People are surprised when I tell them that I don't roast the turkey on Thanksgiving. Even more so when I admit that I never have and don't really know how to do it. I mean, I suppose that I could learn but Val always cooks the bird and now multiple birds so that there is enough leftover for everyone to take some home for the next day. As I have mentioned before, the Sandwich is the best part of this autumn celebration.
I prefer to prepare, tweak and recreate Thanksgiving adjacent food. Members of the supporting cast that can tolerate a makeover without offending anyone's precious memories or introducing a new player that fits in nicely with the old standbys and holiday favorites. New cocktails are welcomed by most and easily get incorporated without much fanfare especially if they feature classic Thanksgiving flavors like, apple, sage and cranberry. Updated appetizers can come to the party, too as long as they don't upstage or overtake a classic that everyone is expecting to nibble on before the big spread is offered.
Let's face it, I would be very angry and disappointed if someone other than Val took over baking the turkey and classic stuffing that I crave every November. In fact, I cried my freshman year of college when Val told me that we were going to eat the big meal at my grandmother's house. I love my grandmother, a wonderful hostess but a terrible cook. All I could think about was dry as sawdust turkey, overcooked green bean casserole and store bought pies. The dining hall did a number on me that first semester. All I ate was the salad bar. The daily smells from the entree line turned my stomach. I had no idea what "Chicken Tettrazini" was and I did not want to find out. I lay in bed every night those first few months of school dreaming of Val's homemade cranberry sauce, perfectly roasted bird and flaky pie crust. I know first hand not to mess with anyone's holiday meal expectations.
So, if you want to add some pizzazz and perhaps, dare I say, make an update to the traditional fare, start small and don't make too much of a big deal out of what you are about to do. Just hand someone a glass of this and a bite of that. I promise you they will ask for these again next year claiming them as new annual favorites .