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Cranberry Nation

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I adore Thanksgiving. Unlike his more bloated sister, Christmas, Thanksgiving doesnít promise more than it can deliver. Yesterday was no exception. I felt peace, love, pleasure, happiness. My cup (and plate) runneth over.

Having said that, I have to admit that this blog is mostly about the best meal I have ever made. Iím not a cook, really. As my oldest son once said, I heat. I commute, I work, the budget and time are limited, and our meals are often reflective of that. In the midst of our culinary deprivation, I have found a few meals that abound in taste and a relative ease of cooking that I can pull out of my admittedly small chefís hat for our eating pleasure. Meatball subs, baked chicken breast and new potatoes, taco soup, chili. They tend to be hearty and vaguely reminiscent of those ď50ís meals, heavy on the prepackaged food products, but filling nevertheless.

But I can make a great homemade Thanksgiving feast (sans pie, thatís straight from the storesí freezer to my oven).

For your eating pleasure I present the following menu: bacon wrapped turkey, homemade mashed potatoes (using Yukon gold potatoes), green bean casserole, homemade cranberry sauce (who knew it was so easy!), cranberry salad, strawberry bread, pumpkin pie, strawberry jello.

The strawberry bread is a winner, moist and delicious. I made it the day before.

The bacon wrapped turkey
was awesome. I slid bacon under the skin, laid it over the breasts in a lattice pattern, wrapped it around the legs and tucked it in the cavity. I laid two quartered yellow onions around it and cooked it for three hours. The smell was heavenly.

I mashed the potatoes
with cream and real butter (usually I use margarine; itís what I grew up with, what can I say?) My oldest son did the honors in mashing them, and his brother made the strawberry jello. About an hour and a half after I put the turkey in I started making the cranberry sauce. First you boil together a cup of water and sugar (a simple syrup), then just add the cranberries and cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the berries pop. It is absolutely awesome, so much better than those horrible cans of sauce, where it comes out with the can lines pressed into it. The second batch of cranberries I made with crushed pineapple, and a touch of cinnamon and allspice. Itís even more awesome. I feel like Keats and Hernandez, like Iíve just been given my first kiss or eaten my first most delectable meal in Italy. Next I made the green bean casserole (for what is Thanksgiving meal without it?) and it went in after the turkey came out.

After the turkey was through roasting
I made the gravy. I added one-half cup of white wine to the drippings, brought it to a boil then added the flour and water mixture slowly until it thickened.

I have to say
, with great pride, it was the most heavenly meal I have ever made. We ate, in great accord and thankfulness, for the food, for life, for each other.

This holiday has not been
without its bittersweet moments. My father had a mild stroke last week. He his home and resting, but he is weaker now. Iím very worried. My sister lives in the same town, but we are faced with the problem of convincing my very stubborn and independent parents that it is time for them to have some help.

Please, my dear friends,
I would love to hear about your wonderful Thanksgiving meals, or the best meal you have ever had, or the best meal you have ever cooked.


Updated 11-27-2009 at 12:54 PM by qimissung



  1. DanielBenoit's Avatar
    Right when you said bacon wrapped turkey, my mouth started watering. My family bumped Thanksgiving up to today, so I have yet to have the main meal. So I can hardly read this without losing my mind
  2. AuntShecky's Avatar
    Well, you're fortunate that the meal turned out so well. I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner when I was about 11 or 12, so you can imagine how many of them there has been! Some were good, some not so. For instance, one year we were moving the day after Thanksgiving, so in the hectic rush of last minute packing and cleaning, we had to have some kind of Thanksgiving dinner, so we had a"roast turkey breast." It was still a pain in the derriere to have to cook a big meal in the middle of chaos, so you can imagine how I felt when the spouse said that the main dish looked like "the ball from the 1937 Army-Navy game."
    This year's "feast" wasn't one of the best
    either. Spouse searched all over until he found the cheapest turkey in town. I cooked the damn thing the way I always do -- unstuffed, with all kinds of food safety precautions. But he hated the result. I told him, "This is what you get
    when your turkey only costs 39 cents a pound!" I'll tell ya, not even Julia Child,
    if she were still among us, could make that fowl thing palatable.

    Someday I'll tell you about the famous
    holiday of 1983 when the refrigerator died and the sewer backed up on Christmas Day!
  3. qimissung's Avatar
    There's something about waiting for the big meal, Dan. Both my sons kept lurking around all day looking hungry.

    Lol, AuntyShecky. Thanks for the laugh. I'm not sure which story I like best, the ones you told or the one you didn't!
  4. mtpspur's Avatar
    So hoping things get better for your father. My partner at work suffered a stroke almost a month ago now and we are not sure he'll be returning to work which is adding to my workload but oh well too bad so sad. As to dinners--really not qualified to comment much on that. But yours sounded divine.
    Updated 11-29-2009 at 11:42 PM by mtpspur
  5. Virgil's Avatar
    Your feast sounds delicious. I never thought about bacon on/in the turkey. I'll have to remember that. What's cranberry salad? And the strawberry bread sounds great.

    This was the smallest Thanksgiving I may have ever had. It was just me, my wife, her mother, and my mother. My mother as usual did all of the cooking. The turkey was stuffed with her signature stuffing (bread crumbs, grated parmasan cheese, parsley, raisins, pine nuts, seasoning) and we put someonions and carrots and mushrooms in the pan to make a really good gravy, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed red peppers, salad, brocoli, sweet potatoes with marshmellos. And she made her own pumpkin pie from scratch. My mother is quite a cook, but she really knocks herself out. We had so much leftovers I'll be eating for a week. In fact, it's time for me to eat right now.

    I'm sorry to hear about your dad. I hope he recovers. If the damage from the stroke is not extensive, they can usually recover quite a bit. I wish him the best.
  6. qimissung's Avatar
    Thank you, mtpspur and Virgil. Virgil your Mom's Thanksgiving meal also sounds divine.
  7. Virgil's Avatar
    You're welcome Qimi. But what's a cranberry salad?
  8. The Comedian's Avatar
    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as well -- for many of the reasons that you listed above. Also, that the US consumer-driven marketplace wants to skip it entirely makes me love Thanksgiving all the more.

    This year's meal was great. My wife and I cooked for her family (13 people total)

    Menu: Roast turkey with fresh garlic cloves and thyme, green bean salad, scalloped oysters (a tradition of my family and my personal favorite), spinach salad, fresh mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce.

    Desert: Homemade apple pie (with apples that we picked locally) and homemade chocolate ice cream.
  9. qimissung's Avatar
    I call it cranberry salad, Virgil, but it's really just homemade cranberry sauce with the added ingredients of crushed pineapple, and a dash of cinnamon and allspice. Once I'd made it I couldn't tell the difference between it and the regular cranberry sauce by looking at them, but they did taste different, and I liked the addition of the spices. I can give you the recipe if you like.

    That the US consumer-driven marketplace wants to skip Thanksgiving is a small miracle, Comedian.

    Your meal sounds magnificent. I am totally drooling as I read it. I adore garlic and the homemade desserts put your meal over the top.
  10. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    Sounds delicious Qimi; there's something amazing about sharing a good meal, something that brings people together. Yours sounds wonderful. In fact I had to look up a recipe for strawberry bread and I'll be making some of that soon. Wonderful stuff. Thanks for sharing