Thanksgiving oughta be when we make life-altering resolutions, not the new year. I think we have a lot better chance of achieving new goals when they’re food-based, not regret- and hangover-based. So I offer my Thanksgiving resolutions:
1) Have lots of food. I attended two dinners with a hostess who doled out the meal to the morsel: Nothing was left on the serving plate for anyone to have seconds. I’m sure she thought what she served was quite enough, and of course, we politely said we were full. Regardless, if I’m inviting people over for a meal — especially Thanksgiving — I’d rather make sure my guests enjoyed as
much as they wanted of whatever was offered. I always make a little extra so no one feels self-conscious about taking seconds. (No lectures on portion control, please. It’s Thanksgiving. We’ll return to the exercise regimen on Friday.)
My relatives dissed me last year for having two different pies for our group of usually 7 or 8, but I’m thinking of them. Really.
2) Only one new recipe per meal. It’s folly to try a bunch of new dishes at Thanksgiving. (That’s what backyard barbecues are for.) What if they all go wrong? Too much pressure. And too much disturbance of tradition (unless that IS your tradition).
That said, I admit this is the resolution I usually break. I find it very hard to resist trying something different on my crowd. My cousin is bringing an apple pie to back-stop this year’s pumpkin-molasses pie experiment. (“If the guests don’t like it, more for us,” my husband just said. How I love this man!)
Anyway, after I made the pie, I broke my rule by tinkering with the cranberry sauce. I usually make whole-berry sauce from the simple recipe on the cranberry package: 1 cup water plus 1 cup sugar, boil, then add 1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries, boil again, cool and serve. (And just for the record, 10 years ago I added jalapeno to the cranberries and was mocked. Now everyone’s doing it. But I digress.)
This year I added 1/3 cup crystallized candied ginger to the mix. That gives it a mild but definite flavor of ginger that goes well with the berries. Or you could add some microplaned fresh ginger. You can also get a nice flavor kick from a tablespoonful of orange peel — and maybe also a tablespoonful of chopped jalapeno. Add more or less depending on your taste, of course.
3) Don’t push buttons, and don’t let other people push yours. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a nice gathering with family and friends, not a chance to air grievances. (That’s what Christmas is for. JUST KIDDING!!) Use some manners jiu-jitsu to deflect and distract from the beginnings of a dustup. “No, I’m not working/married/divorced/pregnant yet. Wow, isn’t that a prothonotary warbler outside in the backyard/Is something burning/Do I hear the cat choking? Excuse me while I go and check.”
4) For hosts: Enjoy your guests. For guests: Enjoy your hosts. Thanksgiving is about family and friends, not food, IMHO. As my aunt says, “We could have a ham sandwich. I wouldn’t care. It’s about getting together.” She’s so right. Life is uncertain, and who knows whether we’ll all be here same time next year? Resolve to enjoy these people while they are still with you. (See No. 3.) You can start fighting again on Friday.
I hope everyone has a safe, happy and bounteous Thanksgiving!
(c) copyright Laura Groch 2014