I love Thanksgiving time. I think that it is one of my favorite holidays because there isn’t a lot of decorating (a.k.a. – STRESS). Advertisers have basically passed it over – going from Halloween straight to Christmas — so they haven’t subverted the original intent of the holiday. And you are encouraged to eat lots and take naps – could it get any better? I think not! It is also a time to gather family together and ponder all of the privileges we have and think of all of the things that we have been blessed with – our freedoms, our abundance, and love (tolerance?) for each other. Nice.
Right now I can hear a lot of women saying: “Yeah, RIGHT! (With a hint of sarcasm.) I am stuck in the kitchen for a solid week SLAVING OVER A HOT STOVE! This is not a relaxing holiday and after it is over, I plan to hibernate in a comatose state (with some Dove Dark chocolate) for at least an hour and a half before I start to clean this mess up (while EVERYBODY ELSE is watching a football game) and THEN get ready for Christmas!”
If that is going on, you are going about this the wrong way (except for the chocolate part). When my children turned about eight years old, I started to put them to work in the kitchen. My philosophy is to teach them to cook so that when they get older they can cook for ME, at least sometimes – and make it enjoyable. Thanksgiving is just a really good practice time for them.
We all sit down and decide what we want to eat at our Thanksgiving feast and then we divide the list up. My son usually likes to do the stuffing and Jell-O salad, but sometimes he’ll make a pie. My daughter loves to make the potatoes and gravy and a pie and my husband roasts the turkey. I make the rolls, prepare the vegetables, and make another pie. One year everybody took over and all I had was two pies to make, and I made them the day before. I read an action adventure novel while they checked the turkey and mashed the potatoes. It was great. Clean-up is the same, everybody helps until it is done so that we can visit and nap all at the same time. I love Thanksgiving.
Now, let’s talk turkey - leftover turkey. I am just amazed when I hear people complaining about leftover turkey. I don’t know about your house, but if we have more than a day and half of having any turkey left in the fridge I would be surprised. One year I didn’t even have one turkey sandwich from leftover turkey and was so distraught that I roasted another turkey just so I could have leftover turkey in the fridge. If you just can’t eat turkey two days in a row (what?) then put your leftover turkey in the freezer for a later turkey pie, fried turkey pieces, or my favorite, the turkey sandwich (with mayonnaise – NOT Miracle Whip).
Oh, I about forgot (I got distracted with anticipation), don’t throw your turkey carcass away! After you have stripped the meat off, refrigerate it and the next day, throw the bones into a big pot and simmer, or low boil, the bones for a couple of hours (I generally let mine simmer all day). It makes the best broth ever! You can then strain the broth and make soup or freeze or bottle the broth and use it later for recipes that call for broth. I then go through the bones and pick off the rest of the meat. You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to, but I have found that there is a lot of meat that comes off the bones after it has been boiled.
This is my favorite recipe for using turkey broth. Add all of the vegetables that you want (I generally throw in a couple of carrots, some sliced up celery, and a diced onion) and season it as you like, but don’t forget the garlic. You can leave the potatoes out if you want because you are going to add Danish Dumplings. Make sure that you double, or triple the recipe because you will still run out of dumplings before you run out of soup.
Danish Dumplings 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar ½ cup boiling water
¼ teaspoon nutmeg 2 eggs
Bring butter and water to a boil. Add flour and seasonings all at once, stirring continuously. Cook until mixture leaves the sides of the pan. When cool, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with a spoon until they are all incorporated. Dip a tablespoon into the hot soup so that the mixture won’t stick to the spoon and then scoop up a tablespoon full and drop into boiling broth or soup. Repeat until all of the mixture is in the broth. Do not cover. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes - they are done. Serve hot. So good. My husband prefers light airy dumplings but give me these mounds of joy any day!