The BEST pies MUST start with the BEST crust, one that is tender and flaky as well as flavorful!  One of my keys to that crust is VODKA! It adds the moisture when you need it, but then evaporates during baking leaving a tender flaky crust in its wake.


PIE CRUST (makes 2 9 inch pie crusts)
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon FINE sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons REALLY COLD** unsalted butter, cut into cubes
6 tablespoons REALLY COLD** Crisco stick**, cut into cubes
6-8 tablespoons Vodka

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
  • Using a pastry blender cut in butter and Crisco until mixture is crumbly.
  • Using a fork add Vodka 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture comes together to form a ball.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a ball.
  • Form into 2 disks and wrap in saran.
  • Refrigerate at least an hour.
  • When ready to bake, roll out 1 disk on a lightly floured surface to size and transfer to pie plate.
  • Trim crust and flute edge.
  • Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Line pie crust with a double layer of foil and fill with beans or pie weights. DO NOT PRICK THE PIE SHELL!
  • Bake on lower rack 15-20 minutes until edges are a light golden brown.
  • Remove weights and foil and bake 5 minutes more.
  • Cool COMPLETELY on wire rack.
  • Reduce heat to 325°.

3 1/2 cups FRESH cranberries
1/2 cup chopped cherry pieces
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 LARGE eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons WONDRA flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla

  • In a large sauce pan combine, cranberries, cherries, 1/2 cup sugar, orange juice and water. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, stir occasionally and cook uncovered 7-10 minutes until cranberries have all popped.
  • Remove from heat.
  • In a small bowl whisk together egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, flour and salt until well blended.
  • Gradually whisk in about 1/2 cup of the cranberry mixture to temper the eggs.
  • Add back to the cranberry mixture and return to a low heat stirring constantly until a gentle boil. Cook a few minutes more.
  • Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
  • Cool while preparing the meringue.

4 LARGE egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

  • Beat egg whites with cream of tartar and vanilla until foamy.
  • Add the remaining sugar 1 tablespoon at a time beating on high until sugar is dissolved.
  • Beat until you have stiff glossy peaks.
  • Pour warm filling into pie crust.
  • Spread meringue over filling sealing the edges to the pastry.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until meringue is golden brown
  • COOL COMPLETELY on wire rack for 1 hour.
  • Refrigerate and CHILL at least 4 hours before serving.


  • Cranberries will pop on their own, but if they need a little help, use the back of a spoon and pop them against the side of the pan.
  • After I cut the butter and Crisco into cubes I place them on a small plate in my ice tray until I need them.
  • You can use frozen cranberries and cherries, but be sure to thaw completely and drain well.
  • Pineapple juice can easily be substituted for the orange juice.
  • For BEST results chill beaters and metal mixing bowl in freezer for making the meringue.


The term BLACK FRIDAY appears to have been coined in Philadelphia by the police, where it was originally used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term began around 1966 and was used primarily on the east coast It began to see broader use around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or “in the black.

I know many of you probably love to participate in Black Friday.  I for one, can’t stand it.  I like to enjoy my Thanksgiving weekend in its entirety!  That means sleeping in on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at least until 7.  I refuse to get up and go shopping at 3 AM for anyone or anything!
More importantly, at least to me, is that I don’t want to rush through an important family holiday just so I can get up at 3 AM (if I got to bed at all) and go stand in line all day to spend money.
Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history, but by the mid 20th century, the final Thursday in November had become the customary day of Thanksgiving in most U.S. states. It was not until December 26, 1941, however, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after pushing two years earlier to move the date earlier to give the country an economic boost, signed a bill into law with Congress, making Thanksgiving a national holiday and settling it to the fourth (but not final) Thursday in November.
Traditionally, for me anyway, “Black Friday” has been spent sleeping in, eating turkey sandwiches, putting up the Christmas tree, wrapping gifts (because I am done shopping by Thanksgiving since most of my items need to be shipped), watching old movies, baking and any other thing that comes to mind.
So if you participate in black Friday, I hope it will be safe and enjoyable for you.  May I suggest next year though that you take it all a bit slower and enjoy the weekend long and leisurely?  Maybe take that weekend to make your gifts or holiday cards and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday AND the beginning of the Christmas Holiday season with your family.


1 pound bacon, chopped
2 sticks butter
1 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup, chopped flat leaf parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed, chopped
3 sprigs fresh tarragon, stems removed, chopped
15 pound turkey, rinsed, drained and innards removed and reserved for gravy
1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
1 large lemon, rested and quartered
1 blood orange, quartered
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh ground Himalayan salt
2 teaspoon fresh ground tricolor pepper
5 large carrots, washed and trimmed
5 stalks celery, washed and scraped

  • Pulse together the bacon, shallots, garlic, sherry, green onions, mustard, tarragon, thyme and rosemary until you have a smooth paste.
  • Refrigerate until chilled through. I like to make this part on Tuesday so it is well chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Lower oven rack to bottom.
  • Arrange carrots and celery on bottom of roaster in a basket weave pattern.
  • Place onion, lemon and orange quarters in turkey cavity.
  • Tie legs with food grade twine or baking bands.
  • Whisk together the lemon zest, avocado oil, salt and pepper.
  • Carefully separate skin from the body without tearing or piercing the skin.
  • Insert the bacon paste between skin and meat, massaging into an even layer.
  • Coat the outside of the turkey with the oil.
  • Pat brown sugar over oil.
  • Place the turkey in the roaster on top of carrot and celery grid.
  • Tent loosely with foil.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes per pound or until turkey reaches 150° (in the thigh). Baste ever 20 minutes or so.
  • Remove foil and bake uncovered until skin has browned and temperature has risen to 160°. Continue basting every 15  minutes or so. You want the skin to crisp, but NOT dry out.
  • Remove turkey from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest 20 minutes or so.


It’s Thanksgiving week! The food prep can be overwhelming at time, but over the years I’ve found ways to make Thursday more enjoyable without breaking my back.  I did ALL the shopping this morning and one of the first things I did was ALL the tedious chopping for my stuffing vegetables and gravy vegetables. I did a little research and found out I have been using a combination of several methods for years. Mirepoix from the French is plainly diced vegetables cooked with butter (generally) on a gentle heat without browning until soft and flavorful. You are not trying to caramelize, but blend and sweeten the flavors to use as a base for other foods.

A traditional mirepoix is 2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part carrots. This traditional base is then built and layered upon to enhance flavors for building stocks, soups, stews and sauces.

To make mirepoix: Rinse, trim, and peel vegetables — typically two parts onion to one part carrot and one part celery — then chop them into uniform pieces. The shorter the cooking time of your recipe, the smaller the pieces should be, so that they effectively infuse the foods with flavor.

There are of course different names and combinations of vegetables based on the culture. Similar flavor bases include:

  • the Italian soffritto, The Italian version of mirepoix is called soffritto is a base of finely chopped parsley and onion sauted in lard, but most modern cooks substitute olive oil or butter. Garlic, celery, or carrot may also be included. According to the Italian restaurateur Benedetta Vitali, soffritto means “underfried” and describes it as “a preparation of lightly browned minced vegetables, not a dish by itself.”
  • the Spanish sofito, There are many different versions of sofrito, but the basics are green and red peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro.
  • the Portuguese refogado. Refogado is a Portuguese-style sofrito featuring onion, garlic, saffron, tomato and smoked paprika.
  • the German Suppengrün (leeks, carrots, and celeriac), means soup greens in German, and the Dutch equivalent is soepgroente. Soup greens usually come in a bundle and consists of a leek, a carrot, and a piece of celeriac. It may also contain parsley, thyme, celery leaves, rutabaga, parsley root, and onions. The mix depends on regional traditions, as well as individual recipes. The vegetables used are cold-climate roots and bulbs with long shelf lives. Suppengrün act as herbs and impart hearty, strong flavors to the soup or sauce, providing a foil for other strong tasting ingredients such as dried peas and beans or pot roast. Large chunks of vegetables are slow cooked to make flavorful soups and stocks, and are discarded when the vegetables have given up most of their flavor. Finely chopped Suppengrün are browned in fat and used as a basis for a finished sauce. The vegetables may also be cooked long enough until they fall apart, and may become part of the sauce or pureed to form the sauce.
  • the Polish włoszczyzna (leeks, carrots, celery root, and parsley root), A typical set of soup greens, known as włoszczyzna, the Polish word for soup vegetables or greens and literally translates to “Italian stuff”, used in Polish cuisine: carrots, parsley root and leaves, leek, and celeriac. Bay leaves and allspice grains are also shown. Queen Bona Sforza, who was Italian and married Polish King Sigismund I the Old in 1518, introduced this concept to Poland. A włoszczyzna may consist of carrots, parsnips or parsley root, celery root or celeriac, leeks, and savoy or white cabbage leaves, and sometimes celery leaves and flat-leaf parsley.
  • and here in the U.S. we use the standard mirepoix, the classic and most common French combination of onions, carrots, and celery, typically in a ratio of 2 parts onion to 1 parts each carrot and celery as well as the Cajun and Creole holy trinity that replaces the carrots in the standard mirepoix with bell peppers and sometimes the French duxelles (mushrooms and often onion or shallot and herbs, reduced to a paste).

Though the cooking technique is probably older, the term “mirepoix” dates from the 18th century and is credited to the chef, Charles Pierre Gaston Francois de Levis, duc de Levis Mirepoix who was the field marshall and ambassador and member of the noble family of Levis, lords of Mirepoix.



Need a quick, easy and pretty side dish for Thanksgiving?  I have it right here for you!



1-2 large cucumbers, sliced thin
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Champagne Dressing
  • Arrange cucumbers, green onions and pomegranate seeds on serving plate.
  • Generously salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle dressing over top.
  • Chill.
  • Enjoy!

1/3 cup peanut oil
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons sugar
salt & pepper to taste

  • Whisk together peanut oil, champagne vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt & pepper. Chill for several hours.
  • Enjoy!


As I was selecting a Thanksgiving Menu this year I was struck by the thought that much of the menu may not have even been at the first Thanksgiving which prompted me to do some research.

According to HISTORY.COM much of what we eat today for Thanksgiving is vastly different from the First Thanksgiving.

As I was selecting a Thanksgiving Menu this year I was struck be the thought that much of the menu may not have even been at the first Thanksgiving which prompted me to do some research.

Today for many Americans, their traditional Thanksgiving meal includes many “seasonal” dishes such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie.

As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, moreover, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that truly spans cultures, continents and millennia. Thanksgiving itself dates back to November 1621. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. But, it wasn’t until 1863, during the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty. Historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot.

The first autumn harvest for the newly arrived Pilgrims corresponded with the Wampanoag Indians autumn harvest celebration at Plymouth. This event is widely regarded as America’s First Thanksgiving. Much of the local fare would have been from the Indians harvest.

In November 1621, now remembered as America’s “first Thanksgiving”, although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time. The festival lasted for three days.

No exact records exist of the actual menu, but Edward Winslow journaled that after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful the colony’s governor, William Bradford sent 4 men hunting for wild turkey, which was plentiful in the region and common food fare for both the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians. It is also possible that the hunters also returned with ducks and geese. He was organizing a celebratory feast a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit.

Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. As for the dressing or stuffing, herbs, onions and nuts may have been added to the birds for flavor.
The first Thanksgiving’s attendees almost certainly got their fill of meat. Winslow wrote that the Wampanoag guests arrived with an offering of five deer. Culinary historians speculate that the deer was roasted on a spit over a smoldering fire and that the colonists might have used some of the venison to whip up a hearty stew.

Local vegetables that likely appeared on the table include onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and perhaps peas. Corn, which records show was plentiful at the first harvest, might also have been served, but not in the way most people enjoy it now. In those days, the corn would have been removed from the cob and turned into cornmeal, which was then boiled and pounded into a thick corn mush or porridge that was occasionally sweetened with molasses.

Fruits indigenous to the region included blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries and, of course cranberries, which Native Americans ate and used as a natural dye. While the Pilgrims might have been familiar with cranberries by the first Thanksgiving, they wouldn’t have made sauces and relishes with the tart orbs. The Pilgrims would surely have depleted their sugar supplies by this time. Records show that adding sugar to cranberries and using the mixture as a relish didn’t actually happen until about 50 years later.

Because of their location and proximity to the coast, many culinary historians believe that much of the Thanksgiving menu consisted of many seafood entrees that are no longer on today’s menus. Mussels in particular were abundant in New England and could be easily harvested because they clung to rocks along the shoreline. The colonists occasionally served mussels with curds, a dairy product with a similar consistency to cottage cheese. Lobster, bass, clams and oysters might also have been part of the feast.

Whether they were mashed, roasted, white or sweet, potatoes were not at the first Thanksgiving as they had yet to arrive to the north American region. Present on the menu would have been turnips and possibly groundnuts.

As for pumpkin pie, pumpkins and squashes were indigenous to the New England area, but the settlers hadn’t yet constructed an oven and lacked both the butter and flour to have made a pie crust. Some accounts do imply that early settlers improvised by hollowing out pumpkins, filling the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard, then roasting the gourds whole in hot ashes. The lack of sugar and an oven would have also eliminate pies, cakes or other desserts from the menu.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

Pilgrims didn’t hold their second Thanksgiving celebration until 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well.

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

Turkey, because it contains tryptophan often gets blamed for the drowsiness and the need for a nap after the big Thanksgiving meal, but studies suggest it is really the carbohydrate-rich sides and desserts that allow tryptophan to enter the brain.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusett Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Beginning in the mid-20th century and perhaps even earlier, the president of the United States has “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, sparing the birds from slaughter and sending them to a farm for retirement. A number of U.S. governors also perform the annual turkey pardoning ritual.

New York, In 1817, became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition.  In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln, finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

It was Abraham Lincoln who scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when FDR moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance; instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends.
Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day activity, and communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.

Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Presented by Macy’s department store since 1924, New York City’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the largest and most famous, attracting some 2 to 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile route and drawing an enormous television audience. It typically features marching bands, performers, elaborate floats conveying various celebrities and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.

For some scholars, the jury is still out on whether the feast at Plymouth really constituted the first Thanksgiving in the United States and many Native Americans take issue with how the Thanksgiving story is presented to the American public, and especially to schoolchildren. In their view, the traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, masking the long and bloody history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers that resulted in the deaths of millions. Since 1970, protesters have gathered on the day designated as Thanksgiving at the top of Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, to commemorate a “National Day of Mourning.” Similar events are held in other parts of the country. Historians have recorded other ceremonies of thanks among other European settlers in North America that actually predate the Pilgrims’ celebration.