July 10, 2024
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July 10, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

So what’s the deal with Thanksgiving? Intimidated by planning a big meal for many people? Don’t we do this every single weekend—hosting guests for elaborate meals, be it Friday night or Shabbat day, or both? I find it amusing watching the flurry of blogs, online recipes, tips and advice. How to plan the perfect Thanksgiving meal. All those side dishes, desserts, pies, soups. Seriously? Not so long ago we just planned an entire month full of meals like that. Sometimes preparing six meals in a row, cooking everything in advance, with all the kids home, and a houseful of guests and relatives who will sleep over. The only difference being that there appears to be a mandatory turkey on the menu. On Shabbat, however, in addition to a turkey, there would be meatballs, brisket, cholent, schnitzel, kugels, beautiful salads and roasted vegetables, rice or pasta dishes…need I go on? And don’t get me started on the desserts! Cookies, biscotti, bars, pies, cakes, trifles. You get the idea.

On Thanksgiving you can actually serve your food fresh! No need to reheat anything.

That being said, Thanksgiving planning is prudent; some advanced shopping is advised. But, like I said, you’ve got this!

If, by any chance, you are still at a loss, do not worry. You don’t have to make a whole, giant intimidating turkey. You can buy a rolled turkey roast, or some turkey legs, or even some turkey deli. But the best thing about Thanksgiving to me is not the turkey, or even the pumpkin, which has been played to death since September. It’s the cranberries! Why are they so overlooked in the fall? Those succulent, tart, ruby-red berries can be transformed into a multitude of recipe options. A simple cranberry sauce, dressing, chutney, salad or whatever you want to call it, can be pulled together in minutes, and is so much tastier than canned. All the stores carry fresh cranberries this time of year, so stock up! They freeze well, and you can use them all year round for your recipes straight from the freezer. Try it. (Of course you can used canned and add the remaining ingredients to liven it up, but fresh is best, and only takes one extra step.) This can definitely be made in advance, so get going! My kids love homemade cranberry sauce and will put it on any meat or chicken dish, and will even eat it plain! Use whatever amounts you like, my quantities are simply for ease…Anything can be omitted, as per your likes and dislikes.

As for me, I thought I would skip Thanksgiving this year by going to visit my daughter who is currently learning in Israel. But guess what? She asked me last week if it was possible to make a Thanksgiving dinner for her and a few friends. In my rented apartment. Oh sure. No problem. (Wish me luck!)

Enjoy your turkey, your family, your friends, and remember we all have much to be thankful for!

Tropical Cranberry Sauce

3 C. fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed

1 C. water

1 C. sugar

2 11-oz. cans mandarin oranges

1 C. pineapple tidbits

½ C. toasted walnuts pieces or pecans

½ C. sweetened flaked coconut

2 Tbsp. rum or bourbon (optional, but good!)

Combine water and sugar in a 2-quart pot. Bring to a boil and add cranberries. Simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened. Remove mixture to a plastic container to cool. Add the fruit, nuts, coconut and rum. Use as much or as little of everything as you like.

Cranberry-Studded Bread Pudding

This is a great side dish—not too sweet.

1 medium challah, cut into cubes (use a leftover one!)

2 C. cranberries, picked over and rinsed

6 eggs

2 C. soy milk

¾ C. pure maple syrup

1 tsp. pure vanilla

½ tsp. ground cardamom (optional)

Zest of 1 orange

Grease an ovenproof ceramic 9 x 13 dish. Place cubed challah in the dish. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour on top of the challah, pressing down on the challah with a large spoon to make sure it absorbs the liquid. Let the mixture stand for 15–20 minutes. While it is standing, preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 45 minutes, and remove from oven when top is browned and toasty looking. If it is browning too fast, cover loosely with foil.

Rachel is a real estate attorney, currently enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner in the Holy Land. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @The Kosher Dinner Lady. You can contact her at [email protected].

By Rachel Berger

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