This week's topic for Ten on Tuesday is "Ten Favorite Thanksgiving Dinner Side Dishes" and well, ten is a bit much, unless you add the desserts, but here goes:
1. Stuffing. My mom used to make the BEST sage stuffing, from scratch. These days, I'm prone to making the boxed Stove Top herbed version, which is so very close to hers, it makes no sense to work from scratch. I tend to decrease (substantially) the butter called for in the box, and I NEVER stuff the bird. (The bird is "stuffed with an onion, an apple, and an orange - if I remember to get one - each cut in half - and fresh sage is tucked under the breast skin - the fruit and veggies lend moisture and flavoring as the bird cooks.
But as an aside, I won't be cooking this year. With shoulder replacement surgery on the Monday before, and release from the hospital on Wednesday before the holiday, we're buying a ready-cooked bird this year, and hopefully getting some help from family to bring in the side dishes.
2. Gravy. I'm the only one who loves it. Others could take it or leave it and then some just don't like it period. So, yup, you guessed it: I buy a jar of it - fat-free - and have a little with my dressing...(I know, I know...)
3. Cranberries: Mom used to make her own jellied cranberry sauce, and I can't tell you how many years she was beside herself because it wouldn't "set up." I decided many moons ago to buy the canned Ocean Spray jellied style, because I like it. I hate having to deal with the headaches of "it didn't do what it was supposed to do." But then last year, for my first Thanksgiving with My Sweetheart and his son, I decided to try something: I bought the Ocean Spray Cranberry Relish. And added things to it. It was GOOD! Do I remember what I put in there? Well...not exactly. This year, I'm going to try to recreate it. If it works? I'll share that.
4. I love to bake Acorn Squash with a spoonful of Vermont Maple Syrup in the cavity. Not too many of my family care for it, but it shows up, like it or not.
5. Because there are 4 grandkids who are somewhat picky, we have plain vanilla veggies: corn, green beans. I don't doctor them, but then I also don't cook them Southern style. No sugar, no fat back. Just the veggies. They get, at most, a touch of butter. People can salt & pepper if they wish. (I tend to be a purist with such things anyway)
6. Rolls. Dear Daughter is addicted to the Pillsbury Dough Boy's Crescent Rolls. So are her children. Obviously? That's what we have (tho' I do buy the low-fat version).
7. Assorted pickles and olives. My Sweetheart doesn't care for these, but I tend to make up a relish tray, same as my mom. Gherkins, Bread & Butter, Dill, Sour pickles, and then Kalamata and Spanish Olives (with pimentos, of course), end up being available.
8. Potatoes. Mashed. I like them with garlic, but you know how kids are...
9. I usually, when I'm cooking, have a raw veggie tray for the kids to munch on till things are ready: so there's bell peppers, celery, grape tomatoes, carrot sticks. You know the drill.
10. Hmm...I made it to here without mentioning desserts, didn't I? I'm going to managed NOT to include them! The tenth item I love to have on my menu for Thanksgiving Day isn't really a side dish, unless you're NOT a vegetarian. It's Nut Loaf. A long-time family favorite, it's a loaf made with spanish peanuts and walnuts. My vegetarian mom brought this to the family table when she married my dad, and it takes pride of place at every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner I make (except that last year I thought it would just be a bit overwhelming to try to put together, what with having My Sweetheart and his son at the table for the first time. And this year it won't be there either, because of my surgery.)
The photo above shows a full plate of nutloaf with the thicken tomato sauce that goes with it. I'm adding the link here to a blog post over on Nana Sadie's Place where I showed folks how to make the Nut Loaf
So there you go. My Thanksgiving meal is going to be a mashup of mostly prepared - by others - stuff this year. But that's just fine. The reason for the season is to give thanks. I'll be darn thankful to have my folks with me, and the surgery behind me.