Thanksgiving: Recipes & Traditions

Hi everyone!  Can you believe its already midway through November? I don’t know what happened because I feel like it was just August, two seconds ago! Today I wanted to do a quick post on a couple Thanksgiving food traditions that seem to be a topic of debate.

I think one of the best parts of the holiday is the feeling of togetherness, and having a whole day to focus on your family and what you're thankful for. For a few years, soon after we had moved back to Alabama, we hosted groups of soldiers from the local army base to our home for Thanksgiving. One of my favorite memories, was one year when a guy went and asked my mom if he could make the gravy, because that was what he always did with his mom and his sisters, and this was his first Thanksgiving away from home. The way my mom tells it, in the blink of an eye they'd replaced his military dress jacket with an apron and were having the best time.

 FIRST: Stuffing v. Dressing.

I’ve heard a couple different arguments for or against Stuffing/Dressing, so I wanted to write them here. There’s one argument that if it’s cooked inside your turkey, it should be “stuffing,” but a lot of southern folks(especially the “Old South” types) think that stuffing isn’t a very nice sounding word, so they call it dressing regardless.  Another argument in Stuffing v Dressing is that they are two different things! For more on this, I asked my Aunt Mel who told me:

This is just my take on the differences in dressing and stuffing – dressing is made with cornbread and stuffing is made with cubed dried bread, stuffing is generally cooked inside the bird and dressing not, & stuffing usually dryer than dressing 

SECOND: Yams v. Sweet Potatoes:

If you’ve ever google-d “Yams v Sweet Potatoes,” you’ve probably seen that there are quite a few posts dedicated towards the debate, but that a lot of them say different things. Thanks to an article from the Kitchn(read it here) I’m going to try to explain what the difference is between Yams & Sweet Potatoes:

Apparently yams are native to Africa & Asia, but mostly Africa, and are in the same family as lilies. They are starchier and more dry than sweet potatoes, and are actually not easy to find. On the flip side, there are lots of different varieties of sweet potatoes, which are related to morning glories(how cool is that?!) and can range in color between white, orange, and purple-y colors. The Kitchn says its best to go into the store knowing what kind of sweet potato you want for the recipe, but then use your eyes to pick which kind(using the color of the skin).

THIRD: Cranberries:

One tradition that many people have are cranberry sauce. Some feel strongly that you should make it fresh others stand by their canned cranberry sauce, but others prefer the made-at-home kind.

I have strong opinions about cranberry sauce – I don’t like it – but I know a lot of people that do, and that’s ok. My parents like the canned kind, because thats what they grew up having, but they've also had homemade cranberries that were also really good, but that can be more expensive and more time-consuming. What I do like are dried cranberries as a topping for salad(see my recipe here)

The bottom line is that Thanksgiving foods, I think, should be about family & tradition, and good ol' comfort food. I love this story from my Mom, talking about one of her most memorable Thanksgivings:

When I was about 2nd grade, My grandmother cooked a huge thanksgiving meal and all our family was there. I didn't eat anything with meat, well I really just ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and so I asked my grandmother where those were located and got in trouble with some family members that I wouldn't eat what was on the table. My Mawmaw got up and made sure I had a PBJ sandwich, she said everyone should have foods they love on Thanksgiving... she was the best!


A FEW RECIPE IDEAS:

I would be in quite a pickle if I was in charge of a whole Thanksgiving meal by myself, but I’m the Queen of a few different side dishes! I love making mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole! (I can also make a mean cinnamon roll breakfast cake – one of my favorite recipes here)

A few years ago a friend of mine and I decided we wanted to see if we could be Vegetarian, and for me, it lasted about a year, so I knew I wanted to include a few links here in case you or someone you know is vegetarian/vegan, because some of these look really good!

VEGAN //// THE BEST DAMN VEGAN MASHED POTATOES |  SHITAKE MUSHROOM SEITAN

VEGETARIAN ////  SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

GLUTEN-FREE ////  GLUTEN FREE MAC & CHEESE

HEALTHIER ////  HEALTHIER GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

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