KFC and Beer - The Redneck Version of
Norman Rockwell's Famous Thanksgiving Painting
Norman Rockwell's Famous Thanksgiving Painting
It's a funny thing about families. We have traditions that no one better mess with. Take Thanksgiving Dinner, for example.
Some people have their Thanksgiving Dinner as early as noon or 1:00. Some like it later in the afternoon. Others, like us, have it for their evening meal (we used to be a "Dinner at 4 p.m." family but somehow it got put on the table later and later every year, so we finally admitted it's not going to be earlier than 6 o'clock.)
It seems that once a meal time is decided upon, it is set in stone. The same holds true for the menu. My family sticks to pretty much the same one year after year. There's been one phase out, and one minor substitution, one "might or might not serve it depending on how we feel", but that's about it. Here's what's on a typical Fredericksen-Fagerland Thanksgiving table: Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stove top stuffing (dressing), scalloped corn, French's green bean casserole, dinner rolls, whole cranberries, lefse, and some sort of pie, ice cream optional.
For years, I used to make New England Yam Bake, which involves ringing yams with pineapple slices and covering them with a mixture of brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon, topped with pineapple juice and chopped hazelnuts. At the very end of the baking period, the dish is covered by marshmallows and broiled for a few minutes. I finally realized that other people were eating this dish only out of politeness, and I wasn't that much of a fan of yams, either, making the dish just for the nutty, sweet topping.
I think the year I quit making the yam bake was the year after my 1- and 2-year-old great nephews, Riley and Bailey, got into the marshmallows, giving them a terrible sugar high. The next day, I discovered that our cocker spaniel, Lady, was covered by a sticky mess which turned out to be marshmallow goo put there by little fingers.
If my sister has to work, I skip the green bean casserole, her favorite. Sometimes we make dressing, but if we forget it in the melee, no one seems to mind. Anyway, nothing could ever top my mother's savory turkey dressing, which she made in a separate pan. That gave it great appeal to me, as I have never like dressing that's been stuffed up a turkey's butt.
We used to bake crescent rolls, but they always burned on the bottom, so we switched to brown and serve rolls. Everyone likes them better. Lefse is a Norwegian thing (it's like a tortilla, only made with mashed potatoes) and is the signal to us that the Christmas season starting. Kristen, when she was home, could always be counted on to have some lefse, as did her cousin Nick when he lived in Bismarck.
For dessert, we used to have the traditional pumpkin pie but gravitated to kinds we like better. When it's my turn to furnish pie, I feel no shame in going to Perkins and purchasing their caramel apple pie. If it's Glori's turn, she brings a yummy Fruits of the Forest pie.
We have absolutely no desire to tinker with this menu. But judging by the multitude of Thanksgiving menus and recipes on the Internet and in magazines, there must be a great demand for "something completely different".
I know there are many variations on our menu across the country. For example, some Italian families serve lasagna or other pasta on Thanksgiving, which I find extremely odd. But then again, they probably consider our choices odd. It's like making chili - everyone has their own recipe which is not only THE BEST but also THE ONLY POSSIBLE ONE.
I'm sure some people think it is a sacrilege not to have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law would never have dreamed of not serving it, along with her ultra-rich pecan pie, so sweet it made your teeth hurt (but good!). Squash is about as traditional a Thanksgiving side as you could have, but we never consider it. There are some people who put oysters in their stuffing. Ewww! And what's up with mac and cheese on the Thanksgiving table?
People would probably ask us things like: "You don't use the giblets for your gravy?" "What, you don't like turnips or parsnips?" "You're not serving a green salad - can't you have just one healthy item on the table?" ("Nope, nope and nope!")
Do you like your turkey deep fried or brined? Or do you substitute tofurkey or turkducken? Do you serve bread or corn pudding, glazed carrots or Brussels sprouts, collard greens, sausage or cornbread stuffing, riced or gratin potatoes, pumpkin cheesecake or sweet potato pie? Whatever traditional or new dish is on your Thanksgiving table this year, do enjoy.
Oh, by the way, save the white meat for me.
PS - Check out this great link entitled: "5 Dishes I Wouldn't Feed A Dog But I Do Eat To Be Polite At Thanksgiving: http://www.blogher.com/5-dishes-i-wouldnt-feed-dog-i-do-eat-be-polite-thanksgiving. I can't believe there are that many people put off by cranberry sauce! I love it myself.