Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's For Dinner?

   Especially for Thanksgiving dinner.  I remember when we were first married I didn't have to think about that.  Our family was young and small and we were still getting together with one or both of our family's homes for the day.
     All I had to do was fill out my one-dish assignment and made sure everybody had clean clothing, an extra set and "orange" to wear for walking, and maybe skates if it there was good ice.
    Arriving at home the familiar dinner smells met us as we got out of the car.  At Elv's folks home there was turkey AND ham from which came the two choices of  gravy. Then the sweet potatoes that had been julienne d in plenty of margarine and brown sugar, mashed potatoes whipped to a typical Mennonite creamy smoothness, (none of your lumpy mashed potatoes for us) and numerous side dishes.  And pie. Elv's mom makes good pie and always has plenty of them for lunch and supper and snack and take home. You would think that at 85 years old someone else could do all that work, but nobody wants to try to match her brown sugar pie. Don't look at me.  Jenny has made a successful Brown Sugar Pie, but that's another subject, completely, and one that Kay ought to take up again.
   At my mom's house the meal is simpler and not necessarily in the traditional fashion.  For one thing she doesn't bother with cranberry anything since nobody likes it much anyway.  And I don't know that we ever have sweet potatoes either.  The turkey is always perfection and plenteous.  Mom makes plenty of a simple meat n taters meal, but she goes all out for a perfect table.
   The glassware sparkles spotlessly on a white table cloth.  Mom taught us girls that you don't wipe glassware dry, you wash it in the hottest water you can stand and then hold the clean glass under the running hot water, the cold tap off, then tip the glass over onto a clean tea towel. And wait. When they're dry in a few minutes you hold them up to a light and with a clean lint-less towel you may gingerly and carefully touch up for any left over water spots.
   Mom is a great one for center pieces. And hers are always very pretty and pleasing.  A collage of candles on her own crocheted doily is probably one of my favorites.
  And now it's my turn to plan and please for Thanksgiving since my mom moved off into the sticks of the Northwest and Elv's family doesn't always get together anymore since we all have our own children coming home. Now in case you can't tell it, here's where the plot thickens in my story.
   I told you before that I'm not a good cook.  What I mean is that I don't like to cook. Hypothesis:Good cooks like to cook.  So ideas, inspiration, and the yen about cooking all evade me, always. My favorite line for a planned carry-in is this: You tell me what to bring and I'll be happy to do so.
   Thanksgiving is next week and I am trying to get excited about cooking up a traditional (boring if I do it) meal again for my loved ones. If one of the children offers to plan and prepare a snack bar or a salad bar or ice cream only instead, I'll jump at it. So don't do that unless you're serious.
   Meanwhile I have been planning ahead and there is a ham AND and a turkey carcass residing in the freezer even at this time, a whole week ahead.  I have been riding high on that little triumph for a week already. But we're skidding to a landing now with the knowledge that along with baking one or both of them up in the cook stove, I have to do the potatoes, Mennonite creamy and candied like Mom's respectively. What for side dishes?  Elv will suggest/expect baked beans.
   Salads and deserts must be thought up and created. I wonder if I can get Frances to make cheesecake and Charlotte to make salads.  Now there's an idea.  No, I don't care what kinds. Please don't ask me.
   The ideas I CAN come up with for Thanksgiving are about visiting and playing. We could play board games and visit.  There are hikes to take and wreaths to make. Sometime we ought to exchange names for Christmas. And there're pictures to take of all the activity and babies to hug and tease. And songs to sing. And coffee to drink. And books to read. And letters to write. And traditionally we must have a new puzzle to put together.
   I know you can't really have a proper Thanksgiving without food; but for me it's more about fellowship around a puzzle with the cold being held back by fires in the stoves and snow falling outside.  That, my friends, makes a perfect Thanksgiving!

10 comments:

  1. I agree 100%!!!Let's just forget about all this food that is forever so handy that by the end of the day(dinner)you're so sick of it....

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  2. How big of an army are you planning for?!

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  3. I'm all for the puzzle idea and having the girls bring the food. Ruthie S.

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  4. This post isn't at all about food, Mom, although it's mentioned. It's about Thanksgiving and what it's supposed to look like. Craig and Rachel aren't here and we are hopelessly floundering in an attempt to know how to celebrate. IGo's getting together but that just feels like "not the same"...and we thought about just doing something with the neighbors but Thursday is in the middle of their week and...well, I don't really like to cook real well either, but if you would all just come here for the day I'll gladly plan a menu. I can't offer you any snow or cook stove... but we're here.

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  5. Ultimately its about being with friends and family and thinking about the many things to be thankful for, but ya know, there is something about good looking/ tasting food that is a big part of it for me! I love to try new food and someday when I have the time, I'm gonna make a new one every week !
    Hand me all the cranberry stuff ,I love it, and I'm usually the one eating most of the jello into the next week! Mmmmmmm...
    Happy planning!

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  6. How can she not be a good cook when I'm supposed to be 7'3" (give or take a few) by the charts?

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  7. I just read your idea of a good Thanksgiving and I will tell you all
    of my idea of a good Thanksgiving Day!; and also my idea of an
    enjoyable evening together with any group.

    Personally I liked when we had a Thanksgiving service in the morning
    at church and then come home for a real dinner. I lived in a time
    when this was how it was done! But it always made the Wisconsin deer
    hunters mad; not thankful. Also so often it was a too long thing of
    a one man service; which made us all impatient not thankful either.
    It should of been a real shared service of thankfulness from all us
    being allowed to speak of our thanks. So we went from Thursday
    morning to Wednesday night service until it went out the window. Read
    your history of how Thanksgiving came about; and be glad our nation
    still has a Thanksgiving Day in word and deed.

    Now my idea of a good Thanksgiving Day is: Dinner at least by 1:00
    pm. I still like a table center piece showing the occasion; place
    decor too. I like having turkey and ham and mashed potatoes and
    gravy and peas and veggies and dressing no one eats anyhow and sweet
    potatoes which no one really likes and cranberry salad which no one
    likes either and a good green salad and apple sauce for those that
    like applesauce and apple pie and pumpkin pie and ice cream and coffee
    and a good honest drink of cold water.

    This should be eaten slowly with a lot of good gab and laughter and
    joy and thankfulness. Slowly then we should slowly turn to games and
    talk of things that matter to our hearts; the state of our country
    and church and school and raising our children and husbands and wives
    love to each other and our likes and disagreements and how we mend
    them and our relationships with our babies and teenagers and our
    married children and how to treat our older people and mom and dad
    getting older and what is next and heaven which is closer than we know
    and heaven which is our real goal and how to attain this goal and
    Jesus Christ and him crucified and which we know so little about and
    we want to learn more.

    While we are doing all this talking the children will be playing
    loudly and at times will have to be subdued and the teenagers will
    drift off to their talk world but some will come around and listen and
    learn what we are from our conversation. Also at times some of us
    will take walks and have show and tell of our things and the girls
    will put away the debris and fill the dish washer and the mothers will
    change diapers and take little ones potty and put on and off snow
    clothes and hang them somewhere to get dry and board games will happen
    here and there to all age groups.

    The kitchen Will be raided at times and we will tell the kids "wait
    until supper" and finally about 5-6 pm the leftover from dinner will
    come out and we will eat some more we don't need and then a good movie
    maybe.

    But I forgot the thing I love the most. I like singing. We can sing
    and play the piano, yes, but the best is singing harmony just for the
    love of singing and singing and singing. This is from my childhood
    preciousness of singing. I love the harmony but the togetherness of
    singing, even though I cannot sing now I love to listen to the singing
    and sing along any how. This does my heart good. At least 3 songs.

    On the farm we always had the cows to bow down to two times a day.
    When we moved here to Idaho I had to learn Thanksgiving and Christmas
    were all day occasions and no one went home for chores and we all
    stayed for supper and beyond. Each time of life has it's
    preciousness.

    I suppose I could go on and on but what for? To tell you all the
    things I am thankful for. I love you and want to meet all of you in
    heaven some day! Love mom

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  8. I am sooo with you about food. But on the other hand, take it away and the day isn't half the fun. So, we slave away in the kitchen until the middle of the afternoon, then laugh the rest of the day over coffee and candy and party mix and puzzles and table games. Its a *rich* heritage!

    I loved this post (as always.)

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