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I finally sat down this morning to think about what we’re having on Thanksgiving Day.

I have no idea.

Ideally, there will be a lot of snow and we will spend the day skiing and be so wiped out that sushi will be the dinner of choice. Or any seafood for that matter – cooks fast and delish (in the case of sushi, doesn’t cook at all).

But so far it’s not looking so good for snow (shakes fist at La Niña), which gets me thinking about roasting a bird, a beast, or some such critter.

what to make?

We don’t mind traditional. We also love to buck tradition. Part of me likes the idea of cooking all day and part of me would rather backpack and nosh on turkey jerky and instant mashed potatoes in sub-freezing temperatures.

Decisions. Decisions.

What are you planning? (If family drama is one of the unintended dishes on your menu, I promise I won’t tell them).

41 nibbles at “pondering…”

  1. Andrea says:

    I’m in charge of dessert and I have to make up for last year when my dessert flopped terribly. I was thinking an apple brown betty with apple cider donuts for the crumbs. Other that that I am staying out of the kitchen (out of my father-in-laws way).

  2. Jenny says:

    I’m hosting Christmas this year. But for Thanksgiving I’ll make mashed turnips, mac and cheese and various desserts….there was a cheesecake filled chocolate cake I had my eye on making….Happy Holidays.

  3. jennywenny says:

    There are 3 of us, the boys are having duck, I’m having some kind of mushroom and maybe seitan pie, and traditional sage and onion stuffing, roasted root veggies, and these potatoes:

    That magazine is so appropriately named, I bought it in the airport on the way back home and nearly started licking the pages!!

  4. Manggy says:

    Gosh, I wish I could help, but I already made my turkey breast and cranberry sauce sandwich for the year a few weeks ago, heh heh ;) Ah, nothing to plan for!
    I, however, would not mind being on the receiving end of that chocolate cake pictured in the center magazine below. Rowr.

  5. Bunst says:

    i’m hosting this year and we’re having turkey and i’m making homemade tortellini for tortellini soup as a starter. we are doing an italian italian thanksgiving so we’re also having a cardoon gratin, eggplant scapece as well as alot of appetizers like artichoke spread and octopus salad. I’m psyched to cook and have the fam over but i’m praying for a smooth thanksgiving this year as my dad likes to needle people… fingers crossed!

  6. Jeni says:

    As much as I love to cook, I’m happy to have this year off (mostly) for Thanksgiving. I’m baking a pumpkin pie, rolls, green bean casserole and some corn. Easy stuff!!!

  7. Kelley says:

    We are traveling to a big family gathering. There will be two turkeys – one traditionally roasted and one done on the grill. I am in charge of a dessert: pumpkin cheesecake, which will be made the night before and riding in a cooler with us in the car for eight hours. I wonder if that’s a good idea. I hope whoever is making the stuffing doesn’t put giblets in there this year. I shudder at the memory of the first (and only) time I ate it like that.

  8. Susy says:

    We’re roasting a local pastured turkey – yum. And we’ll be doing the usual trying to use local fresh produce. My mom’s making pumpkin pie with a cushaw squash from a local market, the sweet potatoes are from the farmer’s market. The spiced pickled pears I picked from my mom’s tree earlier this summer. We’re trying to make it as local as possible, I think this is a great traditional way to celebrate!

  9. Whitney says:

    I am invited to my favorite law school friend’s boyfriend apt and I am in charge of the turkey(he is Hindu/Veg)! This will be my first attempt at my own turkey and I also bringing the stuff (I think Cornbread and sausage, leaving out the sausage for some), homemade cresent rolls (I am going to test run these this weekend) and 3 pies.

    I’m quite excited but I wish I didn’t have impending law school finals to make me feel a little guilty about all my cooking plans.

  10. Lisa says:

    My mom’s 1 of 12 kids and the one holiday we gather together (rather religiously; pun intended when you hear where we gather) does happen to be Thanksgiving. We outgrew my auntie’s home 17 years ago and have since been renting a church to celebrate with our ~80 family members who come.

    We’re very traditional and also a family of HUGE cooks/bakers… so there are 2-3 turkeys, 30 pounds of mashed potatoes, [6-7 loaves of] bread stuffing – oh and since this is the Chinese side, there’s always nau mie fan dressing too! The highlight of the night and what has turned into a tradition of photographing – is our dessert table. 95% is homemade with love and there is usually about 1 dessert for every 3 people. Photo in this entry:

    We give thanks that our family still gathers together (some cousins barely know each other) 50+ years after our 2 grandparents left us. My mom and her siblings are getting older and older, but I feel pretty confident that some cousins and I will continue to make sure this happens.

    Continuing to gather with family is the most important part of the entire holiday.

  11. Lisa says:

    Oh and Jen – don’t forget to be a good Chinese girl and make jook (Cantonese)/ shi-fan (Mandarin) with your leftover turkey bones… I think that’s the highlight of the entire holiday for my Mom and aunties!!


  12. Lulu says:

    First year hosting Tday. Both sides of our families will be there, and some friends. I’m planning uber-traditional: Turkey, mashed, stuffing, cranberry sauce. But the rolls will be fresh challah, and with the apple and punkin pies we’ll be offering home-made Burnt Sugar Ice Cream (Christopher Kimball’s Dessert Bible), which has sort of a mildly bitter caramel taste, and is universally adored by our friends.

    I got to buy all sorts of fun new kitchen things, too. Turkey roasting pan. Turkey baster. New glassware. :D eeE!

  13. Rosa says:

    I’m looking forwards to seeing what you’ll come up with .D!



  14. Candace says:

    I’m making all of the traditional goodies… I always host Thanksgiving every year. I’ll be serving it up with a hefty side of family drama… What are holidays without drama? :)

  15. Judith says:

    It’s a working thanksgiving for me, though I may cook some squash or something to eat while I work on the big day.

  16. YDavis says:

    I have just posted my Thanksgiving menu at my blog today. Usually it’s just hubby and I but this year his son is coming to spend Thanksgiving with us. Here’s my plan:
    Soup – French Onion Soup
    Salad – Bacon wrapped Shrimp on mixed greens with Maple glaze
    Meat – Hickory Smoked Roast Beef
    Side Dish – Twice baked Potatoes
    Dessert – Cinnamon Apple Walnut Cheesecake

  17. Lezel Safi says:

    Yes family drama at its finest….the MIL who claims to be sooooo low maintenance that she is actually extreme high maintenance with her new husband who is of the same mold….did you ever see that SNL sketch with Debbie Downer? That is so my MIL, eeekkkk….it should be interesting to say the least in their little house with 3 dogs, I don’t know how many cats now, 3 Arabian horses and some chickens (can you hear Green Acres playing in the background? Minus Zsa Zsa….my MIL wears combat boots….could be being a white girl married to an Afghan living in Afghanistan and then Yemen for 40 years????!!!!) At least home is only 3 miles away so we aren’t officially stuck!

    Good luck with your planning, I would trade with you for all the tea in China, wanna???

  18. Lezel Safi says:

    Oh I forgot….you could come take your pick of the 14 turkey’s that gather in our front yard or our neighbors every morning…yummy!

  19. tokyoastrogirl says:

    I’ve kind of been on the same page as you. We usually have Thanksgiving at my parents but this year (for the second time in 5 years) we’ll have it at mine. I normally jump at the chance to cook for a large group but am feeling generally uninspired this year. I looked through all of my Gourmets and Bon Appetites and then it dawned one me- I’ll cook with the flavors that I personally love and that have worked out well in the past. So although I do have to check cooking times for the bird in a cookbook, I’ll brine the whole thing in my usual mixture (water, salt, a bit of brown sugar and peppercorns), rub it with a sage/thyme/rosemary butter, make a cornbread stuffing that isn’t too sweet and has lots of carmelized leeks and some spicy turkey sausage, toss some steamed haricot verts with extra virgin olive oil, maldon and lemon zest, and make some uber creamy mashed yukon golds mixed with warm milk and melted butter and finish it all off with a cool, crunchy salad using some sort of Asian pear and celery leaves. I have no recipes for any of this and you know, I guess I thought it’s time I made my own traditons. I cook all the time, know what works and have developed a good palate over the years (hopefully) so I’m putting down my magazines and following my gut!

    Now wish me luck- hopefully I won’t eat my words!!!

    Parents are in charge of the cranberries and sis is in charge of pie, so that makes it all complete.

    Can’t wait to see what you’re making.


  20. Amy says:

    It is just my husband & I this year & he has a fear of fowl! So we are having an entire day of appetizers. Fried Calamari, bite sized Meatballs with homemade Marinara, (we are Italian afterall!) Panzarotti(Fried potatoes dumplings with provalone & salami in the middle), Spinach Dip, & Stuffed Mushrooms with crabmeat & I can not forget my husbands favorite appetizer: Your dumplings! They were such a hit the first time I made them, they are on permanent request. I hope you guys have a great day!

  21. Margie says:

    We travel at Thanksgiving, but I have dessert and bread duty each year. I always make the Silver Palate pumpkin pie recipe, a pecan pie for FIL, and a chocolate ‘something-or-other’. This years bread will be sourdough since I’ve managed to keep my starter alive for the past 13 months. I’ve got the perfect loaf down thanks to Susan over at WY. I owe her big time, just like I owe you, Jenzie. :)

    I’m going to archives for a chocolate fix and a recipe idea. Next time you see me I’ll look like an oinker.

  22. Sheryl says:

    We are having my sister over to our new house and her home-from-college daughters have requested the traditional meal. We’re getting a fresh Amish turkey to roast and will have roasted sweet potatoes and squash, mashed potatoes, cinnamon apples, fruit salad, apple bread, Susan’s famous stuffing and pumpkin chiffon pie. It’s a real carb fest! Happy Thanksgiving, Jen!

  23. Debbie Green says:

    I have off this year and it is just us – my husband, myself and youngest son and we are going to the beach. Chincoteague (spelling?) Island. I’m sure since you lived in Virginia you know where that is. It is very quiet there this time of year. Mostly locals only and we will have Thanksgiving in one of the few restaurants open there this time of year. And then walk the beach…I am so looking forward to that. I love the ocean….

  24. Anne says:

    I am going to my sister’s. I’m bringing a warm carmelized onion dip with baguettes and an apple pecan pie. For my partner I’m bringing brocolli, rice and cheese casserole. Now that dish says it all. I make it with fresh brocolli, real rice and colby/bechamel rather than minute rice and cheese soup. She likes it best with the soup, minute rice and frozen chopped brocolli. What can I say…

  25. Mrs Ergül says:

    Ahhh we don’t have the tradition of celebrating for Thanksgiving. Maybe for Chinese New Year I gotta crack my brain, thinking of what to cook!

  26. Mollie says:

    No clue yet – lots of family rebellion at the moment! I will either do my usual cheese plate, as that is all I’m allowed to bring if either of my sister-in-laws host – ha! But, there is a chance I may be hosting! No minute like the last minute. I’m all for traditional tho. Turkey, garlic mashers, green beans, yeast rolls, sausage stuffing, butternut galette, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin pie, creamed onions…

  27. Diana Banana says:

    oooohhhhhh, lisa reminded me of my mom’s nuo mei fan…that’s my FAVORITE dish ever, and to thanksgiving-ify it, i would eat it with cranberry sauce drizzled on top…salty, sweet, tangy, with enough grease from the pork…even the memory of that is enough to be thankful for!

    i am resigned to going to the bf’s cousin’s house again, with the bland, dry turkey, overcooked vegetables, 3+ cakes and pies, cardboard sugar cookies, sweet potato mini pies with marshmallows, and maybe a couple of decent rice stuffing dishes. it’s not the food that i’m excited about though, it’s more the chaos of 20 family members around, trying to talk over the screaming children playing nearby.

    if i was hosting thanksgiving though, i’d roast a duck that had been marinated in rice wine. i love roasted root vegetables, just tossed in olive oil and a bit of salt, just some chunked up beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, anything that looks good. lately i’ve been sprouting lentils and making a pseudo-tabboulleh salad with those, that’s a good make-ahead healthy dish for some balance. i’d definitely make my go-to dessert of pears poached in red wine, maybe this time with vanilla panna cotta. i like making a thick cranberry-orange sauce and putting that on cream cheese slathered bread for an appetizer.

    or, if i could, i would go out for sushi!

  28. Lori says:

    A traditional Thanksgiving. I have had it at my place for about five years now. I love it, the planning, the baking, the cooking. I only really get crazy over gravy, its just not something I usually make. Never really liked it. I brine my turkey like good Alton Brown advises. Its so tastey and succulent. I happen to love turkey. Works good for me.

    I have always wanted to make jook. But saw that it is difficult to get the consistency right. If you make, I would love to hear about it!

  29. Nate says:

    We’re roasting a turkey and I’m also smoking some ribs. Traditional and non-traditional at the same time!

  30. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    I ordered a turkey done Peking duck-style. But my youngest uncle and his wife said store-made turkeys are really dry and the one I made last year was much better. So we’ll see. I’m planning on serving it with Mandarin pancakes and thinly sliced scallions and cucumbers with hoisin sauce.

  31. White On Rice Couple says:

    Lots of food….everything that is fattening and gluttonous. Lots of turkey eggrolls too!

  32. Maja says:

    We don’t celebrate thanksgiving in my country, but to put in my two cents, i’d go traditional … i’m all about traditional this year, about the fuzzy feeling it brings, we were invited to spend new years at the sea and i just crinched at the thought, i want to be sorounded by snow when new year comes, i want snow man outside and a decorated tree inside with presents underneath and cookies and champagne and stuff. :) So i’d go for anything that would give me the warm feeling of eating a hearthy soup. :) I hope that helps. ;)

  33. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    I’m a Canadian (Thanksgiving = 1st Monday of October) living in Italy (No Thanksgiving at all) so I’m already planning Christmas Eve and Day meals, which by the by will be: Christmas Eve: Mussels steamed in white wine, smoked salmon with green onions and olive oil, clam linquine and last but not least some shrimp.
    Christmas day: A capon, that’s all I got so far ;)
    Happy Thanksgiving, whatever you eat!

  34. Jake says:

    I’m in charge of dessert this year and I’m actually wanting to make a pumpkin pie completely from scratch. Roasting my own pumpkin and everything! Anyone know of a good recipe to follow for what I want to do? Don’t think my family can handle something different; looking for just a classic pumpkin pie.

    Other than that, we tend to stick to a pretty traditional Thanksgiving. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. But it’s always delicious!

  35. Hande says:

    So, 3 Americans, 1 Swiss-American, 1 Italian, 1 Pakistani, 1 Turkish-German and 1 German (all friends) are going to have a potluck thanksgiving dinner on saturday after thanksgiving in Rome, Italy. There will be an organic turkey, gravy, stuffing, indian pumpkin soup, something green and pecan pie from scratch, of course. We are just a bunch who loves any reason to have a nice dinner!

  36. Beatrice says:

    I really like veg lasagna for Thanksgiving. (Bonus: it can be assembled in advance and tossed in the oven after a hike…) This year, however, my family is having turkey and I’m having “side dish.”

  37. Ruthie says:

    My aunt is the master planner, but every year I do the dessert and the cranberry sauce. I usually do different pies, but I just received this email:

    Good Morning Ruthie,
    Your mission, Ruthie, should you choose to accept it, is to prepare Creme Brulee for Thanksgiving. You will be provided with 12 ramekins to be filled with the yummy dessert and topped with the crunchy sugar coating. Should this mission result in disaster, the originator will disavow any knowledge of said mission.
    Good luck!
    Aunt Martha

    I’m so excited to try! I doubt she’ll let me use a torch, though.

  38. jenyu says:

    Hey all, thanks for the feedback! Some great ideas and some very cute stories :) I’m still brainstorming, but it’s coming together :) I hope you all have a GREAT holiday no matter what!

    Jennywenny – I have always wanted to subscribe to it, but it’s $$!! Looks gorgeous though.

    Mark – rowr?! You are too funny ;)

    Bunst – good luck with the needling. I find people who know me don’t needle me when I have heavy saucepan in hand!

    Whitney – best of luck on your finals. I’m sure the dinner and the finals will be fine.

    Lisa – omg! That is IMPRESSIVE. Makes me feel like an orphan/ingrate ;) I use the broth for soup, but I guess I could make shi-fan (although Jeremy isn’t a huge fan).

    Judith – well I hope you get some time off at some point to enjoy the holiday.

    Lezel – WOW! Instead of trading, you should just come over here :)

    Tokyoastrogirl – go with what you like and know. It iwll be great.

    Amy – that is an awesome way to celebrate!

    Sheryl – happy t-day to you too sweetheart. Give your family my love. *hugs*

    Debbie – very nice!

    Mollie – I know your situation, babe. Hang in there!

    Diana – oh no!!! I’m sorry :( I think if you can’t have it your way, you should hold your own at an earlier or later date!

    Lori – I believe SteamyKitchen (Jaden) has a recipe on her blog. She is teh bomb when it comes to Chinese food. Check it out.

    WC – Sounds great. I think I would just go for a peking duck :)

    Jake – I’m sure if you search the blogs you’ll find a good recipe. Best of luck!

    Hande – nice!

    Beatrice – I’m so sad to hear you’re having “side dish” :( Vegetarian food isn’t that hard to make awesome – what is up with your family?! :(

    Ruthie – must use the torch… soooo fun.

  39. cindy says:

    that issue of fine cooking that is pictured got me through cooking my first turkey last year. i owe it my life…

  40. Lezel Safi says:

    I’m packing up! THanks! Hee-hee!

  41. bookaholic_au says:

    We are hosting two christmas dinners, the first will be an all day snack-a-thon as various relatives drop in. In sub-tropical southern hemisphere 30’C + heat, humidity and no air con, dinner will be served cold, with salads. Ham is being outsourced, but we’ve got to pick a turkey recipe, a frozen christmas pudding, and an assortment of salads. My favourite bit of the preparations are the little nibbly sweets to have with coffee later. The only part of the dinner that is solely mine, I’m planning to serve fruit mince tartlets, choc-chilli truffles, and chocolate coated orange peel. I may be able to beg my cousin to bring some of her fantastic rum balls. Then we fly down to Melbourne, to do it all again, but as an informal twilight meal.

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