Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving, 2012

                     "It's not what's on the table that's important.  It's who's in the chairs."

This post includes:
  • Guide to cooking and baking hotlines
  • Links to great Thanksgiving sites for tips, food, decoration, kids' activities
  • My own favorite Thanksgiving photos, recipes, music, wine, and even a blessing or two  ... 


  I can't preach about giving thanks.  I'll just say I think it's healthy.  It's lovely in that it's a discipline folks of any religion or country can take part.  But of course, our fair "Rabbie" had it best:

Some Hae Meat
 Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

~Robert Burns

 Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  You could have guessed.
My worlds all come together on that day.
Giving thanks-- being grateful--is a practice or discipline of many religions and cultures, including mine.
I need it.  I need that discipline. And:
Creating a meal to honor my idea of a great day!
I wish you a day of totally beautiful, grateful life.

A grace could be very simply giving thanks for the hands that made the meal, for the workers in the stores, on the trucks, in the gardens and  the vineyards Even a toast to all who made it possible would work.  Mark the moment.

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.  
                                                    ~W.J. Cameron
Awareness.   Awakeness. Appreciation.  Peaceful breath.
A table that includes something you love.
Someone you love.

Some of the best new scripture these days is found on paper napkins.
I have some that say, "It's not what's on the table that's important.  It's who's in the chairs."
Ah, that we have to print that somewhere.

Deep breaths and a sense of warm wonder to you as you prepare to give thanks this year.

          If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. 

                                                                                                              ~Meister Eckhart
Before the fun begins,  thanks for reading and responding:

           Bloggers Without Borders Post on Helping Victims of Sandy 


In case you need help with the meal....
 Two Mushroom-Red Onion Soup from my upcoming book.
Thanksgiving HOTLINES:

*Splendid Table (Radio)  from 11am-1pm  CT on Thanksgiving Day:  800-537-5252
*Reynolds' Turkey Tips:  800-745-4000 Open through December 31, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
*Butterball Hotline: 1-800-BUTTERBALL Weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time
*Crisco Pie Hotline:
(877) 367-7438 toll-free. Provides answers the most common questions about baking pies for novice bakers as well as offering tips that will benefit the most seasoned baker. The hotline also offers the option for callers to connect to a live pie expert for pie baking guidance. Hours: 9 - 7 EST except for: Nov. 12 - 21 (8am - 8pm EST) and Dec. 12 - 22 (8am - 8pm EST)
*USDA Meat and Poultry Line:
  (888) 674-6854 from 10a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Closed weekends and holidays, except Thanksgiving. Special hours of operation on Thanksgiving are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time. 

                              It is of course possible to dance a prayer. 
                                                                         ~Terri Guillemets

Thanksgiving Listening and Watching + Kids' Stuff:

                      Garrison Keillor's "Over the River and Through the Woods"

Download Mary Chapin Carpenter's Thanksgiving Song here.

Watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on youtube.

Thanksgiving Day Parades

Thanksgiving Day Football Games--Networks, Kickoff, etc.  

Thanksgiving Day Kids' Activities 

Martha's Thanksgiving for Kids 

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert 

            Minneapolis Turkey Day 5K Run  8am Nov 22, 2012  
            Walk to End Hunger Mall of America Nov 22, 2012: 7am Registration; 7:30-10:30


Really Good Websites with Thanksgiving Tips, Recipes, and Ideas 

I could reinvent the wheel here and give you step-by-step, day by day, but here's a list of places that have already done all that work.  Have at it.  Below that, I've listed some of my own favorite recipes or menus from this blog or Dinner Place, Cooking for One.  I include an Intimate Thanksgiving, which is a Thankgiving for two (with leftovers) or for four (not too many leftovers.)  It was created for those who really don't have much time to spend on Thanksgiving, but want a special meal nevertheless.  

America's Test Kitchen:  Turkey and Gravy
James Peterson's Gravy Guide
Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving Planner
Non-Turkey Thanksgiving 
Vegetarian Thanksgiving 
Vegan Thanksgiving: 12 Recipes
LA Times: Great Thanksgiving Photos
Glazed Turkey from the Chicago Trib
Free:  Martha Stewart Thanksgiving (2011) Ebook with 40 Recipes
Smitten Kitten's Thanksgiving
Taste Test:  Store-Bought Stuffing 
Perfect Pantry Sugar-Free Slow-Cooker Cranberry Sauce 
Serious Eats: 16 Salads for Thanksgiving
Kalyn's Kitchen:  11 Green Bean Recipes
Mark Bittman:  101 Starts on the Day
Giada's Butternut Squash Lasagne
Melissa Clark:  What Can I Actually Prepare Before Thanksgiving?
Gourmet Live:  Thanksgiving 2012
Chowhound's 10 Thanksgiving Cooking Essentials
The Bitten Word's 2012 Thanksgiving Recipe Index:
Thanksgiving Videos:  Mark Bittman
King Arthur Flour Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls
Perfect Pantry's Squash Muffins
Download Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Baking App
Pie Perfected by Carole Bloom
David Lebovitz' Pumpkin Ice Cream 
Thanksgiving Wine: NYTimeswine:  
HGTV's Stylish Thanksgiving Table Settings
Thanksgiving Decoration from Epicurious

Maybe it's a good time to pull out the bread machine?

  More Time at the Table/Dinner Place Thanksgiving Posts:

Kathy's Apple Pie (More Time at the Table)
Alyce's Thanksgiving: An Intimate ViewVery Simple and Quick Thanksgiving  for 2-4 people who don't want to cook much:

  • Starters: Olives and Nuts--set out in small bowls served with sparkler/wine
  • First course: Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup (purchased)
  • Main course: Turkey Roulade, stuffed W/ Proscuitto/Sage/Onions/Garlic
  • Sides: Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Rosemary
  • Brussel Sprouts (pan-roasted) w/ Parmesan & Pumpkin Seeds
  • Home-made Spicy Cranberry Sauce w/ Apples and Lemon
  • Bread: Corn Muffins or Rolls from the bakery
  • Dessert: Pumpkin Ice Cream, purchased from grocery OR Pumpkin Custards baked the day before and refrigerated (Use any pumpkin pie filling recipe and bake custards in pammed ramekins about 30 min. at 350---No crust)
  • Drinks: Wine: A to Z Riesling and Sineann Pinot Noir- Have both! Coffee: French Roast, laced with Cognac and Whipped Cream

Pears Poached in Port
Other recipes of mine you might enjoy at Thanksgiving:

Alyce's Bacon Roasted Chicken or I Don't Want Turkey
Alyce's Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash
Alyce's Roasted Pork Loin, Hot and Spicy Cranberry Sauce
Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust 
Alyce's Butternut and Other Squash Soup
Alyce's Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan New Potatoes 
Alyce's Green Beans Sauteed with Onions and Garlic
Alyce's Turkey Pot Pie from Thanksgiving Leftovers 
Alyce's Pumpkin Soup or Making Up for Thanksgiving
Alyce's Spicy Cream of Pumpkin Soup+Wendy's Sage and Thyme
Alyce's Pear-Grilled Fig Salad with Goat Cheese
Alyce's Israeli Couscous-Butternut Squash Salad with Fall Fruit and Cheese 
Alyce's Pumpkin Bread
Wendy's Sage
Alyce's Quick Prune Bread
Alyce's No-Knead Bread Post on Dinner Place
Alyce's Whole Wheat Yeast Rolls (from Bill Kalbus)
Poached Pears in Port               
Alyce Morgan's Pie 101
Alyce's Derby Pie (Pecan-Chocolate with Bourbon)
Alyce's Kathy's Apple Pie
Alyce's Almond-Scented Pear Crostata
Alyce's Ask Me About Dessert Post
Alyce's Pumpkin Custard with Cinnamon Creme Fraiche (One Minute Pumpkin "Pie"--no crust) 

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread.  Thanksgiving morning breakfast.
Anne Lamott's Parade Magazine Article on Counting our Blessings  

my quick take on the (american) wine and other drinks

Need extra wine glasses?  Borrow them!   If you'd like a large inexpensive set to keep from year to year, and can't spend much:  go to the dollar store or a discount place like Marshall's.  You can store a couple of boxes in the closet or basement and have them available for loan or a February Sangria party.

Drink what you like:
 Wine is for your enjoyment and the enhancement of food.  So, do not fret and fuss about the wine (or anything.)  First and foremost, you should drink exactly what you like with Thanksgiving dinner.  If you have no idea what you like, go to the wine shop or liquor store, and find a salesperson who's willing to talk to you.  Do not do this on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving unless you're a glutton for punishment.  Everyone else in the city will be there and the clerks will be infinitely hassled while wondering what they're having for Thanksgiving and who's going to cook it all.  Tell the salesperson what kinds of wine you (and your guests if you know) like, what your price is (don't be shy), how many people you've having, and what your menu is.  Believe it or not, everyone is not having turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie.  This person has paired vegetarian lasagne, pumpkin ravioli, goose, steak, and an all-raw menu before you arrived.

Don't know what you like:

If you're a do-it-yourself kind of shopper and want to go to the liquor superstore or simply have NO idea of what to buy, then I go with my tried and true recommendations, which are: 

A.  One bottle of wine per person (total) is the rule.  Yes. You'll be there for hours.  I like American wine for Thanksgiving, so my recommendations are based on no wine from outside the United States. 

B.   Overall:  Provide a sparkler for before dinner or apertif, then one white and one red  to make everyone at least closer to happy.   Some sort of after-dinner drink or digestif is needed as well, though a walk will help, too.

I don't like a cocktail before this kind of a meal...too many calories and too much alcohol, but then again, I'm a wine person.

Have beer on hand.   Get your brother-in-law's favorite so he'll be quiet or choose a saison, which would pair admirably with the meal if he won't drink wine even with food.

Have lots of non-alcoholic choices. Sparkling water is pretty in a wine glass and is good for digestion for everyone, actually.  Non-alcoholic beer (Kaliber is about the best), iced Ceylon tea, and plenty of plain water are good choices.   Coffee is necessary; have the pot ready and start it when you sit down to dinner so people can help themselves.  Some will want it immediately after the meal even if they're happy to wait hours for dessert.  If you don't drink coffee, borrow a pot.  You can't skip it.

C.  For the sparkler, buy a New Mexican sparkling wine like Gruet.

I suggest  Riesling for the white  (Washington state, Oregon, or New York). The lower the alcohol content, the sweeter the wine.  The alcohol content is printed on the label.  So if you like sweet, get an 8 or 9% alcohol Riesling.  11?  Much drier.  Don't know?  I'd go with the sweeter for a group; you're bound to have people in who want sweeter wine and your red will definitely be dry.

The red:  Oregon Pinot Noir.  It's a splurge and it's worth it.  If you need a lower-price Pinot Noir, choose A-Z or Angeline.  If you simply don't like Pinot Noir (why?), buy a good California Merlot.  By the way, if you decide you like the Oregon Pinot Noir (and I'm a Pinot girl), buy a couple of extra bottles and squirrel them away in a cool, dry place for next year.  This wine doesn't have to age terribly long to be scrumptious, but it's usually better with a few years under its belt.  The older vintages are sometimes available, but not always.  If they are, they're a lot more expensive.  Buy them young.

D.  If you'd like a dessert wine,  American sherry--or port-- is lovely with pumpkin pie.
 A little nip of Jack in the coffee would do no one from below (or even above) the Mason-Dixon line any harm.  Save the Irish coffee for St. Patrick's Day.

some pics of blog favorites for the holiday:

Almond-Scented Pear Crostata from More Time at the Table. 
On Thanksgiving Day, all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment - halftime.
                                                          ~Author Unknown

Hot and spicy Cranberry Sauce cooking in the pot. It's done quickly and can be done a day or two ahead.
My pumpkin soup topped with Parmesan and chopped peanuts. A nutritious soup for a first course is elegant and will help keep folks from overeating. 
Pecan or Derby Pie is a great Thanksgiving choice.  When else would you make it?
Spicy Cream of Pumpkin with Wendy's Sage and Thyme
Pear-Grilled Fig Salad with Goat Cheese (dried figs are fine, too)
Don't bake?  One-Minute Pumpkin Custard with Creme Fraiche.
Butternut and Other Squash Soup
Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables  (Leftovers make great soup.)

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust.  No mashed potatoes or gravy needed.  Or anything else really.

Whatever menu you choose, have fun with it.  Make things you like.  Let people bring their favorites so everyone is happy.  Don't worry if the gravy has lumps or the turkey is cold.  No one cares if your plates match, but they do care that they're invited.

   If your heart is warm in welcome, everyone will have a great time.

Heap high the board with plenteous cheer and gather to the feast,
And toast the sturdy Pilgrim band whose courage never ceased.

~Alice W. Brotherton

Sing a new grateful all day long and enjoy every minute,


  1. Thank you for a lovely pause in the middle of scanning food blogs for inspiration. I really appreciated this. Your photos show you set a wonderful table!

  2. @Kirsten: What a lovely comment. I'll just say THANKS!


I can't wait to hear from you!

When you click on "Comment as," you have a choice of google id, etc. If you don't have a google id or a blog, choose ANONYMOUS. When you type your comment, you can sign your name there. Thanks!