you’re invited: a thanksgiving day feast.

Just for you, I finally managed to take a photo of our turkey pre-carving. Because that’s how thankful I am for you; I’ll risk Mr. Table dropping a turkey on the floor in transit – twice – just so I can get a pretty photo on something other than the rack or the carving board.

So how was your Thanksgiving? I saw this morning that there were actually people reading this blog, which means you were either a) having a normal Thursday because you don’t go all Thanksgiving crazy like here in the States or b) you were looking at (or for) recipes. If you picked something from here to make for your holiday, I’m honored, and I would love to hear how things turned out for you. Because guess what: I made some of your recipes too! I did. I submitted my paperwork to the family, received approval, and some new recipes were on the table this year. Here’s a little peek at our day.

Obviously at Thanksgiving, I consider the main “decoration” to be the food itself, so not much else was needed to spruce up the room. I did a little stick arrangement with my repurposed Halloween branches) in a big pewter vase, and hung some knit mushroom Christmas ornaments from it. Just because.

We began with what I call The Family Crumb Cake. It’s a little different every time, depending on who makes it (me or my mom), but it’s always a classic New York crumb cake. No fillings, nothing fancy, just crumbs and cake, and it couldn’t be more perfect if it tried. It’s a must when we’re all together.

Also, there was a little raw turkey prep. We pre-order ours from Whole Foods, and may I say that it’s a fabulous way to go about a holiday meal. The ordering was easy, the employees helpful (as always; the nicest people work there), and the turkey outstanding. And hey, they brine it for you, so it’s almost no work save for the oven prep. We made my sister hold the skin up to get the sage leaves between it and the meat, and it was easily the worst part of her day.

She recovered by hanging out at the window with the Wee One, who regaled her with stories of what normally happens in our backyard (rabbits, squirrels, the occasional pear falling from our inedible pear tree.)

Meanwhile, I constructed my dream – to someday host a Thanksgiving feast in a giant, immaculate, well-lit, miraculously un-smelly horse barn, which i will someday just happen to have on my property, a la Martha Stewart – out of the Wee One’s stable and some Little People. It’s likely this will be the closest I ever get to actually having a stable on my property, but a girl can dream, right?

Next, we set out some things to munch on. Thanksgiving, when cooking, starts to smell really good right about the time everyone starts to get really hungry. “So…when are we eating?” is the holiday equivalent to “Are we there yet?”, so it’s best to give guests something to do with their mouths. We did some store-bought crackers alongside my own version of a classic cheddar-pecan cracker (coming soon to the blog), the roasted grapes I made for you last week, some fresh Clementines, and a few cheeses I picked up at Whole Foods while we were “adopting” our turkey. We chose a nice aged Gruy√®re and a Wensleydale with cranberries – one of my new favorites, and perfect with the grapes.

Finally, the feast was ready. I wouldn’t be here to type this had I attempted to take photos of each item, because my family would have tied me to a chair and thrown me in the closet so they could eat. I would say this is all of our food, but it’s not. Someday I will have a large enough table, but for now, this is most of our food. We had to put desserts and appetizers on the island nearer to the kitchen. Our meal consisted of:

Did you see those rolls on the table? They originally looked like this, because I made them all by myself. Jennie at The Messy Baker took pity on my yeast frustrations and sent me her grandmother’s recipe for rolls. And they actually worked, even in my cursed hands. And look at them; they’re gigantic! Everyone loved them, I was enormously happy with them, and I need to find a way to appropriately thank Jennie for making our Thanksgiving even better than usual. And for making me feel better about my abilities with bread. Thanks, Jennie.

Oh; and my feast? Lest you be confused by the photos, let me clarify; all this food is for four people. Four point two five, if you count the Wee One and her wee appetite. Needless to say, all that joking about having you all over for the holidays would have been fine, because we cook for 30 anyway. We had an epiphany this year that we do precisely the same amount of work for the four of us as we would for forty guests, which is both invigorating and exhausting to know. So, next year, you may get an invitation because someone needs to eat all this food we have left over.

Next, we arrive at the desserts portion of the evening. We made:

  • pecan pie tart (coming soon to the blog, because mom starts asking for this one in August, it’s that good)
  • homemade vanilla bean ice cream – a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream recipe (also coming soon), and easily the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever experienced
  • pumpkin pie – not just any pumpkin pie, but Natalie from Wee Eats‘ recipe for the creamiest pumpkin pie in the world. I can attest to the accuracy of that title; it really is the creamiest pumpkin pie in the world, and although everyone was slightly apprehensive about me changing up our pumpkin pie, all of us were thrilled with the result. Truly a fantastic way to make a very classic dessert without freaking everyone out with unfamiliar flavors. Thanks, Natalie; I know you were freaked out that I was switching my pie recipe up last minute, but it’s safe to say your recipe went over wonderfully.

Some dishes were done.

Lottie supervised the cleanup and got a little sauced on the sparkling grape juice. That’s her in her Popemobile-like structure I purchased so she could be my kitchen muse without getting dirty or dusty. She likes it quite a bit.

And that was that. We took a walk in the late afternoon sun, as it was a delightful 70-degree day (I’m fine with that if I need to take a stroll), played a pretty competitive few games of Wii bowling, and generally had a ton of fun. Today, we begin decorating the Christmas tree, maybe make some gingerbread houses, and start wading through leftovers. I hope your day is equal parts relaxation and fun, just like ours will be.

See you in a day or two, and we can all start getting Christmas crazy together. And don’t act like you’re not going to, either.

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22 Comments on "you’re invited: a thanksgiving day feast."

  1. Teri Pretlow says:

    Envious of your small Thanksgiving crowd but even with our own overloaded eating extravaganza, reading of all your delicious recipes, makes me a little hungry again! Loved hearing about your Mom and sister too (tell them both hello for me!!) Bravo!!!!

    • shannon says:

      Thanks, Aunt Teri! I can only imagine you had quite the full house for Thanksgiving, but when you have like, a million grandchildren… :) I’m sure your feast was equally wonderful. I’ll say hello to them for you. Happy Thanksgiving to all of your crew as well!

  2. Happy Thanksgiving sweetheart. We four would have loved to have been there.

  3. natalie says:

    your pumpkin pie looks so much prettier than mine! you won’t mind if i steal the pic for my post, right? ;) lol
    your feast looks DELICIOUS! anything with three desserts is my kind of dinner!

    i can’t wait for that pecan tart recipe… and maybe the secret family coffee cake recipe???? maybe???
    just a thought…
    and omg the sheep! so cute!

    i’m going to have to give that roll recipe a try, and see! YOU CAN DO YEAST!!! now you can make pretzels :)

    • shannon says:

      lie: because i was going to email you when i was trying to photograph the desserts and ask you if i could use that head-on shot of YOUR pie. *yours is so much better*

      you know, originally there were 4 desserts planned; i never got enough time to get beyond making the crumb topping for the apple crumble, which basically involved me making a double batch of crumb cake topping, using 3/4 of it for the cake, then taking the rest and throwing oats and more butter into it. we may make it tonight. because obviously 3 desserts isn’t enough for us.

      OH: you will HAVE the pecan tart recipe: i forget every time i make it that there’s a few kinks on technique i need to work out, because it should be easier and it throws up little frustrating obstacles along the way, but it always tastes out of this world good. It’ll be in tutorial format. the secret family crumb cake recipe will also make an appearance, but i need to fine-tune my personal tweaks (as usual, what else is new?) :)

      I CAN DO YEAST! the whole time i basically knew i failed, too. i thought it would never work, but it…kept…working. yay! your pretzels are up next in my quest for yeast confidence.

  4. Ashley says:

    What a fantastic feast! It looks delicious and I would totally eat a lion’s share of the leftovers if I could get my paws on them. Hooray to roll success! Huzzah to pumpkin pie alteration without mutiny success! Cheers to Lottie’s popemobile! Does it also double as a method to keep her out of your sparkling grape juice and other beverages? It might be necessary, should she become belligerent when sauced…
    And I’m right there with you. We cook for a much bigger family than we actually have. But it is so much better that way! You have more leftovers, and you get to share even more of your love (through cooking) with everyone. It’s why I got bananas on Christmas cookies and Valentine’s treats. And sometimes just because. I can’t wait to go Christmas crazy!!! I know you’re going to have some stellar ideas!
    I’m making your Chinatown turkey salad today, so I can have the maximum amount of turkey leftovers this year. I’m excited to try it!

    • Ashley says:

      And Jeni’s! She rocks my world! I try to taste as many of her limited edition flavors as possible, and every trip to Columbus requires a visit (or two) to one of Jeni’s scoop shops. There are so many more flavors for you to try!

      • shannon says:

        oh, girl; i have never had the amazingness which is Jeni’s vanilla bean ice cream before, but it’s safe to say i’ll be getting the cookbook for christmas, one way or the other (i.e. someone gets it for me or i will go out and just get it myself). any suggestions on your favorites? I’m the least picky eater you know, i promise, so when i say i’m up for anything, i am. i can list on one hand the foods/ingredients i can honestly say i do not like.

    • shannon says:

      Ashley, i totally wish you were here to help with leftovers, for real! hooray for holidays, cooking/baking success, and sheepmobiles (lottie is yes, an aggressive drunk, so…dual purpose). :)
      so how was your thanksgiving!!?! did you go crazy with dishes? anything super outstanding, or was it just a perfect harmony of food? and it IS better to make way more; it’s nice to see a packed fridge of random food every so often, and we don’t do this really but for Thanksgiving, so leftovers are pretty awesome. i like your perspective; you DO get to share more love that way! i’m actually totally stoked for christmas; i’ve got some things up my sleeve, but i’m taking some time over the next few days to really plan my attack. i can’t wait to see what you show up with!
      do you know my sister and i LIVED on the Chinatown salad (with chicken) as our pre-thanksgiving warmup/light lunch and dinner/”we better save our calories for the Big Event” meal for days prior to thanksgiving? and loved it every single time. i’ll be interested to hear how you like it.

      • Ashley says:

        Thanksgiving was ah-may-zing. We kept it simple – turkey, a basic stuffing (no extra frills), mashed potatoes (mixed by my boyfriend, who is a potato expert without equal), gravy, peas, corn pudding (a specialty of Eric’s family – sorta like a light corn cake-souffle), Orangette’s cranberry sauce (currently the reigning favorite in our house of cranberry sauce aficionados), and – wait for it…. – 3 different riffs on pumpkin pie! One was Paula Deen’s, complete with butter, cream cheese, and half and half (shocking, I know). One used sweetened condensed milk to give a mild caramel flavor. One is my traditional recipe, using either bourbon or dark rum, though it had mixed reviews from the table. It’s still my favorite, though. Plus being with family was pretty darn hard to beat.

        Sadly, I haven’t tackled leftovers yet. Including your beautiful Chinatown salad. Life events happened, I was super busy, and am absolutely making it tonight for dinner. I cannot wait! I will definitely let you know how my attempt turns out. I suspect rousing success!

        Jeni’s. Ahhhh, the love of my life. Well, certainly one of the great loves of my life. My all-time favorites that I’d get every time are
        her signature salted caramel,
        riesling-poached pear sorbet (with the perfect texture of pears!),
        cherry lambic (it fizzes in your mouth!),
        coriander raspberry (oh. my. gosh.),
        lime cardamom frozen yogurt (tart, refreshing, hint of warm spice),
        sweet corn and black raspberries (tastes like the epitome of summer),
        dark chocolate (with or without peppermint),
        and pear, wheatgrass, and vinho verde sorbet (it just tasted refreshingly green).
        I just bought a pint of Yazoo Sue with Rosemary Bar Nuts. I have to wait a whole week to get back to the freezer holding it!!!! Argh!
        You won’t go wrong with her flavors, though. I personally don’t enjoy the super sweet ones (violets and meringue, ylang-ylang and honeycomb), but aside from that, it’s amazing.

        Oops…this is long. Sorry!

        • shannon says:

          no “sorry” required! I believe that was our first official “comment email” – don’t worry; i do it lots myself. :) Your thanksgiving sounds incredible! I love corn pudding; it’s the one thing we never get around to making that i really miss every year, but i’m adding it to my list for next! I’ll be making one around Christmastime, for sure. I admire your trio of pumpkin pies; it’s like you had a thanksgiving pie-off! And yes, having family around is the best part; mine all went home as of yesterday, and it’s fun to know they’ll be back in a few (short) weeks for christmas.

          i’m copying your list of flavor recommendations and adding it to the “when shannon gets a Jeni’s/when Jeni’s cookbook gets to shannon” list. your palate sounds like mine in terms of liking a sweet/sour or sweet/salty combo as opposed to the sweet/more sweet ones, so i trust you completely.

          don’t even tease me with your yazoo sue and rosemary nuts. YUMMMMMM. :)

  5. Now THAT is a turkey! Could be the most beautiful, perfectly-browned turkey I’ve ever seen! I can’t believe that feast fed just four people (and a sheep). But you know, I have issues making food in small quantities also…plus, leftovers are the best. Hopefully Lottie had a big appetite. Everything looks absolutely delicious!

    • shannon says:

      thank you, Amy! That turkey was the best one we have ever done – those Whole Foods turkeys are a super nice quality, and they seem to cook up really well. Mom certainly did her work with the basting to make it juicy and tender, so i had to take pictures. I was a proud turkey mama. :)
      we agonize a little from year to year, desperately trying not to waste food, and we’ve whittled the portion size on things down to a manageable amount. However, we all agree that even if it IS just four of us (and a sheep) that we shouldn’t have to be punished by scaling back on how many dishes we have. So that’s our little philosophy, thankfully, as neither I nor my mother can make reasonable quantities of things, try as we may. “reasonable-ish”, but not reasonable. :)

  6. That’s it. Next year, I’m celebrating American Thanksgiving. In a horse barn. I adore those mushroom ornaments, that turkey looks mother freakin’ next level, and for the first time in ages the words “pumpkin pie” don’t make me want to yak. Man, oh man!!

    I can’t believe Lotti got a glass house before I did.

    • shannon says:

      i’m just happy we’re at a point where the word pumpkin doesn’t make you spontaneously toss your cookies. I feel like that’s a major accomplishment.
      i’ve decided there should be some sort of foreign blogger exchange program for us; i’ll head up for the Canadian thanksgiving, just so i have an idea how the North has a go at it, and you head down here for the November one. All in the name of research; i wonder if we can expense that (to someone, somehow.)

      Lottie fancies herself extremely modern right now.

  7. Hi Shannon!

    It looks like you had a very successful, very delicious Turkey Day. Oh my, that spread looks amazing. I’m so glad the rolls worked for you. Yay! They look beautiful on your table. Did you do a little jump kick in the air when you took them out of the oven and they looked like fluffy rolls? They’re so easy to make. The key is not to boil the milk. Boiled milk = dead yeast.

    I love that Lottie is supervising clean up.

    • shannon says:

      Jennie, thanks again for the rolls and the encouragement that came with the recipe! :) I did a huge jump kick when they worked; i can’t tell you (but my mom can) how many times during the process i grumbled to myself that it would never work, that surely i killed something along the way, they’d never rise, they would end up like rocks, et cetera.

      and then they looked perfectly browned and gorgeous, and for that i was truly thankful. I was very cautious with the milk; i actually used my thermometer just to make sure that my version of “hot” was a decent read on it.

      After i took that picture, Lottie totally took a snooze. But she wanted to be in the post, so. :)

  8. Angie says:

    So what exactly did you do with the rutabagas? I’ve used them in stews and such but never prepared them on their own.

    • shannon says:

      So, the rutabegas are one of the “passed-down” recipes we’ve just always had, and my mom just always has had since she was a little girl. She makes them every year, and it’s not very sophisticated, but i’m an open book, so here goes.
      You peel the rutabegas and cube it up, similar to what you would do to a potato. Boil them with a few spoonfuls of sugar (as you like it) until fork tender, then drain, and mash with a little butter, adding salt and pepper to taste. If you think they need it (and sometimes it depends on how good the rutabegas are) you can add more sugar. Rutabegas have such a distinct tartness to them – almost a bitterness – and the sugar really smoothes it out. It’s how her mom always made them, and so it’s how they land on our table as well. If you like rutabegas, it’s a very retro way to use them. We love it. It’s what you’d call a “required dish.” :)

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