Thanksgiving is that time of year when I am dragged home to the ‘burbs, fighting tooth-and-nail and squealing much like the turkey on the table must have when its head was whacked off.
Every year is pretty much the same. Great aunt Ginger will spastically knock the cranberry sauce onto my once-white sweater and then wail the gravy boat onto my khakis. I now wear a poncho to the table. Then, my brother will whine that the green beans still taste like beans, the mashed potatoes resemble paste from his art class and that our sister is feeding the dog her yams under the table.
Then I’ll breathe deep and saw into the sandy-looking turkey breast and literally inhale a cloud of sawdust. My mother will swear she cooked it “just enough” this year. The poor woman thinks cooking a turkey at 300 degrees is the only way to avoid salmonella.
So, I will shift food around until the glorious pumpkin pie from the Amish market is brought out. What a meal.
So perhaps I am exaggerating a slight bit. I do love Thanksgiving at my house. My only qualm is that every year, every house I go to has the same few, basic dishes on the menu.
Maybe your cousin Chuck snickers when the jiggly cranberry sauce is passed under his nose.
Perhaps Jonny, your sister’s boyfriend’s half-brother has been caught sleeping through your sweet potatoes. Let’s break out of the basics, kids. The green bean casserole’s days are numbered.
For a sensational starter, try crackers of different sizes and flavors paired with a cream cheese and crab dip. Mix about a pound of crabmeat into a tub of whipped cream cheese. Throw in cocktail sauce until you reach your desired consistency and flavor. A little bit of pepper and some finely chopped parsley finish off the easy dip. Garnish with some lemon wedges on a festive plate.
Does the turkey at your dinner usually leave you pining for gallons of water? This year, stuff the inside cavity with chunks of granny smith apples, a little lemon juice, lemon wedges, some basil and some parsley.
Take out all aggression on this bird and just tell him to, “stuff it.” Take a tablespoon or so of softened butter and liberally rub it on the skin. Lube that bad boy up, because the more evenly placed that butter is, the crispier the skin will be. Baste the turkey during cooking with its juices and additional apple juice. This will help him to stay nice and moist.
A fresh, palate-cleansing sorbet could be just the transition between courses you were looking for. It’s also a great option for those calorie-conscious (who knew they existed on this holiday?) and anti-carb activists for dessert. Blend about half a cup of frozen apple juice concentrate from a can, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a quart of berries. Freeze in a covered bowl for about four hours, pureeing once an hour. Let it sit out at room temperature for about 15 minutes before you scoop into bowls. This makes 5 to 6 servings.
This year, tell Gram and Gramps to pop in their falsies and get pumped for some new twists on a traditional holiday dinner. As for me, I’ll hop on the R7 train to Trenton, N.J., waiting to wear another great meal.
Brianna Barry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.