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Tuesday, October 21 2008
Having a traditional Thanksgiving doesn't have to mean doing things exactly the same way every year. Here are five new Thanksgiving ideas I've tried and liked.
  1. Use small pieces of lumber as a turkey rack. We all know turkey cooks better if it's sitting up on a rack, not in the bottom of the pan stewing in its own juices. But how many of us actually bother to get this special piece of equipment for something we cook only a couple of times a year? Metal jar lids are usually recommended for improvising a rack, but wood does nicely too. We used two eight-inch long,unfinished pieces of 1x2 - finish grade. (Yes, wood can be both finish grade - the non-splintering kind used for woodwork that shows - and unfinished.)
  2. Stuff the turkey only partway, with vegetables and spices. This is an idea I got from Rick Rodgers' Turkey Cookbook. One onion, one carrot, one stick of celery, and a few spoonfuls of spices are all you need for a small turkey. The turkey cooks much more quickly, and the vegetables combine well with leftover turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes to make a pie the next day.
  3. Put the turkey neck on to boil on top of the stove, and if you need liquid to keep the pan drippings from burning, use that. When you're getting ready to make gravy, combine the remaining liquid with the pan drippings. Take as much as you need for the gravy and put it in the fridge so the fat will rise to the top. (Save the rest for later.) Then spoon off the fat, thicken, and there's your gravy.
  4. Make raw cranberry sauce or relish. This is something else I got from The Turkey Cookbook. Just grind up the berries with sugar, maple syrup, fruit, and nuts. No standing over a pot of boiling water and sugar - no settling for canned cranberry sauce, either. And it tastes great.
  5. Bake some pumpkin pie filling without a crust. Got too much filling for your piecrust? (This happens a lot, no matter what the recipe on the canned pumpkin label says.) Just pour the excess into a greased baking dish and bake it along with the pie. This makes a somewhat lighter dessert for the days after Thanksgiving, with enough of the pumpkin pie flavor to bring the holiday mood back for a moment.

The Turkey Cookbook: 138 New Ways to Cook America's Favorite Bird, by Rick Rodgers, is available at

Jane Wangersky is an ESL teacher and the author of Thanksgiving for Beginners. To get her free eBooklet, 50 Questions and Answers About Thanksgiving, visit her site Thanksgiving Tips for ESL Learners

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:33 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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