Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Prepared Food Thanksgiving

Growing up in a house where very little real cooking happened put a whole different flavor on Thanksgiving:  flavor that came from a mix, out of a can or from our freezer.

I was flipping through a holiday cooking magazine last night and came across an ad for Grands Cinnamon rolls. Memories of Thanksgiving at my mother’s house came flooding back. Frozen cinnamon rolls were a big Thanksgiving treat at our house. I was in charge of frosting the rolls from a plastic container that came hidden at the end of the frozen tube.

My mother served sweet potatoes with marshmallows that came from a package. Her frozen root vegetables were also covered with some brown sugar glaze out of a packet.

The cranberry sauce came right out of the can. It held its shape sitting on a saucer on the table throughout the entire meal. As a kid I thought how gross it was that my father was eating this ringed jelly substance that did not resembled real food.

The year the turkey came out burnt to a crisp was the last straw. My mother was upset. I was right out of college and couldn’t help making a snarky comment. It wasn’t a very happy holiday.

For years I would stop in Edison at a friend’s house on my way home to pick at his mother’s wonderful leftovers. His mother used to brine her turkey and it was fall off the bone tender. Sometime in my late 20s I realized a holiday meant to be about wonderful home cooked food and feeling thankful didn’t have to leave me hungry.

I convinced the guy I was dating at the time to invite my parents and I over for the holiday. It was a watershed food moment. I watched his mother boil sweet potatoes, carefully peel them, mash them and cover them in a dish with marshmallows. We had lots of people around the table and wonderful food. It’s how I always envisioned how the holiday should be.

This year we are heading to Jeff’s sister’s house down the shore. It will be a small group: my husband and I, his father, my parents, his sister and brother- in- law, Steve, who is the most wonderful cook I’ve ever met. His sister started rattling off all the appetizers they plan to serve. Just listening made me full. She lost me after pumpkin ravioli in a brown butter sauce.
I can never get off enough time around Thanksgiving to try to make dinner myself. But I plan to bring a
cranberry-pomegranate relish courtesy of a Martha Stewart recipe, a pumpkin pie and my husband will make his favorite Paula Deen corn casserole recipe.

Martha Stewart Food Everyday

I doubt there will be anything from a can or a mix. I am sure it will all be wonderful and remind me of what I have to be happy for – my wonderful new extended family and an end to the prepared food Thanksgiving.



  1. Cool post, Andrea, and a cool blog idea overall. Can't wait to dive into the other posts.
    Robert McClure

  2. I have never seen the canned-cranberry sauce in person, but I'm curious... in that morbid road accident-kind of way.
    Maybe next year I will get some and serve it at our Thanksgiving dinner just to see Rebecca's face. That would be priceless.