Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner

today was my mother's english birthday. she was born on november 7, 1917. she would always brag that it fell on election day in america, every year. i believe, that it was also the date of the bolshevik revolution and the same month and year of the balfour declaration. she would have been 92. she and my father were married in a civil ceremony on thanksgiving day in 1947. they were married in a jewish, orthodox service in january1948. somehow, we mostly, celebrated the secular date. we grew up with traditional thanksgiving meals. a huge roasted turkey with bread stuffing, sweet potato casserole with pineapple rings and mini marshmallows, potato kugel made in individual muffin molds, string bean casserole made with barley and mushroom soup and covered with fried onion rings, and of course, the favorite, canned jellied cranberry sauce. i can't remember what we had for dessert. i don't think it was apple pie and i know it wasn't pumpkin pie because i never tasted any until i made one about 5 years ago in a mock thanksgiving dinner. it probably was a jello mold. we didn't have non-dairy creamers back in the day and we never ate milk with meat dishes. what i really, remember about thanksgiving day, was watching the classic movie, 'mighty joe young', every year on television. i don't exactly, get the connection, but i do remember the movie. i also, remember one year after i made the entire meal by myself, feeling terribly disillusioned, that it got gobbled down so fast , after my slaving away in the kitchen, all morning long. i can remember, one, unusual thanksgiving, when we had sloppy joe's for the meal and feeling a bit deprived. i learned in later years, that one of my mother's relatives had just passed away and my mother had been too overwhelmed to make a traditional meal. as i mentioned before, about 5 years ago, i got the sudden urge to make a traditional, american thanksgiving meal. we israelis, eat and export a lot of turkey products. we buy: turkey frankfurters, turkey necks, turkey roulades, turkey wings, and chopped turkey. we also buy something , called basar adom, which is pressed turkey meat. we don't usually, buy an entire turkey here, because our ovens are much smaller than american ones, and they simply can't fit in. i did, once, hear some sephardi ladies say, that they made a whole turkey in a pot on the stove. not for me, thank you very much! so, i settled for turkey wings and i searched every store in zefat for cranberries but could only come up with some 'craisins'. i bought a huge hunk of pumpkin squash, which is very popular here, and bought a container of vanilla 'rice dream'. i found a recipe for pumpkin pie but it called for a can of 'libby's' pumpkin pie fillling. i simply, cooked up the hunk of squash and mashed it by hand. i wasn't absolutely, sure about equivalent amounts of pumpkin, so i just, 'winged it'. i certainly didn't have any mace on hand, well not the kind you bake with, anyway; so i used nutmeg, instead. i substituted the rice dream for milk, and made a crust from whole wheat flour. the pie was a little runny, but i liked it. it didn't really, go down well, with the 'native' israelis. i tried baking the turkey wings in my fleishig toaster oven and it took forever. i baked some cranberry-orange muffins. i also, made mashed sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon and topped it with canned pineapple rings in natural juice. i think the old fashioned brand with the thick, sugary, syrup, would have been better. and unfortunately, i couldn't find any kosher marshmallows with the acceptable heksher to top it off. i think i found some frozen corn on the cob. so that was my only attempt at serving a traditional, american, thanksgiving meal here in the holy land. i'm really getting motivated to do it again , as i just bought a can of jellied cranberry sauce from the states. i recently watched a martha stewart rerun for thanksgiving and she had the cutest turkey molds ever, but the most unappetizing recipe for corn bread. i already have turkey napkins, and a straw turkey bread basket to put my own corn muffins and cranberry muffins in. and i've already bought a bunch of kosher marshmallows. i better hide them before zvi eats them all! now, i just have to check when thanksgiving, actually falls out this year. even if it's shabbos i can still do a thanksgiving menu with a sephardi twist. i can always make a turkey cholent! so one way or another, i will have my thanksgiving dinner!


  1. Thanksgiving will be on Thursday, November 26. My mother already has her menu planned. Sweet potato casserole is one of our favorites too. But Mom doesn't put marshmallows on top. She tops her off with a crust made of flour, butter, brown sugar, and chopped pecans. I can hardly wait to get home to be with all of my family.

  2. I've been making my grandmother's recipe for pumpkin pie ever since she passed away 22 years ago. Whenever I do, I feel like I am "bringing her to the party" in a manner of speaking. She was a wonderful cook! I even took up making jellies and jams because she did and they were so delicious. I love your cooking stories.