Tucked between the three giant-sized holidays of Halloween and Christmas and NewYear’s, Thanksgiving receives far less attention. But Thanksgiving is a very important holiday, especially in the busy lives of Americans, especially Midwesterners.
It is a time to kick back and relax, watch football games, plan Black Friday shopping and enjoy a delicious home cooked feast. It’s also time for us to give thanks to the things, people and events we feel blessed with in our lives.
I interviewed Beth Bahr from Kenosha, Wisconsin, and what I realized was that the theme of Thanksgiving, in her family, is tradition. It’s not based on organic or non-organic (see how I let that one slide…), it is based on family, friends, food, laughter, and football. (Mainly, the Packers, with a 11- 0 season right now… Just thought I’d toss that in, as I am a Packer fan, and I know they are too.)
In the Bahr household, the main event for their Thanksgiving is a grand turkey, but not baked – actually cooked on the Weber grill, by her husband, Kent.
Beth actually cooks up the parts of the bird that I don’t even know what to do with. Seriously, if you only knew how those parts scare me. She chops them up and adds them to her stuffing. (Kudos to you, Beth!) The other traditional favorites include mashed potatoes, stuffing (Beth’s favorite) sweet potatoes (baked with butter and brown sugar), green bean casserole (with french fried onions and cream of mushroom soup), steamed broccoli and cauliflower, cranberry jello, and fresh baked warm rolls, and of course, home-made gravy. A fabulous Pinot graces the table for the adults, and sparkling grape juice (or milk) for the children.
If Beth has time, she’ll make a pumpkin pie – if not, a bakery pie works in a pinch. Dessert is usually pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream or her Grandmother’s Mock Cherry Pie. I’ve included that recipe below. No Cool Whip in the Bahr household – it’s vanilla ice cream (good choice) and coffee for the adults.
Beth and Kent have two children, a son and a daughter. Her son, Joe, will eat pretty much anything, as long as he is hungry. Methinks that is a “boy” trait. Her daughter, Kristen, is very much like me, and doesn’t tend to favor foods if they have more than one ingredient.
(I’m laughing Beth. I wish you could hear me.)
Kristen also favors fresh vegetables and fruits, and prefers turkey over others she tends to dislike… like the potato. (I’m still laughing.)
To continue the tradition, one of the Bahr Thanksgiving favorites is a Mock Cherry Pie recipe that was passed down from Beth’s grandmother, to her mother, and now onto her.
(I wonder if Kristen will change the recipes when she has a family of her own?)
The Bahr Mock Cherry Pie
1 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup cold water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon melted butter
Mix all ingredients together and bake in your favorite pie crust. To keep the pie authentic, Beth uses a full crust on the bottom and makes a lattice crust on top. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, and then lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes. Serve with French vanilla ice cream, and enjoy the Bahr tradition.
So, my thoughts on Thanksgiving? I’ve been a presumed food snob (laughing again) by many, and it’s true I favor organic, wild game, no sugar and little or no grains, but what I DO love about the holidays is tradition. In my voyeuristic view of the Thanksgiving meals of others, I’d be honored one day if there was an extra place setting at the Bahr table if I popped into their city for the Thanksgiving meal. Cheers! Here’s to tradition – and let’s keep it going!
In good health, my friends.