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“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.” — Julia Child


A Recipe for Thanksgiving Introduction

6 How To Make An Apple Pie by Sarah Myers

The Turkey Slap by Kate Nelischer

by Teal Triggs

Captain John Smith Turkey Shit

Making Thanks A Myth by Kiernan Maletsky




by Joel Sager


Not French Co


58 26 29 30 What I Am Dankful For by Mari Bell

Happiness, Thy Name is Pumpkin by Katrina Tauchen

A Thanksgiving Scamwich by Darin Seal

33 Marvel by Adam Rux

A Recipe The Meal by Elaine Johnson

by Kathryn Zack Crawford

Please Don’t Pass The Casserole by Sarah Handelman

Fancy Centerpiece by Rebecca Kurtz

17 20 22

25 60

ooking presents



34 38 48 52 A Letter, To You...And You by Your (grand)son

Food And Drink by Betts Coup

Frank Capra Made Me Lose by Jenn Hueting

A Quiz! provided by Alex Reed

Freedom From Want by Kristin Noe

A Recipe Index

Welcome! When I set out to ask for contributions for this zine, Mastering the Art of Thanksgiving, I had no idea what to expect, but I’ve found that Thanksgiving strikes a chord with many Americans, and I knew there would plenty of stories to tell. I was astounded at the wonderful content that came in – from America, from ex-pats and even from a Canadian (for days I have been all-smiles regarding your contributions). It is clear that although many facts about the First Thanksgiving have been exaggerated or ignored, something has stuck: Our memories and stories are steeped in tradition. In this issue, you’ll find recipes passed down from grandmothers; you’ll read about a very alternative celebration; you’ll read a heartfelt letter to feuding family members; and throughout many of the stories, you’ll find that we love Thanksgiving not for the food, but because it is a forgiving holiday – one that welcomes anyone to the table. Blind to religion, Thanksgiving is about nourishment, family, friends and sometimes football. Besides stuffing yourself silly, there are few expectations attached to the day – no presents, no Sunday service traffic to endure, and certainly no lack of classic comfort food. And no matter where in the world you are on the final Thursday of November, it is a day that links us by memories of home. From across the pond, I will think of my family as they sit down to savor a late afternoon dinner. My father will have spent the morning smoking the bird, and my mother will put the finishing touches on her classic recipes: crunchy apple stuffing, and cinnamony zucchini bread. It is my first Thanksgiving away from home, but I look forward to bringing pumpkin pie to my little London flat, and enjoying it with new and old friends. For that, I am thankful. I am so pleased to share this little turkey tome with all of you. I hope that you savor this as much as I have. The writings, recipes and images are just a handful of the moments in which we relish at this time of year, but they are thoughtful, irreverent and sincere representations of a holiday older than our country. I am grateful to everyone who contributed, and I hope the zine does justice to your fantastic work. So, grab a drink, sit back, balance that plate on your belly, and enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving!


Two members of the turkey family that lives in our woods. by Ann Handelman


One Recipe for Thanksgiving



’ve just spent the last few hours tearing the kitchen apart to find an old family recipe for cranberry pudding that gets revived once a year to celebrate the day that the Pilgrims sat down for dinner with a group of American Indians (and it is always ‘American Indians’ in the story, rather than ‘native Americans’) to give ‘thanks’. The number of places where I may have archived the index card upon which my grandmother had dutifully written out for me her ‘tried and tested’ recipe, was beginning to run out. Despite every cabinet door hanging open as a result of my search, I had one more place to look – a green and white tole-painted wooden recipe box which my mother had decorated and given to me the day I left home for college. This simple gesture was my mother’s way of acknowledging that I was now part of our family’s matriarchy that represented a group of women who took the business of cooking very seriously. This role was one of a deep sense of family, which made my desperate search for the cranberry recipe all that more frustrating. Thank god! I saw the box in the back of the larder as I moved the cans of tomato soup and boxes of cuscus and rice aside. There it was – a dusty box with the daisy floral pattern now slightly faded, yet with my mother’s hand still evident in the brush strokes of the flower’s white petals. The box was lodged somewhat inconveniently toward the back meaning I had to stretch my arm that extra inch in order to grab it. In that moment my thoughts became memories of past Thanksgiving gatherings as a kid held in my grandparents’ house in a suburb of Austin, Texas. Like many American families the ritual of food preparation for this auspicious occasion resided with the women – in this case, my great grandmother who was named Grace, my grandmother Dorothy and, my mother Rae. As a young teenager the process of holiday cooking fascinated me. It seemed like magic that out of a kitchen counter full of seemingly disparate ingredients, our afternoon meal would emerge – in the form of sweet potatoes with marsh-mellow topping, bread stuffing with onion and giblets, green beans, soft white rolls and, of course, a rather large basted turkey. 9

As a special treat we would often go to my grandparents’ house the night before and have a sleepover. I remember my grandmother getting up early to prepare the turkey and put it in the oven so that it would be cooked in time. The distinctive smell that its basting juices gave off about halfway through cooking would entice us to the table long before the rest of the meal was prepared. This was not a moment to be lost on my grandmother who instantly put everyone to work. My brother was asked to help set the table which was already covered with a crease free white linen cloth that she had ironed the night before. For this special occasion she had pulled out her best bone china, crystal wine glasses and silverware. My younger brother would dutifully obey – but only for a few moments before sneaking outside in order to pretend he was a member of the Dallas Cowboys. (Specifically a quarterback poised with the football in hand, arm held back ready to throw a long pass to an invisible teammate.) We could watch him from the big glass plated window that created a frame around my grandmother’s impeccably mowed lawn. He was interested in the food but more interested in the big game that happened by tradition on the same day. My mother was steeped in a 1960s American housewife mindset – very Mad Men – always checking that the rest of the family was sorted with their drink orders: my grandfather with his glass of scotch with two ice cubes and my father with a chilled glass of Californian wine – white and dry. My uncle normally had a Coca-Cola and us younger kids were offered orange or apple juice – albeit in a wine glass as it was after all a special occasion. Mother would always see that everyone else was taken care of first before pouring herself a small glass of cold beer which was never any particular brand – just normally what had been on sale that week in the local grocery. My grandmother would be busying herself in the kitchen with a small brandy sitting on the side counter that she sipped occasionally as she peeled the potatoes and made ready the vegetables for steaming. My mother always helped her mother (much like I would do when I was older) with the last minute food preparations such as mashing the potatoes and taking various accoutrements out of the refrigerator including pickled onions, relish, black olives and cranberry sauce. The kitchen at this point, however, was very much my grandmother’s domain and the rest of us were at her beckon call as her ‘little helpers’. Once everything was cooked and placed on the table, everyone would be called in to sit down and dig-in. Prayers were not a big thing in our family. My grandfather would masterfully carve the turkey with a set of ivory handled knives that he had received as a wedding present all those years ago. Bowls of food would be passed around followed by the ‘boat’ of dark, rich gravy made from turkey pan drippings. I remember this as a time for interesting gossip to be shared about distant relatives. But mostly the men folk would argue about controversial football games and league tables. The eating never took as long as the preparation and much of the point of the meal seemed to be a gateway to having desserts.


Although the traditional desserts for our Thanksgiving meal were mince or pumpkin pies (with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top), my grandmother would also make cranberry cup puddings as a second choice. These little muffin-like cakes were chock-full of cranberries, and could be made the day before and reheated, topped with a butter and cream sauce. This was the end of the meal, and afterwards the family would retire to comfortable chairs to either snooze or watch the football game on television. Back to the present and my search. I was confident about the basic ingredients required to make the cranberry puddings, but for the life of me could not remember the one ingredient my grandmother would add which made all the difference. I opened the lid of the box and leafed quickly through the hand-written index cards – some of which were recipes from my mother such as her favourite Portuguese soup, corn on the cob, chicken fried steak – and, as I made it to the back of the box, I recognized with some relief my grandmother’s handwriting on the last index card. I pulled it out and smiled – the secret ingredient was a dash of ‘brandy to taste’. This recipe card was a connection, a link to a past childhood and a way of preserving the memories of a family who came together to give ‘thanks’. 5 RECIPE

Cranberry Cup Puddings


MAKING THANKS A MYTH by Kiernan Maletsky



am thankful for creation myths. Thanksgiving is troubling because, statistically speaking, if there were a hundred Native Americans at the celebratory meal we’re talking about here, then their guests would eventually kill off all but two of them. As in: European invaders were directly responsible for the deaths of 98% of the Native American population. So Thanksgiving, when you think about it, is sort of like if Hitler had won World War II and then Germany declared a national holiday celebrating a mythological dinner party hosted by the Polish Jews and attended by the Nazis. And the thing is, that’s probably exactly what they would have done in time because that’s a great way to reconstruct history in your favor. If the analogy seems preposterous today, then maybe that’s just because America did an exceptional job rewriting history. But I am not here to write indignantly about Colonialism. After all, I would be standing on a 400-year-old soapbox, and anyway I am anthropologically situated on team White Devil. What I am here to write about is Mount Rushmore and why I love Thanksgiving. Native American/European relations is the quick way to connect the two, Mount Rushmore and Thanksgiving. Because Mount Rushmore was built in the Black Hills, a part of the country that would clearly have belonged to the Native Americans if they believed in that sort of thing. And it is therefore metaphorically satisfying as a site for the United States to blast a mountain into the shape of a bunch of white men. Every night at Mount Rushmore, there is a ranger program. It is unlike other ranger programs in America’s National Park system in that there is a giant concrete amphitheater built in front of Mount Rushmore. You the visitor park in the multi-level parking structure and walk through a display of the flags of each United State. You can purchase hot chocolate or a hamburger or whatever from the cafeteria behind the amphitheater. And when the sun sets, a massive TV screen is revealed at the back of the stage. You watch a movie about Mount Rushmore. It goes through, president by president, who they were and what central feature of the American identity each one symbolizes. From left to right: Washington for strength of character, Jefferson for ingenuity, Roosevelt for independence, Lincoln for perseverance. They mean other things, too, different 13

things for different people. That’s why their mythology has been useful for nearly every political and social movement in United States history. In the ranger program, once the video ends, they invite all the veterans onstage. They play the National Anthem and illuminate the mountain, and it is hard to be cynical. Or at least, I, who had spent the entire affair questioning motives and guessing at subtext, found the skeptic silenced in that moment. The men on the mountain were supposed to come with words, also carved in stone, explaining who they were and what they meant. But the project was never finished and the presidents do not require you to interpret them in any particular way. So there, for whatever reason, amidst plenty of symbolism that has been used to perpetuate things I disagree with, I was moved. Not to suddenly change my beliefs, to fall in line with the current rhetoric surrounding our national creation myths. No, this was a more general stirring. Something about all this, the mountain, the lights, the veterans, the music, appealed to the indefinable truth that lies buried somewhere, the one we all spend our lives trying to find. Mount Rushmore and the story of the meal shared between Pilgrims and Indians and even the Bible are not inherently powerful. They are endowed meaning, and therefore power, by people looking to prove something they can’t without a mythology. Maybe the mythology they have chosen is flawed or even wrong, but to blame the symbol for the belief is backward. The significance of symbols, of myths, is not a particular meaning but meaning in general. They allow us to imagine a world outside the one we can see and touch. So I am thankful for them, thankful that the thought of Thanksgiving fills me, and thankful that I don’t know why. 5




by Joel Sager

THE MEAL by Elaine Johnson There was a platter, but it was cracked. The carving knife was dull The china on display was dusty But the table always full. Full of energetic obstinence Full of clashing loves Full of failures loud and often unknowing Facing one another full on. If the hostess saw the flaws One would never know She served her random holiday fare With humble and joyous aplomb. And in the end we’d be glad to gather If only to affirm we’d tried To share the bird and the wishes that would keep coming, And the memories that always lied.




A RECIPE by Kathryn Zack Crawford

My mother’s mother wasn’t a great cook, but some of her recipes hit a note with us. This is the family recipe for what my grandmother called “creamed cabbage.” Coleslaw may seem like a summery barbeque picnic food, but in my Polish/Pennsylvania German/Scots-Irish family we eat it all year round, and especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The majority of the prep time is spent reminiscing about past family holidays, how Grandma used to make the dish and the tips she left for us to make it ourselves. My mother, my two brothers and I will stand in our cramped, poorly designed kitchen with the lino ripped up from an attempted rehab nearly 5 years ago, channeling my grandmother’s voice, and between chopping onions and pouring in a little more vinegar we get a bit teary. We frequently get it wrong, too much salt or not quite enough vinegar but there’s always next year. There are no real measurements... just do it by eye and taste. 5



Mary Zack’s Creamed Cabbage (or coleslaw) INGREDIENTS: White cabbage, carrots, onion and celery grated fine Ratio for veg by cups is approximately 3 to 1 cabbage and carrots 1/2 cup each - onion and celery DRESSING: 1 cup miracle whip (if you HATE Miracle Whip, or cannot get it, use good cheap jarred white salad dressing or mayo. If you use the Mayo, you will need more vinegar.) 3 tablespoons of white vinegar 1/2 tsp or so salt 1 tsp sugar Ground black pepper so that you can see it in the dressing mixture, but not so much that it is overpowering PREPARATION: Grate separately by hand or in food processor. (If you use a food processor, drain out liquid if the mixture is wet.) Toss veggies together to mix well. They should be loose and pretty. Mix well. Actually shaking it is best, and stir into vegies. TASTE IT It should be tangy, and only very mildly sweet. Adjust seasoning as needed. Refrigerate overnight. A milky juice will develop...stir that in before you serve each time. Double or triple the recipe so that you have enough for a few days. It is great on leftover turkey sandwiches with a little cranberry sauce. Or not.





or as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving dinner has been held at my parents’ house. Every year we raise the drop-leaves on the dining room table, and whatever or however many relatives happen to be in town join us at a feast no one is completely prepared for. Every year we loosen our belts or wear fashionable stretch pants. Every year there is too much food. Thanksgiving is about more than being thankful for family; it’s about taking heaping spoonfuls of everything on the table, and with a sigh, piling it on a plate so cramped with starches that before all the dishes are passed around, most guests have mentally relinquished any sprinklings of willpower to “take it easy.” No one wants to be the one obnoxious family member who “feels great” after dinner, so every year we happily schlump into the gravy boat together. When certain recipes are retired, dishes are updated and new ones are introduced, and every year, we make sure to have a polite taste (read: hefty dollop) of each creation. Every year we ignore that gelatin and tomato just don’t go together as we feebly attempt to eat my grandmother’s tomato aspic. Every year we deny tears of confused pain when we remember there is still dessert. And every year, there is one dark horse on the table: Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole. Green Bean Casserole is, in many ways, an enigma. Simultaneously gooey, creamy and crunchy, once eaten, mouthfuls are easily mistaken for phlegm. It is the one dish no one feels bad about skipping over, and yet my mother continues to make it. Especially since my brother Paul, the world’s pickiest eater, happens to love it. But Paul wasn’t at last year’s Thanksgiving, and the casserole still made an appearance. Let me just say that leftovers don’t last long in our house, and this stuff stayed for a while. 55 years ago, the dilapidated vistas of Camden, New Jersey reflected through the windows of the Campbell’s Test Kitchen onto what I imagine to be white formica-clad countertops, shining tile floors, hanging pans and a Smeg fridge. This is where the young, lab-coated Dorcas Reilly led a team of home economists. Assigned the task of developing recipes to promote Campbell’s soups, on a whim, Reilly threw together a few sundry items that would yield a holiday fixture. Containing five ingredients, Green Bean Casserole wasn’t invented with the intention of being a Thanksgiving staple. It was a convenient, pantry piece of cooking – a way to fill six people up for about 75 cents. According to the Campbell’s website, today’s casserole is still a bargain: less than six dollars for six people. 23

So how is it that an insanely cheap, no-fuss, sodium-ridden meal has found its way onto our tables year after year? Although Reilly claims the fried onions “upscaled the dish,” Green Bean Casserole is now as much of a tradition as pumpkin pie because of a half-century of strategic marketing. Both Campbell’s and French’s aggressively push the recipe in magazine and television advertisements. It works. According to Advertising Age, 20 percent of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup sales is attributed to the dish. And although most recipes marketed by companies (not just Campbell’s, but also Nestle and Quaker) are updated to fit evolving health standards and tastes, Dorcas Reilly’s original recipe, in all its saturated glory, remains at the top. Food snobs and chefs agree: Nothing compares. This holiday season, 30 million American consumers will make the dish, including 84-year-old Dorcas and my mother (who now employs fresh green beans and a dash of dill). Inevitably, there will be attempts at drastic alternatives – gluten free, dairy-free – but even my vegan aunt will break down for a bite. Unlike families who keep a warm casserole on-deck, our glass Pyrex dish of green bean goo will outlast Thanksgiving evening, Black Friday and weekendfootball snacking. And by Monday night, just like every year, it will make its way to the green garbage bin. I am thankful I won’t have to eat it. My mom is thankful she’s only out six dollars. And I guess we know what Campbell’s Soup is thankful for. 5


Green Bean Casserole INGREDIENTS 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup 4 cups cooked green beans 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/2 cup milk 1 1/3 cups French fried onions PREPARATION: Mix soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup of the fried onions. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Top with the remaining 2/3 cup fried onions and bake about 5 more minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Serves 6.



by Rebecca Kurtz





he room has a rosy glow. Satisfied people recline on futons and mismatched chairs, sipping from coffee mugs that stand in for wine glasses and pushing their remaining mashed potatoes around with a fork. The sweet potatoes were the first to go, followed quickly by the stuffing. No surprises; that’s been the trend for the past three years. The recipes have been fine-tuned and perfected, not too much of any one thing. Not like the first year when there was way too much pot. Preparing a Thanksgiving meal together seemed like a nice send-off to Thanksgiving break sophomore year. We had our own houses, most of us enjoyed cooking and several of us were not too keen on spending Thanksgiving with our real families. In college, you create a new family quickly and fiercely. We wanted to celebrate with that family. But also, because we were in college, we liked to smoke pot and drink cheap wine and shake things up a bit. We didn’t want to have a traditional Thanksgiving. We wanted a Danksgiving. To express what, amongst other things, we were thankful for: weed. The wood-paneling on the walls moved the inaugural Danksgiving. Not literally, but if you had told me that the walls were not moving, I would have called you a liar. Through the haze of the bubbler and bong and joints and pipes, the wood-paneling was definitely moving. I, on the other hand, was not. The sweet potatoes were way too potent, as was the stuffing. The cranberries, the sole item without pot, were too sweet and undercooked, and therefore unedible. The amount of weed was palpable, but everything was so palatable, it was hard to pass up. And then the Franzia started flowing, and the joints started passing, and the walls started moving. Like any good meal, it began with ingredients. Our ingredient required planning, phone calls and gathering up cash, as the suppliers don’t accept credit, debit, checks and certainly not IOUs. The first year, it was easy enough. There were only nine of us, so it wasn’t that hard to get the necessary amount of schwag to make the amount of weed butter we needed. Making butter is a surefire way of cooking marijuana into food. It was the best way we knew, and the way with which we had prior practice. It was a communal effort. One cohort happened to sell pot on a regular basis, and thus was put in charge of getting the schwag. Once obtained, we began making enough weed butter to go around. Melting and clarifying butter again and again, infusing it with finely ground marijuana, cooling, repeating the steps for potency, straining through cheesecloth. The process, while time consuming, is effective. 27

When at long last the process was complete, the stash was divided amongst friends, and people retreated to their own kitchens to outdo themselves – and one another – for the best dish. In that sense, Danksgiving is like any holiday potluck. You want your food to be the first to go, the most raved about and the recipe most requested. We divided who was bringing what based on various strengths and recipes, but people stepped it up. One usually stingy friend bought artisan-bakery bread for his stuffing. The second year, a friend hunted, shot and dressed a turkey for the occasion. I experimented with gourmet pie recipes, inventing a winner with a brandy pecan base, topped with pumpkin cheesecake filling. Rich, decadent, entirely festive. The sole item that never got upgraded over the years? The Franzia. It become a Danksgiving staple, the cornucopia, if you will, a centerpiece of sorts that marked the holiday’s humble beginnings in a crappy, soon-to-be-condemned house on a side street next to meth addicts. Through the years, Danksgiving grew in popularity. The hostess, and her respective sweet potatoes were always present, I brought pies, the weed supplier made stuffing, but the other roles changed and grew. The accompanying boyfriends and girlfriends rotated, the other friends that crowded the table changed faces, the location moved. But the spirit of the holiday – the annual circle-gathering, each individual saying what they were “dankful” for, the warm fuzzies one gets from close friends and good food, well, it was like the Franzia. Always there. Except now, only in memory. This year, there won’t be a Danksgiving. The original crew is spread across the country. People are working real jobs, few of us still smoke pot, and other responsibilities – other holiday traditions to be made – command our attention. I will miss it. I will miss the people, I will miss the food. And mostly, I will miss the comfort that close friends in a place that isn’t home can provide. 5



Happiness, Thy Name is Pumpkin by Katrina Tauchen INGREDIENTS 2 sticks butter 3 cups sugar 3 eggs 2 cups canned pumpkin (16 ounces) 3 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 2 teaspoons vanilla (and if a little

spills over the measuring spoon, that’s totally fine) 2 teaspoons ginger teaspoon cloves (plus a smidge, but don’t go too clove-happy) 3 heaping (seriously) teaspoons cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon salt

PREPARATION Cream together butter, sugar and eggs. Add pumpkin, and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and salt. Slowly add to wet mixture, and mix until completely combined. Bake in a greased bundt pan at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check bread with a knife to see if it’s done; the trick is to pull it out of the oven before the knife comes out completely clean (gooeycovered knife = not done; smidgens of moist bread still sticking to knife end = perfection!). For muffins, fill lined muffin cups to the brim with batter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees (same stick-to-the-knife tip applies). 29

A Thanksgiving

SCAMWICH by Darin Seal



lta was surveying the contents of our cabinets with narrowed eyes because she was an asshole. I say she was an asshole, but I am quite certain that she still is an asshole. Granted, I haven’t spoken with my grandmother in several years, but I feel like if you are an asshole at 71, you are probably still an asshole at 79. I don’t see those years as being really formative in someone’s life, asshole-wise. While she was ferreting about in our pantry, I was on the couch, busy being a teenager and nakedly hating things. Chief among those things was Alta’s presence, but I loathed her with good reason. Raised on stories of how she had ruined my father’s childhood in cartoonishly evil ways, I had come to see her as a diabolical hag-witch, the kind of villain you’d see in a Slavic folktale meant to frighten misbehaving children. For instance, when my father reached puberty, Alta decided that the sensible, normal-human-being way to teach him the mysteries of the female anatomy was to walk around the house completely nude for days at a time. My grandmother wasn’t content to simply scar my father psychologically, though. She wanted to make sure that she scarred him physically, too, and what better time to do so than during my father’s ninth birthday party? The thing is, my father had a bully when he was in elementary school. So imagine his nausea when he saw that very bully walk into his birthday party, a party that should’ve been an oasis of cake and toys that required imagination (this was the 1950s, after all). Imagine that nausea turning into complete mental breakdown when my father saw his mother emerge from the other room with two pairs of boxing gloves in her hands. She figured that if my father stood up to his bully and fought him face-to-face, then the bullying would cease and be replaced by civility and respect. I’ve asked around, and it turns out that this was not a common method for dealing with bullies in 1950s Midwestern America. When telling this story, my dad always skipped the actual fight scene and went straight to the part where he was lying on the grass, bruised and battered, lain to waste by a bully on his ninth birthday. That’s what I was thinking about while Alta shuffled around our kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, 1999. My parents had gone out that night to impress some loaded friends, but they still wanted me to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal despite my assurances that I didn’t care, Mom. So, Alta’s presence was requested and a few hours later, there she was: stretching her arm into our cabinets, shoulder-deep, until it emerged holding a can of year-old cranberry sauce. She slapped it down on the table with self-satisfaction 31

and immediately went back to look for more quasi-appropriate Thanksgiving food. Eventually she had settled on some sliced lunchmeat, white bread, stuffing, and the cranberry sauce. In a few minutes it had all been haphazardly assembled onto a plate, essentially a sandwich with a few slices of the gelatinous maroon goo on the side. I grumblingly consumed the meal, murmured a thank you, and disappeared to my room. I knew that if I stuck around I would be subjected to some of Alta’s Mormon evangelism, either in the form of a reproachful lecture or a Jesus-themed gift, and I didn’t need any more Christ-as-superhero comic books. Alta must have felt awful. There she was, cooking her ungrateful grandson an inventive Thanksgiving meal with what little resources she had at her disposal, and all she got in return was sulking and a bedroom door slam. Once the dishes were done, she eased herself onto the couch and flipped through the channels, searching in vain for Wheel of Fortune. My parents returned home just as I was heading downstairs to get some juice. “What did you have to eat?” my mother asked me through tipsy eyes. “Oh, she made me a sandwich and some of that cranberry sauce. It was fine.” My father overheard me and whipped his head around to face his mother. She continued to stare at the TV, pretending she hadn’t heard. “You just made him something? We haven’t gone shopping in a week, there’s barely any food in the house! Did you even eat?” It was clear that my father had expected to be angry about something once he returned from dinner, he just hadn’t known what it would be until that moment. “Oh no, I wasn’t hungry,” Alta said sheepishly. “Well, I’ll take that forty dollars back, then,” my father asserted with an outstretched, open palm. “I figured I would keep it,” my grandmother whispered. And just like that, her scheme was revealed. I had been unaware of this, but my parents had invited her over not to cook for me, but to pick up Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant and join me while I ate. As evidenced by her repeated attempts to keep the food money, her only motive for coming over was to get that forty dollars and keep it for herself. I can honestly say that I don’t know how a 71-year-old grandmother spends forty dollars, so I can’t hypothesize why she wanted it. Potpourri? Precious Moments figurines? Christ-as-superhero comic books? It’s a mystery to me. After a volatile debate, my father let Alta keep the money and curtly sent her on her way. The whole situation was amusing to me at the time, but my parents apologized repeatedly and offered to take me anywhere I wanted for a meal the following day. Thereafter, my father had an excuse to not call Alta for a few months. For that he was, in a word, thankful. 5


by Adam Rux 33

A LETTER FROM ME, TO YOU... AND YOU by Your (grand)son


Dear You and You, For most of my life, I’ve not loved Thanksgiving. I grew up as an incorrigibly picky eater; I found televised parades an absolute snore; and getting stuck watching, talking about – or worse – playing football with my cousins was nothing short of an emasculating nightmare. When I went to college, though, Thanksgiving took on several new meanings. I got an entire week off from school, I reunited with home-cooked food after months of eating cereal, and I reached the age (even if not legally) to get smashed with my aunts and uncles. But more than that, I spent day after day surrounded by people who, at that moment, I realized I had missed more than anything in the world. Thanksgiving became a reminder about what family meant and how important mine was to me. Sadly, Thanksgiving this year has once again been stripped of its potential delightfulness. It’s turned into a holiday even worse than before. Thanks to you – and to you. For more than six months now, you have both stood still. Like strangers, you’ve neglected to acknowledge your mistakes. Like bitter ex-lovers, you’ve fed on each other’s faults to sustain your decided independence. And worse than children, you’ve refused to understand each other, to reconcile, or to even try. While your relationship resembles nothing as insignificant as these, I wish that it were; I hope I haven’t inherited your foolishness. From you, Mom – or from you, Grandma. I’ve now waited impatiently for one of you to make a move, to move me out of this awkward intermediary/messenger boy position. I’m slowly giving up hope, though, and resigning to the ugly family tree you two have created. Thanks to your stubbornness – and to your apathy. Luckily, aside from the separate phone calls, I’ll be spared the unpleasantness of this year’s holiday. I’ve escaped at just the right time. Now, there’s something I can be thankful for. Love, Your (grand)son 35






FOOD AND DRINK by Betts Coup



will admit to being a very, very big fan of Thanksgiving. This makes perfect sense to those who know me now, since I spend most of my life cooking and planning large-ish meals. This made much less sense a few years back, though, when I cooked nothing independently and hid from my family’s culinary activities until the last moment. But somewhere in there, when my sister took over the major cooking, it all became way less stressful and way more fun. This is because, first off, I had reached the age when being able to make something other than just pasta or a sandwich is necessary (necessary if you don’t want your meals to be very, very dull). This is also because, having grown up in the good old-fashioned Bible Belt, every other holiday was riddled with religious drama, and Thanksgiving was blissfully devoid of that. See, as a kid, I felt guilty, like maybe I was missing something (or like I had been mistakenly given some sort of heavy dose of Catholic guilt). But by the time I hit teenhood, the guilt shifted in the direction of annoyance, rebellion, disinterest, and all those other typically teen emotions. Still, being the only atheists on the block, it always seemed like we were missing out on something. There were even years in there that my sister and I went to midnight candlelight Christmas services, just to sing and feel like we were a part of some Midwestern American key experience. It turns out we weren’t, but still, Thanksgiving was never complicated by that issue. In fact, it was the one holiday for which my family actually had just as much, if not more, pomp, circumstance and tradition than other families. We made (and continue to make) everything from scratch. We ate, not at one or two p.m., but at 7, since it took that long to cycle everything through the ovens. And we had no guilt at all about missing out on the bigger message of the holiday because we were supposed to be thankful for each other. And for the food and alcohol set before us. Even we could handle that. I got over the guilt, but I still was annoyed by the general idea that most holidays are supposed to be about celebrating something beyond just the family and friends with which you share them. I’m also clearly aware that some people value Thanksgiving in that way, as well. I have nothing against that at all, seriously. I just grew up in a world where my family’s non-religious leanings were the problem, and it got a little exhausting. I got very tired of worrying 39

that I might be stuck in a hot, fiery place for being more into Santa Claus than Jesus. But Thanksgiving seems to be the one holiday where the religious significance is not pushed upon anyone. The only things that are pushed upon us are food and drink. I am a girl who likes food and drink. Nothing against anyone’s god, I just prefer food and drink. And yes, family and friends and all. And preparing and sharing food and drink with them. The fact that I get to spend a couple of days just preparing those two things for those people, and no one expects anything else of me, is more reason to celebrate than I can find on any other holiday. Yes, it’s a tiny bit stressful. There are schedules and spreadsheets to assure that everything is cooked in a timely way, that everything has a serving dish (with label). And sometime in there, we do always get off schedule. We usually forget something. But no one notices. There’s just that much food and drink already. We’re happy, we’re well fed, we all sit around in food comas and enjoy one night off from guilt, annoyance, and anything else. And that, friends, is something for which I’m entirely happy to be thankful. So just in case you were wondering what it is that brings us to that coma-like, guiltfree stage of bliss, please see the recipes that follow. The stuffing and turkey that appear next are guaranteed to put you in that place. With the addition of somewhat decent wine (no high expectations here, team), you are set to go. At least in the meat, carbs, and gravy categories of the evening. 5



Gorgonzola-Chestnut Bread Pudding First off, I think that actually stuffing a turkey sort of ruins it. I have good reason on this theory, and will provide you with my sister’s and my solution for this particular conundrum momentarily. However, this recipe not only opened my eyes to the fact that Gorgonzola is delicious, but it also convinced me that stuffing in general is not a waste of time. Only when stuffed inside a turkey. We just cook this alongside, and it makes a delightful vegetarian main (in a carb-filled sort of way). But that way, at the end of the meal, everyone present can be in that same sort of food coma, induced by either the strange chemical properties of turkey or carbs in general. PS This recipe makes enough for several families (and I don’t say that just because mine is small; it will really be a ton), so feel free to halve, or third, or what have you. . . However, it’s also phenomenally good. So you may just want tons. The tons will go away. PPS This recipe is not complicated, but it does require some forethought. At least unless you happen to collect stale bread, which does happen to some. But if you want to make this particular recipe, you do want to buy bread early and let it dry a bit. My sister, who is the original mistress of this recipe, recommends buying the bread three days early and slicing it about into about 1 inch slices (no smaller or it falls apart later), and let it dry on cookie sheets. Or cheat and just spread slices on cookie sheets and leave it in a 200 degree oven for about 20 minutes. INGREDIENTS 3 Giant loaves of cheap, soft bread- 2 white, 1 brown, or I particularly like to use a marble rye loaf 2 cans vegetable broth (If you’re not going vegetarian, then chicken broth is fine, too.) 1 c butter 3 medium onions, chopped 6 stalks celery, chopped 1 jar sage leaves, about 1/2 c, or a package of fresh sage

1 T salt, or to taste Freshly ground pepper Recommended: Gorgonzola and chestnuts (see below) Other options: sausage (ruins that veggie bit, but if you don’t have that worry, then it’s a decent option. Just not as amazing as the gorgonzola/chestnuts, in my personal opinion), apples, nuts, prunes, oysters

DAY OF: If you’re using fresh chestnuts: You will need to roast the chestnuts, if you’re using fresh ones. Score the smooth side of each chestnut with an “x” using a paring knife. Wrap the chestnuts in foil and roast in a 400 degree F oven until warm and fragrant – about 15-20 minutes (I don’t remember, sorry!). Remove chestnuts from oven and open foil to allow them to cool so that you can peel them, using a small knife, and remove papery inner layers. Put vegetable broth in a large pot on the stove top until just steaming – you will still need to be able to put your hand into the liquid, so be somewhat cautious. Take the 41

pot over to the sink, and add a couple of cups of water to the pot to reach the warmest temperature you can stand to touch. Drop a few slices of bread into the liquid, then individually wring out each piece of bread and place in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the pieces a bit as you go. The bread can still be a bit soggy – don’t wring it out completely. Do this until all the loaves create a sort of chunky, doughy, chewy looking mess in the mixing bowl. Melt butter in a large skillet, then slowly sauté the onions and celery until translucent, but not browned. Meanwhile, over the sink, rub the sage leaves in your hands, between your palms; discard the woody stems. Put sage in the bowl with the bread pieces. Pour onions and celery into the bowl and mix well with your hands – again, don’t burn yourself! Season with salt and pepper. Stir in your optional ingredients – I like to add about 1-1 1/2 cups of crumbled gorgonzola and about the same amount of chestnuts, coarsely chopped. Keep in mind that if you (for some unknown reason) really want to stuff the turkey, you can. Add some additional salt, though, as that will increase the moisture into your turkey. I would, however, recommend not doing this, and using the lemons/onions/ garlic that recipe that is next. So…. loosely stuff turkey, OR place dressing into pans. We usually use one 9x13 pan and a 9x9 pan for the entire recipe. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately an hour, until top is browned and crisp. In order to manage the only one oven factor, which is slightly problematic on Thanksgiving day, we usually bake the dressing in the morning, and then reheat again covered with foil before dinner, which works just fine. If you use smaller pans and happen to have a toaster oven, this will often fit in those.


Kate and Betts’ Most Fabulous Turkey Ever And THIS is why you don’t want to stuff the turkey with the stuffing. I know, it seems like a logical thing to do. But we grew up doing that, and this is just so much better. My older sister and I took over the turkey preparations six or seven years ago, and worked through various recipes, but we’ve made this one for the last few years, and it is pretty phenomenal. It also helps that we’re now using Heritage turkeys, which are automatically gamier and bolder in flavor. But seriously, this is by far the best turkey we’ve made, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t matter what sort of turkey you had it’s going to be good.



Fabulous Turkey Ever...continued INGREDIENTS 1 Turkey – Whatever size suits you. You’ll have to adapt the rest of the ingredients to suit your turkey! Several tablespoons of your favorite olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 1 orange, cut into quarters (peel included!) 2-3 lemons, cut into quarters 2-4 carrots, cut into 2-3 inch pieces, or use baby carrots 2-4 stalks celery, cut into 2-3 inch pieces 1 yellow onion, cut into quarters or 8ths depending on size of onion At least 8 cloves of garlic, crushed with the side of a knife and peeled Handful of herbs – thyme, sage, savory, basil, oregano, whatever you like. Some

fresh herb companies have a “poultry mix” out this time of year that’s nice and easy. 1 bottle dry white wine Binding twine (this is necessary. And don’t use plastic – it sort of just melts, you know. And I say that because I do know people who have wanted to. But there is a reason there is specific cooking twine. Use it.) FOR THE GRAVY. . . Whatever remains of your bottle of wine 1-2 T cornstarch 3-4 c stock- you can use canned chicken stock, or make your own fabulous turkey stock (see recipe at bottom)

PREPARATION: Carefully wash your turkey, and clean out all gizzards, etc. (For the best turkey gravy ever, take out your gizzards early and make turkey stock a few days in advance! Again, this is more forethought, and not absolutely necessary. Just sort of extra delish.) Pat bird dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare your deepest roasting pan by placing the roasting rack inside. If you don’t own a roasting rack, you can use a cooling rack that you would use for cookies – just wash it carefully after the turkey’s done. (Turkey grease flavored cookies are way too reminiscent of the multi-layered turkey/stuffing/mashed potatoes cake I saw online the other day. Ick.) Drizzle olive oil over your turkey, and massage into the skin with your hands. Then pour a handful of oil and coat the inside of the cavity. Generously sprinkle bird with salt and freshly ground pepper inside and out. Stuff the bird with your fruits and veggies. Alternate ingredients so your bird ends up with a nice mix of fruit, veggies, garlic, and herbs throughout. Be sure and stuff the cavity from both directions! (Lovely image, isn’t it? But this is seriously fun to me, and I found all uncooked meat/poultry repugnant up until about five years ago. Then I stuffed a turkey full of lemons and things, and it all turned into fun and games.) You can leave the herbs on the sprigs and just stuff them in. When your bird is busting at the seams, truss it up with your binding twine so that legs are tucked in tight and the cavity is closed. Set your bird on the roasting rack, and insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. Place bird in the oven. Roast at 425 for 20 minutes. Reduce your oven temperature to 350 F. Roast for another 30 minutes. Open the oven door, pull the turkey 43

out far enough that you can pour 1 c of wine over the top of the turkey. Close door, and roast for another 30 minutes. Repeat every 30 minutes until bird has turned a rich golden brown. If your turkey is browning TOO much and isn’t done yet inside, cover it with foil and continue to roast. This was only a problem in a very small oven that I had in one of my apartments… so do keep an eye out. USDA temperature for turkey is 170 F, although some chefs would tell you this is too high – use your judgment. If you don’t have a thermometer, when you think the bird is finished, take it out of the oven and cut into the leg joint. If the juices run clear, your bird is done. Don’t worry if you meat is ever-so-slightly still pink – dark meat will stay pink unless you cook it into oblivion. If your juices are clear, I promise, you’re good. You don’t want to overcook it. The biggest problem that many have with roasting a turkey is drying it out. Not stuffing it and not cooking it too long are your best bets to avoid that particular fate. Remove the turkey from the oven when done, and place on a carving board. I recommend one that has the little circle of spikes in the middle so when you cut the turkey, it doesn’t go flying. I REALLY recommend one that has a little trough around the edges for juices- this bird will make juices when you cut into it! (Most are not so lucky to have one of these. If you don’t, then use a regular cutting board, but put paper towels around it to soak up any escaping juices. And they will pour out, so keep an eye on the towels.) Anyway, place the turkey on the cutting board, and cover tightly with a tent of aluminum foil for at least 15 minutes. MEANWHILE, MAKE YOUR GRAVY. . . First, pour all pan juices into a grease separator. If you don’t have a separator, you can just use a measuring cup – make sure it’s a glass one that can take the heat and won’t crack. (Just trying to avoid any messes that can be avoided. There will be other messes, I’m sure.) Let the juices sit for about 5 minutes, then you can spoon off most of the grease. Don’t put the grease down the sink (unless you’ve got a plumber coming to dinner), but put it in an empty can and in the trash. While your juices separate, place your roasting pan over 1-2 burners on your stove, on med-high heat. Pour a cup (or whatever you’ve got left!) of your white wine into the pan, and whisk briskly to bring up all the little burny bits off the bottom of the pan. Let wine boil for 2-3 minutes, continuing to whisk. Once you’ve skimmed off your grease, add the pan juices back into the roasting pan, still whisking (you’ll want to make sure you have most of your side dishes ready to go – gravy needs a lot of attention!). In a measuring cup (can be the same one you used for your juices), mix about 1 T cornstarch with about 1/4 cup stock. Stir with a fork (yes, you can set down the whisk, but just for this) until well blended. Pour into roasting pan, again, whisking merrily for about 2 minutes. Now add the rest of your stock to the pan, continuing to whisk. Once the stock is well blended with the rest of the ingredients, you can cease whisking, and allow the gravy to simmer for 5-10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Check for seasonings- salt, pepper, a little thyme maybe, but you’ll probably be okay because of all the good stuff you tucked in the turkey. If gravy is not thickening, mix up another cornstarch mixture, and whisk in. Carve your turkey, serve gravy in a gravy boat or bowl (set on a plate so guests don’t burn themselves!), and set to! 44


Turkey Stock (totally worth the time, but also sort of a pain) Turkey is so much richer than chicken. I think making stock ahead of time is totally worth it. Our gravy last year was sensational – rich and dark and positively packed with flavor. This recipe will make 8-10 c of stock easily – enough for your gravy, and for turkey soup later! INGREDIENTS 3-4 T olive oil 1 package turkey necks (usually about 4 necks) 2 turkey drumsticks Gizzards removed from your turkey, if applicable! 1 large yellow onion, cut into eighths and broken apart 3 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces, or baby carrot equivalent 5-6 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces

8 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled Generous grinding of black pepper 1-2 t salt to taste 1 t dried basil 1 t dried oregano 1 t dried sage 1 t dried thyme 1 14 oz can chicken broth 1 14 oz can vegetable broth Water

PREPARATION Place your largest stockpot, and probably a skillet as well, on med-high heat. Divide olive oil between the two, enough to lightly coat the bottom of each. Allow oil to heat for about 1 minute. Drop your turkey necks into the stockpot, and the drumsticks into the skillet. Drop onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in around the meat. Sprinkle all with salt, pepper, and herbs. Don’t get carried away with the salt, because you will be adding a lot when you add the canned stocks. Brown meat and veggies, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until veggies are very brown and caramelizing, and meat is cooked through. The necks will probably be done first – you can take the veggies from the drumstick skillet and add them to the stockpot and continue to cook the drumsticks until they are done. Pour both cans of stock over the veggies and meat. Add water to cover completely. When your drumsticks are done, add them to the pot as well, and add water as necessary to cover. Simmer stock for at least 1 hour, up to 3-4 hours, until stock has reduced down by an inch or two. Use tongs to remove all meat and veggies from the pot. If you want, let the drumsticks cool, then cut the meat from them and add back to the stock. Stock can be refrigerated for 3-4 days, or frozen for a couple of months. I freeze mine in several smaller containers so I can take out some for Thanksgiving, and then more later for soup. Thaw stock in the fridge a day or two ahead. 45




Images from Last Year, taken by Sarah Handelman, and her dad, Mike.





hanksgiving is manageable enough for my family: hugs, small talk, wine, awkward refusal to say grace, gorging, regrets, food coma, more wine. As the years have gone by, we’ve set deeper and deeper into a sleepy post-dinner haze. But for a stretch of years during the late 90s, we’d heat up for a game of Outburst. After dinner, we’d retreat to my aunt and uncles’ basement, where the adults would rush to sofas and the children would be cast to cushions by a drafty fireplace. With the football game on in the background, we’d break into teams, usually by family: Munier Team Aunt Jan and Uncle Jerry: amiable hosts with a hidden competitive edge Tommy and Kathy: quiet elementaryschool twins Uncle Danny and Aunt Ginger: verbose Texans Cousin Meghan: annoyed teenager Cousin Rexi: unruly toddler Great Uncle Mel: comical elder

Hueting Team Mother, Barb: lovable kook Father, Scott: gentle, reads-three-booksa-day thinker Older Sister, Melissa: well-spoken high schooler Me: melodramatic middle schooler Aunt Gail: loud, completely unaware yet speaks-every-language-possible intellect Grandma: reserved matriarch with a persnickety edge

And the game begins.

“Name ten films directed by Frank Capra,” Aunt Jan says. An instant moan of disgust emerges from the Huetings. (Seriously, Outburst? Who writes these damn questions?)


Mom (with vigor, volume directly proportional to wine consumption): Eeek eek! Didn’t he … Oh, I don’t know. Wait! Eeek hehehehe! Sister (with grace): I think he did It’s a Wonderful Life. Aunt (with an overpowering voice, not dissimilar to that of the Swedish Chef…): Reap the Wild Wind? Hmmm. Don’t Take it With you? Hmm. Let me think. Me (silently): Fuuuuuuuuu…. I’m too young for this shit. Grandma (softly, but with pressure): I’m sure he did Lady for a Day. Sure of it. Dad (wisely): I believe he did The Battle of Russia. That was a brilliant film produced in 1944, which begins with an overview… 49


“You earned three points for It’s a Wonderful Life, Lady for a Day and The Battle of Russia,” says Aunt Jan. “Don’t Take it With You is wrong. The correct answer is You Can’t Take it With You.” With instant anger, the Huetings lash out as the Muniers maliciously chuckle. Back and forth, back and forth. The Huetings eventually cave. The Muniers take their stance. Their topic: Name ten vegetables. “Oh, good Lord,” the Huetings mumble as the Muniers cheer.


Uncle Danny’s voice booms as Aunt Jan and Uncle Jerry gradually gain volume and attitude. Within five seconds, a roaring slur of,

“red peppers, green beans, sweet potatoes, broccoli,


dominates the room while Rexi throws a tantrum in the background and the twins giggle with silly answers like “potato chips” and “Hot Pockets.”


“You got nine out of ten,” Mom says with sass. “You said sweet potatoes, not yams.” Fury results, and my Mom, knowing she’d never get away with this point deduction, eventually gives them credit. The game crescendos with shouts and threats, each team getting their share of random, absurd topics. It almost becomes inappropriate until everyone is distracted when Aunt Jan brings in turkey and mayo sandwiches, and the Cowboys score a touchdown. The subdued merriment continues until Dad decides he’s tired. After 30 minutes of Mom saying goodbyes, the Huetings make their exit and are trapped in the car with a farting father for 45 minutes until they reach home. 5



POP QUIZ! provided by Alex Reed Think you know your Thanksgiving? Swap your fork and plate for some pen and paper to find out. For an extra challenge, don’t start until after you’ve completely settled into a post-dinner food coma.

1. What year was the first Thanksgiving between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians held? a. 1675 b. 1776 c. 1547 d. 1621 2. Which American president began the tradition of presidential turkey pardons? a. Franklin D. Roosevelt b. Ronald Reagan c. Harry Truman d. Richard Nixon 52

3. What year did Congress make Thanksgiving an official national holiday? a. 1981 b. 1931 c. 1951 d. 1941 4. What is the average size of a Thanksgiving turkey in the United States? a. 15 lbs b. 20 lbs c. 25 lbs d. 10 lbs

5. Which NFL team has played the most Thanksgiving Day football games with 65 games dating back to 1934? a. Detroit Lions b. Dallas Cowboys c. Green Bay Packers d. Kansas City Chiefs 6. Which of America’s Founding Fathers wanted the turkey as the country’s national bird? a. Alexander Hamilton b. James Madison c. Benjamin Franklin d. George Washington 7. What balloon character has appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade more times than any other? a. Garfield b. Mickey Mouse c. Snoopy d. Charlie Brown 8. According to the US Census Bureau, which state produces the most turkeys for Thanksgiving? a. Oklahoma b. Kansas c. Minnesota d. Missouri

9. Which American president declared the final Thursday in November a national day of thanksgiving? a. James Buchanan b. Abraham Lincoln c. James A. Garfield d. John Adams 10. Originally known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade, what year was the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held? a. 1924 b. 1943 c. 1950 d. 1932 11. In what year was the first television broadcast of the NFL Thanksgiving Day football game? a. 1961 b. 1949 c. 1956 d. 1967 12. What state produces the most cranberries? a. Wisconsin b. Minnesota c. Vermont d. New Hampshire

Answers: 1. D 2. C 3. D 4. A 5. A 6. C 7. C 8. C 9. B 10. A 11. C 12. A 53


by Sarah Myers




THE TURKEY SLAP by Kate Nelischer



hanksgiving has never felt festive in my family. Sure, we cook a big meal, and we enjoy a day off work and school, but it has never really seemed like an occasion. Canadian Thanksgiving always feels like a second-rate copycat of American Thanksgiving – no one really knows why we celebrate it, but we do it anyway. It takes place in early October, denoting some small difference between the Americans’ and ours, a date that never fails to sneak up on everyone as it’s sandwiched between the start of the fall semester and Halloween celebrations. It’s an awkward holiday, observed out of obligation, at times seeming almost meaningless for our family. Except for the turkey. We are not big meat-eaters. I can remember only two occurrences wherein we ate a roast during my childhood. Sometimes we are a chicken and fish family, but more often than not we are a tofu and vegetables family. One would guess that turkey would not have a strong bearing on this half-hearted holiday for us, but the thing is, it’s not about eating the turkey…it’s about slapping it. Before you call PETA, rest assured that we buy our turkeys already butchered; grain-fed, free-range, happy turkeys sold by a local family farm. We slap the raw turkey. I have no remembrance of how this tradition came into being, but it has been the focal point of every Thanksgiving in our household I can remember. We don’t care much for the big meal, dutifully entertaining family members or wearing tights and fancy dresses – but boy do we love our turkey slapping. Each year the bird is prepared in the wee hours of the morning. It is seasoned, stuffed and wiggled into the ever-too-small pan all before 9am on a Sunday. Just before it rests in the oven for the day, Mum pauses for a moment and calls on my sister and me to join her in the kitchen. It’s time for The Slap. We wash our hands and hoist ourselves up to sit on the counter on either side of the pan, pretending as if we are still young enough for that to be appropriate. Then, with probably too much joy and too little grace, we slap the turkey. We revert back to our 5-yr-old selves and revel in the feeling of A: doing something that would seem forbidden, and B: feeling a cold, squishy, wobbly, pink thing under our hands. This may sound downright vulgar, but rest assured, it couldn’t be more innocent; we just like a good, honest turkey slap from time to time. It only lasts about 30 seconds before we’re told that we’ve slapped enough as the stuffing threatens to burst out and the oven begins to overheat. So away it goes, to roast for the rest of the day as yams, beans and potatoes are more respectfully prepared. The remainder of the day is usually a bit of a bore though; by 9am we’ve already enjoyed the greatest ritual of any Thanksgiving. We slapped that turkey. 5 59




olidays are rooted in tradition. That’s what makes them unique and personal. Every Thanksgiving day, for as long as I can remember, my family completes our Norman Rockwell “Freedom from Want” puzzle before dinner is served. As a child, my cousins, sisters and I would be corralled to the back room of my grandparents’ house where the pieces would be spread out on a card table for us. We huddled around the tiny table hoping to put two pieces together before anyone else, but also secretly trying to keep warm in the drafty den. What served merely as a distraction for me as a child has recently become my favorite activity of the day. Now, the crowd has been reduced to Barberree, my only living grandparent, and me. We sit silently next to each other sipping our cocktails and placing the same soggy pieces that we have for decades. A couple years ago, I realized that one day I’ll be the only one left at the table. But until then, I am most thankful for the moment when the last piece is placed, and she looks up, winks and says, “How about that.” 5



Apple Pie — 54 Cranberry Cup Puddings — 11 Gorganzola-Chestut Bread Pudding — 41 Green Bean Casserole — 24 Kate and Betts’ Most Fabulous Turkey Ever — 42 Mary Zack’s Creamed Cabbage — 21 Pumpkin Bread — 29 Turkey Stock — 45




Not French Cooking, Thanksgiving 2010

Mastering the Art of Thanksgiving  

The second issue of Not French Cooking, with contributions of recipes, stories and images.

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