Thanksgiving Menu and Tidbits

http://www.smockityfrocks.com/category/4-momsThe 4 Moms, 35 Kids have a great link-up going again – I really enjoy these! Today they are sharing their Thanksgiving organization tips, decorating ideas, and/or recipes.  I’m just going to share our Thanksgiving menu and some memories.

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite times of year, and we usually prepare a LOT of food. Below is our general menu of “must-have’s” for Thanksgiving – at least this is our plan.  It may change before next week.  We have family coming to visit and will actually be celebrating Thanksgiving one day early to work with their travel plans.

  • Turkey – for the last several years, a local friend has given us pastured heritage turkeys.  These are the best!  These cook up beautifully and are always tender and juicy – I don’t have to cook them upside down!  Ever since I was a teenager, my mom and I always cooked our turkeys breast-down until the last half hour of roasting – a tip we learned from an old Mennonite cookbook.  Roasting that way has all the juices go into the breast – I never had dry white turkey meat while growing up!
  • Ham – sometimes if we will be having more people over, or if we just want some variety, we’ll cook a ham.
  • Stuffing – we either make this completely from scratch with homemade bread and homemade stock OR we give in to buying a bread cube mix and adding in extra ingredients like cranberries, raisins, and/or celery.
  • Giblet gravy – we cook and finely chop the turkey neck, gizzard, heart, and liver, then add them to the turkey drippings and make a basic gravy to taste.
  • Mashed potatoes – minimum amount is 10 pounds of potatoes, more if we want leftovers.
  • Green bean casserole – my husband’s favorite – we usually make this the “traditional” way with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions, although I’ve experimented with just using a white sauce with sauteed mushrooms, and crunchy bread crumbs on top.
  • Sweet potato casserole – I am not allowed to alter this recipe – it’s dripping with butter and marshmallows, although we do cut the sugar waaaay down or use honey.
  • Homemade cranberry sauce – simply delicious – we make a LOT because it keeps so well.
  • Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish – this is a new one we tried last year after my horseradish-loving husband heard about it.  Yes – horseradish and cranberries – it works! And it’s a keeper.
  • Gherkin pickles – “Must have gherkin pickles on special occasions,” says my husband.
  • Homemade bread/rolls

  • Apple crisp

  • Pumpkin pie – this is my oldest daughter’s specialty, although everyone helps.  Most years we start ahead of time and make our own pumpkin puree from pumpkins – check out this tip from Keeper Of The Home for getting pumpkin puree to the perfect texture without cooking it down.  We make a minimum of 8 pumpkin pies each year – after all, it’s a vegetable!
  • Apple cider – served in our favorite dented rustic pitcher.

My parents, who join us for Thanksgiving each year, usually bring a cornmeal spoon bread and mashed rutabaga.  We try to make or assemble as many things ahead of time as possible, so that we don’t have too much cooking to do on Thanksgiving day.

Now for a few fun tidbits from 2003.  You know we homestead, right?  Well, here’s some pictures from one of the years we raised our own turkey.

Everyone wanted to help pluck the turkey.

We made cute decorations by adding a paper cutout and real turkey feathers to pine cones. My kids LOVED these!

Of course, with the abundance of turkey feathers, everyone wanted to be an Indian that year! We just used a band of elastic. Daddy was a Pilgrim, but he consented to a feather in his cap.

Don’t forget to visit ALL of the 4 Moms, 35 Kids so see their Thanksgiving tips:

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