Monday, November 22, 2010


I’m all in favor of feasting. I think the best way to celebrate something, anything, is with a collaborative effort of creative culinary minds resulting in a groaning board that is quickly but gratefully dismantled by hearty eaters. My best and fondest memories are of such events, almost always with family, and occasionally with good friends. It usually seems like it’s all about the food, but cheerful chatter and lots of laughing are always a big part of the celebration, too. I’ve been fortunate that way.

I’ve never really hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for more than two people (including myself), but I contribute when I can (this year, again, I’m bringing the pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce), but I’d have to be an idiot to not recognize the effort that goes into choreographing such an event for a crowd. As difficult and perhaps stressful as that huge meal can be to put together, especially with the average Thanksgiving dinner expectations, it’s becoming just as difficult to keep genuine gratitude at the forefront of the celebration. If one were merely to watch television commercials to determine the gist of the American cultural scene of late autumn, one might think Thanksgiving is merely the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season with the Big Dinner as a carbo-load for Black Friday shopping. And this kickoff date seems in danger of creeping ever earlier (as soon as the Halloween candy and decorations are sold off at clearance prices, the Christmas stuff takes their place on the shelves). Will we soon be tricked into skipping Thanksgiving altogether because it’s not as marketable as other holidays?

I think we’re smarter than that. I think we need holidays and activity to help us through the dark and the cold and the snow of the approaching winter, but we know what they really mean at their core, and that doesn’t have to be the same thing for all of us. I think most of us know what we are fortunate to have and we are grateful for it, even if it is not the same kind of thing for which others are grateful. You don’t have to subscribe to a particular or any religion or feel that you owe someone to celebrate and give thanks.

So, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, and hope you have a fabulous celebration. I also hope you can take some time between unfastening your tightening belt and the football game and the shopping spree to remember what is good in your life, especially the simple things. Laugh a little. Have some fun. Dig in to a good meal if possible. Offer a toast or two, or a prayer if that’s your preference. Actually say, “Thank you,” to the folks in your life who deserve it. And, for goodness sake, thank the person or persons who cooked your Thanksgiving dinner!

While it’s probably best if you already have your Thanksgiving meal planned by now, here are a few recipes from The Messy Apron archives that I think would go well on a Thanksgiving table.
Broccoli Stem and Kohlrabi Slaw
Cranberry Sauce (the can is out of the question!)
Crunchy Cabbage, Cauliflower and Apple Salad
Grandmama’s Pumpkin Pie
Red Cabbage Slaw with Apples and Cranberries
Roasted Vegetables
Spaghetti Squash Salad with Greek Flavors
Spinach Salad with Apples and Maple Walnut Vinaigrette
Sweet and Tart Broccoli Salad
Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Maple Walnut Vinaigrette

And, if you’re serving people who prefer a vegetarian meal, you might consider main courses such these:
Quinoa Stuffed Squash
Winter Vegetable Galettes with Cheddar, Mustard and Caramelized Onions
Winter Squash and Leek Empanadas with Sage
Winter Squash and Onion Curry with Yogurt Sauce

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