Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

Growing up we never had a regular Thanksgiving tradition. We always celebrated the holiday, but the activity changed from year to year. My parents were divorced, and some years were "mom" years, some years were "dad" years. And even then, nobody in my family had a regular tradition - a huge family gathering, to mark the holiday. Even the food changed from year-to-year. There was something about this lack of stability, on this one particular holiday, that always bothered me.

One of the first things I did after getting married was start my own Thanksgiving tradition. Three month's newly wed and I had everyone over for mom, my dad and stepmother, my sister, my half-sister. (Thanksfully, everyone gets along and this is a stress-free event as far as family relations goes.) Over the years, the families have grown - my mom is remarried, my sisters are married with children. Some years my husband's out-of-town family has attended (his brother was a regular for a number of years). We've had "stray" friends with no place else to go, family members with an occassional free holiday (this year my aunt attended). Most amazing, since my father's death a few years ago, my stepmother has remarried (creating what my husband likes to call my "staircase family" - step steps) and her husband attends. Last year, all three of his children and their families took our total up to 24 for the year!

Even with just our core group, we are up to 16, requiring 3 tables:

I love my Thanksgiving holiday. It's the tradition I created. It's "MY" holiday.

Have you posted about your Thanksgiving? Add a link here, I'd love to come read. Or do you have a unique Thanksgiving recipe you'd like to share, put it in here. What's a Thanksgiving post without a discussion of food?

Everyone has a Turkey recipe they love. It's the side dishes that make a tradition, IMO. Here's my recipe for Brussel Sprouts (a vegetable I otherwise hate, but love in this recipe - who can hate anything cooked in butter and cream!):

Brussel Sprouts with Marjoram & Pine Nuts:

3 Tbsp butter
½ cup pine nuts
1 ½ lbs fresh brussel sprouts, halved (or 1 ½ lbs frozen,
thawed, halved)
1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
2 shallots
1 Tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
1/3 cup whipping cream

· Melt 1 Tbsp butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add nuts & stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to small bowl.
· Melt 1 Tbsp butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add sprouts & stir 1 minute.
· Add broth. Cover and simmer until sprouts are almost tender, about 7 minutes.
· Uncover & simmer until broth evaporates, about 5 minutes.
· Using wooden spoon, push sprouts to side of skillet. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in center of same skillet. Add shallots, sauté until tender, about 2 minutes.
· Stir in marjoram, then cream. Simmer until sprouts are covered with cream, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.
· Season with salt & pepper.
· Transfer brussel sprouts to platter. Mix in ½ pine nuts. Sprinkle with remaining nuts.

(Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Stir over medium heat to re-warm.)