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As I wrote last year, Thanksgivings are major celebrations in our family. So much so that I wrote down copious notes after last year’s extravaganza so I could adequately describe the day’s events. That said, it’s difficult to bring to life last year’s Thanksgiving…but I shall try…
In attendance last year we added my East Coast sister, her husband, their three grown boys, one girlfriend and two new babies. This clan joined my brother Kal, my brother Tim and his kids, my husband and our children, their spouses, a significant other, and four grandchildren – for a total of 23. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Not to mention the nursing babies … we brought six gallons of milk and came home with zero, folks.
Knowing how much food we needed to prepare, my brother Kal’s twin sister Katie came out the Monday of Thanksgiving week to help cook while my brother Kal was working. Operating on East Coast time, she was up at the crack of dawn at his house here in Seattle baking, chopping and organizing for the big day. We both decided it was best to have lots of side dishes for Thanksgiving – even more than in years past so that there would be lots of leftover food to have the following two days. Braised fennel with olives, two squash dishes, sweet potatoes, mashed new potatoes, coleslaw, two kinds of cranberries, two kinds of stuffing, Pan Asian green beans…so much food it wasn’t even funny.
As always, we had the best time ever. Kal made two fried turkeys, and this year he had the peanut oil ratio for the deep fryer down to a fine science. I used a lot of leftover carcass and meat for a tremendous pot of turkey soup as always, and that was our lunch on Friday. In addition we lay out and consumed a smorgasbord each morning for breakfast, and 15 pounds of salmon for Friday night. Thankfully my son Jake and his uncle Tim took over dinner that night, concocting a soy/ginger/garlic topping for the fish that was fantastic. Marinated asparagus and a spinach/apple/walnut salad with pomegranate dressing rounded out the meal. Of course we ended with our unbeatable Black Bottom pies, a family tradition. Layers of bittersweet chocolate, pillowy soft custard and whipping cream in a flaky pie crust…what’s not to love?
Each Thanksgiving I include a sweet potato dish topped with a brown sugar/butter/pecan crust in memory of my late sister-in-law Nancy. This was always the item she brought to Thanksgiving and I would not dream of eliminating it from our list of foods. I do all the prep at home and just bring it ready to pop into the oven for an hour. The sweetness of the dish is a nice accompaniment to the many savory dishes on Thanksgiving, and there is never so much as a crumb left.
Nancy’s Candied Yams
Ingredients for the yams:
- 4 lb garnet yams, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces, steamed until soft and mashed
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 T grated orange rind
- 2 T brandy (use more Orange Juice if you don’t want to use brandy)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 4 T melted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 egg yolks
Ingredients for the topping
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 stick melted butter
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 tsp cinnamon
Mix first list of ingredients and place into casserole (9 x 12 dish). Mix second list of ingredients and spread over yam mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.