Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Nobody I know quite does Thanksgiving like we do. 40 loud, wonderful people somehow all fit into one house and we all sit down to dinner. Everyone brings a dish, and usually it’s the same dish for 50+ years. I have been trying to write this blog for weeks (months) now, however, it’s quite a daunting task! It’s never too late to talk about Thanksgiving though. What could be wrong with a holiday filled with family, food, and reminding ourselves to be thankful for the best things in our lives?
What’s amazing to me is that some of the cousins that are there are my 6th cousins (or something like that… it’s just too hard to calculate). The discussion comes up every year that no one is quite sure how some of us are related and it’s always tossed around that we should make a family tree. It never gets done… but no one seems to mind. (And if any of you should see any errors below or have any additions, please feel free to let me know! I know what an opinionated bunch we can be.)
I have to give special thanks to my sister the photographer for these amazing pics! My point and shoot will never be able to capture what her good camera does and her eye is just fantastic!
So how does this work? I’m pretty sure our gracious hosts begin prepping for the next Thanksgiving the day after the previous Thanksgiving ended. I do know they collect takeout containers all year to ensure we can all take home some leftovers!
My dad usually brings an appetizer, but this year he wanted to do something different. He went with toasted bread with guacamole and shrimp. It was fresh and delicious. I think I see a keeper! (At least for a few years)
A new addition this year was pigs in blankets. How can you go wrong with tiny hot dogs in pastry?
I have to say, it is not Thanksgiving without the meatballs. I don’t know how this Jewish family started the tradition of meatballs every Thanksgiving, but I’m sure glad they did! As soon as I smell the sauce and see the little copper pot go on the warming stand, I know it truly is Thanksgiving.
I guess serving it with challah makes it more culturally fitting, but really it’s just the conduit for getting as much sauce as possible up from our plates.
We used to have one giant turkey, however, this year we had THREE smaller turkeys. This is the one thing that isn’t cooked by the family. We outsource this due to simple volume of meat.
Thankfully, we have many expert carvers in the family.
Mike attended his first Thanksgiving last year and I give him a lot of credit. It cannot be easy to walk into our family, especially at Thanksgiving. We are a loud, out going, crazy bunch. And there are a LOT of us. Mike managed to hold his own, however, and even brought a butternut squash souffle last year that was a hit. So of course we brought it again this year. Unfortunately we had a bit of a collapse this year, so there was a little hole in the middle. Nobody seemed to mind.
The cranberry sauce is homemade, and even I, who isn’t a cranberry fan, look forward to this every year.
The dinner spread pretty much never changes. There is always turkey, gravy, string beans, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, baked turnips, cranberry sauce, corn bread (new arrival in the past few years) and stuffing. This year the stuffing was a bit different than normal, however, I LOVED it. Whichever cousin made this… take note!
The spread is so big that Stacey had to capture it in 2 shots and then put the panorama together.
Everyone is assigned seats each year, designated by a leaf with their name on it on their plate (see in the below picture on the left). The plan for plates is the same for most people: take a little of everything.
To me, the desserts are epic. My sweet tooth is never quite so satisfied as it is on Thanksgiving. This is also filled with tradition, however, there are more change-ups in dessert than there are at dinner. There are always items that remain the same: Dinah’s brownies and apple pie, marble cake, cheesecake, and chocolate chip cookies. This year we had the addition of gooey pumpkin squares, a new (winning) recipe for the pumpkin pie, and I brought the pumpkin whoopie pies and the salted english toffee that I fell in love with this year.
Just looking back at these pictures is making my mouth water.
When it’s all over (and that is a sad, sad moment), the take out containers come out and everyone goes home with some leftovers. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, I look forward to the next year.
My dad, sister, and I actually started a tradition a few years back of having an Annual Leftovers Party at my dad’s house the Friday night after Thanksgiving. It’s a fun way to share some of our Thanksgiving with our friends and get to sample some of their Thanksgiving. I added some new food to the Leftovers Party including a baked spinach and artichoke dip with roasted garlic in a bread bowl. SCRUMPTIOUS! Though I think some people were a bit alarmed at the amount of garlic! (look closely and you’ll see full cloves sticking out below)
We also had made a second squash souffle just for this occasion.
We always wind up with too little room for the food and then spend half the time shooing away the dog and cats. But everyone samples a bit of everything, drinks beer, and has a merry old time.
Stacey takes such beautiful photos that I have to share some more, even if they aren’t specifically food focused:
Can’t wait for next year!