Sunday, November 22, 2009

22 November 1955 “Thanksgiving Preparations”

Well, Gals, this is a busy week for we Americans. That Holiday that’s main focus is food is approaching: the Thanksgiving Season.  We have turkeys to stuff, pies to bake, much to-doing.

Here, an old advert for aluminum foil, shows you how ‘easy’ it is to do everything the day ahead.

Very cute commercial, but I think we all know it would be better to cook the turkey in an actual roaster pan, but then you wouldn’t use as much aluminum foil!

Speaking of marketing ‘ease’ yesterday, at the big chain market, I saw end caps with premade stuffing, canned gravies, prepackaged this and that. Well, gals, if any of you want a time to foray into homemade or a chance to try the more ‘complicated’ homemade dish, this is your holiday. Save the premade, packaged and already made for any old day, heck this IS the holiday of cooking and baking!

Though the real focus is to come together and be thankful for what we have, the real reason for This seasons, does seem to be to eat. So why blow this chance to try any and all homemade items?

So, to help us prepare (and to amuse those non-American readers) I thought we could share some various preparation ideas from my various magazines and cook books.

Let’s start with the table.

thanksgiving table cookbookThis table setting is from my vintage Better Homes cookbook( you can see the holes where it fits into the binding). I thought it interesting how they did the centerpiece with fruit spilled down the table. The baked pears are a nice touch to that festive turkey, though I do see some ‘sliced’ canned cranberry sauce. I know those pink mints are homemade, as the recipe is in this cookbook. IF any one would like that recipe, let me know.

Now this book informs us of both a formal and informal place setting, stating that informal seems more the norm for the modern family. However, by today’s standards, I am sure the informal could be viewed as formal. I thought I would share it with any of you who are unfamliar or would like to try this set up. This is how our Thanksgiving will be set this year.

First we have the description and drawing of the setting.

informal place setting1You can click on these images and they will enlarge for you ease of reading or printing out for your own use, you could paste and hold punch them into a vintage ‘scrap book’ of ideas and recipes!

Next, this informal setting is broken down into the courses.table setting1informal place setting 2Here we start with an appetizer served with the cocktail fork. I will be doing this, as I have some lovely crystal sherbets that I am going to serve shrimp cocktail in for our meal. These will be set, with the fork, to start the meal, then cleared to the next course, which will be the soup. I am doing a lovely Lobster Bisque. I am quiet excited about this. I wanted Lobsters to play some role in this feast, as they are plentiful here and we love them, but they are too dear to provide an entire lobster for each of my guests, so I will be making my bisque on Wednesday. I will boil two lobsters, some of which hubby and I can have for dinner and the rest will be for my bisque. It does say you might want to omit soup course if serving appetizer, but Thanksgiving is about the food, so I feel a small shrimp cocktail followed by a small bowl of bisque will prepare the pallet for the meal. I have not decided if there will be a separate salad, I think I might skip straight to the main course, as there are so many sides to accompany the main dish of , of course, turkey. I wait all year to taste turkey and all year to eat goose at Christmas, so the mouth will be watering after the soup course to get at that delicious bird!

Next, these two bits about serving an informal dinner or a Family-style dinner are rather interesting. Again, just click on them to enlarge for reading.

informal setting 4informal setting 3 It does give some good pointers on how best to serve food and beverages. I mean, why not learn the etiquette and just make it part of your normal meal time? Again, such things  becoming commonplace to a child will make he or she feel comfortable in their life rather they are eating alone, as a couple, in a fine restaurant or at the white house! I like the bit under family style, which has one pass their dinner plates to the hostess in exchange for the dessert she serves them. I, however, for thanksgiving, will be following the informal rule of clearing before dessert. I think this gives time for people to chat about dinner, rest their stomach as the coffee and tea brews and then the table is reset for dessert and hot beverages are served.

Do any of you have any particular traditions or table settings you use? Will you use a more formal or informal service for your holiday meal. Are any of you going to try something new and ‘vintage’ this season that you have not done in the past? Are any of you going to use this opportunity to wear vintage or use a fun frilly ‘hostess’ apron? Do you dress for your Thanksgiving dinner?

Tomorrow, I think we can discuss centerpieces and I have some interesting things on serving Buffet style. Do any of you serve your dinner this way? I also want to cover stuffing, cranberry dishes and desserts.

I remembered I was also suppose to share my fish chowder recipe with you that I made for my MIL birthday dinner. This is the basic recipe I usedfish chowder1I did some of it differently. I cooked the onion with four strips of bacon and did heat the cream in that same pan to enrich it with the bacon fat and onion. I also added 5-6 TBS. salted butter. I used chicken stock, because I had some in the freezer, but in the future I will get the fish with the heads and bones to make a stock. I used Halibut (which had the skin on) and cod and I also cooked scallops in it as well, cut into chunks. Then I broiled a few whole scallops wrapped in bacon and served one of those each in the bowl as a garnish to the chowder Here is a bowl as served at my MIL dinner. I thought the it looked rather pretty. You can’t see here, but I garnished it with fresh chopped cilantro, which I just love the taste of. I also served a salad with warm cod broken over it and a fresh lemon wedge squeezed before serving. It was quite yummy and served with my home made cheese crackers.

That recipe is so easy. It is merely a stick of butter softened to room temperature, two cups of flour, one and 1/2 cups grated cheese (use what you like, I used both aged cheddar and swiss) then spice it as you wish, I used chili powder, hot sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. Then I crumble it with a pastry blender pastry blender and then, once it is sort of cornmeal looking, I use my hands and blend it until it becomes a ball of dough. Roll it out to about 1/4 inch and cut with a pastry cutter or pizza cutter into whatever size you like. Bake about 12 minutes at 325 F or until lightly browned. These are SO good on salad, in soup, or make whatever size and shape and serve with cheese and such. I made larger crackers this week to serve with smoked blue fish and cheese for hubby and I while we were on our ‘holiday at home’. So good! People also are VERY impressed when you make your own crackers, but they couldn’t be any easier! I think a food processor makes it easier, but I don’t have one and prefer to use my hands. If anyone makes them in the processor let me know how they turn out.

Now, here is a link to a Thanksgiving episode of Father Knows Best. I wish I could just post it, but unfortunately you have to go to Hulu. Here is the Link.

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