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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Thanksgiving memories, The perfect stuffing & a fabulous giveaway!

By Beth

Of all of the meals that I cook every year, the Thanksgiving meal is truly my favorite. There's just something so incredibly abundant and homey about it, the smells are so appetizing and the mood so sincere. The meal itself was traditionally my mothers domain and she really enjoyed cooking it, setting about in her lovely kitchen early in the morning making apple and pumpkin pies, pumpkin cheesecakes and stuffing. I'd wander in early to find her chopping apples sautéing onions in butter with a glass of sherry by her side. My mother was a fabulous cook, but this was the meal that she loved cooking the most all year. The one and only time that I prepared it when she was alive she was furious. I was trying to do her a favor but she was unbelievably frustrated the entire evening and I swore that I would never do it again. Finally the onlything that I could for her do was brine the turkey, because even she allowed that it made the bird taste better.

My mother always made the holiday wonderful, full of wine, laughter and family. Her table was always beautifully set with brass candlesticks and a abundantly filled cornucopia. She always used her favorite Coalport dishes, a lovely rust colored pattern called Indian Tree Coral, her Baccarat crystal and all of her Grandmothers sterling. There were always plenty of extra plates waiting on the sideboard for all of Alex's friends who would start coming in after they'd finished their family dinners and we'd sit around the table for hours eating, drinking and discussing politics , music and current events. There is a cassette tape somewhere of the "Dance of the sugar plum fairies " played by the entire Schreibman family & friends on those same wine glasses. Mom was pretty cool...she let us fill her precious crystal to the levels needed to create all of the different scales and then we used her knives asmallets to play the notes. We laughed for hours and practiced, finally getting it right. There was always too much food and she made sure that there were plenty of tin foil plates so that everyone could take home leftovers, a tradition that I love to continue to this day!

When she died several years ago I found myself faced with the daunting task of carrying on the tradition for my family and I spent the entire day preparing the meal. It was a tough day though, Alex was in Central America learning to be a dive master and he wouldn't be home until right before Christmas. I went through all of the motions , stuffed the turkey, mashed the potatoes and set the table. We picked up my father from the nursing home and just as we were about to sit down the doorbell rang. Thinking that it was my friend Bethane and her husband Ijust punched the buzzer and went back to work on the gravy. We lived in a penthouse at the time at the end of a very long hallway. I walked to the door, flung it open and burst into tears as I saw Alex's best friends Chris and Josh coming down the hall. " Did you think that because Alex wasn't here that we were going to miss the fun?" "We told him we'd take care of you!".

What a great dinner that was! We ate until we burst, drank an entire bottle of expensive Rye and went at midnight to the uniquely strange and thoroughly American experience of Black Friday shopping at the mall. Alex called earlier that evening, thrilled that we were all sharing each others company and having such a great time. I've cooked many a Thanksgiving meal since then and I don't deviate too much from my mother’s recipes. I make her mashed potatoes (3 sticks of butter) and her pumpkin pie and this year because I have a strange and sudden craving for them, her decadent , buttery scalloped oysters. I brine my turkey the night before, and stuff herbs and butter under the skin and roast and baste it generously for hours.

It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks and last year I learned a secret that's improved the flavor and texture of my turkey and turned my stuffing into the "stuff" of legends! I don't know about you, but the dressing is my favorite part of the meal , well that and the creamy garlic spinach! I always cook it in the bird and it's always delicious but never fluffy enough. I went to a friends house for an early Thanksgiving meal and her stuffing wasremarkable. I went through my mental checklist of ingredients and found all of the usual suspects. So I asked her what made the difference and what she told me was truly surprising! The secret ingredient? Shredded mozzarella cheese,about 5 cups of it! Nothing fancy, just the basic Kraft variety. So I tried it. I made the stuffing and while it was still warm stirred in the cheese and stuff the turkey. The result was superb, moist, fluffy and flavorful, just the way that you want it to be. There was also an oozy meltingly quality to it that was a perfect foil for the turkey. My friend surges me that it works with any stuffing recipe, but if you want to try mine here goes. I’m giving you only the ingredients here, not the proportions because everyone likes it made just alittle bit differently.

I use:

Chopped apples
Diced Butternut squash
Cornbread stuffing cubes
Chopped chestnuts
Chopped , COOKED and drained sage and onion sausage
Chopped pecans
Onions and celery sautéed in butter
Plenty of fresh sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme
A touch of cayenne
Truffle oil
Eggs
Butter
Cidre' ( French hard cider)
Shredded mozzarella

Choose your proportions and mix. Be sure to stuff the cavity of the bird loosely, because the dressing will expand.

So what are your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving? Traditions? Memories? Pease share and the first person who uses my favorite holiday ingredient (I'll give you a hint , it smells incredible and can be used in both food and perfume) in a comment gets a fabulously gift certificate from Sur La Table as well as a scented surprisechosen by me! Please put your email in your comment as well so that I can get in touch with you easily!

One of my families favorite Thanksgiving traditions is that that while we are eating we each share something that we are especially thankful for. I hope that all of you know that I am always thankful for all of you. Your love and support of me make "Foodie Sunday" not a job but something that I look forward to sharing with you every other week. I count all of you as my family too..and that makes me a very wealthy woman. Wherever you are this Thanksgiving please know that in my mind you're all sitting around my table.

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13 Comments:

Blogger Flora said...

Beth, what a wonderful story, and that recipe, wow! I never would have dreamed that cheese, of all things, could make such a difference. I hope this year's Thanksgiving is as warm and wonderful as possible for you and yours!

12:32 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I'd love to experience your wonderful Thanksgiving! Personally I wish the Pilgrims had been Italian, so we could celebrate the the day with a heaping helping of Fettuccine Alfredo or Carbonara (with a touch of cumin)

I do like stuffing and mashed potatoes, but turkey is not a favorite protein..

12:36 AM EST  
Anonymous Meg said...

I really enjoyed reading this and will make note of the recipes! I am currently watching my sister make (yes, she bakes and cooks late at night) pumpkin ginger snaps. We have just moved in together and having been enjoying making fabulous food during this first holiday season living together, and it feels like memories in the making. Because I can smell it in her snaps right now, and because it tastes and smells so damn delicious, I am going to guess your ingredient is clove. Warm thanksgiving wishes!
mhume@interchange.ubc.ca

2:21 AM EST  
Blogger Alexandra said...

hmmm... yummy! love your recipe! And your story! thank you! We don't have thanksgiving in Greece, but the stuffing my mum makes includes -among other things- pine nuts! They add to the fun!

2:45 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not for the first time, you brought tears to my eyes. How beautifully you described everything, and my mouth is now watering for your stuffing.

Here in the UK, of course, our big turkey dinner is served on Christmas Day, and I have a recipe for stuffing I've used for about30 years; it keeps the bird moist and is delicious just to eat on its own - it has chicken livers, mushrooms, apricots, celery, green pepper (capiscum?), carrots, courgettes, leeks, onions, herbs, brandy and butter. There's a lot of chopping and grating involved, but it's all part of the ritual.

I can't enter your competition, but it would be a very wild guess to think your favourite ingredient might be truffle???!! That's just silly, I suppose, but I know it's creeping into perfumes and hair care products now, and I just love the smell and taste - I cover my turkey breast with truffle butter, and sprinkle truffle oil on the stuffing.

With much love for Thanksgiving.

Jillie

3:48 AM EST  
Blogger queen_cupcake said...

I loved reading about your Thanksgiving memories. One time I made a fabulous sweet potato cheesecake with dark chocolate marbling and a ginger crumb crust. I brought it to New York where my sister was hosting. She already had a great selection of pies there from other family members. Taking one look at my decadent creation, she declared that "we'll never even get to that--and besides, it's too rich". Guess which dessert disappeared first! :-D I love rosemary in holiday cooking and suspect you might, too. ewatson54 [at] gmail [dot] com. I am grateful for many things, the wonderful perfumista community among them!

11:02 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh beth, the photo of u and ur mom touch my heart! beautiful, the both of u! i have no idea what your favourite ingredient is...i would have to say whatever it is, if you put it in with soul...it has to be delicious..sage?
hongkongmom

7:57 PM EST  
Blogger JoAnne Bassett said...

I loved your photo with your Mom..love the tradition of her cooking the dinner..and now you shared with us your stuffing recipe. One of my favorite things is the sage stuffing..so sage is a favorite spice..But another dish I always love is the candied yams..I add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamon, and sometimes a little orange juice and zest..also add some marshmallows for the crisp topping..

8:25 PM EST  
Blogger JoAnne Bassett said...

Oh and my email is joanne@joannebassett.com

8:30 PM EST  
Anonymous Lucky Scent Coupon Codes said...

Nice post with Interesting recipe. And Super Like for your pic wid ur mom

4:27 AM EST  
Blogger Janet said...

what lovely dishes your Mom had :-) Loved reading the story! My family had strong Thanksgiving traditions, too. Always chestnut stuffing, always cider (not hard, tho), turkey, mashed potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce. And always a pumpkin pie, an apple pie and plum pudding with hard sauce (again, not with alcohol, but vanilla & rum extract). My aunt is the last surviving member of that generation and she & her eldest daughter made the plum puddings yesterday, which they're kindly overnighting to me today! YUM! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours :-)

11:47 AM EST  
OpenID fountaingirl said...

I love this story, thank you for sharing it!

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that maybe the ingredient is lavender. Too few people use culinary lavender if you ask me....

My email is ((fountaingirl-at-gmail-dot-com))

6:07 PM EST  
Blogger smartshopper2 said...

Thank you sharing your beautiful memories of your Mom and thanksgiving celebrations. Such a lovely photo as well.

My fond memories is that Mom did most of the cooking and Dad always had the idea that we would eat early and he'd have everyone out the door by 4 or so. It never worked out that way, everyone stayed and made a good time of it, including my Dad.
My Dad pased away a couple of weeks ago and his remembrance was yesterday, it would have been his 78th birthday. Bittersweet time for sure. happy to have read this sweet post.

~Audrey

2:24 AM EST  

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