American celebrations, from tailgating football parties to Christmas seem to be centered on food. A big Thanksgiving dinner can be fun when the responsibility is shared with an extended family.When we started staying home in Tooele for Thanksgiving, at first we tried to imitate our traditional family Thanksgiving with all the food. To do so required at least two days of baking and cooking followed by more leftovers than a refrigerator can hold.
Exhausted after cleaning, we went back to work more worn out than rested. Eventually we decided Thanksgiving had to get simpler.
The only dishes our children really enjoyed were the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.
The rest of the fluff could go, or be simplified. In case you haven’t shopped for your Thanksgiving meal here are my recipes for a simple Thanksgiving meal.
The best tasting turkey Iíve had came out of a bag. Follow the directions on the box of bags. You may want to cram an onion, a few sticks of celery, and chopped carrot with a few twigs of fresh rosemary into the birdís cavities before you put it in the bag. If you want a television commercial browned turkey, when the turkey is done remove it from the bag and paint the skin with Kitchen Bouquet. Put it back in the oven for a few minutes.
Use instant, but donít tell anybody. Add extra butter, substitute sour cream for some of the milk. Put in just a touch of garlic. Donít over stir or you will end up with something that resembles paper mache glue.
Put the juice from the cooking bag into a sauce pan and let it boil until it reduces by half. Put two tablespoons of flour per cup of juice left in the saucepan in a separate bowl. Mix the flour with an equal amount of cold water. Add about half a cup of the hot turkey juice to your water/flour mixture while stirring. Pour the flour mixture into the saucepan. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a hard boil. Reduce the temperature to simmer for at least five minutes. Add kitchen bouquet for color or concentrated chicken or turkey bouillon base for more flavor as needed.
You think they are yams, but they arenít. These are the sweet potatoes with the dark orange flesh. Clean and microwave the sweet potatoes until fork soft. Let them cool. Cut in half, scoop out the potato leaving a little bit to cover the skins. Mash the extracted potato with butter, a bit of nutmeg, a dash of onion powder, and a handful of grated Monterey Jack cheese. Spoon the mixture back into the potato skins. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese melts.
Find a rutabaga or Swede, NOT a turnip in your grocery store. Peel it, dice it, boil it in chicken broth until it is very soft. Mash it with a little butter and salt. Mix it half and half with your mashed potatoes.
Chop woody stems off. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and salt to taste. Place on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast in a 425 degree oven until it as soft as you like it. Toss it with a little butter and lemon juice and serve.
Once you try homemade cranberry sauce youíll never go back to canned. Dump one 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, one cup water, one cup sugar into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to just above a simmer. When it stops popping itís done. Like extra favor? After cooking, add a little orange zest, a dash of ground nutmeg, and fresh ginger.
Pumpkin Cheese Dessert Dip
Cream two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese with one and a half cups of sugar. Add one teaspoon vanilla, a dash of salt, and one pint heavy whipping cream. Mix with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Add one cup canned pumpkin and two tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice. Mix until smooth. Add a little milk to make a dipping consistency. Stick your finger in and taste it to see if it needs more sugar or spice. Serve with graham crackers for dipping.