It never fails that this time of year I start to get a little home sick. I miss my family back in Wisconsin and all the holiday traditions we celebrated this time of year, beginning with Thanksgiving.
My Mom and I were always in charge of the Thanksgiving menu and meal. We would spend weeks prior looking up fun and exciting recipes to test out. Unfortunately a family full of picky eaters always led us back to the family favorites time and again. We would however, modify the recipes ever so slightly. We would jazz them up a bit just to satisfy our creative desires. But of course have to lie through our teeth to rest of the family when we’d do so. It was our little secret.
The morning of Thanksgiving I would head over to Mom’s, chef cap on with an extra large cup of coffee ready to cook up a feast! We would start by prepping a spread of appetizers fit to feed an army! Cheese, Sausage and Crackers, Veggies and Dip, Deviled Eggs, Rumaki, Veggie Pizza, Chips and Salsa, a Relish Tray, Taco Salad, you name it we probably had it. An ample amount of appetizers kept the others satisfied and out of the kitchen while we would dive into making the main course.
Green Bean Casserole, Corn Bread Pudding, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Applesauce, Cranberry Sauce, Corn, Dinner Rolls and of course the Turkey. The turkey was our pride and joy. We expanded on the basic recipe year after year mastering the final creation…Upside Down Butter Rubbed Bacon Wrapped Turkey. The title alone is a mouthful but it does not do justice to how incredible this turkey tastes.
And to think, it all came about by accident one year when we realized half way through cooking that we had accidentally placed the bird in the roasting pan upside down! Now there may or may not have been a bottle or two of Moscato involved but I plead the fifth on that one. I’m sure we’ve all seen the meme of how to cook a Thanksgiving meal when wine is involved. Well folks, when I say that pure panic ensued I ain’t kidding. We had the whole family Googling a solution at the same time. Low and behold it was a “thing” and the turkey wasn’t a total loss. We wouldn’t be serving the bird a la National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Cooking the turkey upside down after having rubbed it down with so much butter even Paula Dean would choke led to the most juicy turkey breast of all time. Then to finish it off, after flipping the bird, we added some woven thick cut bacon. Oh man! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
That was the year we officially called it quits on tweaking the turkey recipe. It was magnificent! It was truly spectacular! It was an experience! That was also the year that we may or may not have forgotten the turkey carcass on the grill until it was found by Dad in Spring. Again, Moscato might have been just a wee bit involved. In our defense, the refrigerator was at it’s max and we had no where to go with the turkey. It was cold and snowing so we decided to stick it in the grill on the deck and we could just clean the bones and prep it for making stock after the meal was cleaned up. But shortly after the meal was cleaned up the turkey comas kicked in and planning for Black Friday shopping began and we completely forgot about that year’s turkey.
But we learned from our mistakes and yet again we prevailed. The whole incident led to us starting the stock while the turkey baked in the oven so we couldn’t forget another bird even if we tried because the simmering pot on the stove stood as a reminder to go get the turkey from the grill.
After I moved to Arizona it was extremely important to me to keep as many family traditions as possible while also creating some new ones. Enter Friendsgiving. That first year I was a mess. I had all my notes, recipes and checklists ready. I had all the ingredients organized to the max and everything was laid out ready to go for the big day. Yet the pit in my stomach that I had from the very second I woke up was enormous! The excitement of the day disappeared as the realization and fear that I had never ever done this alone crept in. I called my Mom more times than I could count that day. She never not once got annoyed even when my questions were straight up stupid. And I’m a firm believer that no question is a stupid question.
My Mom was my savior that day even from across the country she was there for me and helped support me in hosting my first ever Friendsgiving. That day would not have been successful if it weren’t for her help, her love and her support. It would not have been successful if it weren’t from the time we spent side by side in her kitchen back in Wisconsin year after year.
Now here we are three years later and I look forward to Friendsgiving more than ever before. It’s become a new tradition with a nod to the old ones. Including serving the turkey on a platter that has been passed down from my Grandparents. It has grown each year ever so slightly as we befriend more people here in Arizona. And as each year passes I am more confident in my cooking abilities.
Friendsgiving doesn’t replace the memories and traditions I had with my Mom each Thanksgiving prior but it definitely helps a little when I get home sick. It helps make her feel just a little bit closer. And you better believe I keep her on speed dial every single time! I love you Mom!
What Thanksgiving holiday traditions does your family celebrate? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe or dish? Let me know in the comments below!