First posted October 2005.
Thanksgiving! We had planned to go to the Oktoberfest parade in the morning, but drizzly weather and sniffles decided against it. So we made some maple-leaf turkeys for a centerpiece (we put them in a big bowl with a bunch of chestnuts and paper leaves--the real outside leaves were abundant but too wet), and watched the parade on T.V. Mr. Fixit put the bird (not a turkey this year, he bought a DUCK, which got some stares from the squirrelings) and a giant sweet potato on the barbecue. Grandpa Squirrel is bringing pies, and Mama Squirrel is filling in the corners (making crockpot stuffing, vegetables, homemade cranberry sauce, and doing all the odds and ends). Mama Squirrel makes a mean pumpkin pie, but this year she's going to make it for Reformation Day instead. (Virtual cranberry sauce if you know when that is.)
Here are our recipes. In the Treehouse tradition, they're not fancy. But they're better than the packaged kind.
Cranberry Sauce (from Food that Really Schmecks, but it's a standard recipe)
In a pot, combine 2 parts cranberries to 1 part water and 1 part sugar. We used 2 cups cranberries, about 3/4 cup water (because I don't like it thin) and 1 cup sugar. Some might find it too sweet; you could experiment. Stir to dissolve the sugar, but after that don't stir it. You're supposed to boil it for about 5 minutes, until all the berries have popped; but mine don't always pop, and it still turns out. So I'd say just cook it for about 5 to 10 minutes until it looks pretty much done. It should thicken a bit in the fridge (so I make it a day ahead).
Bread Stuffing (adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1986)
The main ingredient in this--really--is the bread, right? So don't try to make this with your average store bread--it's not worth it, and it's too hard to cube anyway. If you don't use homemade bread, then try something like Texas Toast or another thick-sliced commercial bread (white or whole wheat).
1 1/2 cups chopped celery, with leaves if possible
3/4 finely chopped onion
3/4 cup margarine or butter
9 cups soft bread cubes (or less if you know you won't eat that much)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each ground sage and thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper (or a good grinding from the pepper mill)
Some chopped dried apricots (my addition)
You can chop the celery and onion together in the food processor, if that makes it easier. Cook them in the margarine, in a large pot, until they are soft; remove from heat; stir in the remaining ingredients.
At this point, Betty Crocker gives several variations, including what to do if you're not using this to stuff anything: put in an ungreased 2-quart casserole, cover and bake in 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes (the book says "until hot and bubbly", but I've never had bubbly stuffing and I'm not sure I want to). What I do (since we always eat it separately, not in the bird) is make the stuffing around 10 or 11 in the morning and then put it in a slow cooker, on low, for the rest of the day.
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