This is not the right song for today.
The right song for today, as I think we all know, is “Over the River and Through the Woods.” This was written in 1844 by abolitionist Lydia Maria Child, a contemporary of Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman largely responsible for our national Thanksgiving holiday.
We used to go over the river and through the woods quite literally to my mother’s house for Thanksgiving when the children were small, but now they come to us. My mother’s parents lived in another state when I was growing up, and my father’s parents on another continent, but after my father’s death and my mother’s remarriage, we went to my stepfather’s parents for Thanksgiving.
No rivers or woods were involved, because we lived in San Diego, but it was still very exotic.
Grandmother M had hairdo magazines. This all by itself would have made her exotic, since we had not only never known anyone who had hairdo magazines, but had never even known anyone who had a hairdo. She made rare and amazing foods like baked macaroni and roast potatoes and sweet potato things with a pineapple ring topped by a marshmallow topped by a pecan. She baked pies from scratch.
Every time we arrived, my mother would say “You said you weren’t going to go to any trouble!” and Grandmother M would chuckle and assure us that it hadn’t been any trouble.
Grandpa E was a vegetarian, though it seems to me that his definition was rather elastic, and read Rosicrucian magazines. He believed that the Bible had all kinds of secret coded messages about history and current events in it, and was sort of a scary guy.
Today we will have only six people. I haven’t had so few for the Thanksgiving meal since I can’t remember when, but my boys assure me that I should still make the same amount of food. I made a pie yesterday, and some appetizers, and Jello (required, though people don’t eat it) and a centerpiece. Today I will do two more pies, rolls, and the vegetables. My dad brings the turkey and dressing.
We have three kinds of cranberry sauce. This is because That Man and I have a cranberry arrangement. We both like the odd Cranberry Relish Susan Stamberg shares every year on NPR. It is a lot of trouble to make, and the recipe makes too much for either of our households, so we alternate years and share it. This year it was That Man’s turn. But this year Stamberg also shared a new recipe, for a garlic and ginger cranberry chutney. You can click here for both recipes, or here for a tutorial with stuffed animal. So I made the chutney and took half to That Man.
It smelled downright evil as it cooked. I don’t know what it will taste like, but I will be serving it. There will also be whole berry cranberry sauce from the can, because otherwise we wouldn’t be sure it was Thanksgiving.
Here is the recipe for the appetizers:
2 baguettes, 2 T olive oil, 4 oz cream cheese, softened, 1 package goat cheese, ¾ t Pantry Italian Seasoning Mix, 1 garlic clove, pressed
Slice baguettes into ¾” slices. Lightly brush with oil and bake 10-12 minutes till golden brown. Combine remaining ingredients and spread over bread.
½ c sliced green olives, 16 chopped kalamata olives, ½ c diced roasted red peppers, 2 T snipped parsley, and 1 pressed garlic clove. Combine all ingredients and spread on crostinis.
¼ c chopped toasted almonds and 1 c pesto (2 c fresh basil leaves, ¼ c olive oil, ¼ c grated parmesan, ½ c walnuts, all combined in blender till fairly smooth). Stir almonds into pesto and spread on crostinis.
These toppings are very good on crackers, too. You can set them all out and let people spread as they choose. If you keep the sort of kitchen where you have Mediterranean goodies on hand, you can whip these things together in about 15 minutes and wow your hostess with them. If you are the hostess, you are probably up to your giblets in pecans and cranberries, so you can save the recipe for some other time.
In any case, enjoy your holiday!