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Nov 3, 201708:05 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

Thanksgiving Recipes and Traditions

Make new ones but keep the old

Lori Strobel, flickr.com

Last year at this time, I was too obsessed with the election to even give Thanksgiving a second thought when I flipped the calendar to November. Then I was too bogged down in existential despair to think about menu items. And then we all got a stomach virus the week of the big day, and all of our food went uneaten.

But now, well … the existential despair is just sort of humming along in the background like terrible white noise, and so I am free to focus a great deal of my mental energy on things like mashed potatoes and cranberry relish and soup courses and ALL THE PIES!

Yes, yes, I know my husband is the one who typically writes about food and I am the one who typically writes about, you know, existential despair, but in this city and especially at this time of year, we are all food experts.

I always like my Thanksgiving meal to reflect a blend of tradition – turkey, obviously, but also stuffing, yeast rolls, pumpkin pie – and new recipes I am excited to try – a spicy pumpkin soup, a warm crab dip, an artichoke casserole.

Some of the latter group are not successful. I made some kind of oyster dressing one year that managed to combine all of the sliminess of oysters with all of the crunchy, bitter notes of burned toast, both underdone and overdone all at once. Another time, I made a cake with cranberry filling that fell apart in huge chunks, leaking cranberry ooze all over the counter and down the cabinets until the kitchen looked like a murder scene. During my childhood, my mother tried to re-create some tomato aspic from her childhood, and it might have been a faithful representation, but I am horrified by savory Jell-O, and so it haunts me still.  And my mom and I still joke about the year we spent Thanksgiving with her cousins in Des Moines. Bless their hearts, but we’ve never had a blander meal.

It is, though, the blend of these things – the comforting, nostalgic old and the sometimes horrifying, sometimes delightful new – that makes memories and family bonds stronger. I like making the same old sage-and-onion stuffing every year; I also like trying new things and celebrating the successes that will make it into the regular Thanksgiving meal rotation going forward but also laughing (or crying and then later laughing) at the failures.

This year, I think I’m going to experiment with a mirliton casserole and a chocolate-pecan pie with bourbon whipped cream and leave the turkey and sides to my husband. My mom always makes the bread, and I think if I made the crust, Ruby can handle doing the pumpkin pie filling all by herself.

The best part is, with all of us in the kitchen, warmed by the oven and a few glasses of wine, the existential dread disappears, leaving us all full and content, at least for the afternoon.

What are your go-to Thanksgiving recipes, and what new ones do you want to try?

 

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

        Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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