Happy almost Thanksgiving! With Thanksgiving Day just a few weeks away, it's time to settle on that menu. Will you serve turkey or ham? Both? Something else? Once that question is answered, it's on to appetizers, side dishes, and desserts. And who is bringing what?
Every family seems to have some "must-haves" dishes. It is what makes the holiday feel like the holiday. For my family, green bean casserole is one of those dishes. But when my boys moved to Colorado and had Thanksgiving, their friends had never heard of that. My daughter-in-law does green spaghetti and Grandmas homemade noodles were a must-have at the in-laws.
I've noticed over the years that some of those "must-have" dishes change. Maybe Grandma is no longer with us and no one can make noodles the way she did, so Mom's casserole replaces that. Or the kids grow up and nobody eats the Jello cutouts any more. Or maybe it is Aunties infamous salad. You know the one nobody likes but she insists on bringing it every holiday? We all take a spoonful on our plates to be nice, but it ends up in the garbage.
Along with those family favorites, we are always looking for the next dish that will make the list of must-haves. Strawberry Pretzel Salad has made that list in our family. Every gathering we have, I'm asked to bring this and everybody seems to love it. So if you are looking for your next family favorite, give this a try. The recipe is at the end of this post.
For fun, I decided to look up the worst side dishes for Thanksgiving. Cranberry sauce, corn casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and (to my horror): green bean casserole seemed to make every list! As food trends change, so do Thanksgiving side dishes. So I checked to see what was popular for Thanksgiving 100 years ago. I found a fun blog that listed what Chicagoans ate at Thanksgiving during the Roaring Twenties. You can check the blog out here:From <https://smileandgun.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/the-groaning-board-thanksgiving-recipes-from-the-1920s/>
Turkey, stuffing, parched corn, meat pies, cider glazed vegetables, persimmon pudding, pumpkin pie, and fruit cakes seemed to be on the menu. I've tried parched corn and didn't like it. I also don't think persimmon pudding will ever make a list of my favorites.
Thanksgiving didn't become a national holiday until 1863, but it was celebrated state by state on different days. The classic Thanksgiving menu of turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and root vegetables is based on New England fall harvests and not everyone had access to those foods.
As a result, the Thanksgiving menus varied by region depending on what the had available to eat. So, in the south, you might see ham, sweet potatoes and cornbread dressing on their table.
What are your family favorites and must-haves? Since I love trying new dishes and am on the lookout for a new favorite (kinda tired of making the same thing), I'd be delighted if you would share what yours are. Reply in the comments and include the recipe if you want. I look forward to trying some of your favorites!