I have great memories of family Thanksgivings. Of course, in the good old days, the women did all the cooking while the menfolk watched football. Afterward, as we all digested and got a bit slowed down by the big meal, the gents would return to the den to watch yet more football and the women would gingerly wash all the silver and special plates and glasses that only came out for this one day a year.
Miraculously, I have only cooked one complete Thanksgiving meal in my entire life, and this one was for a less fortunate family living near us in Virginia. When I delivered it, I tried to loiter on their doorstep, smiling, waiting, shuffling my feet. What did I expect from them, a more profuse “Thank you for this Thanksgiving feast?” I even told my husband I wanted to go back the next day to make sure they enjoyed it, make sure my mashed potatoes were savory enough, my pie crust cooked through.
For the next 16 years, our family always went to the in-laws’ farm in Pennsylvania. My measly contribution would be Susan Stamberg’s famous cranberry relish. Since I have moved to East Hampton year round, I have been cooking in restaurants every Thanksgiving. Therefore, we have accepted any and all invitations for the big meal.
This year will be slightly different. My son’s friend Angus pronounced recently that the only thing that would get him out East would be to have Thanksgiving dinner with us at our new house in Sag Harbor. Sadly, once again, I will be working on Thanksgiving Day, cranking out pecan and pumpkin pies at the Living Room restaurant. But we will have a lovely Thanksgiving meal later in the day . . . catered.
I have found that the problem with being a guest at a friend’s house is you have no leftovers. This year, we will have leftovers.
Let us not forget the meaning of this day. My father, a disabled World War II veteran, always invited soldiers and veterans to our Thanksgiving meal. This year, let’s keep in mind and help those who have suffered more than we have from Hurricane Sandy. Serve one less pie and donate the money to the American Red Cross.
Okay, I’m stepping off my soapbox now and back into the kitchen. Here are some recipes for some awesome side dishes to go with your turkey.