Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving - A Tribute to Nasty-Assed Cooking

I'm not really a fan of Thanksgiving dinner. I like the holiday with the Macy's parade, I like turkeys and cornucopias, the Pilgrim Indian story which I've recently learned isn't true (it's true to me, alas), and I even rather enjoy getting together with my family and all their strange friends. I like the holiday and I like the idea of a lavish spread; a feast made from the bounties of the harvest, but the reality of Thanksgiving, at least to me and anyone from the South and I suspect the Midwest as well, is that the fourth Thursday in November is one gigantic, nationwide tribute to some spectacularly horrible food.

I do not like Thanksgiving dinner. On Thanksgiving I feel the aching sense of injustice that I wasn't born into a family of Connecticut WASPs very keenly. I flip through Martha Stewart Living and long for a family who fashions place cards from the fallen leaves of sugar maples and a family who uses a table cloth that isn't made out of paper, or worse yet, and old bed sheet. Once an innocent sorority girl asked me casually what kind of china I'd be using for Thanksgiving and I was honestly astounded that there are real people who actually use chin-a instead of Chin-ette and who polish their silver for the occasion instead of buying a big box of plastic utensils at Sams Club. In our family we've never participated in one of those idyllic scenes where all the women clean up and wash dishes together. We clean up by hauling the outside trashcan into the kitchen and dumping everything straight in it. It takes less than ten minutes to make the kitchen spotless and by then the Cool Whip's done thawing out. But I can handle all of this. I'm not so bothered by the paper plates, the lack of rustic looking arts and crafts, or the fact that we serve our feast buffet style, straight from the pot and then scramble to find a place to sit, somewhere, anywhere in the house, and hope our plate doesn't cave in.

What I can't handle is the food. Thanksgiving is the day for white trash cooks to really shine, to really show off their best combinations of prepackaged convenience foods in new and unexpected ways. In my family and in every single other Southern family that I know the typical Thanksgiving dinner contains at least 7, 385 calories, two week's worth of fat grams, no molecule of vegetable matter that isn't cooked within an inch of it's life and drowned in velveeta, cream of something soup and/ or smashed up ritz crackers, at least five dishes with mayonaise, cream cheese or both, and no holiday is complete without, of course, the requisite Jell-o in some abominable manifestation. Each item on the white trash Thanksgiving menu is important and holds significance and if a single dish is missing someone's day will be completely ruined and that person will not speak to the cook at least until Christmas, because oh my God, how dare you, how could you, forget that salad that's made with broccoli, ranch dressing, and a packet of raw ramen noodles including the flavor packet still in powder form?

In honor of Thanksgiving, my southern heritage and white trash cooks all over the United States, I'd like to share with you some of my family's finest dishes from the Nasty-Assed Recipe Hall of Fame.

The Whole Issue of Salad

Salads are where the lines really start to blur when it comes to white trash cuisine. A lot of things, apparently can be called a salad, and many of these things call into question what I believe a salad to be. To Southerners and white trash people everywhere, salad is something different than it is to everyone else. Salad comes from a bar, usually found at Sizzler. On special occasions one can have salad at The Olive Garden or Red Lobster. Salad, on the rare occasion that it is eaten at home, is not the generic mixture of greens, tomatoes, croutons and the like that we know, but a kind of salad, like a waldorf salad, or carrot and raisin salad. In the South, I have figured out that the word “salad” just must means food that is cold. There is also, as I mentioned before an entire sub-genre of Jell-o salads, consisting of Jell-o mixed with any number of things from canned fruit and Cool-Whip to, and I know this sounds gross but I swear its true, chopped celery and mayonnaise, and these Jell-o salads are served with the actual meal and not as dessert, although a lot of them seem a lot more like a dessert than a salad. It can be quite confusing for outsiders. It is really confusing to me and I've grown up with this shit. Here are some of the scariest that we will be having.

Pea Salad - This is by far the most terrifying thing my mother cooks. If I had been in a Thai prison for six years living off of nothing but maggot infested rice and when I got out this is what I had to eat, I would just as soon go out in the yard and eat grass. But pea salad is a big deal in my family and the recipe has been passed down for generations, though I have no idea why. It is vile. Pea salad has two cans of peas (Le Seur because they are FANCY), and as if that is not bad enough on its own, one then adds chopped Spanish olives (the green ones with the little red thing), chopped celery, hard-boiled eggs and worst of all, Miracle Whip. Pea Salad is not ok with me at all. I have searched the Internet and I couldn't find a single recipe for this, so I'm assuming that every other family in the world has the good sense not to eat something this gross.

Pretzel Salad - The second most repugnant salad of all, which is curiously revered by the family, is the salad that my God mother Jeannie Lee brings each year. Jeannie’s salad is held in such high regard that she is only required to bring this one dish, which is not even by the farthest stretches of imagination a salad at all. It is called Pretzel Salad, but in fact what it actually is defies all culinary genres. Pretzel Salad consists of a layer of crushed pretzels mixed with margarine and layered in the bottom of a large rectangular pan. On top of this is a mixture of Cool-Whip (of course) and cream cheese. On top of that is a firm layer of bright red strawberry flavored Jell-o, and this is just wrong. No one should have to eat something like this, but I am not kidding, I have seen my cousins nearly knock one another out over the last square of Pretzel Salad. They can have it. Sometimes Jeannie Lee also brings Pistachio Salad (nothing should be called that, come on), which is a variation on the Pretzel Salad, but instead of Jell-O and strawberries it has pistachio instant pudding mixed with Dream Whip, cream cheese and maraschino cherries. Instead of pretzels, for this one you smash up a mess of saltines and mix them with some I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter (well you might not be able to, but I can) and sugar. Again, this is just wrong.

Ambrosia Salad - My mom loves this shit. I've seen other recipes for Ambrosia but they weren't even close to what we have in my family. You take a tub of Coolwhip and stir in the powder from a packet of orange Jell-o so that you now have orange Cool-Whip. Then you throw in some coconut, chopped walnuts, a small can of crushed pineapple and a small can of mandarin orange segments, drained naturally. Eww. Why would someone can a tangerine? Who thought that up? Well anyway, you stir the hell out of this and dump it in a crystal bowl and if you are really fancy you will have saved some orange Jell-O powder to sprinkle on top as decoration, and if you are seriously talented you can mix the leftover orange powder with some of the coconut to make orange coconut (wow) which you can put over the Ambrosia instead. People will be impressed. "How in the hell did she get that coconut orange? I tell you what, that girl is a genius."

Green Stuff - This is a variation on Ambrosia, again with pistachio pudding. It's Cool-Whip, pistachio pudding powder, a can of crushed pineapple, walnuts, and here's the real kicker, ok, get ready - mini marshmallows. But this is not a dessert. You have to serve it alongside of meat and casseroles, ok? NOT. A. DESSERT. This is a vegetable. I have also seen family members, who will not go named, using Green Stuff as a dip for potato chips.

I Am Deeply Troubled By Casseroles

Casseroles are all the same. I can't tell any of them apart because they are all variations on a theme consisting of a base of canned vegetable mixed with cream of something soup and then topped with something crunchy. No one in my family except my father because he's foreign, will eat a vegetable unless it comes in this form. I like the originality shown in casserole topping choices. They can range anywhere from croutons, busted up ritz crackers, to Chex cereal, crushed potato chips and honest to God, smashed up Cool Ranch Doritos. And of course, really expert white trash cooks know that to take your casserole to the next level that before you add that crunch topping that you should always throw in a layer of Velveeta, or at least stir in some cubed cream cheese.

Perhaps the most horrifying casserole I've ever seen, and I still have nightmares about this, was an asparagus casserole served at Evil Ex's sister's in laws house in Arkansas. It was canned asparagus topped with cream of chicken soup, slices of orange American cheese of the sort that comes individually wrapped in plastic, and decorated, when it came out of the oven, with hard boiled egg slices. Again, maggot infested rice would be way better.

But as much as I complain and moan and gag over casseroles I will probably have some green bean casserole, but mainly because I like those onions.

The Complications of Stuffing

I'm the only person in my family who calls it stuffing. It's really dressing, but some time spent in the North got it into my head that it's really stuffing and I can't stop calling it that. No self respecting Southerner would ever stick a mess of wet bread up a turkey's ass, so it technically isn't stuffing, since we cook it in a pan alongside the turkey.

I only like my mother's stuffing and I don't even like it that much. I am afraid of stuffing. Too much can go wrong and too many scary bits can be hidden within all that soggy starchy goo. I have to watch my mother to make sure she doesn't lose her mind and start chopping up gizzards and hearts and throwing them in like Memere (Beef Heart is Filet Mignon) Marie does. But my mother's stuffing or dressing or whatever you want to call it is pretty decent. It's spicy and crunchy and has 25 sticks of butter and a pound of sage in it, so I can handle it. She also puts in apples and cinnamon, which I also like, and my mother's stuffing is the reason why I can't go to other people's houses on holidays and why I always hope and pray I don't get invited anywhere besides home.

Other people don't know how to make stuffing. You would not believe the things I have encountered on the years I haven't been home. I nearly passed out when I went to someone's house and they had OYSTERS in the stuffing. I thought these people had lost their ever loving minds. Who would put a snotty looking shellfish in stuffing? You'd have to be insane to do that.

Once I went to J Dogg's house for turkey and I almost fell out on the floor because his family put sausage in their stuffing. Sausage? In stuffing? It was too much for me to handle, and I secretly liked that one a little bit, but don't tell my mom.

The other day I was perusing
Serious Eats and I read an article about stuffing stir-ins where the author, who should be committed, suggesting mixing smoked eel into your stuffing. Are you fucking insane?? EEL???? On Thanksgiving? If my mother tried this our entire family would end up in hospital from the trauma of it all. I can see her now "Look everyone! I made a nice big pan of EEL STUFFING!!!!" YUM!! EEL!!!

So on this Thanksgiving, I'll be eating some cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and turkey and saving lots of room for dessert.

What Nasty-Assed Recipes have you been served on the holidays? Please make me feel better about what my family cooks by showing me that your families are just as gross.


Anonymous said...

Welll..... At my mom's house, no Thanksgiving would be complete without:

Candied Yams -- A can of yams mixed with a stick of margarine and a bunch of brown sugar, baked in a casserole dish with a bunch of marshmallows on top.

"Fruit" Salad -- A can of fruit cocktail, one banana, and one cut-up apple all mixed up in a bowl with Dream Whip.

Stove Top Stuffing, CANNED green beans with margarine, CANNED corn with margarine, and instant 'taters. With jarred gravy.

For dessert, there is cherry cheesecake made with canned pie filling and graham cracker crumbs.

Anonymous said...

Don't want to be disrespectful dear blogger, but you referred to the third Thursday in's always the fourt Thursday. But....truly funny stuff contained in your post.

Wide Lawns said...

I changed it to the fourth. Too many pumpkin pie martinis.

Kate (pereka) said...

In order to avoid the perils of home cooking, we eat at a Thanksgiving buffet. I have no idea what that says about me.


Hilary said...

For years, my sister made "stuffing" which she thought was the world's finest. I can't remember everything that was in it, but undercooked rice, bitter cranberries and soggy mushrooms were among the ingredients. Every year we would politely nibble a bit of it and refuse seconds, feigning full bellies. It was horrible.

Then one year my ex bravely admitted that he wasn't too enamoured with it. My sister pointed to me and indicated that she makes it every year because she knows that I love it. I admitted that I really didn't. Her husband nodded agreement as did all of her other guests, as one by one she looked for someone.. anyone who agreed that it was delicious. Finally she conceded that she didn't even like it herself.

She's served stovetop ever since..

*I* make a yummy sage and apple stuffing.. just ask.. umm.. everyone!

Lyn said...

Broccoli-cheese casserole:

1 packet minute rice
1 stick butter
1 packet frozen broccoli
1 jar Cheez Whiz
[possibly a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, I can't remember]
Canned onion rings.

Cook minute rice. Combine all other ingredients, then place onion rings on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Anonymous said...

My mum always makes sausage stuffing (I'm from what you referred to as the 'North' i.e Canada) and it is a must have at the holidays around my house. She uses ground sausage meat, before it goes into the cases. And no sage because it is the most awful spice ever.

Anonymous said...

My sister in law who comes from a Irish Catholic family of like 16 siblings in some small town way up in Northern Ontario likes to bring a fancy homemade pie which is this:
graham crackers crumbled then pasted together with butter to form a pie crust. Then crumbled oreo cookies mixed with cool whip would go into the pie crust, topped with cherry-flavoured jello squares filled with maraschino cherries.

Her pie is usually accompanied by some drawling lecture on why breast-feeding newborns is barbaric and primitive.


Emily said...

Rural Minnesota is where you will find most of the foods you listed -- generally in church basements. Up here, a lot of people consider Ketchup to be an adventurous spice. As a child, getting to eat the Green version of Ambrosia was a big deal for me, because my parents would never allow such a thing in their homes.
Iowa Grannie (hailing from Georgia) would make a lot of the same sort of nonsense, but she had the excuse of growing up in the depression and believing that anything could be cooked, and everything could be saved away for "later".

For my past several Thanksgivings, my father has declared to hell with tradition, we're going to have a pork roast with middle-eastern trappings and dishes.

Happy eating!

Anonymous said...

My family is from Eufaula, AL (if you know where Phenix City is, then you know Eufaula). They make pea salad. I agree, it is horrible.

You didn't mention all the gross things southerners do to the parts of the bird (giblets) that should be thrown out. Yikes!

I love Thanksgiving dinner, but then there is a lot of compromise in what is made at our house.

Anonymous said...

Reading your paragraph on salads reminded me of something I heard on NPR. It was a southern woman going on about a dish her mom makes called Frozen Thing (or as she says it "Frozen Thang"). It was hilarious. Here's the link, complete with recipe for Frozen Thing:

Anonymous said...

Today at my friends house I had this awesome stuffing her Nanny made from this recipie she saw on TV

I am not a huge fan of Thanksgiving food either. I don't like turkey that much. Growing up we had a lot of what anonymous up there had. Heh, "fruit" salad indeed. My husband makes candied yams similar to what they put up there but he adds pecans because he is from the South.

I am from the Northwest and every kid in our family would kill themselves to get my granny's jello salad except me. Jello kind of grosses me out anyway but then you add bits of whatever fruit was in it? *shudder*
We also had cranberry something or another. You opened the can and slid the whole thing out onto a little glass plate. Was that sauce? Seriously, it would be a red gelatinous mass in the shape of a can. What was that?

I love green bean casserole also for the onions.

Moi said...

Living in Australia, I have to admit that I needed to google a lot of the ingredients that you mentioned. I still can't get my head around this cool whip stuff! And what is with marshmallows in random dishes? And jell-o?

We don't have Thanksgiving, but our Christmas feasts are rather ridiculous. People feel the need to replicate the Northern Hemisphere full roast dinner. Sounds tasty, but not when it's the middle of a stinkin hot summer!

Manda said...

My Grandmother saved her "special" Jello salad for big, family dinners. Shredded carrots in lime Jello. I still shudder when I think about it. We've always had to watch how long she cooks things or how she prepares it, so we don't get food poisoning. My mother-in-law (from Norway) puts prunes in her dressing, and/or apples and raisins. Most of my in-laws act constipated so I suppose this is the result - fiber where you can get it.

Erin B. said...

FYI, the green stuff is called watergate salad. We were served some today. It is a truly baffling creation.

We also had oyster dressing, pineapple casserole, and a fried turkey.

K said...

I have to tell you - this is kind of creepily familiar. Are you some distant relative of mine? Because I have - on more than one occasion - had to resort to rock-paper-scissors to decide who got the last spoonful of pretzel salad. Ahh, the human family, and the crimes we commit against cuisine.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm going to be the contrarian here and tell you all about my very Martha Stewart TG at my brother's.

Two turkeys; one brine soaked and oven roasted, the other more traditionally seasoned, but roasted on the outdoor grill.

Giblet gravy.

Two kinds of potatoes: mashed, and red-skinned sauteed in olive oil with garlic and rosemary.

Three kinds of stuffing.

Green been casserole (the first time I've had this in years, and it was good!)

Creamed corn casserole.

Ceasar salad (with fresh-made dressing).

Three kinds of freshly made cranberry stuff (relish; sauce; salad).

A couple of other dishes that I didn't have room for on my plate.

Two pies, a cake, and a cornucopea of fruit and candies for dessert.

The adults sat at the large table and the kids sat at their own, smaller table. My SIL's nephew played the piano for us. I had more than my limit of wine.

And I unabashedly used my daughter's allergies to get us out of there at nine o'clock.

Anonymous said...

Just got home from my sister's house for our non-turkey Thanksgiving. We are doing that on Saturday. Today we had ham. A few things we had at her house:

Canned carrots with Velveeta and Ritz crackers crumbled on top

Some abomination of a casserole that had cooked ground beef, tater tots, Cream of Mushroom soup, and shredded cheese.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole (my mom's contribution)

Green Bean Casserole (my contribution) which I love for the onions also.

Real mashed potatos with red chile instead of gravy. We are from New Mexico and that is what we use instead of gravy. Or maybe that is just my crazy-ass family...

We also had an honest to goodness salad with real veggies like lettuce. No Jell-O was used at all today.

My family is so huge that we don't have enough china for everyone to eat on real plates. Forget about chairs around a table- you sat where you could! I don't recall a single Thanksgiving where I used a non-paper plate or plastic utensil to feed myself.

Anonymous said...

i definitely just threw up a little in my mouth. fortunately we don't have any weird traditions like that, though for a few years i was served a horrible creation called "tofurky" because i'm the token vegetarian of the family. fortunately i was able to get everyone to realize that just because i don't eat meat doesn't mean i like to eat crap.

Anonymous said...

Except for the Jello junk, we had almost all the items you described at our family potluck dinner. The one thing you forgot was the "deviled" eggs. I've come across some that the devil himself wouldn't eat. You couldn't tell what was in them and probably didn't want to know.

Now, at family reunions, our family group always asks which eggs are mine so they can get ones that don't have mystery ingredients in them.

Chopped mushrooms in deviled eggs?? I don't think so.

Sauntering Soul said...

I'm from the South and have been subjected to most of the things you mentioned. Except for the pea salad and I will now take a moment to say thanks for not ever eating that.

My mom got on a kick of making the pistachio salad for years and years. Don't hate me, but I kind of liked it. And my mom makes the broccoli cheese casserole another commenter mentioned. I just had some today.

My ex lived in Cyprus for a year and I went over for Christmas. We ate Christmas dinner with a Cypriot family and their dressing/stuffing was a bowl of rice with cranberries and LIVER chopped up in it. I thought I was going to gag trying to eat it. I put some on my plate not realizing what it was and didn't want to be rude and not eat it. I didn't eat all of it though.

Grumpy Housewife said...

I have a confession to make.

I like the "Green Stuff", or Watergate Salad. I have no idea why, other than maybe I grew up in Kentucky, and we do the Jell-O salad thing, and the mayonnaise/Miracle Whip salad thing, too.

This year? Just the three of us, me, my husband, and our daughter, had Thanksgiving. We had chicken (three people cannot eat a whole turkey, even a small one, without getting sick of turkey anything by Day Three), mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole (not the open cans o'crap kind, I make mine with an actual bechamel sauce), cornbread dressing (I love Paula Deen), butternut squash casserole (my mother's God, that stuff is awesome), and chess and pumpkin pies.

And, because there's just three of us? Plenty of leftovers for tomorrow, when we will sit around on our asses, watch movies, and avoid the Black Friday shoppers.

Anonymous said...

Hi!I am originally south african living in Germany.I love your blog.When I feel like a laugh I read old posts.You are fantastic!!Happy Thanksgiving, and Thank You for this fab blog!!:-)v

Unknown said...

As a fellow southerner, I laughed out loud at your salad commentary. I don't know what it is about congealed salads, but there must be some kind of rule about the porportion of holiday food that must include the contents at least one little jello box. This year it was congealed cranberry, grape, walnut and celery salad/gelatin mold.

Glad you survived that pea salad!

mckay said...

omg, your description of the asparagus casserole was hideous. blleechhk!

i love oyster stuffing and wish i knew how to make it. my sister's stuffing yesterday was horrible (to me) but everyone raved about it. croutons, celery and not much else. way too dry.

i made fancy shmancy mashed potatoes with cream cheese, shallots, an egg and lil fried onion rings around the edge...bake for 30 min. turned out great.

Shay said...

How dare you claim Pea Salad for a southern dish? EVERYONE knows that Pea Salad comes from the Midwest (right up there with the salad that's made with cream cheese and Herman-Munster-green Jello).

Fairfax said...

Wow, I feel like a totally repressed WASP. I had a plate of beige food on my parents' wedding china (aside from the cranberry, which was the nasty canned stuff that I brought for myself, because my father doesn't like it). I made the apple pie with an all-butter crust, because using shortening makes it too easy. I had a great time, but in comparison, we are very dull. Grass is always greener, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I had one of those Thanksgivings yesterday with copious quantities of Cool Whip at my mother-in-law's sister's. I'm cooking a Cool Whip free turkey dinner tomorrow so I can have it the way my mommy makes it (or used to make it before my brother became Mr. Martha Stewart and took over the cooking duties).

Anyway, I had to mention the Snickers "Salad". Chopped up Snickers, chopped up apples (I guess that makes it "salad") and gobs of Cool Whip. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top for garnish. Yikes.


Anonymous said...

Why don't y'all do what I do: eat the french-fried onions straight from the can. That way, you don't have to endure all that other stuff like cream of mushroom soup, Cheeze Whiz, or Velveeta!

I mean, let's be practical. You're saving calories, but you still get to eat the one item that is your heart's true desire.

Anonymous said...

I've been home sick for three weeks so you have no idea how much I appreciate your blog right now, even though it hurts to laugh! I've even started posting comments, so I can't be any better.

I'm from the North, but my good friend is from NC and I have been introduced to lots of interesting combos.

One night, she invited us all to dessert, after going out to dinner. She served "Tammy Sue," a southern version of Tirami Su, made with Cool Whip, Chocolate pudding you buy in the dairy case, chocolate chips and diced pound cake, soaked in instant coffee. Can't forget the drizzle of Kaluha! Yum.

It was hard to keep a straight face, but I love her so I did my best.

auronsgirl said...

I think I've seen every vile salad you've mentioned represented at one holiday fete or another. I also grew up in Kentucky, and if you can't deep fry it, cover it in Velveeta, put mayonnaise or Miracle Whip in it, or suspend it in Jell-o, then it just ain't holiday eatin'. My in-laws give me grief every year about eating the fruit salad (made with Cool-Whip, canned mixed fruit and mini marshmallows) during dinner, because it is also NOT DESSERT. I cringe at the thought of mixing that much sugar on a plate with things like turkey, potatoes and stuffing, but I'm weird according to both my families because I don't like my food to touch at all, nor do I like sopping everything up with a piece of bread afterwards. Gag. To date I have never eaten the fruit salad during the dinner portion of the meal. I rarely eat it at all, while my in-laws wonder what the hell is wrong with me or call me snotty behind my back. At least I'm not choking down canned sweetened fruit covered in non-dairy sweetened...stuff and melting marshmallows. What's even worse is when my mother-in-law makes the stuff with Miracle Whip instead of Cool-Whip.

I will say that sausage apple stuffing is fabulous if done correctly. I introduced my mother-in-law to sausage apple stuffing last year, and now she won't have any other kind. This year she was shocked an amazed because my father-in-law ate it, even though it had Obvious Celery in it. Apparently my father-in-law has a vendetta against celery and will not eat a dish if it is present. I'll just add it to the list of other mundane things the man won't eat, starting with white rice, or any rice that isn't fried. Maybe it's the lack of frying that makes him not eat things. I'm starting to wonder if I could serve him Fried Celery and become a culinary master in his eyes. I'm sure there's some kind of beer batter that you can get to stick to celery.

And although I know of your family's brand of pretzel salad, my auntie on my mother's side makes a "Pretzel Salad" that's actually really good, even if it does have Cool-Whip in it. It tastes like a pineapple cheesecake, and doesn't have any Jell-o in it at all.

Anonymous said...

well if it makes you feel any better i haven't had thanksgiving dinner yet.

i LOVE pretzel salad! its my favorite thing ever. the whipped center isnt cream cheese based tho and usually made from scratch so it probably tastes different.

i make all kinds of casseroles but with fresh or frozen veggies. hate canned ones!

the stereotypes about the plgrims and indians you learned are probably not true but they absolutely sat down together for a 3 day feast to thank God and each other for food and it did cement an alliance which lasted as long as Bradford and Massaoit were alive. netflix Desperate Crossing: the Untold Story of the Mayflower for a really good historically accurate version of events. the indians weren't savages and neither were the pilgrims.

Anonymous said...

My mother always made everything from "scratch". Not too bad - and I prefer the same - not fond of boxed or canned goods. But, with the addition of our spouses to the family we've added some of their favorites when we're all together so they will enjoy, too.... this includes broccoli mixed with cheese whiz and ritz (I think that's what it is, I can't bring myself to taste it), Stove Top "stuffing" (never sees the inside of the bird and is served in addition to my mother's homemade dressing), and the green cool whip, pineapple and marshmallow 'salad' you described, and mostly mustard flavored deviled eggs.

Probably one of the biggest sins is the bottled mincemeat poured into a store bought pie crust - don't read the ingredients list and it tasts better than you'd think, but the reality of it is disgusting. To my Dad, it's not Thanksgiving without it.

JDogg said...

Thanks for the shout-out. And the menu from hellxukveg

Anonymous said...

I make a brocolli salad that goes over well,
chopped brocolli florets
real bacon bits
grated cheddar cheese
minced sun dried tomatoes
regular or peppercorn ranch dressing

its my staple at potlucks, i have never had leftovers, the bowls are practically licked clean, lol.

JTN said...

I'm from Kentucky too and saw all of these growing up too... I always hated the Watergate salad. I never understood how people thought some of it was edible.

Pea Salad, 7 layer salad... all of it... ick!

I think the worst one I have ever run across (and I don't mean that lightly) is the Green Jello mixed with cream cheese and cucumbers.

neongolden said...

My family makes and loves, not just at Thanksgiving, but Christmas and all other large family get togethers several items that fall under the "Questionable Salads" category. (No family member under the age of 50 eats this stuff, but they still make it!)

-Tomato Aspic Salad--Unflavored gelatin, tomato soup, diced celery and green bell pepper.

-Pea Salad--Lime Jello, canned peas, chopped celery, topped with mayonnaise.

Raisin/Carrot Salad--Raisins (the older and more shriveled the better), grated carrot, sugar, grenadine and mayonnaise, mixed together.

I feel your pain.

Patti said...

Yes, I too have eaten or seen all the horrid salads mentioned. I think most were born in the church basements of the south and midwest and managed to mainstream due to insincere praise to the creator of the disgusting mess. The required ingredient in any salad seems to be cool whip. The required ingredient in any vegetable dish seems to be several cans of Campbells soup. As a child, hell, as an adult all I could do is gaze in horror at the bowls of brightly colored salads combining ingredients that I know have been forbidden by some higher power.
The few times I have hosted Thanksgiving (I hate the food of this holiday too) I have shocked and appalled my family by serving real butter and whipped cream actually made from cream and sugar. It comes from a bowl, not a spray can. They really didn't know what to do. They didn't much like it either.

Anonymous said...

My mother makes the green stuff too. None of us "kids" will eat it. It is called Watergate Salad. Go figure.
She also makes giblet gravy and my grandmother puts giblets in her dressing too.
So thus, I was so traumatized that I had to create a whole new menu when I got married. No giblets here. But I will say, I am a southerner and I do stuff the turkey! I just think it looks pretty.

Anonymous said...

Sausage in stuffing is the best thing ever. We only get it at Christmas (no Thanksgiving in the UK), and normal sage and onion is just not the same.

Those casseroles make me want to hurl. In England we have proper casseroles with meat and gravy and real vegetables.

Jelly with mandarin segments in is really good though. Especially with vanilla ice cream or proper whipped cream.

MP said...

I could compete with your cousins running for the last piece of jello/pretzel salad..I LOVE that stuff!

Architect Critic said...

Oh, I love Green Stuff! But then, I really like Cool Whip and have a terrible sweet tooth. We didn't have any of that for turkey day, though.

My wife made one of our family's favorites - Sour Cream Apple pie. It tastes much better than it sounds, and can only use fresh apple. Everyone always devours it and asks for the recipe, but we don't usually divulge that info. She also made something like a pumpkin pie, but instead of a crust put the filling on a spice cake. Yum.

We tried a new recipe this year, since my wife hates the mushed yams with marshmallows. Instead we cubed the yams and cooked them, then added whole cranberries and glazed them with brown sugar, butter, and whatever the other spices were. That was good.

And of course the turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (with fresh green beans, not canned) and sausage stuffing.

Aw man, now I'm hungry. . .

Miss Souris said...

Thanks, I loved this post!
For a frenchie it's soooo exotic ;-)

Teddi Taylor said...

I'm Canadian and our Thanksgiving was well over a month ago, but I was appalled at my in laws for my first Christmas with them... they put the turkey in the oven THE NIGHT BEFORE we were to eat it. They cooked it ALL NIGHT. I think they ATTEMPTED to turn the heat down, but NOT LOW ENOUGH. Have you ever seen a turkey so over-cooked that it COLLAPSED IN ON ITSELF?! Then, we didn't have turkey for breakfast when it would have been warm. No, we decided to wait until the $30 turkey got cold... and then we ate it. "We'll just heat it up with some gravy" (gravy which never materialized).

Anonymous said...

Really want to cook for you now.

My family is Italian, so we tend to have two thanksgivings and Christmasses. One with the Italian food and one with Turkey.

Our Turkey Day (which since I'm Canadian is in October) is quite modest.

Cesar Salad (Or Greek for the Italian one)
Turkey (Sausages)
Mashed Potatoes (Ravioli)
Gravey and Stuffing (extra Sauce and Garlic bread)
Cranberry Sauce from a can. (Pickles and fancy cheese)

For dessert it depends on how nuts my mother goes. Usually apple pie and chocolate cream pie (for me because I don't like apple pie and if I don't get a small chocolate pie I pick all the crust off the apple one) And if my dad whines enough, a pumpkin pie.

I think the weirdest thing we put in the stuffing is like... Mushrooms. And we don't usually shove it up the birds ass either.

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