!” in loving tribute to my Nana. [low-fat option for me? hahahahaha. NONE. I will have just a tiny bit, though – stomach be damned.]
- The one thing I have made a concerted effort to do now is that NOTHING comes from a can on the big holidays. My family deserves freshly made food. So I’ll also include some corn and perhaps carrots – oooh, maybe some honey glazed carrots – as side dishes! [low-fat option for me – no brainer. I can eat all the veggies I want, as long as there’s no butter. ]
- Home-made pan gravy. Made from the drippings from the turkey, I add some addition broth (chicken broth, truth be told). Brought to a boil, you just thicken it with some flour & water (mixed together). [Be sure to use COLD water when mixing the flour & water.] Whisk out the lumps and voila! YUMMY gravy not from a jar. [low-fat option for me? Kind of out of luck with that, but I’ll have a tiny bit. JUST a tiny bit, though.]
- Dessert. I’m thinking maybe my apple pie, since it is such a crowd (read: all 5 of us) pleaser, and it’s easily made! [low-fat option for me – MINE. ALL MINE! oops. I can have *some* – a small piece.]
That’s it. No home-made orange cranberry sauce. No homemade rolls. No baked squash with apples. I have to live a low-fat lifestyle, so I won’t even be able to EAT most of what I’m cooking – or at least, not in the manner to which I have been accustomed to for the last 40(ish) years.
My new family tradition is when we all gather around the table and we each give thanks for something. Sometimes, it makes me cry, thinking about my grandparents and how much I miss them - but it makes me thankful that I've passed their memories on to my kids, and although 2 of my kids never even met them, they will know them in their hearts, always.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
*Note: I KNOW that the way I cook the turkey isn't up to snuff with the turkey hotline people. I've TRIED the turkey hotline people's way for several years - and was paid back by turkey that I didn't enjoy. Turkey that I would even wind up throwing away because we didn't eat it all. Last year, I decided to go back to my mom's way of cooking it and we quite literally would have licked the bones, if there were any meat left on them! So please. I know. Ok? :)