The Misses Talk Turkey (or not)
- November 5, 2021
- Emilya Naymark
Yes, it’s only November 5th, but it’s never too early for Thanksgiving recipes
I’m always curious about everybody’s traditions, so I asked the Miss Demeanors about theirs.
Tracee de Hahn
I love cooking for Thanksgiving. I am also not wedded to the same recipes I grew up with so I like to try the New York Times recipes. We always have dressing (usually with cornbread), some sort of vegetables- or a medley- and no matter what, cranberries! The exact recipes are up to the NYT….
From Emilya (I need to try that.)
Great question. My favorite Thanksgiving recipe is Turkey Soup—made the day after, of course. Simple:
- Fill a huge pot with water and pop in the carcass.
- Let it simmer all day, adding more water if necessary, but it should lose about half its volume.
- Remove the turkey bones and put the broth through a sieve. Return to pot.
- Cut up or tear up the leftover turkey and throw it in, along with vegetable of your choice (I use onion, lots of garlic, carrots, celery, and green beans). T
- Add organic turkey broth to fill the pot and lemon juice to taste.
So here’s the story: one year when my boys were little, I felt too tired to do anything with the simmering turkey carcass right away, so I stuck the whole pot in the refrigerator until I had more energy. Many days later I realized that the turkey broth in the fridge was no longer safe to eat. But I didn’t know what to do with it, so I left it alone for another couple of weeks. I told you I’m a procrastinator. Then I transferred the pot to the frozen garage. Still didn’t know how to get rid of it. Finally, when spring came, I moved the pot (a nice stainless steel) to the back of our land. But now I couldn’t pour it out for fear of poisoning all the nice animals out there. Sometime that summer my husband “disposed” of everything—pot included. I never asked how.
(From Emilya: WOW…)
For almost all my life I’ve had Thanksgiving at my Uncle Richard’s house. He is a great cook, as was my late Uncle Jack, so I never really had to do anything much. However, I’ve always loved mashed-up turnips and custard (as separate dishes) and every year my Uncle Jack would mash me turnips and my Uncle Richard would make me a custard.
There’s something so loving to me about my uncles laboring to make me my favorite foods. Now, my children make the pies–pecan and pumpkin, and I love those too. So basically I just show up and chat.
(From Emilya: That sounds… wonderful)
In Defense of Parsnips (with recipe)
I love an underdog, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I love parsnips. You rarely hear, “Please pass the parsnips” at the Thanksgiving table. You are more likely to hear, “What are those?” from a child wearing an expression of fear and dread.
What are parsnips? According to Wikipedia, “The parsnip is a root vegetable closely related to the carrot and parsley. It is a biennial plant usually grown as an annual. Its long, tuberous root has cream-colored skin and flesh; and left in the ground to mature, it becomes sweeter in flavor after winter frosts.”
Parsnips are oddball vegetables, for sure. I wouldn’t eat one raw and they do have a smell that, shall I say, is unfamiliar to most. But I like oddballs. I gravitate toward people who march to a different drummer. Why should I be different in my choice of vegetables?
When I think about who are some of my favorite characters in books, I find they are often the nonconformists, like Ruth in Louise Penny’s Gamache series. Ruth is a drunken poet who loves a duck. She probably loves parsnips. I’ll bet Agatha Raisin, Doc Martin, and Vera are all parsnip fans.
And don’t forget today’s parsnip can be tomorrow’s Brussels sprouts. You do remember Brussels sprouts before roasting them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar made them the new vegetable darlings, don’t you? Even President George H.W. Bush’s declaration about how he hated broccoli (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQmTeVf2nJ8) only managed to gain popularity for it.
So as a proud parsnip fan, I will be bringing it to Thanksgiving to share with others who may not have yet fallen for its charms. Here’s my recipe. Try and see if you aren’t corralled into the Parsnip Fan Club.
- Shallots (3 small) diced.
- Parsnips (3 bunches or bags, if you must)
- Butter (2 TBS for sautéing shallots; more to taste to moisten parsnips)
- Cranberry & Orange Puree (I take ½ cup of the fresh cranberry sauce I make and puree it)
- Sauté the shallots in two TBS of butter in a saucepan.
- Steam the parsnips until tender. Then puree adding butter to taste. The more the butter, the merrier the parsnips. A dash of cream makes the parsnips velvety. Make sure you’ve invited a cardiologist to your table.
- Add shallots and mix.
- Place in casserole dish. Top with pats of butter. Then drizzle cranberry-orange puree on top to fool and entice skeptics.
- Warm in 325 degree oven until ready to serve.
(From Emilya: Ahh, the parsnip… I will have to try that one. )
My favorite Thanksgiving recipe these days is DoorDash delivery. Growing up, Thanksgiving was a big deal because it was the time of year that all the cousins, aunt, uncle, and grandparents would come up from South Carolina to our house. (We went down to SC for Christmas and summer.) Mom would do most of the cooking, with help from my aunt and grandmother. The adults would all talk about politics and current events and we kids would do whatever kids do when adults are talking about politics and current events. Football would be on in the background but I don’t think anyone was really paying attention. We’d end up with enough food to feed half the neighborhood (leftovers for days). Roast turkey, ham, collards, sweet potato pie or casserole, macaroni and cheese (baked, of course), green beans, ambrosia salad, pecan pie, chocolate chip cookies, and probably some other dishes I’m forgetting. All served on the fine china with the good silver at the formal dining room table (for the adults) and the game table in the family room (the kids).
Now that everyone is grown and gone their separate ways (or passed away), it’s not worth the trouble to cook a big Thanksgiving dinner for myself. I’m more of a Christmas and Easter person. So I go out to a restaurant or order in. I try to avoid invitations to spend Thanksgiving with someone who is (misguidedly) feeling sorry for me because the idea of spending a day with a big group of people who all know everyone in the room except me is exhausting.
(From Emilya: I know the feeling…)
I have no real family tradition with Thanksgiving, except that once we immigrated and my parents realized that there was an entire day in the middle of the week where you didn’t have to work and got to eat a humongous bird, well… That became a pretty good thing. My mom always bought a frozen turkey because they were on sale and they never disappointed. Whatever those birds are injected with, bring it on. Our turkeys always came out tender.
Maybe the most unique thing my mom made were cranberry piroshkis. We cheated. We’d buy the Pillsbury biscuit tins, flatten each raw biscuit round, fill with cranberries and sugar, wrap them and bake. Delicious and VERY fast to make.
Emilya Naymark is the author of the novels Hide in Place and Behind the Lie.
Her short stories appear in A Stranger Comes to Town, edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.
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