THANKSGIVING MEME

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Thanks Joy at Joy of Desserts for tagging me for this Thanksgiving Meme.

While you’re right that here in the States we are all busy preparing for the big feast and for family and friends to gather, a fun tag IS the answer for both blog authors and readers alike to learn a bit more about us.

Now because it is almost Thanksgiving and everyone is sooooooooooooooooo busy this time of year I invite all my readers that want to participate to consider themselves tagged! Be sure and leave me a message so I can come read your answers!

There are only two easy rules:
1. Post these rules when you participate in this meme.
2. Link to the people you tag as well as the person who tagged you.

Now on to the FUN!!

1. Which do you like better: hosting Thanksgiving at your home, or going elsewhere?

Years ago I somehow ended up hosting for my family and that became tradition. I think I prefer it, but we have had many wonderful Thanksgivings elsewhere. Last year was at my sis-in-laws and 2 years before that at her DIL’s and while were both wonderful, they were much different from having had it here.

2. Do you buy a fresh or frozen turkey? Organic? Free-range?

Depends on what is available in the small town neck of the woods. I don’t care whether it is frozen or fresh per se, but do want a free range one.

3. Do you make stuffing or dressing? What kind?
Absolutely make it from scratch! It’s an Oatnut Sourdough Herb Stuffing.

4. Sweet potato pie or Pumpkin pie?
Neither, it’s Pumpkin Cheesecake here.

5. Are leftovers a blessing or a curse?
Definitely a blessing. We love the leftovers for easy meals the following week and MUST HAVE turkey sandwiches.

6. What side dishes are a must-have in your family?
Oatnut Sourdough Herb Stuffing, Apricot Carrot Casserole and Baked Pineapple.

7. What do you wish you had that might make Thanksgiving easier?
A double wall oven would be easier on my back.

8. If/when you go to someone else’s house for the holiday, do you usually bring a dish? If so, what is it? My Apricot Carrot Casserole because it is so different and blends well with whatever their menu is.

9. What do you wish one of your guests would bring to your house?
Smiles, appetites and positive attitudes.

10. What do you wish one of your guests would NOT bring to your house?
Bad attitudes coupled with deep seated arguments over politics and/or religion.

11. Do you stick with a particular menu from year to year, or do you mix it up?

While I do try to mix-it up now and then, a lynch mob quickly forms if I don’t keep it pretty close to what it has always been. For Christmas I have been able to mix it up better as it is also our youngest son’s birthday. He gets to pick the basic meat and then everyone else gets to pick a favorite to go with it and that has become our tradition since.

12. Is Thanksgiving a religious or secular holiday in your home?

It is a beautiful melding of both. We celebrate the pilgrimage with the influence God has always had on it.

13. Share one Thanksgiving tradition.
The Thanksgiving traditions in my family seemed to dwindle as the kids grew older and then the extended families and alternate get togethers grew. We do have a traditional meal with the same traditional recipes we have always used though.

14. Share one Thanksgiving memory.

As for disaster, it seems that in my parent’s house it always happened on Thanksgiving and usually involved the garbage disposal backing up and creating a HUGE mess. One year in particular it was really bad! So bad we couldn’t even have people over. My grandparents only lived a few blocks away. Long story short, grandpa brought their red Chevy station wagon over to our house with and old quilt spread out in the back and the adults loaded all the food there. My uncle and I rode in the back to keep all the bowls and pans from tilting over. While grandpa had been at our house, grandma had set the table at their house. All the food was unloaded from the station wagon and the preparation continued in grandma’s kitchen. It was one of the more memorable Thanksgivings I can remember.

15. Name five things you’re thankful for.

  1. My Faith and love of God
  2. The love of family and friends
  3. A roof over our heads
  4. Food on the table and Dirty Dishes
  5. Babies & Puppies

final blog signature.

Giving Thanks and Tips on Tuesday (way early)

Giving Thanks is hosted by Kelli at There is No Place Like Home

Tips on Tuesday is hosted by Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

I know I’m really early for Tips on Tuesday, but I felt this was a good one to do way early and combine with giving thanks. Thanksgiving is only 6 days away!! For many people holiday cooking can be soooooooo stressful that they never enjoy the day with their family or the wonderful food they spent all day preparing!

Having been in the restaurant business most of my life has taught me a great many things, not the least of which is being prepared. Now being prepared sounds generic, but there is being prepared with a menu, being prepared with a grocery list, being prepared with sale ads and coupons to stay on budget with that list, being prepared with table arrangement, being prepared with decorations, being prepared for disaster… being prepared to change anything and everything at the last minute.

As a child I observed all the hubbub with anticipation and excitement. My parents always argued while preparing for the family and holiday meal which created that much more stress and began my impending dread of holiday/family get togethers.

As for disaster, it seems that in my parent’s house it always happened on Thanksgiving and usually involved the garbage disposal backing up and creating a HUGE mess. One year in particular it was really bad! So bad we couldn’t even have people over. My grandparents only lived a few blocks away. Long story short, grandpa brought their red Chevy station wagon over to our house with and old quilt spread out in the back and the adults loaded all the food there. My uncle and I rode in the back to keep all the bowls and pans from tilting over. While grandpa had been at our house, grandma had set the table at their house. All the food was unloaded from the station wagon and the preparation continued in grandma’s kitchen. It was one of the more memorable Thanksgivings I can remember.

Years later when I began making the Thanksgiving meal I too began to stress over it and then I decided to change it! I remembered that story and decided being prepared and flexible was the key as I too wanted to enjoy the day.

This is where the restaurant and cooking experience came in handy. I had learned along the way that most foods taste better after the flavors have the opportunity to meld. That being said, why wait until Thursday to make everything? I start on Monday. Many of us use the same recipes year after year for these holidays which should make things easier! Here are many of the things I do in advance and a few my dad used to do that are all helpful for a stress free day.

  • A few weeks before the big holiday sit down with your recipes and take stock of your pantry as you make a menu and shopping list. Compare your list to the local sales ads and the coupons you have on hand. I try to shop on a Tuesday or Wednesday when I have the time to browse and compare if necessary. I won’t say I have never run to the store for a last minute item, but I can guarantee you I always have few enough items to use the express line. I always shake my head at those people with FULL baskets on Thanksgiving morning with the turkey proudly plopped on top of the boxed dressing.
  • Now that your menu and list is complete, plan your table and decorations. I keep it harvest and autumn themed, you know warm and cozy. For me that requires ironing the table cloth & napkins and retrieving decorations from the basement so I do this the week before. On the Tuesday before I do my dusting and arrange my decorations. Everyone is different so my biggest suggestion is pretty and comfortable so everyone has a good time. (Too formal and the whole day becomes stiff.). Then on Wednesday night after dinner and the kitchen is cleaned up I iron my tablecloth and leave it draped over the table with the napkins already in their silver rings
  • On Monday I make a BIG double batch of cranberry sauce and freeze half for Christmas. I’m already working at making my Christmas preparation stress free. LOL.
  • Usually on Tuesday I scrub and peel my potatoes and boil them. I always add salt, pepper and teaspoon of vinegar to the water. Then I drain them, place them in the mixing bowl, add the butter and cover them for the refrigerator. On Thursday all I have to do is pop them into the microwave long enough to heat them and melt the butter, add the buttermilk and seasonings and mash. This way the dirty pan has long since been washed and I don’t risk garbage disposal issues.
  • I also make my stuffing on Tuesday so the flavors can meld. I actually bake it as if it were being eaten that night. Then on Thursday I only need to heat it through instead of taking up precious oven space for a longer period of time. I often make this a double batch and freeze half for Christmas.
  • The traditional green bean casserole and glazed carrots or apricot carrot casserole are made on Tuesday too as well as any dips and appetizers.
  • I reserve Wednesday for the sweets like Pumpkin Cheesecake and Rum Raisin Carrot Cake or Bread Pudding so there are fresh, but flavorful. All the pots, pans, etc… from Tuesday and Wednesday have been washed and put away helping to alleviate A LOT of the stress.
  • Dad used to prepare the turkey on Wednesday evening. This way you can boil the carcass for a great tasting gravy and have the entire mess cleaned up before the first person arrives. He would layer the white meat on one side and the dark on the other side of the oven proof platter, but ALWAYS would spray a light mist of water between the layers. He would then seal it in a tight layer of heavy duty foil. Now it is ready to be heated in the oven the next day.

Now on Thursday all I have to do is pop the turkey in the oven, set the rest of the table, make the gravy and pour myself a glass of wine while I wait stress free!

On Sunday visit Heidi at Foxgloves, Fabric and Folly where she will list the ideas and recipes that everyone has been sending her for the holidays.

Wild Turkey

Just a few months ago you’d see all the “mom” turkeys with a stream of baby turkeys trotting along behind her. Now I think it’s time for them to run for the woods. They’re starting to look like Thanksgiving dinner. There are hundreds and hundreds of wild turkeys in this north woods area. There is also an abundance of deer according to the DNR due to the recent mild winters.