The flavors of autumn always make it to our Thanksgiving tables. And, this year, the culinary traditions of the season are sure to be especially tasty.
Last year’s turkey day was pretty much a bust as we soldiered through the holiday season trying not to risk anyone’s health while grasping what little we could of beloved traditions.
Now it’s time to break out our favorite side dishes, appetizers and desserts for Thanksgiving. While still being careful of Covid-19, families will come together to dine on traditional sweet potato or squash casseroles, peas with onions, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce or relish, their favorite stuffing, mashed potatoes, cornbread and corn casserole, to name just a few.
One of my biggest surprises when I dined on Thanksgiving Day with the people who would become my future in-laws was sauerkraut served as a side dish with turkey. Eventually I would become adept at making this unexpected holiday dish, where instead of using pork (as in pork and sauerkraut), the family had adapted their method with turkey drippings. Believe me, it’s actually quite good. It’s fortunate that I learned to like it, because turkey with sauerkraut always showed up on the Christmas menu as well.
Pumpkin and apple pies will always be favorites for the Thanksgiving meal, but people serve lots of other desserts they like. Pumpkin chiffon and apple-cranberry pies are popular, as well as berry pies and cobblers, gingerbread, homemade cookies, and you might even find a peach pie on somebody’s table.
Whatever your family is looking forward to, it will taste best because you can enjoy it together.
Hotlines for answers
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without hotlines to answer questions about how to cook for the big day. Butterball still has the original turkey talk hotline, where live cooks answer thousands of questions from how to defrost a bird to how many people it will serve.
The Turkey Talk Line is 1-800-288-8372 (BUTTERBALL), and the company also has added a text line, (844-877-3456), social media sites, live online chat at the Butterball website, and help through Amazon’s Alexa.
The Betty Crocker website also has an Ask Betty site (bettycrocker.com/how-to/ask-betty) which answers a variety of questions on baking and cooking including the ins and outs of pie crust. Meanwhile, Campbell’s has folks who can talk about how to make green bean casserole (campbells.com/contact-us/) and Ocean Spray will tell you all about how to make sauce and lots of other dishes by calling 1-800-662-3263.
Other food companies answer questions as well, so if you have a favorite turkey or other kind of food company, check their websites.
Markets before the holiday
If squashes, Brussels sprouts, sweet and white potatoes, turnips, cabbage, carrots or leeks are on your Thanksgiving menu, you know they will taste better if they come from your favorite local farmers market. It has been such an extended growing season that you also might find some vestiges of summer such as lettuces, arugula and radishes.
Apples for pie, cobblers and crisps as well as cranberries for sauce and relishes also can be found locally as Thanksgiving approaches. Plus it’s a good time to pick up any last-minute fall decorations in time for the holiday.
Awesome and Easy Creamy Corn Casserole
Among the simplest of side dishes that garners lots of praise on Thanksgiving is the corn casserole, which goes together in five minutes and bakes in 45. This version is from Allrecipes.com.
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 (8.5-ounce) package dry corn bread mix, such as Jiffy.
- 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 (14.75-ounce can creamed corn
- 1 cup sour cream
Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking dish.
Step 2. In a medium bowl combine butter, eggs, corn bread mix, whole and creamed corn and sour cream. Spoon mixture into prepared dish.
Step 3. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden brown.
This easy gingerbread cake recipe from spendwithpennies.com is perfect for those who love the warm spices of fall but don’t care for pumpkin pie.
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 cup boiling water
Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan or line with parchment paper.
Step 2. Mix eggs, sugar, molasses, spices, and oil with a hand mixer until well combined. Sift in flour.
Step 3. Combine baking soda and 2 tablespoons water. Add to the batter and mix well. Stir in boiling water until fully combined.
Step 4. Pour the batter (it will seem thin) into the prepared pan.
Step 5. Bake 40- 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and serve with whipped cream.