Thanksgiving Approaches and Here’s Our Dinner Plan

The image above is not from my dinner table but it contains all the necessary items for a decent Thanksgiving meal, in my humble opinion.

My son smokes the turkey on the grill. He just bought his favorite Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips which are made from old oak barrels that once held whiskey. The turkey was delicious last year, so I am leaving it up to him. 

This will be our second year together for the holidays and the guest count total is three!  Yes, it’s a small gathering.  So the focus is on the food.

Our dinner planning has begun. Turkey, stuffing and gravy are a given.  It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.  Also high on the list is mashed potatoes, Acorn squash and rolls.  I don’t eat much bread these days, so I will most likely skip adding the rolls to my plate.

Personally I can’t eat any of it without cranberry sauce as an accompaniment.   Last year I made my own cranberry sauce and I will do so again this year.  I added the recipe to this blog so I would remember how to do it.

cranberry sauce
Boiling the cranberries

Another new thing I did last year was to make my own broth. I used the turkey innards / gizzards or whatever all that extra stuff is called that is packed inside a big frozen bird. The broth is used in place of water in gravy and stuffing. And boy does it make a difference in flavor! Any leftover would make an excellent soup stock too.

turkey stock broth
Making Stock

Many people already know to do all of this, but I didn’t grow up with a mother who was a good cook. Most of my life I had to make most of the Thanksgiving meal myself, for my husband and kids. We never had much family around. After all the cooking, serving and eating, I had the clean up.

Thanksgiving meals of old, back when I was growing up and tables had to be pushed together to seat all fo us, the menu was larger. Aunts and grandmothers slaved for days to bring their homemade specialties to the table. Boiled onions, turnips, carrots, homemade breads, and many pies and desserts we included. My grandmother made cookies called monkey faces. There were so many before-dinner appetizers I had to be careful not to fill up.

Our simple menu will also include apple pie which I will make.

I need to find some recipes for after Thanksgiving. Usually sandwiches and soup use up the leftovers nicely. This year we have a new refrigerator which means plenty of room for keeping the carcass until I can use it to make soup stock the next day.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce
Boiling the cranberries
Because I took ideas from more than one recipe, I need to write it down here.  Thanksgiving Day 2016 was spent in Florida, in my new home, with my two sons.

Because I didn’t have any cranberry sauce, but I had a bag of fresh cranberries, I made my own sauce.  Here’s how I did it.

Rinse cranberries and pick out defective ones.

Dump them into a pan.  Add 1/3 cup of water or cranberry juice (I used juice – real, not sweetened).  Add 1 cup of sugar.  I would cut down on the sugar, or use real Maple Syrup in it’s place.  One recipe called for syrup.  How I wish I was in NH where the syrup is plentiful.

Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Cook until it looks mushy.  Add orange juice – how much?.  (I had an orange so I squeezed the juice and added that.)

I also added some cinnamon.  

The sauce came out very tasty, if chunky.  I could strain the chunks out, but don’t have to. I plan to use this new recipe each Thanksgiving, even if I am the only one who will eat it.

My Thanksgiving Day 2016

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-1-48-12-pmI have to write about my Thanksgiving Day so next year I will remember what I cooked and how it turned out.  Because this year I did a couple of things differently and I want to do them again!

First, my son smoked a turkey.  He took care of the bird, and it came out yummy.  I took the  neck, kidneys, liver and neck (is that what those things are?) … anyway, the inside stuff… and made stock, or broth.  I then used that stock to make the stuffing and gravy.  It was tasty.

Because we were having our heating / AC unit replaced the day before Thanksgiving, I never got to the store to buy my wine (I drank whiskey instead), or pick up some cranberry sauce, I decided to make my own … cranberry sauce that is. Here is how I made it.

We also had mashed potatoes, and I never got around to cooking a vegetable, but my sons don’t care about that, so it was okay.  I will cook veggies to go with the leftovers.

I am in Florida now, so it was a hot and sunny day.  Not too hot, but shorts and sleeveless tops hot.  My son smoked up the neighborhood while cooking the bird, but I think all the neighbors were gone.  It was a quiet and peaceful day.

We still don’t have living room furniture, and the table was crammed with stuff that needs to be put somewhere, so we sat in chairs and watched tv.  We’ve only been living in the new house for about a month now.  Then the boys played some video games, which was fun to watch.  I called my son in Kentucky and my daughter in New Hampshire.  I’ve given up thinking that one day we can all be together for a holiday.

The thing I was most thankful for was the dishwasher.

 

 

Making Turkey Stock For Gravy and Stuffing

turkey stock broth
Boiling gizzards with veggies to make stock.

I tried something new Thanksgiving Day 2016 and added loads of flavor to the meal. I used all the inside stuff from the turkey – the neck, kidneys, etc – not the liver, throw it away (that’s what recipes said).

Brown all that stuff in oil in a large pan for 5 minutes.

While it’s browning cut up a carrot, celery stick, and onion, into bigger chunks.

Crush garlic cloves.  Pick parsley & basil from garden and rinse.

After 5 minutes add the veggies to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add chicken broth – 2 cups because it tends to be too salty.  And 4 cups of water.  Total 6 cups however you want.

Boil on medium for 45-60 minutes, uncovered.

Strain through a colander and dump out veggies.  Use the broth for making stuffing and gravy.  (We used 2 Publix packets of gravy, and Stove Top stuffing.)  I had just enough stock to make both.  It added great flavor.

I also made my own cranberry sauce since no one eats it but me.  I’m not picky, and it was pretty good.  I’ve never worked with whole, fresh cranberries before.  I though they were only used to make garland for the Christmas tree!