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First, yes, here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October, the traditional end of harvest time in many places here. It is a time for gathering together with family and eating a wonderous feast centred around turkey. It’s also a time to use the proper dining room, with the “good” dishes and silverware, tablecloth and festive napkins.
One of the ongoing debates at thanksgiving involves the stuffing. What kind of stuffing does one prefer? which is “better” –a great question to start a debate at the dinner table? I grew up with a bread stuffing made with sage and, sometimes, poultry seasoning. When I was in my teens my aunt introduced us to an awesome stuffing recipe, only a slight variation on the earlier bread & sage stuffing. I’ve posted it below.
For the past few years I have spent Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle who live near me. They use a rice stuffing, which, I’m told, is what grandma Painter used. I’ve also heard of a sausage stuffing, but have never tasted it.
Along with the turkey and stuffing are served, of course, various vegetables. Usually, in my family, these include mashed potatoes, cauliflower (in cheese sauce), niblet corn, and carrots. Others may include brocolli, brussel sprouts, turnips, sweet potatoes/yams, peas and beans. As well, there is bread in the form of buns and of course cranberry. The cranberry has the traditional rings around it from being plopped out of the tin, and we often have both jelly and berries on offer. Sometimes someone will make some fresh.
On both sides of my family, one of the most important things on the table, next to the turkey and stuffing, is the large dish of black olives. These we spoon onto our plates and pick at both as we await everyone to arrive to the table, and as the table is being cleared. Just writing about them here, I may have to go open a tin to snack on….lol. My mom also likes to have sweet mixed pickles, and occasionally gerkins.
For beverages, wine is on offer, as well as water and soda pop. I myself often drink coca-cola, but also a nice glass of skim milk goes very nicely. Usually a toast is made to thank the cook(s) and wish all a Happy Thanksgiving.
Phew! I think that takes care of dinner. Dessert is easier. Pumpkin pie, with whipping cream, please. Other desserts are on offer too of course. This year it was lemon tarts and a crustless pumpkin pudding. At mom’s, it will usually be an apple pie and one other type of pie. Dessert-time involves the making of coffee and tea for those who wish.
Then the after dinner conversation moves from the table to more comfortable seating in the living room. It often starts with “I ate too much” and such and we all nod in agreement and compare our bellies, congratulation those who were smart enough to wear pants with an elasticized waistband.
One fun, yet admittedly odd, thing that my moms family seems to do almost every year is some sort of strange-talents-display. For example, every few years we have to see who can touch their nose with their tongue. Which leads to the inevitable tongue curling exhibition–some can make a “w” with their tongue! Others’ tongues just lie there, but it is interesting to watch their faces as they try so valiantly to get it into a “u” shape. Not many can flip their tongue over. It’s all very entertaining.
And so ends Thanksgiving for another year.
Nummy Stuffing Recipe:
1 cup butter (NOT margarine or other substitue)
1 Tablespoon sage
1.5 teaspoons salt
0.75 teaspoon pepper
0.5 cup minced parsley
0.75 cup diced celery with leaves
3 cups diced onions
(optional: 1 cup sliced mushrooms)
11 to 12 cups toast, in cubes (about 12 slices). Recommended to use only white bread.
Melt butter in saucepan. Add spices, parsley, celery and onions (and mushrooms). Cook for 10 minutes (or longer…m’mmmm, smells so good!) over medium heat. Combine with toast cubes, mix and stuff turkey. May also be cooked very succesfully in a covered pan (outside the turkey) in the oven for about 30 minutes for the vegetarians in the family.