A Family-Style Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it’s never to early to start planning. Being newly married, our Thanksgiving get-togethers a still quite small– just four or five guests maximum (which is all we can fit in our apartment anyway). I like to keep Thanksgiving classic and simple. I set the table (two small tables pushed together) by covering both with a classic white tablecloth. I like to add a table runner (this year I’d like to use one in a cranberry color) to unify the table. This year for the centerpiece I will be using tea lights in milk glass custard cups and gourds, along with two small carved pilgrim figurines I recieved as a gift. I’ll set the table with my Blue Willow dishes and wine glasses. Very simple and elegant. But what everyone cares most about is the food, and I like to keep that classic and simple as well. Our menu this year will be:

Turkey breast with turkey gravy

Honey ham

Garlic mashed potatoes

Wilted kale with bacon

Home made cranberry sauce (see recipe below)

Home made egg noodles in a chicken sauce

Chestnut stuffing

Green beans


Red wine, white wine, apple cider

Pumpkin pie

Chocolate graham cracker parfaits

Applesauce spice cake muffins

We’re not big football watchers, so after the meal we usually sit and enjoy each other’s company, and may do a photo slide show (vacation photos are great). I also like to send each guest home with gift. This year it will be some of the applesauce spice cake muffins with the recipe and mulling spices for cider. I’m going to package them in brown paper lunch bags, with the tops cut in a decorative pattern with craft scissors, and stamped with a Thanksgiving stamp. I’ll also use cranberry-colored ribbon to secure each bag closed. Thanksgiving at my house is simple, but always a good time.

And cranberry sauce should never come from a can! It’s one of the most simple dishes on the holiday menu to prepare, and can even be made a day or two ahead. And it’s a dish that always impresses your guests, as it’s the clearly home made element since we all grew up eating the canned stuff. Here’s how you can pull it off (just don’t tell your guests how simple it is!)–

Home Made Cranberry Sauce

1 bag of fresh cranberries (about 1 pound)

1 cup of white sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Toss it all in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Don’t worry about being delicate with the stirring– some of the cranberries with get mashed and jelly and some will stay whole, and that’s the consistency you want. After it’s boiled for a few minutes, turn the heat down and let the cranberries simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionaly to ensure they don’t stick and burn. When it looks like jelly with some whole cranberries in it, it’s done! It’s that simple. I like to serve it warm, but of course you can serve it cold. If you make it a day or two ahead and stick it in the refrigerator the consistency will be a bit thicker than if served warm. So, there you have it– no more excuses to buy the can!