Thanksgiving Traditions & Recipes - It's Good to Be Stuck in a Food Rut

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Some Things Should Never Change - Like the Thanksgiving Menu

 As far back as I can remember we have always prepared the same Thanksgiving recipes on Thanksgiving. There was never a deviation.  The menu was always the same.

When I began cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I served the same food my mother  serves and she the same as her mother.

Later, when my siblings hosted our family Thanksgivings - they might add a dish or two  (from their spouse's family traditions) but we always had "our" same Thanksgiving foods prepared the exactly the way they'd been prepared for three generations.

Thanksgiving was not a time to get creative with new recipes.

Once somebody thought it would be good to have oyster and sausage in the stuffing. I remember thinking "Why?"

It wasn't a hit.  It wasn't that we were adamant or committed about having the same old food.  We just ....always had the same old food.  Not to have it was awkward.  Our subconscious minds were dictating ... "of course we'll have avocado salad with crab meat, turkey, cranberries, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green beans with garlic, stuffing, sauerkraut (I honestly don't know how that got started), pumpkin pie and apple pie with genuine whipped cream."

The Thanksgiving menu was always the same.  You be as creative as you please with food on Christmas or Easter or birthdays, but if we didn't have the same old food on Thanksgiving - it wasn't Thanksgiving.


1979 - Son, Dominic's first Thanksgiving
Besides the traditional food you always eat, there's the things you always do.  You don't know why you do these things. You just do them.

The Thanksgiving rituals in our house, and in my mother's house, and in my grandmother's house were the same.  I don't particularly love the traditions.  I just do them.  Because it's what we do.  It's like Catholic guilt.  You just can't overcome it.  The traditions are bred into you.

Don't even think about not having sauerkraut smell up the house first thing in the morning or not serving sweet potatoes. I hate sweet potatoes and so do most of my children.  But I make them. Because you have to have sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving.

Guilty confession:  I dropped the avocado and crab meat salad.  Avocados make me puke and putting crab meat next to an avocado is like creme brulee next to dog poop.

Eating off the fine china - no paper plates for us.  My grandmother had six children and those six gave her thirty grandchildren.  When her house became too small for the whole family to gather at Thanksgiving, we rented the Candlelight room at St. Bernard's Church.

All the Granados' showed up, and each family brought their own china. Folding tables were placed in one long row, with tablecloths and cloth napkins.  Each family was identified by the plates on the table.

China was something to brag about in those days.  Young girls picked out a pattern before they got married and gradually acquired a full set  for when their families could eat Thanksgiving dinner on their china. When my sister and I got married, my mother gave us the china we had chosen.  Mine was Royal Doulton - Old Colony, and this year, like every year my family will be eating off that china.

2011 - Grandson Tristan's First Thanksgiving

Youngest gets the drumstick - Whomever was the youngest on Thanksgiving would be awarded the drumstick. Then someone would invariably take a picture of this lucky kid with the drumstick carefully placed in front of him or her. Then there would be clapping and ooohing and ahhhing as the dumbfounded child was encouraged to "dig in" to the big prize.

I think I got the drumstick for about 17 years because I was the youngest in the family.  I was so glad when my nephew Preston was finally born and I could finally shake the "youngest gets the drumstick" legacy.

2010 - Anabelle was the youngest - She got the Drumstick

Christmas music starts - I start playing the Christmas music on Thanksgiving and then play it continually through the season.  I still have 50-CD changer and have so much Christmas music that I can fill it up twice. I turn it on every day that I'm home all the way through the Epiphany (Jan 6) which marks the end of the Christmas season for us.

2005 - Mia and Grace's first Thanksgiving with
their drumsticks (on the Old Colony china)

New Tradition - Little Girls eat off their "future" china.   This year I'm starting a new tradition.  We have twin granddaughters who are seven this year.  After they were born, I began buying them pieces of Homer Laughlin china, American table ware from the 1940-50s.  I chose the pattern "Mary Ann" for Grace and "Tulips in a Basket" for Mia.

By the time they are married I should have the full set done for them which is when I'll let them finally take it out of my china closet.  This Thanksgiving, I'm going to let Mia and Grace eat off the   china that I bought especially for them.  So they can get a little feel for something that will be theirs one day. 


Here are a few recipes from our Granados Thanksgivings.  Don't expect culinary wonders here.  We aren't chefs.  Well, my cousin Katie is a chef - but I think she'd still make this same food on Thanksgiving.

These are my favorites.

Green Beans with Garlic
Totally unhealthy - heart attack inducing comfort food - serves 10 to 12

Put 5 to 6 slices of bacon in a frying pan and fry until crispy.
Remove bacon and drain off all but about 2 Tbs of bacon grease.
Over medium heat, saute 4 cloves of chopped garlic in the bacon grease.
Break up the bacon and add it in.
Add steamed or canned green beans and turn lightly so all are coated.
Cook the beans for about 10 - 15 minutes until they absorb the grease.
Add a little garlic salt.
Serve immediately.

Apple, Raisin and Sage Stuffing
This stuffing is addictive.  You can't stop eating it.

1 bag of herbed breaded cubes or 9 cups of bread cubes
1/2 cup raisins (soak in hot water 1 hour before)
3 stalks of celery - chopped (with leaves)
1 lg. red onion
3/4 cups butter
2 apples - peeled and chopped
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp crushed sage leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
1/2 tsp pepper

In large skillet, saute onion and celery in the butter.  Stir in 1/3 of the bread cubes.  Turn into a deep bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and toss.

If stuffing a turkey, add stuffing just before roasting.  Cook additional stuffing in a covered casserole dish in 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

Sauerkraut with Pork
Super easy - nothing to this.  Best part of making this is starting it first thing in the morning, making the house smell like sauerkraut, and tasting it constantly while cooking the meal (with wine, of course). Hopefully there will be some left by dinner and the cook is still sober enough to serve it.  

2 lg cans of sauerkraut
1lb pork shoulder butt (Westphalia Ham)

Dump sauerkraut into a large saucepan. Cut up pork into chunks and add to the sauerkraut.  Cook about 5 to 6 hours - simmering.  Taste often.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I'd love to hear about your traditions.  

 Read 5 Tips For Creating the Perfect Christmas Letter

Other Christmas Posts:  
Five Christmas Traditions to Enrich Your Holidays 
Happy Christmas, Hanukkah and Festivus for the Rest of Us
The Santa Diaries - A Private Look at Christmas in St. Michaels
An Eastern Shore Solstice - Darkness is Ebbing
When People Hurt at Christmas

Burgoyne Christmas Letters
Christmas Letter 2013
Christmas Letter 2012
Christmas Letter 2011
Christmas Letter 2010
Christmas Letter 2009
Christmas Letter 2008
Christmas Letter 2007
Christmas Letter 2006


  1. All six of us always got the drumstick. When there were four of us, my grandfather cut each wing to look like a drum stick and the two youngest got those. Once we made it to five kids my grandparents just started buying extra drumsticks to cook. Now that I'm in charge of the turkey and the youngest is 23 and the grandkids are indifferent, there are only two legs again. I still get one.

    1. Sounds like a crazy family. Those are the best kind. Dan bought two turkeys this year... because I let him go shopping and asked him to buy THE turkey. What kind of family cooks two turkeys? Anyway - we'll have 4 drumsticks this year so there'll be no fighting. We actually have one grandchild who didn't want to be the youngest. She hated it. Said she wanted to be big like her brother. She's the one in the 4th pic looking like "What the F is this?"

      Nothing like a little family drama to go with the traditions. Thanks for checking in.

  2. In our family, the youngest kid (we had 6) always was in charge of toasting the 6 loaves of white bread - 2 at a time in our toaster- the next youngest broke it into the precise pieces. Somehow I always ended up chopping onions (wah) or celery (those celery strings still drive me crazy).


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