Thursday, November 3, 2011

Never met a turkey I didn't like

I'm such a turkey lover. That's me. I've told you before that a turkey on a magazine cover never fails to call my name. Magazine editors surely know turkeys have that hold over me.

"Therese, Therese, take me home. You need me! You know you want another holiday cooking magazine."

Oh, the shame of it all. I can't stop myself. Yes, there's something about a turkey that makes me want to bring home fall and holiday issues of every magazine I see. I justify the compulsion and tell myself it's my treat for working hard and I deserve it. Ha! Yes, I'll admit it is an addiction!

The routine is simple and repeatable from year to year. I start collecting the magazines when they hit the shelves in early September. First I try to steer clear of the magazine aisle in any store I'm in, telling myself I have enough recipes to cover every day until the end of time, but the reality is that as I get closer, the urge is stronger and I feel a pull toward that section. I tell myself I'll just look.

And then I see Tom Turkey. I succumb. He could be alive on a farm in all his gobbling feathered glory or lying roasted brown and juicy on a platter, no matter, and I will want to take him home. So attractive, Tom's compelling stature holds for me the promise of a wonderful family gathering and all things delicious. I have no issue, pun intended, with bringing home four fall foodie magazines at a time to savor and review.

Yes, sounds like overkill, but these magazine issues bring me joy and are certainly treasured, playing an important role in planning my favorite holiday meals: Thanksgiving and then Christmas. I save them year to year and when it's time each fall, I pull them all out for my perusal. I pore over every issue I've ever brought into the house, and study intently all the recipes and options for the perfect turkey-time dinner.

I'm fair, as always, and don't play favorites with my old and new issues. Every one's got a chance to hold a recipe featured on my holiday menu. I'll consider carefully timeless recipes from older issues, repeaters that will be expected by my guests. But I'll also contemplate which newbie recipes could be the next big family hit. And the planning extravaganza begins.

That's the fun of reading all the magazines. Studying the recipes and ingredients, considering all the potential tasty combos, and imagining already what changes I'd try to make the recipes my own. Yes, I can get recipes online (I certainly go that way too), but call me old-fashioned, I like to hold the print magazine in my hand, studying the pictures of the finished recipes. And there are always nice spreads with table settings, decorations, tips, and suggestions that make owning the issue a special treat to add to my collection.

Now that my girls are older, they are in on the process, too. A few weeks ago already, my youngest texted me and asked when we were going to start planning our Thanksgiving menu. Music to my ears since I know the planning together is just as much fun as the big day. It warms my heart that this process has now become our family tradition.

The kids like to help cook also. When they were little, they were always good for decorating some turkey sugar cookies. And then later both daughters graduated to making our pineapple bread stuffing, spinach balls, or pitching in as needed. Now, as adults, they're just as interested as me in cooking and cookbooks and finding the most delicious recipes to try. Only problem is that we don't want to give up any of our tried-and-true standbys.

So that's why we have at least three kinds of sweet potatoes every Thanksgiving. Ha! Call me crazy, but everyone has a different favorite and who wants to disappoint? Not me. And really I don't mind. My parents and children and any other guests are always glad to take home some leftovers. We all appreciate revisiting the special meal and are happy to eat Thanksgiving dinner as leftovers for just about a week after. On Black Friday, the leftovers will even be pulled out for breakfastokay, we'll call it brunchso we know we have to make enough holiday fare to last for this crew!

With all this talk of sweet potatoes, I'm getting hungry, but I'll take some time to share two favorite contenders for turkey days in our household. Yes, we love the recipes with marshmallows, but these two have been a family tradition and a mainstay of our sumptuous spread for almost thirty years now, since I first made them.
At our house, Thanksgiving means turkey...
and sweet potatoes

Sweet Potatoes with Pineapple and Coconut

2 cups boiled sweet potato, sliced very thin or mashed (Can also use a large can of yams)
1 1/2 cups crushed pineapple
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup grated coconut

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, honey, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a casserole dish,  place layers of sweet potatoes, pineapple, and then the flour mixture; repeat layers until finished. Top with grated coconut and bake at  350° for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potatoes with Applesauce and Raisins

3 cups mashed sweet potato (Can also use a large can of yams)
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1 tblsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375°.  Combine last seven ingredients and pour over the mashed potatoes in a casserole dish. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes.

Then, enjoy!

Even though the family loves these two sweet potato recipes, I'm still always in search of something new to try. Yet we need to make our old faithfuls to mitigate any risk that a new recipe could disappoint.

So if you see me in the magazine aisle, you'll know I'm checking out the seasonal cooking magazines and dreaming about my favorite meal of the year. And if you see Tom Turkey, let him know I'll be by soon.

Until next time, yours in fun and recipe hunting...Therese

P.S. Let me know your favorites for turkey day. I'd love to hear about your menu!

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