I have a strict rule about Thanksgiving, and it is simple: If you can’t cook, DON’T.
There is nothing worse than a newbie gourmet confused about the sex of a turkey. If you’re daring to make the greatest meal of the year or entertaining your politically opposed relatives, I recommend the Tom: It’s a fat, male-sized turkey, large enough to appease even the most dissatisfied of in-laws. Don’t go overboard! You don’t need to over feed ‘em; the object is to keep them satisfied, not to make them pass out.
If you find yourself stressing about preparing the right food or finding the right recipe this Thanksgiving, take a second to remind yourself what’s really important about this holiday: Family.
Family heritage isn’t just about lineage; it’s born from recipes like our granny used to make. It reminds us of good old-fashioned family values. Contained in those stories passed down through generations are the highlights of our family traditions.
Do you remember the story about Great-Great-Uncle Sam who wrestled a bear to save a village? I do! Okay, maybe that’s just a magical tale I believed when I was small. But every family has stories like that.
Our stories are about the preservation of family. Maybe your family arrived in America in the early 19th Century, and they had to integrate and learn to respect the values of other, neighboring immigrants. They came to the US for freedom, economic opportunity, and faced the most treacherous of conditions. They were proud to tell their stories, so that their posterity would remember where they came from and what they fought for.
Thanksgiving is a great time to honor our families. Why not bring a story with you to share at the dinner table? Or encourage others to tell theirs. It’s important to keep the spirit of who we are as a family alive.
As a Brit raised by a close, loving Jewish family, my Thanksgiving celebration is a unique – just like each of yours. We bring stories to the table to share every year to keep the spirit of our family’s traditions alive. Sometimes, those stories take the form of a recipe: My grandmother always loved to bake kugel, a traditional Jewish pudding casserole.
So to honor my family recipe, I am opting for a thick pudding style kugel, but adding a touch of cranberry and apple. This way I can uphold our family traditions and stories, while adding my own personal touch. My family’s story includes my own story, after all.
Here’s a recipe from Food similar to my Grandma Dora’s Kugel, with a few extra goodies to add a sweet personal touch:
12 small apples
1 (16 ounces) can jellied cranberry sauce, or 1 (16 ounces) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup oatmeal
1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄2 cup raw brown sugar
1⁄2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Peel and slice the apples.
- Layer the apples in a 9×13 pan.
- Mash the cranberry sauce and layer on top of the apples.
- In a bowl mix the oatmeal, flour, raw brown sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon.
- Then with your hands mix the margarine with the bowl of dry ingredients.
- Layer the oatmeal mixture on top of the cranberry sauce.
- Bake at 350°F 1 hour uncovered and then up to an hour covered until the cranberry sauce seeps into the apples and the edges are light brown.
I am confident that my guests will survive the experimentation of my Cranberry Apple Kugel. And coupled with a family story, I cannot think of a greater gift to share with the people I love for Thanksgiving dinner.
“My most memorable meal is every Thanksgiving. I love the food: The turkey and stuffing; the sweet potatoes and rice, which come from my mother’s Southern heritage; the mashed potatoes, which come from my wife’s Midwestern roots; the Campbell’s green bean casserole; and of course, pumpkin pie.” —Douglas Conant
Wishing you all a super nourishing Thanksgiving,