Next week is the second most glutinous day of the year, followed only by Super Bowl Sunday. We always say we will keep it simple but we never do. We use the holiday as an excuse to add extra butter, sour cream and high caloric deserts. Why eat cautiously like you do the rest of the year when you get a holiday pass to gorge?
In our family, we have learned to rationalize the dinner by categorizing the food using the national food groups. We prefer to use colors. Really it’s easier. I don’t know why the government didn’t think of that.
There is the white food group: turkey, stuffing. We stopped serving eggnog (have you ever read the calorie count on that? Yikes!)
Then the yellow-orange-red food group: corn, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie.
The brown food group is the ham (it’s sort of brownish), gravy and any crazy chocolate that happens to fall on the table.
Of course there is a green food group: hmmm, this may include the napkins, decorative kale or the parsley sprinkled on top of things. Sometimes we have a green salad or vegetable but no one seems to have room for it anyway so we issue a dispensation for eating a green vegetable on Thanksgiving.
My family is no different from any other. There are some things you don’t fool with. Mom’s stuffing is made the way she made it. It is a German-style potato-bread stuffing that is incredibly tasty. The taste comes from premium breads (no Wonder bread here), sautéed vegetables, good potatoes and the judicious use of butter and broth.
Sweet potatoes (or yams) – ahh, those are another story. By themselves they are healthy and nutritious. So why do we candy them? Our old tradition was to drown them in a butter-brown sugar sauce until they were barely recognizable. Talk about a sugar high. Remember this is during the nutritious part of the meal. We aren’t talking dessert here.
One year I made mashed sweets. I loved them. Everyone liked them but it wasn’t the same. Then I tried roasting them. Wonderful! The roasting brings out the sweetness and makes the edges crispy. Again, they got a cool reception. This year I intend to roast again with a few other root veggies included. We’ll see what the reception is.
Gravy is just gravy. I don’t use a lot of grease. You don’t really need to. Just enough to bind and thicken.
You don’t fool with the frozen corn either. It must be there with butter and salt period. There are usually a few other sides – cranberry sauce, salads, etc. I found out the hard way that the canned jellied cranberry sauce is most popular with my family. No point in getting creative since no one will eat it.
Next comes the dessert. I am not responsible for the desserts – never have been. My brother is. He is an excellent cook and baker so it shouldn’t be all that difficult.
This family is definitely a pumpkin dessert family except for the beloved husband who eats nothing orange except carrots. Minced meat pies are considered an abomination!
One year, before my brother retired from work, his schedule was hectic so he BOUGHT a minced meat pie. He waited too long and there were no pumpkin pies left. There was mutiny in the house. It damn near ruined the holiday. There are some who say it even affected the outcome of the football games. God forbid anything tampering with the football games. As always, he has left me hanging with his intentions for this year’s dessert.
From our perspective this is a balanced Thanksgiving Day diet with some of each food group. So, how do you rationalize overeating the wrong foods in your house?
Clipart courtesy of joskitchen.co.uk