Breathing Room: What’s on Your Holiday Menu?

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I can tell from my social media feed that many folks are both restless and preoccupied. I’m sure it’s partly because they’re trying to wrap up work before the Thanksgiving holiday, partly because some folks are already traveling, and partly because some folks are already working on holiday preparations.

I’m among the last group. I’m not having turkey at home on Thursday in observance of the day with family; it’s going to be just us empty nesters and whatever large piece of beef or venison is occupying too much room in the freezer.

This will be the first year one of my kids hosts the holiday feast, though. We’ll be celebrating on Saturday because my youngest must work on Thursday but has Saturday off.

I’m reminded of my childhood holidays which were frequently shifted around because my mother was a nurse and always worked at least one holiday. Babies don’t stop arriving, heart attacks still occur, accidents still happen, no matter the day of the year. Health care professionals still show up to serve those who need care regardless of holiday observations. Thanks to all of you in health care and other first responders who will be on the job tomorrow.

Some manufacturing industries also have no time off; they run 7/24/365 and somebody needs to be on the job to keep production running, to keep systems in a stable safe mode. Chemical and pharmaceutical plants are just a couple examples; they often can’t shut down production altogether, or they can reduce operations but still must keep machines in a steady state because it’s more challenging to bring a system back up from a down state. This may be in part because of profitability, but it’s often about safety. Thanks to all the folks who will continue to work through Thursday for these industries.

Ditto for the shipping industry – ships don’t stop dead in the ocean, trains don’t stop on the tracks, trucks may pause at rest stops but they still keep their schedules. Again, profitability may drive some of this, but safety and security are also reasons why shipping continues. Thanks to all who will continue to work tomorrow to keep things running smoothly on Friday and beyond.

So while my youngest works tomorrow in one of these can’t-stop industries, I’ll be working on cooking and baking foods for the delayed feast on Saturday.

~ ~ ~

This year I’ll be spatchcocking a fresh turkey. This has caused no small amount of amusement in the family group chat. But spatchcocking – or butterflying, if you want to avoid the time suck the other word may set in motion in your conversations with friends and family – is the fastest way I know to roast a whole turkey.

It’s also a good approach if you discover the frozen bird you bought hasn’t yet fully thawed, but you’re going to have to do some surgery with a mallet and cleaver rather than kitchen shears and a knife. Ask me how I know this…

My eldest who is hosting the feast on Saturday will be occupied until noon; this is the primary constraint dictating spatchcocking the bird. We can’t get the bird in the oven before 12:30 p.m. and their older half-brother will be bringing little ones who need to eat earlier than later. Which means I have about 2-3 hours to cook a 13-pound bird.

I’m going to remove the bird’s backbone on Friday evening along with the breast bone and cartilage, then brine it overnight. I’ll just leave it in the brine bucket while we travel, then slap it on parchment in the bottom of a broiler pan while the oven preheats after noon Saturday.

For spatchcocking see:

For my favorite brine see: (I skip the allspice berries and candied ginger, add halved garlic cloves and a sliced thumb of fresh ginger instead.)

The host is fixing mashed potatoes and green beans along with a cherry pie. My youngest has been assigned pumpkin pie duty because it’s both their favorite and their most frequently made dessert.

For Impossible Pumpkin Pie see: (Super easy because crustless!)

I’ll handle squash rolls, sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, and a crudites platter. Nothing super fancy, relatively safe territory since there will be children present.

There’s a couple bottles of homemade hard cider my youngest made and left in my wine cellar; I’ll probably take those along with a Riesling and a moscato to enjoy with the turkey and dessert.

What are you preparing for this Thanksgiving holiday? If you’re not cooking, what are you expecting to eat?

~ ~ ~

In all the preparation for the holiday, let’s not forget that tomorrow’s holiday arose from colonists celebrating survival of their first year in the new world. They arrived on already-occupied lands, contributing to the eventual dispossession, deaths, and erasure of indigenous peoples, their nations and cultures.

Descendants of colonists continue to erase indigenous peoples with book bans and suppression of culture, preventing education about Native Americans as part of this country’s history.

It should be no surprise that Thanksgiving Day is marked at Plymouth Rock as a day of mourning by the heirs of dispossession and erasure.

For some of us this is intensely personal and not merely an interesting factoid one can drive by, even for those of us who walk in both indigenous and colonialist worlds.

On whose lands will you be celebrating your colonial holiday?

You can identify those tribes on this interactive map at:

I, a descendant of Kānaka Maoli of the Nā moku ʻehā territory, will be observing the holiday with family on the ancestral homelands of the Council of the Three Fires — the Ojibwe (or Chippewa), Ottawa (or Odawa), and Potawatomi tribes.

If you want a little light decolonizing, it’s worth rewatching Amber Ruffin’s How Did We Get Here from last November which tackled erasure of Native Americans:

~ ~ ~

This is an open thread.

91 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Squash cooking now for squash rolls. Sure hope I have room in the freezer for excess squash.

    Spouse fished the freezer — looks like ribeye for us empty nesters.

    • likeagodcow says:

      Reminding me of the year I brought home the company jack-o-lantern ’cause of all the SF Chronicle pumpkin recipes (risotto! gnocchi! never happening!). I made two pumpkin pies with all of two cups and then just had this gallon of pumpkin in the freezer for like a year, year and a half.

      • Rayne says:

        Oh my. Could have made soup with that pumpkin puree, or thickened it to make pasta sauce. But a jack-o-lantern sized pumpkin is a LOT of puree, must admit.

  2. boatgeek says:

    I live on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people, particularly the Duwamish who remain unrecognized by the federal government. The Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snohomish, and other nations also met in this area.

    Thanksgiving is a little odd for vegetarians since it’s so centered around a turkey or ham. We traditionally make quiche for the center of the table. Usually, one is “stuffing flavor,” with celery, sage, mushrooms, etc. The other is whatever strikes our fancy. This year it will be chanterelle mushroom. Of course, around that will be salad, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, etc. Pumpkin pie for dessert.

    Friday will be a milestone birthday party for a family member, so we’re throwing a smorgasbord in the traditions of my in-laws’ Scandinavian heritage. Unreasonable amounts of bread (Swedish rye with orange peel, julekake*, white sandwich bread, leftover rolls, maybe one or two more) will center the meal. On that will go cheese, pickled mushrooms, veggies, and more. Plus a couple of ginger cakes for dessert.

    * Julekake is a sweet bread with candied fruit and cardamom.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thinking of giving thanks, as well as of things gone by, I was remembering Robin Williams and came across this one-liner: “Dubya doesn’t speak while Cheney’s drinking water. Check that shit out.”

    • Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

      Ok, that made me laugh out loud. Robin Williams, a true comedic genius. Thanks for sharing.

  4. ToldainDarkwater says:

    I hate to be a downer, but Mrs Darkwater and I recently returned from a visit to England with covid. So there won’t be any Thanksgiving at our house. Both because no visitors, and because we’re a bit too tired to tackle it all. Probably the smallest Thanksgiving I’ve had since 1986.

    Something went wrong with my name, which ought to be ToldainDarkwater. Sorry about that.

    [FYI – name fixed. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      Same here, smallest Thanksgiving since the year my daughter was an infant. It was just the three of us rattling around in a Traverse City hotel room in 1994, had turkey dinner at The Clock restaurant (which I think is no more). I was tired then, too, but from chasing a 10-month-old.

      Sorry to hear you caught the ‘rona, hope it passes quickly and without lingering consequences.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Smallest Thanksgiving dinner I’ve had since college was my first year in China. The Canadian embassy held a holiday dinner, but it was a month earlier. The Peking Duck restaurant near Tiananmen Square was close to the American version. No cranberries, but it did have “popcorn” scorpion. It was also a close stand-in for the dinner in A Christmas Story, but much busier.

  5. Ray Harwick says:

    “sliced thump of…” is so vivid and useful. Nobody ever taught me this term.

    And btw, late last night I’ve been trying to find your quote in which you used a term from WWF wrestling that I’d really love to drop into a conversation. I saw it in a post or comment in the past two months. I can’t remember the word but it was something about maintaining the image of a wrestler’s public presentation (his good guy or bad guy image) at all times, an unforgivable blasphemy if violated. I’ve marveled at how a legal wonk even stumbled onto that word, and then found an application for it in law.

      • Ray Harwick says:

        Yes! Kayfabe! That’s a very fascinating article and I can see why kayfabe has such utility in law and politics. I put it on a sticky note on my computer.

        I don’t think I ever bought ginger by the hand. So I thought you had devised a name for a unit of measure, like a “pinch” of salt, or “splotch” of cream. A “thumb slice” seemed like a piece of ginger about the length from the knuckle to the tip of the thumb. I’ma try to make that term a sensation on my gay geezer group. :-)

  6. Old Rapier says:

    T̶u̶r̶k̶e̶y̶ Fondue – cheese and meat with multiple dipping sauces of course – Caesar Salad. A leisurely hour plus long meal and don’t get stuffed. I’m a hero for coming up with this idea we adopted a dozen or so years ago.

    My idea for an old old Michigan Christmas meal of muskrat continues to be rejected.

  7. earthworm says:

    chiming in from the heart of Wôpanâak country —
    it’s a heavy burden, bearing the regional weight of the legends/myths of the first Thanksgiving. we know a lot more now than we knew then. Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Mayflower” helped to open the eyes.
    my family plans to gather at the house of one of our children. they’ll do all the heavy culinary lifting while i make scalloped potatoes, apple pie, and cranberry tart*. we’ll be fourteen in-laws and out-laws. kids from VA bringing celebrated VA cider. someone else bringing oysters. i’ll be practicing pivoting, distraction, sugar and alcohol avoidance, in addition to lip-zippering. and keeping my fingers crossed.
    *recipe from a vintage Nov 1988 Gourmet

  8. likeagodcow says:

    I will just be joining the nuclear family (Mommy, Daddy, Sissy, me) and four nieces at the compound. I recently returned to Houston after 34 years away, and I’ve learned in the last couple of years that my mother and sister think mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving is some weird Northeastern white people thing. She can’t be convinced that mashed potatoes actually ARE Thanksgiving in America, although I get her confusion if you never left here: Our Thanksgiving starches are cornbread dressing and spicy dirty rice. I’m bringing Brazilian-collard greens for me and probably a shrimp bisque even though she’s going to say, “We don’t need all this food!” I will reassure her that I’m taking the bisque home.

    • Rayne says:

      A now-ex family member insisted macaroni-and-cheese was a Thanksgiving mainstay and was shocked because I didn’t automatically make it for the holiday.

      Uh, nope. Of course they were born a bit too close to the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line where starchy side dishes seem to change.

  9. bloopie2 says:

    Homemade cranberry sauce? Not quite, here. Our family’s cranberry Tradition is old and solid, and is well described (glorified, even!) in this Internet quote: “Only a fool would suggest that “cranberry sauce” comprises fresh or frozen cranberries cooked down with sugar, lemon and warm spices. As Tradition mandates, Ocean Spray makes the only cranberry sauce worth having — which you chill down in its can before dinner, then coax out with a butter knife ’till it flops out onto the good, gold-rimmed china, its edges artistically ringed with can indents.”

    Other than the turkey with Mom’s stuffing, that’s number one on our hit list.

    My Thanks to all of you at this blog.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL too funny. The cranberry sauce divide continues, split between the with-ridges and without-ridges.

      I’m in the without camp, far too easy to make the real thing which has so much more flavor. And I’d never use lemon in it or spices, only cranberries, orange juice, orange peel, brown and white sugar.

      Stuffing I make is Williams-Sonoma recipe with a few modifications for local ingredients — locally baked Italian bread, all pork no beef, flat leaf parsley and thyme from my own kitchen garden.

      Mom didn’t make the stuffing at my house; my dad did. He adds mushrooms to his as well as green pepper. The pepper always gave me heart burn so I won’t eat his recipe anymore. FIL loves the Williams-Sonoma recipe which is great for breakfast the next day so I make that every year.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree with you about the home-made cranberries: they’re easy to make and taste better, plus you can cut the sugar and avoid the additives, as well as make the amount you need.

        • bloopie2 says:

          It’s possible home made does taste better, but honestly, I like the taste of this one, and I’m not a food snob, so no need. We do spend a lot of good family time making lots of other home made dishes, and they’re all good. And no one eats more than a few spoonfuls of the Ocean Spray, so in the grand scheme of things, with all the other foods we eat, we’re not concerned with its nutritional aspect.

        • Rayne says:

          I could cut the sugar but I’ve found my simple recipe has been best for multiple uses: 1 bag of cleaned fresh cranberries, 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup each white and brown sugar, and the zest of one orange. Cook slowly over low heat until all the cranberries are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.

          Last year I doubled the batch and made it in the instant pot — 2 minutes on high pressure, that’s all it took. Also experimented with adding red grapes but the resulting sauce was a bit too sweet and didn’t set up quite as much.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        We make LOTS of cranberry/orange/little sugar, because it is a phenomenal dessert (or breakfast) with a big dollop of whipped cream !!

        • Rayne says:

          I love it on top of cream cheese on whole grain toast, or on top of a dollop of Greek yogurt. It’s also come in handy when buzzed smooth with a stick blender with some ginger, soy sauce, garlic, and a touch of sesame oil as a glaze on grilled pork.

  10. Allagashed says:

    Spatchcocking birds is great fun. We do a Saturday feast as well. It works out better for my wife, who is a nurse, as well as giving the rest of the tribe a break from holiday traffic. I live up on the Canadian border (Fort Kent-ish) and we hunt birds (Ruffed Grouse) as a religion. We save them all for Thanksgiving; spatchcocking them and then cooking them in various ways. Grouse are not huge birds, but with all the other sides, one bird per person has been enough. We usually set a table for 15-20, and the cooking and prep is my favorite time of the year. God, how I hate Christmas…

    Grouse, venison, and on a good year- bear, will grace the table. No one likes moose so we don’t shoot them (my fault, I used moose instead of sausage for the stuffing one year and it didn’t go over well).
    I can trace my ancestry back to pre-Plymouth days and the Popham Beach colony. I also have a great grandmother who was a Maliseet Indian. My drunken Northern Irish ancestors went to Canada and bought her when she was a baby; as a future ‘domestic’ is my guess. Years later, one of their children married her and I got a great grandmother out of the deal. She was not a happy woman. We only have three surviving pictures of her, and in every one of them she looks like one seriously pissed off Indian.

    Native American issues loom large all over Maine, Aroostook County being home to three tribes; Maliseet, Tobique, and the Micmac; statewide, the Penobscot and the Passamaquoddy get most of the attention. Our family version of ‘Thanksgiving’ strives to incorporate what we can of native influences, though we don’t always succeed. Mea Culpa, Gram.

  11. Peter Lefevre says:

    Am baking pumpkin and chai vanilla cupcakes. Chai calls for pepper. I have never put pepper on a dessert before. Am slightly nervous.

  12. Verrückte Pferd says:

    I’ve been living in Deutschland for two decades, where the american version of Thanksgiving doesn’t exist. Before that i spent two decades plus in San Francisco, formerly Ohlone land, but the entire Bay Area is home to many thousands of urban natives from tribes all over the country. I have warm (and cold, windy) memories of getting up way before dawn, to board the boat out to Alcatraz, where the diaspora of natives held a no thanksgiving ceremony, remembering the takeover of the island in the struggle for Indian rights. On one trip i was invited to join the AIM drum on the boat ride, an honor i will never forget. The struggle to keep the land and water free and clean, and hold to traditions remains ongoing.

    I often remind people that when the Pilgrims landed, they were greeted in English by N’Squanto, who had already been to London (twice). He had originally been taken as a slave on a ship to Spain, but was rescued by a monk and taken to London, if i remember the story. But most of his village died from illness, which was why he let the colonizers in. (At least what i remember.) Seems appropriate that US children should be taught the real story; amazing as it is.

    One thing i’m thankful for (the Mohawk have a main thanksgiving ceremony, and many prayers) is this wonderful and important site, and the work that Marcy and crew (n’yahweh, Rayne) have built over the decades. i’ve been around since Fire Dog Lake times, though here mostly as a lurker. Danke sehr, Onward!

    • Peterr says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but my sense of things with respect to food and holidays in Deutschland is that Oktoberfest is the culinary appetizer, Weihnachtsmarkt food is the second course, and the great Weihnachtsgans with all the trimmings is the center of the feast. No need to drop a Thanksgiving feast into that lineup.

      And I recall you fondly from the FDL days. Always good to see you de-lurk!

      • LizzyMom says:

        First off, Oktoberfest, ugh. All the decades I have lived here and never been to Oktoberfest (not sure my German husband ever was either). Weihnachtsmarkt is always fun, but we usually just go for the hot drinks and atmosphere, not the food. Sometimes some Reibekuchen…

        Christmas Eve (the main day here) is always fish, hubby generally like trout, although I often do Dorade (a lovely Mediterranean fish, “gilt headed bream”), sometimes Zander (“pike perch”). We did carp one year (very traditional Christmas fare, especially in Berlin), but it wasn’t a hit with any of us. On Christmas Day, which is quiet, we sometimes invite friends or family. Things I have done for Christmas Day have been Hirschragout (roughly: “elk stew”), wild boar, lamb, etc. Usually with red cabbage and Knödel. Might have been Weihnachtsganz, but here that’s usually at St Martin’s Day (here : “Martinsganz..”)

      • Verrückte Pferd says:

        Oktoberfest is a giant carnival for people for who talk funny and wear leather shorts or show the tops of their breasts, in the southland of München, of course. Here in the North we have Ischa Freimaak (Freimarkt, or free market) in Bremen, the oldest festival in Germany, held first in 1035!. It symbolized Bremen being an independent trader’s city because of its seafaring tradition, and why today Bremen is one of only 3 city-states in Germany with Hamburg and Berlin. Both of those are really giant festivals.

        the best Bremen winter eating tradition is Kohlfahrt, best in Jan-Feb, where groups of people dress for the (what used to be) cold, and walk long hours with a wagon full of various kinds of alcohol, singing until it’s hard to stay upright. It often ends at a restaurant serving traditional Grünkohl, sort of a kale stew with different kinds of sausage and taters.

        correct Peterr, Weinachten is traditionally Gans, goose.

        I often splurge on Sushi instead, if i can’t find traditional Buffalo (Bison), which often comes from Canada to a friends online shop based here. My german friends love to come for real Bison. (it’s almost the only meat i eat, rarely.)

    • LizzyMom says:

      I live on the banks of the Rhine in the area famous for the Nibelungen (“Mittelrhein”). Nearly 25 years ago my (German) husband and I started doing a yearly turkey dinner for our German friends and family, which I cook up and serve to around 12-14 people each year. We usually time it around the first Sunday of Advent (beginning of December) as, of course, Thanksgiving Thursday is just a normal day here.

      I got a tip from a coworker about a farmer near the institute where I worked where I could get a nice, meadow-fed 20+lb turkey (in the supermarkets, you can find some frozen ones, but 10 lbs is “big”). I order the turkey a few weeks out and pick it up the afternoon before our big do — ain’t NOTHING as good as a truly fresh bird. Our ovens here in Germany are smaller than in the States and a 25-lb bird just barely squeezes in.

      The Germans LOVE it — they have seen the big golden brown turkeys in American movies and TV and usually take photos of the bird before I start carving. We invite

      I usually serve it with stuffing à la Grandma’s 1950s Betty Crocker recipe, mashed potatoes and lots of gravy, homemade cranberry sauce (used to be hard to find cranberries, but in the past couple of decades, cranberries have gotten more popular here, so no problem) and a salad (tried corn and peas, but Germans are not used to corn as a warm side dish…). Also, I make the old sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top — started that way back when for my then 11-year-old step son, who loved it, and have continued. Turns out it’s one of the most popular dishes so I basically have no leftovers at all and I get asked for the recipe every year (go figure).

      For a number of years I made pumpkin pie, only because the Germans couldn’t imagine what it tasted like, but it turned out to be not very popular (they liked the spicing but not the texture), so I now make a traditional American-style apple pie with lattice crust. They usually photograph the pie too because it “looks just like in the movies”).

      This year we will have 14 guests around the table — a couple have been here before, but for many it’s the first time.

      I prepare it all myself and have a lot of fun doing so, but once a year is enough. Well, okay, I did it twice in one year because I hosted a small group of visiting international colleagues (Italian, Spanish, Polish, French) who were visiting my institute and promised them I’d do them a turkey dinner and they were quite excited.

  13. blueedredcounty says:

    Spending Thanksgiving on my own this year. I did a lot of cooking and eating at home the last couple of weeks, so I may stick to leftovers and using up things on hand. I made mushroom barley soup the other day, and it’s the bomb. I also used my pasta roller attachments and made spaghetti for the first time this week. I have sauce to go with it, or I think it would great in a clear broth-based soup.

    I am hoping to score turkey thighs at the supermarket…they are a perfect-size bone-in roast for 1 person to get several meals out of them. If I can get them, I’m going to roast them and make part of the meat into a turkey pot pie. I think that’s going to be over the weekend.

    The tribes for my area are Kumeyaay/Kumiais.

  14. SunZoomSpark says:

    Also a Michigan thanksgiving for 11 in A2.

    2 Spatchcoked turkeys, 1 with oyster cornbread italian sausage dressing and the other with my late mom’s pineapple! apple onion celery herb dressing.

    Acorn squash
    Potato dish tbd

    Brussel sprout leaves salad


    White bean roasted garlic rosemary dip,

    Gambas al Ajillo – spanish garlic shrimp,

    Roasted cremini with garlic and rosemary

    Savory Pecan Sage Parmesan cookies

    2 Chocolate Pecan Pies

    Pavlova with ?

    Pumpkin ?
    Cranberry sauce with candied ginger

    And Lions go for 9-2 and Michigan goes for three in a row on Saturday.

    Life is good.

  15. LargeMoose says:

    I’m cooking an 18.4 lb turkey, Trader Joe’s stuffing, home-made pumpkin pie, dal makhani (with kale), dosas, and samosa-filling-flavored potato pancakes (so no troublesome crust, or frying), along with homemade yogurt-mint-chutney. Also hummus, and store-bought cranberry sauce, and kalamata olives. Salad.

  16. rosalind says:

    I too am in the home of the Coast Salish. To help with some overall health issues I’ve been subscribing to a local chef’s weekly vegan meal box. I’m not vegan, but had no problem with giving it a try, supplementing the rest of the week with my standard fare. It’s been wonderful, and she offered some T’day add-ons. I’m about to try the rutabaga/yukon gratin, with the pumpkin streusel-top muffin for dessert. Tomorrow is more traditional over at my friend’s.

    And by coincidence, I just got home from the local ferry terminal where I met and conversed with an older Alaskan Native (don’t know her specific people) who had me in stitches recounting her travels from Seattle back to her village on a small boat.

  17. Tracy Lynn says:

    I just love these cooking threads you put up around the holidays, Rayne. People share their recipes and I end up with so many new ones to try out. It’s going to be a small, small Thanksgiving this year — too much going on in my family’s life to even think about throwing a wing-ding. As far as whose land I am occupying, it’s the unceded territory of the Muekma Ohlone tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area.

  18. OldTulsaDude says:

    Finally fed up with leftovers and cleanup so opting tomorrow for one pot split pea soup, one pot lentil soup, and a savory mushroom-spinach galette.

  19. elcajon64 says:

    So many good points. To a couple of them:

    I’m about to have a first responder in the family myself. My youngest son is graduating Butte County Fire Academy (near Chico, CA) in early December. I’m incredibly proud of him and happy that he’s feeling like his (young) adult life going where he wants it to.

    My two boys have never been fans of traditional thanksgiving dinner. When I was newly divorced and they were 12 & 14, we started the family tradition of “whatever you want” for the special dinner. The first year, my youngest requested a rare fillet with no sides and his brother went with a full box of Cap’n Crunch with a 1/2 gallon of milk in a huge salad bowl.

    This year, I’ll be having a virtual thanksgiving with my long-distance girlfriend. We met during the lockdown and are trying to make normalish run at a regular relationship while three time zones apart. I’ll see her in person for the December holidays.

    The social get-together this weekend will be a Friday friendsgiving in Oakland, CA with a group of fraternity brothers, spouses and friends. The host will smoke a turkey (and a fair amount of home grown) starting at sunup. I’ll arrive with fresh berry and apple pies from a local bakery around early afternoon. Dinner will be served whenever it’s ready and we’ll all stay the night. I’ll make a side trip to Imagery winery in Sonoma (highly recommended) on my way home Saturday.

    Lastly, I can trace my family history far enough to know when my ancestors arrived here in 1641. I have a book of family history that describes Lancelot Granger (Granger is my middle name and my oldest son’s as well) “coming to the new world” and every generation following until the book was published in 1897. The last generation listed includes Louis Granger, my paternal great-grandfather, who was 6 when the volume was printed. The book describes every Granger and what they did as far as was known when it was written. Some were infamous – Thomas Granger was the first minor put to death in the “new world” – others were politicians, and some were simply listed as farmers or other workers. There is no entry or description of how any one of them overtook the spaces they occupied. Like they were clearing brush. I remind myself that there are always time to listen. Be quiet and listen.

    Thanks so much to all who contribute to and maintain this space. It’s much appreciated.

    • Peterr says:

      Came across Imagery wines lately, and love them.

      Your comment made me curious, and I was amazed/delighted to see that it is run by Jamie Benzinger of the Glen Ellen wine family. I haven’t been to Imagery, but the older Benzinger winery had great vineyard tours when I lived out in the Bay area back in the day. (They still might, for all as know, as I haven’t been there in years.)

      • elcajon64 says:

        I’ve been a member since 2007, when my (now ex) wife got a tour of Benzinger for us through her work. When we finished the tour, it was recommended to us that we visit Imagery. We signed up that day. I am now on the hook for 6 bottles every six months, and the tastings are free anytime.

        Benzinger has grown to be a typical, large Sonoma destination winery; but still very good. Imagery is their “lab” wherein new varietals are developed. Joining either winery allows free tastings at both. With the cost of tastings ever increasing in Sonoma and Napa, I keep going to the one that always surprises and is free. I’ve probably visited three other wineries in the past ten years.

        • Verrückte Pferd says:

          Yes, and various grape vintages of both are physically here in greater downtown Bremen, including some €50 Ridge Zinfandel. As i’ve taught the locals to say here, Zum Fuckin’ Wohl! (to your fuckin’ health!)

  20. Ed Walker says:

    My daughter is hosting, so my duties are light: stuffing. I’ll make two pans of buttermilk cornbread with an extra bit of oil. Then I fry up a pound of sage breakfast sausage. Add a bunch of sage and some fresh sage and mix it with about 2/3 of the cornbread. The rest I mix with chopped smoked oysters and some of the oil from the tin. That goes into a smaller baking pan. Then wet thoroughly with chicken broth and bake until done.

    We’ll have the traditional greenbean casserole, turkey, pies, twice-cooked yams with plenty of fresh lime juice and zest, topped with creme fraiche, and no celery for me. Also bubbly. Lots of bubbly. And no crazy uncles.

  21. Peterr says:

    The Kid is home from college, so prepping for tomorrow’s mid-afternoon meal (aiming for halftime of the Cheeseheads v Kittehs game) has been a family deal. He just finished making a great cranberry dish, using cranberries, fresh mango, OJ, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, then simmer until all the berries pop. Let it chill over night in the fridge, and the flavors are great. Yum.

    Mrs Dr Peterr is handling most of the sides. Instead of the usual stuffing, she’s trying a new mushroom and leeks bread pudding recipe this year that makes your mouth water just reading the recipe. She’ll also be doing a green bean gremolata, with not a drop of canned mushroom soup involved, and a spinach side salad.

    My role is to slow-smoke the turkey — about a five hour process this year — on the Weber kettle on the patio. I’ll also be doing the mashed potatoes, and saving the drippings from the turkey for Mrs Dr Peterr to work her magic to turn them into gravy.

    After the games are over, we’ll be heading to the home of some friends for a relaxed evening of pies. Mrs Dr Peterr is bringing pumpkin and also her absolutely-not-to-be-beaten pecan pie. Yum! YUM! YUM!

    Around here, the Kaw are the tribe with the deepest roots, but there are plenty of other tribes who have passed through over the years — some by choice and others by force.

    We’re also not far from Haskell Indian Nations University, which started life as a government-run (i.e., not religious) residential school for native children. By all accounts, it was harsh in the early years (using a military-influenced culture of discipline to break down tribal differences), and yet not nearly as bad as most others, though that’s not exactly a high bar. Over time, Haskell progressed from a simple boarding school to a technical school and most recently a full university. Similarly, the school has also moved from being run by whites to help the Native Americans lose their nativeness and thus assimilate, to being run by Native Americans to help the next generation embrace their heritage. Among Haskell’s more famous former students are Jim Thorpe and Rep. Sharice Davids.

  22. Peterr says:

    Out in the state of Washington, Macy’s workers are going to observe the holiday in a very special way:

    Macy’s workers are planning to strike on Black Friday, alleging unfair labor practices and the retailer’s failure to reach a new union contract deal.

    Four hundred workers at Macy’s locations in Washington state are planning action after 96% of workers voted in favor of authorizing the strike in October.

    In 2021 and 2022, Macy’s reported profits of over $1bn. The company spent $600m on stock buybacks and paid out $173m in dividends to shareholders in 2022.

    The union has criticized these profits and the Macy’s chief executive Jeff Gennette’s $11m annual pay package as the company refuses to budge on wage increases the union is asking for in a new contract.

    “We would like them to share some of those profits so we can have a liveable wage,” said Azia Domingo, who has worked at Macy’s in Tukwila, Washington, for 21 years. “Macy’s CEO gets $11m per year while a lot of his workers rely on food banks, and some can’t even afford to see doctors because of the low wages and the expensive healthcare.”

    More at the link.

    I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the NBC “Today Show” crew to report on this story during the parade.

  23. Bobby Gladd says:

    I have no clue as to what is on the menu tomorrow. Probably the usual traditional stuff. I’m just showing up at my son’s house. I know that Cheryl has made a couple of pecan and apple pies.

    I just wish you ALL a very happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend.

    I sadly note that JFK was assassinated in Dallas 60 years ago today. I was a senior in high school in NJ. Headed to the field for football practice when the news broke.

  24. Tetman Callis says:

    I don’t know what my wife will prepare, but I am confident it will be good. I did my part by securing the pies — pecan, pumpkin, and apple — and the festive beverages — port, cream sherry, and Czech dark lager.

    May you all have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  25. holdingsteady says:

    Dena’ina Athabaskan

    Pumpkin curry here… and oh yes, butterflied turkey as a side dish, haha we are trying to simplify and switch things up. Now I have the idea to do an Alaska native themed meal next year for which I will need help from my neighbor .

    Some longstanding invitees couldn’t make it for dinner but are coming for an afternoon wine/appetizer afternoon we will see how that goes (we are talking chips and guac – we don’t typically do appetizers, it’s just an excuse for the company). Looking forward to seeing the twenty somethings who grew up together and will bring the energy !

    we usually eat late as traditionally we try to ski first (not happening tomorrow for this oldster although we have the snow for it and the young adults and the other oldster will get out).

    Anyway, thanks so much Rayne and everybody for sharing so much it feels good ! Happy Thanksgiving all !

  26. DrFunguy says:

    Here in the Great White North, unceded traditional territory of the K’omox First Nation and other Coast Salish people, we had our metric thanksgiving over a month ago. Another feast was recently held for immediate family where I grilled local pastured smoked Kesler chops with a nice tamari-ginger marinade. Nom nom!. This week is youngest granddaughter’s fifth birthday and, per her request, we’ll bring a home made carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
    Otherwise taking time from my day job to work on the farm winterizing nursery stock, greenhouse, play wit the dogs, and so forth. Since I love what I do, I only wish I had more time for all of it.

  27. BobBobCon says:

    On the subjects of families and eating, I’d like to recommend the new short documentary “The Dads” on Netflix. It’s quick, just ten minutes.

    It’s about a group of dads with trans kids who get together with Matthew Shephard’s dad to talk and bond over a fishing trip and have a dinner from their catch.

    I know one of the guys involved and it’s well worth the short investment of time. By the way, Dwyane Wade is a producer and he’s been promoting it as a dad of a trans kid too.

  28. harpie says:

    We moved in August, after 37 years in the previous location about 60 miles away. There, we had heard stories of Lenni Lenape having lived in the area. I was recently at a local park in the new place and learned that it was the beginning of a Lenni Lenape trail that wended its way around and through our previous location.

    I spatchcocked a turkey for the first time last week, and brought it to our younger daughter’s family, where we celebrated this past weekend, because she’s a NICU nurse and working tomorrow. Then, I spatchcocked another turkey yesterday, which will be for the gathering tomorrow…some of the siblings and families, and our older daughter. This will be the first Thanksgiving without Mom, but I am so grateful that she was able to celebrate with us last year.

    Turkey [spouse will cook it on the gas grill – -YAY!]; gravy; mashed potatoes; pretty plain stuffing [compared to some described here!]; cranberry-orange relish; roasted veggies of all sorts; brussels sprouts, mashed rutabaga [which I can’t stand, but many people in our German / German-Norwegian family just LOVE…and they mix it with the mashed potatoes!].
    I am doing NO baking…and that’s that. [Besides, that’s what guests are for! :-)]

    I am so grateful for EMPTYWHEEL and wish Everyone here a very Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      harpie, I hope you know how appreciated you are and how much everyone gets from your amazing contributions. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Rayne says:

      Pass me your share of the rutabaga, harpie, I’ll eat it for you. LOL I prefer mine in pasties or cut up into slivers and stir-fried, or sliced and added to my homemade kimchi.

      Glad to have you here at emptywheel, wishing you many more happy holidays ahead.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I’m with Rayne on the rutabagas. I have a wonderful recipe for roasted root vegetables that no one in my family will eat, and so I never get those delectable root veggies.

      In Amsterdam we had stampot (sp?), made by mashing up veg with potatoes. We usually get the one with saurkraut, but it comes with all sorts of winter vegetables, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips and greens like boiled kale and spinach. It usually comes with a brown gravy and a fat sausage. Comfort food at its best!

      • harpie says:

        Hi Ed [and Earl]! That’s too bad about the root veggie dis-likers in the family…I just love them, too…except for the rutabagas…but with
        all of the Rutabaga-Love going on here, I’ll clearly have to try harder!

        With immigrant parents from Germany near the Dutch border [Lower Saxony, I think], stamppot was a weekly feature of dinners at home. It would be a mash of potatoes and rutabaga, carrots, cabbage, or sometimes peas [thumbs down on the peas] or green beans. Instead of sausage, we would usually have some kind of boiled beef, like from shin bones, shredded into the mix. Definitely comfort food, especially for my parents, I think.

        Hope your holidays were enjoyable, root veggies or not!

    • emptywheel says:

      As I think I shared last year, I started making Kung Pao rutabega some years back. It’s REALLY good and surprisingly complimentary to the rest of Turkey Day fare (tho won’t do it this year bc we’re just cooking for ourselves on account of the broken foot).

      • harpie says:

        Thanks for the tip, Marcy!
        Because of all the Rutabaga Love here, I’ll be working on my rutabaga-game this year and let you all know next year how that went. :-)

        I’m sorry that the broken foot has caused you not to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in the way you usually do, and I hope that it continues to heal well, and that you are up and about very soon! <3

  29. sandman8 says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Rayne and all. Thanks for all you do.

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We’ve usually got a big crew here. More than 30, less than 50, depending on the year. It’s good. All political stripes, but no political discussions allowed, unless you go outside where all talk is permitted. Those are the house rules. No one gets kicked out. Just shushed for politics or profanity.

  30. Molly Pitcher says:

    We live on the lands of the Ramaytush/Ohlone/Tamien Nation. Thanks for the link Rayne, very interesting. My first ancestor here was one of the founders of Stamford, Connecticut in 1635. I carry a LOT of guilt for the land grab of a long line of ancestors.

    We are a small gathering this year, just immediate family, but there is a very full football schedule.

    The turkey is in brine/corn starch rub to see how crispy we can get the skin. I am making a Bourbon Pecan pie in the morning while I watch the Packers and the Lions. Mr Pitcher makes outstanding dressing, we are only stuffing the turkey with herbs and onions and celery to see if it speeds up the cooking time. I suggested spatchcocking but that was a no go. Tiny green beans with toasted hazelnuts, mashed potatoes with gravy and stuffed mushroom caps round out the plate along with the fresh cranberry orange referenced above. There are no yams or sweet potatoes in this house.

    I’m going to try out an appetizer recipe (no lunch tomorrow), French Onion Puff Pastry Bites. You saute a couple of onions with butter, white wine, thyme and beef broth till it caramelizes. Cut puff pastry into 2″ squares and push them into a nonstick mini muffin pan. 1T onions in each, topped with a generous amount of grated Gruyere cheese and bake at *400 for 16 min. Garnish with creme fraiche/sour cream and a thyme sprig. That should handle a cocktail or two !!

    The most important game tomorrow is the Niners v Seahawks. By some weird happenstance, the Niners next 5 games are ALL against ‘bird’ teams: Seahawks, Eagles, Seahawks (again), Cardinals, and Ravens. Bird season is open.

  31. Robin Hood says:

    By a strange twist of fate I was born in Plymouth. Lived there for a couple of days. Stranger still, my ancestors, one mother with four sons, arrived there in 1632. The rest is history. Now living in the land of the Pomo. They were great basket weavers and moved seasonally through the coastal plains and mountains. The Pomo fully cultivated this area over millennia. You wouldn’t know that now. – Good Thanksgiving to all.

  32. Molly Pitcher says:

    The West Cost version of the Plymouth “National Day of Mourning” is the Annual Alcatraz Sunrise ‘Unthanksgiving’. “There will once again be a few thousand Indigenous people and allies on Alcatraz for the Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering on Thursday, and while Colin Kapepernick may or may not be attending, he’s providing food from a renowned Native American chef.

    Every year since 1975 (except for a couple years during COVID-19 outbreaks), Native Americans and their supporters have gathered at Alcatraz Island before sunrise on Thanksgiving Day for an event colloquially known as Unthanksgiving — though technically called the Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering. This will happen again Thursday morning, commemorating the 1969-71 Native ​​occupation of Alcatraz and honoring the Ramaytush Ohlone people who never ceded that land.”

    “The only way to get to Alcatraz is by boat, and advance boat tickets are sold out. But the boat proprietor Alcatraz City Cruises says they will open their Pier 33 ticket booth at 3:15 a.m., and organizers add that “There will be 500 tickets available for purchase at the box office on Pier 33 the morning of the event.” It may be easier to just tune in to 94.1 KPFA who will be broadcasting the ceremony from 5-8 a.m. Thursday.”

  33. Eschscholzia says:

    I’ll have two small celebrations in the land of the ‘Iipai Kumeyaay, although with the nearest fresh water 5 – 12 miles away depending on the season, my location had no permanent habitation, and the nearest ‘Iipai communities were several miles away the other side of marshes. One cool thing about Kumeyaay social organization is that while bands controlled their lands, free passage and hospitality were extended across bands, so it is not clear who all might have visited Point Loma. Harvesting of shellfish and kelp was almost certainly the draw, but visiting parties included more than just harvesters. A spot maybe 100m elevation above the tidepools has a lot of obsidian flakes, so someone brought obsidian to work while viewing the ocean (both San Clemente & Catalina are visible from there on a winter sunset).

    None of my family likes turkey, so we always did a ham or roast. Mom & I both had an aversion to my sister’s flaky ham and well done roasts, and a sous vide stick as a gift only partially helped. For the past 6 or 7 years I cooked the meat in self defense & took it to my sister’s house for the feast. With mom gone, we can break from traditions. This year my sister & niece are making tamales. I’m making hongos enchiladas (mushrooms, white onion, poblano, garlic, epazote, spinach, cream cheese) which I like but rarely make just for myself, and have never made for my relatives. Not sure if the family will like them, but I’m making a double batch so I can give a tray to some friends who love them.

    Dinner 2 is a 40 year tradition of friends getting together after we all do our family thanksgivings. There will be turkey and sides and lots of good wine, although perhaps half of us only come for the desserts and company. I’ll bake brie & dried cranberries or apricots on seeded sourdough batard as an appetizer, and be the outlier bringing good beer. I’m experimenting with an apple pie where most of the filling is cooked first, so it cooks down and needs less sugar & tapioca.

  34. bgThenNow says:

    Rayne, thank you for a post reminiscent of FDL PUAC which was always a great recipe exchange prior to one holiday or another, but especially Thanksgiving. I made a pumpkin cheesecake one year from a recipe posted there.

    I’m on unceded Tewa land. Our event this year is encumbered by an elder under the weather and a total kitchen remodel, so we are having a small dinner on Friday, as it stands now. I’m guessing we will end up bringing all the food to the table at the un-kitchen. TBD.

    A family favorite is cranberry ice, which is a fantastic side to the hot meal, and super simple. One can of jellied cranberry blended with 15 oz. 7-up, frozen, then fluffed with a mixer and re-frozen, then served in small scoops either in muffin cups or in little bowls at the start of the meal. Cannot go wrong w this.

    I’m making a cheesecake with cranberry topping, new recipe. I like blue cornbread stuffing with onion, pumpkin seeds and/or piñons, cardamom, and green chile. I make pumpkin pie w fresh roasted pumpkin, but that is not my job this year, and with a small group, extra food is not needed. I did roast a pumpkin and will make that pie, if I have to eat it myself. One other recipe I like is butternut soup. I made a savory butternut pie last week that was yummy. I like cooking and baking, but living alone, I do look forward to any group effort.

    I’d love to be at Alcatraz some year, bucket list. That event happened when I was in HS, writing papers about that, the French student revolt in 1968, and “the Dreyfus affair.” Native America Calling did a fantastic show on the tragedy and aftermath at Alcatraz, I think last year. I’m so grateful it is still remembered.

  35. boloboffin says:

    The only thing I’m making this year is a mashed potato casserole I found in the YouTube, but I’m changing the recipe. It’s a mashed potato au gratin combo thing. It looks splendid – mashed potatoes on the bottom, sliced potatoes with cheese on top, baked until everything’s golden. I’m swapping the top with diced hash brown potatoes mixed with diced cheese, because that seems easier.

  36. Ed Walker says:

    Sadly the map Rayne linked doesn’t work for my poor eyes. This is from the Gene Siskel Film Center website:

    The Gene Siskel Film Center acknowledges the land we occupy is the unceded ancestral homelands of the Council of Three Fires: Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations, and a meeting place for other indigenous nations, including the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Sauk and Fox, Kickapoo, Peoria, and the Sioux. Through a series of deceitful treaties and discriminatory policies, colonial settlers displaced these Native communities from their homeland. The forced removal of these nations gave way to strife, disease, and discrimination, and these once powerful nations dwindled. In spite of this colonization, Native and Indigenous people have endured. Over 170 tribes are represented in Cook County alone and Chicago continues to be an important location with the third largest Urban Native population in the United States.

    It’s part of a longer statement shown before every movie.

    • Rayne says:

      There was an observation two years ago in Grand Rapids of the 200th anniversary of the Treaty of Chicago (1821). The Three Fires did not get the better end of the deal.

      I wish the interactive indigenous peoples’ map was more accessible, but the visibility challenge is related to depicting complex relationships westerners haven’t understood. The Council of Three Fires is one good example: their lands overlap, their people often overlapped, too. They didn’t have hard and fast boundaries as westerners do.

      • Peterr says:

        I’d love to see a map that also showed the movement over time, to further illustrate the complexity of all this.

        At various events, a land acknowledgement is given that includes a phrase like “since time immemorial,” which is wildly inappropriate when some of the tribes mentioned only came to the area in question after being expelled from somewhere else by colonial powers.

        • Rayne says:

          That, thinking in particular of the Cherokee nation.

          How many tribes don’t even appear on the map at all because there was no record of them shortly after they made contact with Europeans? Hawaiians came damned close to meeting that fate in a very narrow window of time, nearly becoming people beyond human memory.

        • Peterr says:


          As a kid, I lived near the Trail of Tears in southern Illinois, and had teachers who took us on a field trip to drive home the story. As I recall, the field trip was on a nice sunny spring day, but had we gone on a snowy winter day instead, the lesson would have been that much more powerful.

  37. Suburban Bumpkin says:

    Thanksgiving is with friends. They make a traditional dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, home made cranberry sauce always served in his mom’s pink bowl, salad and other things I am forgetting. It is so much! I bring the apple pie and other guests bring desserts or appetizers.
    We will be gathering in the land of the Ventureno Chumash (sorry, couldn’t figure out how to do the tilde on Ventureno). Lately I have been wondering what our society and landscape would look like if the Europeans had accepted and listened to the peoples who lived here for thousands of years.
    All the best to the emptywheel community.

  38. ExRacerX says:

    Before the settlers pushed westward, the Albuquerque area where I live was home to various Pueblo cultures.

    This year my wife invited her bestie for Thanksgiving, and I prepped/cooked for about 3.5 hours.

    The main course was a Garden Turk’y loaf, which can be cooked from frozen in about 2 hours, so that left plenty of time to produce the sides (all vegan):

    Mashed Red Potatoes
    Cranberry Reduction w/ Ginger, sweetened w/ Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup & Brown Sugar
    Cornbread & Black Rice Stuffing w/ Oyster Mushrooms and Beyond Sausage
    Sweet Potato Casserole w/ Red Onions, Raisins, Walnuts & Parsley
    Shaved, Air-Fried Brussels Sprouts w/ Garlic & Sea Salt
    Pearl Onions in White Gravy
    Pot o’ Brown Gravy

    Our friend brought pumpkin cupcakes with white icing from the local Ayurvedic food joint for dessert—sweet & sticky!

    I’m very thankful this year for so many people, animals, and things, including the insightful legal & political insight and the EW moderators & community provide. Happy holidays to you all.

  39. klynn says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to the EW team!

    Not a big crowd at our home this year but enough gathered to cook. Turkey, a homemade cranberry relish, green beans, roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes, giblet stuffing, mashed potatoes, fruit platter and pumpkin pie.

    And, a nap or two.

  40. Maureen A Donnelly says:

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Our friend in the Keys is somewhat estranged from her family and her husband went to his job in Indonesia on Wednesday. We had stacked chicken enchiladas (some with red and some with green sauce), homemade refried beans (thanks Rick Bayless for teaching me that you can do it with canned beans), and a salad. I learned to make flan last TDay and made flan for desert. It was fun and different. Grateful to this space and the smart folks who hang out here.

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