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Thanksgiving Dinner

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Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a holiday everyone should be able to get behind. Food is the only thing to buy and eating is the only thing to do. The Cleaver celebrates with a gaggle of relatives in Philadelphia.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Do not be intimidated by the turkey. Anyone can make a great turkey dinner by following a six simple steps.

Turkey Stuffing

Friends don't let friends eat Stove Top. It only takes about fifteen minutes of actual cooking to make great stuffing from scratch as you bustle around preparing the rest of the Thanksgiving meal.

Turkey Gravy

Remember that little package that came inside the turkey? Yes, the one with the guts. It's time to use it. You've got a heart, a neck, a liver, and . . . other stuff.

Cranberry Sauce

For some, the sludgy, gooshy sound of a ribbed cylinder of Ocean Spray cranberry jelly sliding out the can is the very essence of Thanksgiving. For others, fresh cranberry sauce made with the fruit of the New Jersey Pine Barrens bogs can't be beat.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Why do Thanksgiving decorations so often feature jolly turkeys? The birds shouldn't be happy. It's just like the smiling cartoon pigs that seem to decorate every old-time pork store in New York. Well, anyway, these turkey placecards were a big hit, and they're made entirely of lightly-used office supplies: post-it tabs, scrap paper, old manila folders, and rubber bands.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Place Setting

Thanksgiving Dinner Decorations

Thanksgiving decorations also grow on trees. To dress up your chandelier lamp as a festive centerpiece, just grab some pretty leaves at your local park, tie the stems into bunches with butcher's twine, and drape them.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Blancs de Blancs

In a fit of "Hoodley doo! Look-at-this!"-ism, the Cleaver sent out some amuse bouche to kick things off. We just stuffed some Medjool dates with a mix of goat cheese and minced herbs leftover from the stuffing preparation. They went well with our chosen aperitif, chilled Blanc de Blanc from Crossing Vineyards of Pennsylvania.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner: Cabernet Franc

We always end up going through many bottles of wine over the course of the big meal, a mix that inevitably includes at least one white zinfandel (old aunties, we're looking at you), a pinot noir, and a riesling. The surprise main course hit this year was a Cabernet Franc from Lamoreaux Landing Vineyard of New York.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Spinach Salad

Kicking it all off: a simple spinach salad that lets those baby greens shine with just an herb vinaigrette and a sprinkling of extra-crispy bacon.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Butter Sculpture

Festive butter! Keller's Creamery of Philadelphia has been making fresh butter in various shapes to mark the seasons for as long as we can remember. (At the age of four, one Cleaver associate gleefully bit the head off a butter lamb gracing the Easter dinner table, having mistaken it for white chocolate!)

Thanksgiving Dinner: Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole is a nod to the American cuisine of our parents' youth, a cuisine that was apparently canned, salty, and assembled in under ten minutes. To make this holiday favorite, just blanche green beans (or open a can, if you dare), toss them into an oven-safe dish with a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup and a bit of fresh ground pepper, sprinkle French's fried onions on the top, and put it in the oven at 350 F or so for about 30 minutes until it's bubbling hot. We usually pop it in when we take out the turkey, and find it's done right when the bird is cool and carved.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Green Bean Casserole

Thanksgiving Dinner: Zucchini

It seems that the Amish have nothing against greenhouses, because our local farmers' market had zucchini and cherry tomatoes right smack in the middle of November. We baked them with some fresh parsley, sea salt, and olive oil.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Pumpkin Pie

We are a three pie household: pumpkin, apple, and grape. If you only make one, it probably has to be pumpkin. Our recipe is dead simple. Hack up a cheese pumpkin (that's the pale, short and stout kind unsuitable for jack-o-lanterns) and roast in chunks until softened. Remove any skin and puree the flesh to just-barely-pourable consistency adding some heavy cream, freshly grated cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and maple syrup to taste. Fill a pre-baked pie crust and bake until the center is firm. This is no light-as-air mousse-type pie, no glam Martha Stewart innovation, just an old-timey times pumpkin pie that your grandma will enjoy with her Sanka.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Apple Pie

There are thousands of ways to make an apple pie, but when making a big dinner, we stick to the basics.


Scholastic's The First Thanksgiving Resource

Apple Pie

Cranberry Sauce

Turkey Gravy



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