Fall Fest: Bounty to Be Thankful For
We're teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Fall Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we'll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you're harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.
Sure, we all love the Thanksgiving feast: The turkey, stuffing, cranberries, green beans, mashed potatoes, all covered in gravy. But no matter what you serve, it's about who you're passing the platter to year after year: your friends and family. These are the things we look forward to making, eating and enjoying every year.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that combines homey traditions with a splash of excitement. To me, mashed potatoes are a comfort all year, but Tyler’s are special enough for this once-a-year all-out feast, leaving us happy with every spoonful and grateful for lots—yes, lots—of creamy goodness.
My Thanksgivings have never been huge affairs, and it’s usually just me, my mom and dad, and my little sister – and yet whenever it’s that time of the year again, I always force my dad to make enough cranberry sauce for a whole horde of relatives; except of course, it’s all for me. Halfway between jam and sauce, the satisfying burst of the fresh cranberries, the sweet-tart flavors and the vibrant color make cranberry sauce the one dish I absolutely look forward to most every Thanksgiving.
I spend every Thanksgiving with my dad and stepmom and our extended family. My dad and I spend the days before the holiday cooking; he makes the turkey, stuffing and sides, and I’m responsible for the soup and desserts. I make an assortment of pies and desserts, usually mixing favorites with new recipes I want to try, but I always make the same pumpkin soup. To make each year’s soup special, I try a different topping. In the past I’ve used the apple croutons included in the recipe, last year I made curry-spiced whipped cream for the top, and this year I’m planning on serving the soup with gorgonzola-filled roasted pear baskets.
My favorite Thanksgiving dish, the dish that makes Thanksgiving, “Thanksgiving!” for me, is stuffing. I make homemade turkey stock, buy a loaf of bread from a local bakery and bake up amazing outside-of-the-bird stuffing, like savory bread pudding. I usually go for stuffings that have savory and sweet elements, like apples and sausage. Rice stuffings, like Bobby’s Throwdown version, are amazing, but I save the more adventurous recipes for cold winter evenings at home. Thanksgiving dinner is all about tradition, and in my family that means calling on the Barefoot Contessa for a classic, no-fail version.
My dad's birthday falls on or around Thanksgiving, so we have twice as much to celebrate and be thankful for. Despite the cornbread-making, turkey-stuffing, pie-baking madness that is Thanksgiving, we usually bake a birthday cake to serve alongside our apple pie. But since it's Thanksgiving, there's no vanilla allowed! This year, my sister and I are cooking up Food Network Magazine's Caramel Apple Cake. This orange-infused cake has all the flavor of a classic caramel apple: Sliced apples baked into a crisp cake and an ooey-gooey caramel topping.
TELL US: What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes?