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Traditional Thanksgiving

Updated on November 26, 2008

The History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is the traditional start of the Holiday Season. It is a North American holiday now celebrated the 4th Thursday of November every year. I know in my grade school we were taught about the Pilgrims and Indians at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and how they gathered together for a harvest feast in 1621

Some claim the first recorded thanksgiving however took place in September 1565, right here in Saint Augustine Florida. The Spaniards celebrated their safe landing in the New World upon arrival by holding Mass and "giving thanks". Some claim it it a continuation of a long standing continuation of the celebration the Native Americans held celebrating their fall harvest.

No matter where or when the actual first Thanksgiving Celebration occurred, it has withstood time and has been a day for family and friends to get together and enjoy each others company over a warm meal.


Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Dinner

Over the years, the Thanksgiving menu items have changed. In the beginning it is said that items like deer, wild fowl, fish, lobster and corn. Pies were not around back in those days because there were no ovens 

I will admit, I do not make everything from scratch. I have tried it, and have found some of the pre-mixed and canned ingredients end up tasting exactly the same, and avoid a lot of extra work. I do apologize to those of you who are looking for a completely home made Thanksgiving Dinner. The following is what I enjoy with my family, so I hope you do too!

The Turkey

Turkey is a traditional main dish for Thanksgiving dinner. My two favorite ways to cook the turkey are to either deep fry it in peanut oil or to oven roast it.

I never had a fried turkey until I moved to the south and it is a great change every once in a while. It also frees up your oven so you can prepare the other important side dishes. If you are planning to fry your turkey, the most important things to remember are to make sure the turkey is thawed out completely, and make sure you got the bag out of the chest cavity. This is a relatively expensive way to cook your turkey due to the high cost of the peanut oil, but delicious. The amount of oil you will need depends upon the size of your bird, so to figure it out, use the displacement method using water--put the turkey in the pot you plan to fry it in, fill it with water until it crests over the bird, then remove the bird. Note the level of water left in the pot. That is where you will need to fill the pot to with the oil. Simple right?

You will need to heat the oil to 350 degrees. Slowly lower the turkey into the oil being VERY CAREFUL! The oil with bubble like crazy, don't worry it's normal. When you put the turkey in the oil it will lower the temperature of the oil. Make sure you get it back to the 325-350 mark, then fry the bird for roughly 3 minutes per pound or until the meat reaches 180 degrees. Once it is done, remove the turkey from the oil, and allow it to drain the excess oil for 10 minutes or so. You should be ready to carve.

To oven roast the turkey you will need to preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and roast the turkey for roughly 15 minutes per pound. You will likely need to cook for a little longer if you choose to stuff the bird to make sure that the stuffing reaches a safe temperature. Basically all you need to do is rinse the turkey, remove the contents in the cavity, pat dry, apply any seasonings you may like, and tuck the wing tips under the shoulders. I usually just rub the turkey with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make sure the meat has reached at least 170 degrees before removing it from the oven. I usually let it get to 175 or 180 to be safe.

Cornbread Stuffing

I found that my family really likes the Pepperidge Farm Corn Bread Stuffing, so rather than going to all of the trouble of baking cornbread and cutting it up, I just buy a 16 oz package of that and perpare it as directed on the bag. Kind of a cop out, but everyone loves it so why change a good thing?If you are going to fry your turkey you will need to prepare the stuffing on the stove then bake it for a little white if you want the hard crust, as you cannot stuff a bird you are going to fry.


You will need:

Turkey drippings & fat drippings seperated

6 T flour

turkey stock

If you roasted the turkey you will have lots of yummy drippings to prepare your gravy with. The goal is to have 4 cups of liquid so you will need turkey stock to make up the difference.

Pour the drippings into a measuring cup from the roasting pan. Seperate the fat from the drippings. Add turkey stock to the drippings to equal 4 cups. Using the roasting pan on the stove, heat the fat with 6 Tbsp of flour on medium heat for 2 minutes whisking constantly. Add the drippings & stock and simmer, stirring occasionally.

If you fried your bird, you will not have the drippings. To get them, you can roast the turkeys internal parts with a little bit of red wine. You can also purchase these parts seperately at the grocery store so that you have enough drippings to accommodate your sized turkey.

Cranberry Sauce

This is such an easy side dish, and cranberries are great for you! You will need:

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

1 bag of cranberries (12 oz)

Boil the water and sugar; add the cranberries; return to a boil, then lower the temperature and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. The cranberries will pop and turn the mixutre a beautiful red color. Stir occasionally. After 10 minutes transfer to a casserole dish, cover and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Praline Yams

Another super easy and super tasty side dish. This one could almost be a dessert! You will need:

1 - 40oz can of cut yams

1/4 cup butter melted

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Drain the yams and put into a 2 quart casserole dish. Combine all of the remaining ingredients and sprinkle over the yams. Bake for 40 minutes. It will be nice and bubbly!

Ambrosia Salad

1 -11 oz can of Mandarin Oranges

1 - 8 ozcan of Pineapple chunks or tidbits

1 cup marshmallows

1 cup sour cream

1 cup coconut flakes

Drain the fruits, and combine with coconut and marshmallow. Gently fold into the sour cream, and refrigerate. Serve cold.

Green Bean Casserole

You need:

1 - 10oz can of Cream of Mushroom Soup

4 cups of cooked green beans

1/8 tsp pepper

1/2 cup of milk

1 1/3 cup of french fried onions

I always use French's (brand name) french fried onions for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350. 88Notice that you can cook this at the same time as the yams, and they should be finished at the same time too!**Mix the soup, beans, pepper, milk and half of the onions in a casserole dish and cook for 35 minutes. Sprinkle the ramainig french fried onions on top and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Serve.

Fun things to do with the family

Many families get together for the Thanksgiving Holiday. If you are looking for something to do as a group, toher than cooking and eating, here are a few ideas.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is on TV every year from Manhattan New York. Maybe one year you could visit New York and see it in person.

There is of course football to watch, or you could get your friends together for a friendly game of two hand touch.

You can draw mnames for Christmas gifts considering the day after Thanksgiving is like the biggest shoping day of the year.

Take a walk. Walk off some of those calories you just consumed, get some fresh air, and have a nice talk.

Help someone who needs it more than you do.  Donate food, clothing, old furniture, or whatever you can to a family who needs it.  Thanksgiving is a great time to give thanks for all of the great things you have in your life, and to realize that others may not have it so well.  It's time to lend a helping hand. even if you can only afford some canned goods, it's more than nothing. 

My most favorite Thanksgiving memories are from a few years ago, spending the day with my friends. We would all get together , light a fire, we would all be jammed in the kitchen cooking and having a blast! We would eat and drink, and reminisce on the fun times we had over the last year. Then we'd go outside in the cold and play football before desert.


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    • Lady_E profile image


      9 years ago from London, UK

      Aaah. I enjoyed reading this Hub but started feeling hungry towards the middle of it, due to the Recipe's. I'd love to see a Thankgiving Parade someday. (we don't celebrate it in the UK).

      Hope you enjoyed it anyway and hope as the new year comes, you have a lot more to be grateful for. :)


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