Planning Your Thanksgiving Meal

Posted on Monday, November 7, 2016 by Larkspur

Book cover for How to Cook a TurkeyHere we are at the start of November — where does the time go?! For those folks intending to host a Thanksgiving meal, or for those who want to pitch in and bring a dish to someone else’s gathering, you know what time it is — it’s time to plan your menu! Never fear–there are plenty of resources here at DBRL to help you conjure and organize the preparation of this revered feast.

There are many foods that are traditionally served on this holiday, designated to express gratitude for plants and animals that feed and nourish us. The original Thanksgiving banquet, held in 1621, celebrated the first harvest in the new world and was shared between the English Pilgrims and the native Wampanoag people in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. Their table featured locally available (obviously!) game, vegetables and fruit. Turkey (wild, of course) was included in this game category and over time has become the modern day centerpiece of this holiday meal (although most turkeys served these days are farm-raised).  Other new world edibles served during that first feast, such as cranberries, pumpkin and other squashes, have remained favored staple ingredients in many Thanksgiving dinner recipes.

Photograph of a roasted turkeyMany people prefer the traditional dish choices (turkey, stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin or pecan pie), and such a menu can no doubt be delicious and comforting. There are others like me who tend to enjoy changing up the offerings, to keep the eating more varied and interesting. I like turkey, but I want to find alternatives to the big bird as main dish fare on occasion. Choices abound, including ham, duck, goose, venison and other wild game that scampers or flies. There are also satisfying vegan and vegetarian options. Way back in my early vegetarian days, I found a recipe for stuffed pumpkin in Anna Thomas’ “Vegetarian Epicure.” It was worth the effort it took to prepare it, since it made a handsome presentation in the middle of the table besides being a savory, rib-sticking entrée. Beyond the main course, there are endless options for sides and desserts found in Thanksgiving-themed cookbooks here at DBRL.

Book cover for Happy Cooking by Giada De LaurentiisThe amount of time and level of interest you have will affect the level of stress you may feel when planning and preparing your Thanksgiving meal. There are pointers here on how to make cooking a happy occasion with ways to minimize stress. My preference is to select and focus on a few choice recipes. That way I can have a more relaxed approach and a more enjoyable time cooking, so I don’t feel frazzled when I sit down at the table to partake. I think feeling at ease is as important as enjoying the food, and I end here with the wish that we all have a peaceful Thanksgiving holiday.

“Earth who gives to us this food,

Sun who makes it ripe and good,

Dear earth, dear sun, by you we live,

Our loving thanks to you we give.”

            ~Christian Morganstern