It has become our tradition to celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday, while many others are out hitting the stores in a turkey and cranberry sauce fueled shopping frenzy. You couldn’t pay me to go shopping on Black Friday! The last few years we have started our Thanksgiving day by volunteering at a local organization that prepares and delivers meals to those who might not otherwise have one. This year they delivered a little more than 3500 ready-to-reheat meals, which included turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, applesauce and a pumpkin muffin.
Yesterday we were part of the assembly line that dished up the food into the foil containers. Other workers then package up the meals and hand them out to the volunteer drivers who deliver them. On Monday we went and helped cook. That day we made green beans and dressing. Cooking on this scale requires super-sized recipes: the dressing recipe for instance calls for 50 cups of bread cubes and 12 eggs. Over 1000 volunteers work for almost a week getting everything ready. It is a fun time for us, and we all are blessed by the spirit of caring and sharing. My wife and I look forward to this tradition of Giving Back every year.
But last night we just wanted to fix something light, quick and easy that didn’t involve turkey or dressing, so I made Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi and served it over whole wheat spaghetti. For a side dish I cooked some of 2009’s bumper harvest of Marengo pole beans from the freezer. Marengo is a light yellow flat Italian pole bean that has become one of our favorites. So today we are preparing our Thanksgiving meal. I’m going to roast a turkey later, and we will have sides of sweet potatoes and broccoli from the garden. My wife will bake her pumpkin pie, which is a wonderful custard-like creation with a bit of bourbon added. I’ve made a batch of Cranberry Orange Salad, using a lightened version of my aunt Anna Belle Lee’s recipe.
My mom and aunt used to make this salad every Thanksgiving, and I’ve carried on the tradition by making it myself for as long as I can remember. If you don’t like cranberry sauce from a can then you might like this salad, which calls for fresh fruit and nuts with gelatin to hold it all together.
Everyone has their own holiday traditions. For my wife, the pumpkin pie is one she used to make for her dad. It’s a recipe she adapted from her grandmother’s pumpkin pie, so it has strong family ties for her. For me the cranberry salad evokes vivid memories of some of my beloved family members who live on in spirit. By making it I celebrate their lives and ours. Perhaps by sharing the salad recipe I can keep the circle going. Happy Thanksgiving to all!