I love Thanksgiving. Our Lewis family has settled in to a pretty perfect traditional celebration and meal every year. We all have our assignments and we all do them well. Our feast menu has been refined over the years until it’s reached perfection: Turkey, gravy and stuffing (Jeffrey and Kathleen), homemade rolls (Diana), corn soufflé (Barb), candied yams (John), mashed potatoes (Claire and Graham), fresh cranberry relish (Ann), and Leah Camp’s jello (John). The rest of the menu may vary year to year. This year McKay grilled fresh asparagus, Marie Owens added green bean casserole and Jeffrey made a cucumber, tomato and avocado salad.
This year we missed having the David Lewis family, who were out with Covid at their home.
On Thanksgiving morning, we all are busy with our assignments. John is always assigned the candied yams, which he loves and I always make the fresh cranberry relish.
Here are the recipes we use year after year:
Of course, we use BUTTER instead. Here are the simple instructions: Steam large yams (Do Not Overcook!) in lightly salted water. Cool. Peel. Slice “a good 1/2 inch.” Melt butter in a large skillet. Add brown sugar and milk, bring to a boil for a minute or two. Carefully lay each slice of yam in the syrup and let it cook for a minute or two, turning it over and over again until well-coated with the syrup. Place in serving dish.
This fresh cranberry recipe (in my mom’s handwriting) is everyone’s favorite. I usually make a double recipe, using navel oranges. I trim the ends off the orange first, but leave the rest of the peel on. Sugar to taste. This is also really good with chopped apple and chopped pecans added.
Yesterday Uncle Jeffrey brined the 2 turkeys. Claire and Graham went over to his house (where we traditionally gather on Thanksgiving) to watch and learn how to do it. Here’s the recipe he’s perfected:
Prep Time: 36 hours Cook Time: 2-4 hours Total Time: 40 hours Difficulty: Medium Source: Jeffrey Lewis
BRINE – DRY INGREDIENTS:
1-1/2 cups Kosher salt
6 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. whole coriander seeds
2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. Mustard seeds
BRINE – FRESH INGREDIENTS:
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bottle dry Reisling wine
Fresh turkey (no more than 24 lbs)
Fresh Thyme & dry
Fresh Rosemary (I sprig)
Fresh Sage & dry
Fresh Marjoram & dry
BRINE TURKEY (36 hours ahead of baking):
Prepare a 5-gallon plastic bucket, by lining it with a white kitchen trash bag. Combine the dry ingredients with 2 quarts of water; boil until salt is dissolved. Cool 10-15 minutes. Remove innards from turkey; discard. Place turkey in the bucket; add boiled liquid; add all fresh ingredients; add wine; add cold water to top off bucket. Close top of bag. Refrigerate.
AFTER 18 HOURS: Flip bird!
PREP FOR BAKING: Discard brine; DO NOT RINSE TURKEY! Let bird sit while making stuffing. Mop up excess liquid with paper towels. Season turkey with fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, fresh garlic. You can smash softened butter all over turkey, at your option!
Use heavy duty foil to make enclosure around the turkey. Bake at 425 until pop-up thermostat comes out (140-150 degrees).
Rest turkey up to 25-30 minutes (while making gravy).
CRITICAL CARVING TIP:
Remove the breasts from the carcass; place on cutting board. Cut across the grain 1/2-3/4″ thick. Be sure to use drippings on cut turkey!
Our family loves traditional stuffing. Here are the recipes from my mom and from John’s mom. Jeffrey’s recipe is similar.
Kathleen is always in charge of the table decor. She always scavenges fall beauty from different yards to put together a spectacular show.
Before the blessing of thanksgiving on our feast, Aunt Barb shared a few words, including this beautiful poem:
Here is the famous Lewis corn soufflé recipe (pictured above).
2 cans whole corn or equivalent frozen corn
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 Tbs. flour
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350. Heat butter with sugar; stir in flour, whisk together. Remove from heat and whisk in milk. Add eggs and baking powder; whisk together. Fold in corn and pour into shallow buttered casserole dish. Bake 40 minutes. Immediately after you remove from oven, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve hot!
Uncle Lowell’s mother, Leah Camp died last May. We served her beloved Jell-o salad this year in her honor:
Pineapple Cream and Cheese Jell-o Salad
20 oz can of crushed pineapple (2 1/2 cups)
3/4 c. sugar
1 3-oz pkg. lemon Jell-o (1 c. boiling water)
1/3 c. chopped pecans
1 c. shredded cheese
Combine pineapple and sugar and cook for about 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Cool. Dissolve the Jell-o in boiling water. Add the pineapple mixture and cool. Add chopped nuts and cheese. Mix and cool until almost set. Whip cream until stiff. Fold into Jell-o. Chill until firm. Use 7×11 pan.
We topped off out feast with the pies made yesterday at Pie Day (see previous entry). It’s almost more than our bodies can handle, but somehow we manage!
Here’s a little entertainment: