Fun Thanksgiving Stories

Every American family has them: memorable Thanksgiving stories, tales that are told & retold at the Thanksgiving table

Here are a few unforgettable ones:

  • The Thanksgiving Day my sister called the Butterball Turkey Hotline to ask: What to do with a grilled turkey burned to a charcoal husk? The answer: scrape off the char to the meat below and enjoy!
  • Then there was the Thanksgiving uncle threw the turkey out the kitchen window.  A little early with the holiday cheer perhaps?
  • Among my earliest Thanksgiving memories are packing up my father’s turkey dinner to deliver to the police station where he worked the midnight shift.  The cold & quiet village streets, my siblings & I shyly delivering his meal, smiling to the police officers on duty
  • And the memories of food: my first shrimp with cocktail sauce, the delicious cool & spicy treat of salami rolled with cream cheese, the delectable combination of turkey, mashed potato, gravy, spicy turnip & veg piled high on the plate, flavors mingling to enhance the whole

Care to share your Thanksgiving memories?  Thanksgiving is the day we celebrate all that we are grateful for.  For my family the greatest gift is being together for the first time in five years.

While you are going down memory lane consider these Fun Thanksgiving Facts:

  • 248 million:The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2011
  • 46.5 million:  The preliminary estimate of turkeys Minnesota is expected to raise in 2011. Minnesota was tops in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (30.0 million), Arkansas (30.0 million), Missouri (18.0 million), Virginia (17.5 million) and Indiana (16.0 million). These six states together account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkeys produced in 2011
  • 750 million pounds:  The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2011
  • 2.4 billion pounds:  The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2010
  • 1.1 billion pounds:  Total production of pumpkins in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2010. Illinois led the country by producing 427 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, New York and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $117 million
  • 266.1 million pounds:  If you prefer cherry pie, you will be pleased to learn that the nation’s forecasted tart cherry production for 2011 totals 266.1 million pounds, up 40 percent from the 2010 production. Of this 2011 total, the overwhelming majority (210.0 million pounds) will be produced in Michigan
  • 2.01 billion bushels:  The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls and pie crust — produced in the United States in 2011
  • 656,340 tons:  The 2011 contracted production of snap (green) beans in major snap (green) bean-producing states. Of this total, Wisconsin led all states (258,320 tons). Many Americans consider green bean casserole a traditional Thanksgiving dish
  • $7.8 million:  The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys from January through July of 2011 — 99.7 percent from Canada. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 60.1 percent ($3.2 million) of total imports ($5.3 million). The United States ran a $3.6 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had a surplus of $41.7 million in sweet potatoes
  • 13.3 pounds:  The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2009, with no doubt a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time.  Per capita sweet potato consumption was 5.3 pounds
  • $1.38:  Retail cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2010

Source:  US Census Bureau Facts for Features: Thanksgiving Day: Nov. 24, 2011
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb11-ff21.html

Preparing for Thanksgiving – Sweet Potato Cashew Bake

Hey guys!  As we’re moving into pre-Thanksgiving preparation time, I’ve been dreaming up my ideal Thanksgiving meal… the one that’s going to make up for the last 5 years I’ve not had it in Japan!  I wanted to share some of the recipes with you.  I hope you’ll give them a try and they’ll become part of your yearly traditions as well!

One of my ultimate favorite things at Thanksgiving in sweet potatoes.  Of course we have sweet potatoes in Japan, but they’re actually a completely different vegetable!  And they’re definitely not prepared in the same way.

American sweet potato

American sweet potato - browny-red outside, orange inside. Japanese sweet potatoes are purple outside and white inside.

So in honor of the American sweet potato, here’s my favorite dish.  It’s from an old version of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, which is a staple in our family, no matter how old it it!

Sweet Potato Cashew Bake (serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes (2lbs) or 1 2lb can of sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup broken cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • An 8 3/4 oz. can of peach slices
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

  1. If you’re using raw sweet potatoes, peel and cook them in boiling water until tender, then drain.  Cut crosswise into thick pieces.  If you’re using canned sweet potatoes, drain and give them a quick rinse.
  2. Combine brown sugar, cashews, ginger, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  3. Drain peaches well.
  4. In a 10x6x2-inch baking dish layer half each of the sweet potatoes, peach slices, and brown sugar mixture.  Repeat layers.  Dot with butter.
  5. Bake, covered, in a 350 deg. over for 30 minutes.  Uncover; bake about 10 minutes longer.  Spoon brown sugar syrup over before serving.

MS the Younger’s notes:

The brown sugar can sometimes be a little much, especially if your potatoes are quite sweet.  I suggest cutting down a little – maybe 1/3 less.  And absolutely use salted butter to dot your potatoes, it balances the sweet nicely!

~MS the Younger

Guess Who’s Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner

I’ve been searching for images that capture the spirit of Thanksgiving Day and finally settled on two. First there is Angelica Paez’s delightful collage, Guess Who’s Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner.

Guess Who's Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner  by Angelica Paez

Guess Who's Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner by Angelica Paez

I fell in love with this art work at our first meeting.  The vintage American household recalls my childhood from the 1950s and 1960s.  The furniture (love those plastic chairs), linoleum flooring, kitchen cabinets, stone walls, and window treatments evoke warm and fuzzy feelings of home.  Turkeys are held in high esteem.  I love the little boy serenading a turkey with his accordion and envy the turkey being cossetted by another family member.  Apparently the family is vegetarian: Bread, fruits and salad are handy, while a turkey assists father and daughter toasting bread.

Paez’s juxtaposition of images adds a delightful sense of whimsy to the scene while capturing the true sense of Thanksgiving:  Thankfulness, joy with family and friends, food & fun.  The lions even lay down with the lambs!  Although I do hope that toasted bread isn’t meant for turkey stuffing…

American artist Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930) pictures The First Thanksgiving story as the great American icon.  As children we all learned the story of the first American Thanksgiving, a story of survival under difficult conditions, of cooperation among diverse peoples, of thankfulness for God’s bounty.  Ferris captures this meaning perfectly.

The First Thanksgiving  by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

The First Thanksgiving by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Happy Thanksgiving to family and friends both near and far.  Like many of you, I have much to be thankful for.  Blessings like Post Road Pumpkin Ale, bread, the joy art brings, and all the people who drop in here and peruse my ramblings, are but a few.

And I wish you good luck with the Turkey Trivia Quiz.  I scored 13/20.  Hah!

~MadSilence

Pop Art takes flight again

Since 2005, Macy’s has been bringing contemporary art to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  The “Blue Sky Gallery” series brought art to the skies of NYC by displaying artworks by artists Tom Otterness and Jeff Koons.  This year Macy’s adds the name of another contemporary artist to its collection: Keith Haring.   

tom-otterness-humpty-dumpty-21

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began the Blue Sky Gallery series in 2005 when Parade officials invited artist Tom Otterness to create a balloon version of one of his classic pieces of Humpty Dumpty.  The American sculptor whose public art works adorn parks, plazas, subway stations, libraries, courthouses and museums in NYC, seemed a logical addition to the parade. 

 

 600-koons-rabbit1

In 2007 the Blue Sky Gallery series added artist Jeff Koons to the series with the debut of Rabbit

 

Figure with Heart by Keith Haring balloon
Figure with Heart by Keith Haring balloon

Keith Haring’s Figure with Heart (1987) is the latest entrant to the Blue Sky Gallery series.  On Thursday, November 27th at 9:00 AM, Figure with Heart  will debut as a 48-foot tall helium balloon in the holiday celebration

The parade balloon is a fitting metaphor for the contemporary art world.  Much of contemporary art is quickly inflated and then deflated.  Interest in artworks and prices rise precipitously and then descend with a crash.  The art is paraded briefly before a viewing public who quickly loses interest, impatiently demanding the next sensation. 

And of course it’s full of hot air.

Related MadSilence post:  “Beautiful and mysterious”?

~MadSilence 

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