Thanksgiving in our family has evolved over the years to become a holiday hosted by my dad and stepmom who married four years ago over Thanksgiving weekend, a few short years after each lost their own spouses to cancer. Together, they have built a home to host our newly blended family including six children (plus spouses) and seven grandchildren. The heart of our blended family’s new home is the kitchen, where a huge island stands grounded at the center playing host to multiple combinations of family catching up over coffee, Lou Malnati’s pizza and endless pours of wine.
Our new family also means new traditions and what I love most about the holiday now is that meal preparation feels like a true team effort. A couple weeks out from the weekend group text messages start circulating, dishes are assigned to different members of the family, decisions are made mostly democratically and everyone is a contributor. The menu planning is not without controversy, this year a debate over stuffing versus rice resulted in #stuffinggate2019. Each year seems to improve on the last as new recipes are refined and old ones brought back to life (who new Jello Mold would make such a comeback). I love to focus on the greens and veggie sides, my step-sister-in-law is a master charcuterie creator and my step-brother has taken on the hefty responsibility of the turkey. My dad still insists on making Ina Garten’s Mac and Cheese with Mushrooms and in the end, everyone wins getting to showcase their tastes and talents.
A Sampling from our Thanksgiving 2019 Menu:
Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Roast Chicken adapted for a 19 lb Turkey (using margarine instead of butter)
Maple Glazed Roasted Delicata Squash with Brussels Sprouts
Bon Appetit Jeweled Rice Salad (I substituted farro for rice and served over a big bed of greens, I made a simple balsamic vinaigrette and to serve as more of big salad than rice dish)
Food and Wine Shiitake Mushroom and Fresh Herb Stuffing