Let Us Gather and Give Thanks

Tomorrow is the big day – Thanksgiving. This year there have been so many changes to our Thanksgiving Day Celebrations. Adjustments if you will. After a multitude of changes, I’m finally ready to share our plans with the world.

Most Thanksgivings since our return to California we’ve gathered at my sister’s house. She and her husband put on one heck of a great spread, leaving me in charge of appetizers and desserts. And that’s fine because appetizers are so much fun to make, especially with a theme such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

This year, we’ve made some adjustments to our Thanksgiving Celebration. Instead of Thursday, we’re having our Thanksgiving on Friday. My son works in the restaurant business. Anyone who works in a restaurant in America knows that Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year. Needless to say, our son hasn’t spent Thanksgiving Day with us in years. This year, I wanted to have a Thanksgiving that included our son, his family and most of all our great-granddaughter. Family holidays have always been important to me, more so now that we are getting older. So we opted to have our Thanksgiving on Friday. Our son could celebrate with us and his daughter could spend Thanksgiving Day with her new in-laws. Everybody wins.

We were all set to celebrate Thanksgiving at our home on Friday. I spent days putting together an awesome two-supper menu. For those who love a Turkey, I had a traditional Thanksgiving with all the trimmings- gravy, stuffing and a classic green bean casserole. For those who aren’t turkey eaters, we’d serve a Holiday Ham complete with Au Gratin potatoes and asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce. Smaller portions of each supper than you might have if only preparing a single supper. Variety – it’s the spice of life, right?

While my kitchen is small, it has duel built-in ovens, and a four-burner stove top. In addition, I have two electric roasting ovens and three portable burners. Add to that three slow cookers and an Instant Pot and cooking different dishes at different temperatures with different techniques is a snap. Duel suppers, no problem.

That’s when Dad announced he really wasn’t up to traveling for Thanksgiving. Plans changed abruptly. Dad didn’t want to cancel Thanksgiving for everyone, he was simply bowing out, insisting we go ahead with our plans. That would not do. Instead of having the family come here, we would all go to the farm. To have Dad enjoy Thanksgiving with his great-great grand daughter was an opportunity I was not willing to sacrifice.

Just one tiny problem. The farm kitchen has a single oven, a single microwave and a four-burner stove top. If we were doing a Traditional Thanksgiving or a Holiday Ham, it would be no problem.

Yet I knew that my family was divided between the tradition fixings and a ham. When asked, half went for a turkey, the rest for the ham. How could I choose, knowing not everyone would be happy. Yet two complete dinners with all the trimmings can’t be done with a single oven. But – hey, those roasting ovens travel. Yeah, let’s start with that.

With a few adjustments, I knew I could pull this off. Put a turkey in one roasting oven, the ham in the other. Change the Green Bean Casserole to a stove-top dish. The asparagus needed no change and the Hollandaise Sauce is done in a blender. That left the farm’s oven free for the Au Gratin Potatoes, to warm the rolls and later to warm the pies. Yep, this is proof positive that with a little thought and a ton of determination, anything is possible.

Have Thanksgiving Will Travel
Suggested Welcoming Platters from the Deli
Cold Cut Platter
Cheese Platter
Vegetable Platter with Dip
Assorted Crackers

Salad Course
American Toss Salad
Warm Dinner Rolls

Turkey Course
Electric Roaster Turkey
Turkey Gravy
Stove-Top Cheater’s Stuffing
Stove-Top Green Bean Casserole

Ham Course
Honey Glazed Spiral Ham
Betty’s Better Au Gratin Potatoes
Asparagus with Blender Hollandaise Sauce

Desserts from the Bakery
Pumpkin Pies
Apple Pies

Recipes and Instructions

Starters from the Deli Market
1 tray Assorted Crackers
1 Cheese Platter
1 Cold Cut Platter
1 Vegetable Platter with Dip

Order from deli market. Have out when guests arrive.

American Toss Salad
3 bags American Salad
2 Cucumbers
1 pint Grape Tomatoes
1/2 Red Onion
Assorted Dressings

Note: If desired, empty salad bags into a large colander and hold in the refrigerator until just before serving. The air circulating around the greens will help them stay crisp. Prepare the cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Place in bags in the refrigerator. Assemble salad just before serving.

Empty bags of salad into a large serving bowl.

Peel cucumbers as desired. Slice and scatter over the salad.

Scatter tomatoes over the top of the salad. If desired, cut some or all the tomatoes in half for smaller bites.

Cut onion from tip to root in half. Reserve half for another purpose. Peel remaining half, slice into thin half-moon shapes. Scatter over salad and toss.

Serve with assorted dressings and croutons to use as desired.

Dinner Rolls
24 Warm and Serve Dinner Rolls
1/2 cup soft Butter

Note: Dinner rolls are a nice touch served with the salad. If desired, make a second batch just before supper to be a part of the Dinner Banquet Table.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange rolls on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush tops with butter. Warm in oven 10 minutes.

Place in a bread basket, serve with remaining butter.

Thanksgiving Turkey with All the Fixings

Electric Roaster Turkey
Herbed Butter
2 teaspoons fresh Thyme Leaves
1 tablespoon fresh Sage, chopped
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 teaspoon Crushed Rosemary
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Smoked Paprika
Kosher Salt to taste

Pluck thyme leaves from sprigs, set aside. Finely chop sage leaves, set aside.

Place butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, crushed rosemary and seasonings. Mash with a fork to mix well. Set aside.

Roast Turkey
10 lb Turkey
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 large Onion, sliced
2 Fuji Apples
1 Sprig Rosemary
2 cup Chicken Stock

Remove rack from roaster. Cover roaster, heat to 450 degrees.

Pat the turkey dry all over with paper towels. Seasoning cavity well with salt and pepper. Set turkey aside.

Peel onion, slice into slivers, break apart and set aside. Core and slice apples, set aside.

Gently lift skin of turkey from meat. Gently rub meat under the skin with some of the butter. Place onions apples and Rosemary inside the cavity.

Rub remaining butter over the skin, including underside. Tuck wings under the breasts, tie legs together.

Place turkey on the rack insert. Place turkey inside the roaster. Pour chicken stock around the bird. Place lid on roaster. Immediately reduce temperature to 325 degrees.

Roast turkey for about 2-1/2 hours or until turkey reaches 165 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh. Tent and let rest while gravy is made.

Turkey Gravy
Chicken Stock as needed
2 tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Flour
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

Strain the cooking liquids from the roaster into a large bowl. Top off with chicken stock for desired amount of gravy.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and combine to make a roux. Pour about 1/2 cup of liquid into the flour mixture and mix until it forms a paste.

Slowly add remaining liquid, stirring constantly, with whisk or wooden spoon. Simmer the turkey gravy until almost to desired thickness (gravy will continue to thicken off heat). Adjust seasoning; transfer to a gravy boat and serve along with the turkey breast.

Optional Garnish for Platter
Fresh Rosemary as desired
Fresh Sage as desired

Transfer turkey to a cutting board. With a very sharp knife, slice along the inside of the turkey let, closest to the white meat. Cut down to the bottom of the thigh. Separate and disjoint the leg from the bottom of the turkey. Locate small indentation between drumstick (leg) and the thigh portion. Cut between the two to separate into two pieces. Set leg aside. Turn thigh over, skin side down, remove the bone. Slice thigh into uniform serving slices. Arrange on a serving platter. Repeat with leg and thigh on other side of turkey.

Cut along wing, remove from turkey. Set aside. Repeat with other wing.

Note: If serving wings, remove tips. If not, reserve for soup stock if desired.

Once both legs and wings have been removed, locate wish bone at the front of the turkey near the neck. Gently remove wish bone, set aside.

Slide the tip of the knife along side the center bone in the turkey, cutting along the side following the curvature of the breast bone, gently pulling the breast meat away as carved until the base of the turkey near the back has been reached. At this point one half of the breast meat should have been removed as a single, large piece. Repeat with remaining breast.

Lay breasts on the cutting board. With long, broad strokes, cut the breast meat at a angle until all the meat has been cut into serving slices.

Arrange sliced turkey on a serving platter as desired. Tuck fresh herbs around the platter as desired, serve with all the fixings enjoy.

Stove-Top Cheater’s Stuffing
2 cups Celery, diced
1 White Onion, diced chopped
1 cup Butter, divided
2-1/2 teaspoons Poultry Seasoning
4 cups Chicken Stock
3 boxes Chicken Flavored Stove-Top Stuffing

Note: To help with the clean up, celery and onions can be diced up in the morning, placed in bags and held in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Dice celery, set aside. Peel and dice onion, set aside.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a sauce pan over low heat until just beginning to foam.

Sauté vegetables in butter over medium heat until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with poultry seasoning.

Add Chicken Stock to the pan, bring to a rolling boil. Add remaining 3/4 cup butter. Once butter has melted, stir to blend.

Empty Stove-Top Stuffing into the pot. Lower heat and allow stuffing to absorb the liquid. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork.

To serve, place stuffing into a decorative serving bowl.

Stovetop Green Bean Casserole
1 Yellow Onion
2 tablespoons Butter
4 cans Green Beans
1 can sliced Button Mushrooms
2 cans Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1-1/4 cups Milk
Black Pepper to taste

Peel and slice onion thinly. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once foamy, scatter onions over the butter. Cook until golden and caramelized. Set aside.

While the onions caramelize, drain and rinse green beans. Place in a large mixing bowl, set aside. Drain mushrooms, scatter over green beans and set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix soup, milk, half of the caramelized onions, and black pepper. Pour over the green beans. Stir gently to coat green beans well in the soup mixture.

Place mixture into a large saucepan. Place over medium-low heat. Warm until bubbling, about 25 minutes.

Transfer green beans to a serving bowl. Scatter remaining caramelized onions over the green beans, Serve and enjoy.

Holiday Ham and All the Trimmings

Honey Glazed Spiral Ham
1-1/2 cups Water
2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke
10 lbs Spiral Ham, fully cooked
3/4 cup Honey
1/2 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Pineapple Juice
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

Cut a large piece of heavy foil, lay on counter. Remove ham from packaging. Place ham in the center of the foil, cut side down. Pull foil tightly up around ham, leaving top open. Place ham inside the roasting pan.

Pour water mixture inside the foil around the ham. Carefully roll up top of foil to seal in the ham with liquid. Heat at 280 degrees for about 2-1/4 hours.

Mix honey, brown sugar, pineapple juice and mustard in a small bowl until well blended. If mixture is too thick, thin with a little more pineapple juice. Remove lid from the oven. Carefully open foil, pull away to expose ham. Remove excess liquid that may have gathered while the ham cooked. Pour the glaze over the ham, letting it run down the sides and into the spiral cuts.

Continue to warm ham with glaze for about 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Transfer to a cutting board, slice following spiral cuts. Arrange ham on a serving platter.

Betty’s Better Au Gratin Potatoes
3 boxes Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes
3/4 cup Onion, finely chopped
6 tablespoons Butter
2 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1-2/3 Cup Milk
5 cups Boiling Water
Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Breadcrumbs, optional

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Empty potatoes into casserole or baking dish. Set cheese packages aside until ready to use.

Chop onions, set aside. Grate cheese, set aside.

In a sauce pan, melt butter. Add onions and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add 1-1/2 cups of cheese and milk, stir and cook until cheese is melted. Add cheese package from the boxes, stir to blend well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour cheese mixture over potatoes.

Add water, stir to blend. Scatter remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the top of the casserole. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender and cheese is bubbling.

If desired, sprinkle with breadcrumbs during last 10 minutes of baking.

Asparagus with Blender Hollandaise Sauce
2 bunches Asparagus

Break off the tough ends with your fingers. Bend the asparagus spears near the end and they will break naturally where the spear is no longer tough. For an elegant presentation of the spears, use a vegetable peeler to peel off a very thin layer of the outer skin of the lower two to three inches of the asparagus spears. Set aside until ready to steam.

Prepare a large, shallow pan (with a cover) with a half-inch of water and a steamer rack. (Or Asparagus Steamer).  Bring the water to a boil, maintaining steam. Place the asparagus on the steaming rack. Cover. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender, but still a little crisp, definitely not mushy. The timing depends on how thick the asparagus spears are. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce
10 tablespoons Butter
3 Egg Yolks
1/2 tablespoon Lemon Juice
Pinch Cayenne Pepper

Melt the butter in a small pot. Separate eggs, place the yolks in a blender. Add lemon juice, and cayenne into a blender. Blend the yolks for 20-30 seconds at medium to medium high-speed until lighter in color. Turn blender down to lowest setting and slowly drizzle in the hot melted butter while the blender is running. Continue to blend for a few seconds after all of the butter is incorporated. Sauce with thicken and become silky. Taste the sauce and add more salt or lemon juice if needed. 

Plate the asparagus in a small serving platter. Pour Hollandaise sauce over the asparagus. Serve immediately.

Thanksgiving Pies

Sweets from the Bakery
2 Pumpkin Pies
2 Apple Pies

Warm pies, if necessary.

For Serving
1 pint Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
8 oz Whipped Topping

When serving slices of pie, offer ice cream or whipped topping to finish pie.

There are those who would like to see Thanksgiving canceled. They point to all the bad history between settlers to the New World and the indigenous people who were already here. Are they right? Yes. But that’s not what Thanksgiving is all about. Thanksgiving is a snapshot of possibilities when people come together as brothers and sisters at the same table to give thanks for all we have and to share those blessings with one another. Thanksgiving should always be celebrate. It should inspire us to strive to every day to be generous and to give thanks.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

2 thoughts on “Let Us Gather and Give Thanks”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: