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Time to plan Thanksgiving dinner. November 10, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. Yes, it’s only November 10th, but it’s not a minute too soon to start planning your Thanksgiving menu, assuming you’re the person who’ll be doing the cooking. And yes, at our house, that would be me.

Obviously, the number of people coming over for dinner will affect your menu in terms of how many dishes and how much variety you’ll want to offer, as will the ages of your guests. (Kids might prefer homemade applesauce to homemade cranberry sauce, and mac’n’cheese to corn pudding, and popcorn and string cheese to endive-boat appetizers, and chocolates to baked apples, not to mention, obviously, warmed apple cider to red wine.)

Our Thanksgiving celebrations tend to feature twentysomethings-and-up, so we can skip the kid-friendly treats and go directly to adult-only fare. And I’m vegetarian, so there won’t be any turkey (or, ewww, Tofurky, I hate pseudo-meat) on the menu. My menu tends to look like this:

Appetizers

Endive Boats (endive leaves stuffed with gorgonzola, blue cheese, or feta, pecan pieces, dried cranberries, and cracked black pepper); they’re addictive!

Baked Brie (topped with brown sugar and served with Table Water crackers, such as Carr’s)

Assorted cheese and crackers

Baguette slices topped with butter, sliced radishes, scallions, and salt

Quick, easy, delicious nachos, with tortilla chips layered with sliced jalapeno peppers and extra-sharp shredded white Cheddar cheese and baked until the cheese melts and the chips are hot

The classic black olives and celery, my father’s favorite; celery can be stuffed with cream cheese or offered with blue cheese dressing, as desired

Caesar salad (without anchovies, of course)

Soup Course

My luscious curied pumpkin soup, which includes lots of sweet onion, canned pumpkin (which is actually not pumpkin, but winter squash), cream, and Sambuca or other licorice liqueur

Hot dinner rolls and butter (I confess, I buy them, can’t make everything!)

Main Course

Unbelievably delicious dressing

Southern corn pudding

Roasted Brussels sprouts

Green and yellow wax beans

Baked sweet potatoes

Mashed Yukon Gold potatoes

Crock-Pot mac’n’cheese

Cranberry sauce

Dessert

Baked apples

Pumpkin roll (as with the dinner rolls, I buy this from local Mennonite farm stands rather than making it from scratch)

Pumpkin-swirled vanilla cheesecake (ditto, a wonderful local bakery makes this)

Chess pie

Pecan pie

Apple fritters (also from a local bakery, i hate deep-frying)

Apple crisp

Poached pears

I hope I don’t need to say that I don’t make everything on this menu every Thanksgiving! I tailor the menu to the year, the guests, and how long it’s been since I’ve made any given dish and how much I’m craving it. Fortunately, these dishes tend to make excellent leftovers, though, so even if you overdo it (as I tend to do), you’ll be able to enjoy Thanksgiving for at least a week. And since I love this more than any other holiday—the opportunity to celebrate both abundance and gratitude—I’m delighted with that!

A few tips: Don’t overdo the appetizers and desserts. One or two appetizers and one dessert are plenty. Don’t forget that cheese, dried fruit, and a good tawny port can be a fabulous and very traditional dessert course (in which case, you’ll want to skip the cheese plate when you’re serving appetizers). And if you happen to love fruitcake or plum pudding (neither of which will be appearing on my table anytime soon, or ever), it’s winter enough to bring them out for dessert, and, in the case of the fruitcake, pairing it with cheese and port. Me, I’d rather have some cheese and slices of crisp apple and maybe some dried apricots and mixed nuts. (No peanuts, please. Those aren’t nuts!)

Soup, especially a rich soup like my signature hot curried pumpkin soup or a cream of tomato or mushroom soup, will certainly both warm and fill your guests. But think about their appetites and what else you’re planning to serve before you decide to add it to your menu. A Caesar salad or some crudites might give them an opportunity to snack while not filling up before the main course.

Mix it up when making your main course. Choose deep green, orange, white or yellow, red or purple, and brown veggies. Roasted Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, strips of yellow bell pepper, and sweet onion slices make an absolutely yummy complement to mashed potatoes. Asparagus is actually a spring crop, but roasted green and white asparagus drizzled with olive oil and a seasoned salt such as Trocomare is a rich dish that will complement your other Thanksgiving dishes. And don’t forget pasta. If you’re too busy to make corn pudding or even Crock-Pot mac’n’cheese, you can always make creamy pasta with shells, sour cream, and butter, to add richness to the Thanksgiving table in place of the mashed potatoes.

What will you serve this Thanksgiving?

‘Til next time,

Silence

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Comments»

1. Espirational - November 10, 2013

Sounds like some great menu choices. A lot of my favorites are on your list.

Excellent! Let me know what else you love to serve!


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