Thanksgiving in Menus

The other day Sarah was talking about how much she loves reading Thanksgiving and Christmas menus, and I must admit this is also one of my guilty pleasures.  One of my favorite things about my copy of Edna Lewis’s Taste of Country Cooking are the menus, just the other night I was reading them out loud to Erik at the dinner table while we talked about what we should have for Christmas Eve dinner.  She eats Oyster Stew for Chrismas Eve, just like my parents, and she doesn’t have Thanksgiving Dinner, for some odd reason, but check out this menu for Christmas Dinner:

Roast Chicken with Dressing

Whipped White Potatoes

Baked Rabbit

Steamed Wild Watercress

Lima Beans in Cream

Spiced Seckel Pears

Sweet Cucumber Pickles

Grape Jelly


Hot Mince Pie

Persimmon Pudding with Clear Sauce


Coconut Layer Cake

Caramel Fudge and Chocolate Fudge

Divinity Cream


Bowl of Oranges, Raisins, Brazil Nuts, Almonds

Blackberry Wine


Holy cats, I don’t really think that’s enough desserts for Christmas dinner, do you?

But seriously, forget Thanksgiving, someday I want to cook THAT.

I also have two other “someday I’m going to cook that” meals.

The picnic from Best Friends for Frances:

Hard-boiled eggs and whole fresh tomatoes. Carrot and celery sticks.There are some cream cheese- and chive sandwiches, I think and cream cheese and jelly sandwiches too, and salami-and egg and pepper- and egg- sandwiches.Cole slaw and potato chips and of course Ice-cold root beer packed in ice, and watermelon and strawberries and cream for dessert…

And the fair dinner from Farmer Boy:

At last he and Father got places at the long table in the dining-room.  Everyone was merry, talking and laughing, but Almanzo simply ate.  He ate ham and chicken and turkey, and dressing and cranberry jelly; he ate potatoes and gravy, succotash, baked beans and boiled beans and and opnions, and white bread and and rye ‘n’ injun bread, and sweet pickles and jam and preserves.  Then he drew a long breath, and he ate pie.

When he began to eat pie, he wished he had eaten nothing else.  He ate a piece of pumpkin pie and a piece of custard pie, and he ate almost a piece of vinegar pie.  He tried a piece of mince pie, but could not finish it.  He just couldn’t do it.  There were berry pies and and cream pies and vinegar pies and raisin pies, but he could not eat any more.

Awesome, right?

For Thanksgiving, we are going old school this year.

So we’re having:

Overpriced turkey, stuffing which I am not making, mashed potatoes, rosemary rolls, both kinds of cranberry sauce from a can, green salad (maybe?) with homemade ranch dressing, ambrosia salad (my favorite thing), brussels sprouts with pancetta, yams which someone else is also making, and pumpkin pie which Eli and I are making from a pumpkin, as per his request.

And probably some kind of beverage.

I am actually more excited about the table setting than I am about the food, so look forward to a scintillating post on that very soon.


12 Responses

  1. Oh my goodness, Farmer Boy has the best food in it. I want ALL of it. I like to read that book just to think about food. Maybe I’ll read it before Thanksgiving as inspiration for cooking. Although, then I’d have to put on my hoopskirt to do all the cooking.

  2. I love reading cookbooks, although I can’t stand cooking. Years ago my grandmother gave me what has become my favorite cookbook every–Sarah Leah Chase’s Year Around cookbook. It is a no-fail, delicious recipes every time. Chase has a restaurant in Martha’s Vineyard (I think–somewhere in Massachusetts), and all of her recipes have little stories about how they came about. The recipes are grouped by season, and its really just a fabulous cookbook.

    Its out of print, but Amazon has some used copies available.

    I wonder what vinegar pie tastes like. (Besides vinegar.)

  3. Farmer Boy always makes me hungry. We recently read it to The Boy at bedtime and even he, at age 3 and 3/4, stopped me and said, “That sounds yummy.”

  4. I love reading menus too! We go to other family members’ houses for Thanksgiving, but last year my husband and I made our own version of Thanksgiving at home the day after to sustain us through all the decorating. 🙂 Planning the menu and shopping lists was my favorite part, too. And I can’t wait to see your table settings!

  5. I think what I loved most about Farmer Boy was the food descriptions. YUM.

  6. YUM. Planning the menu is so much fun. I keep wanted to add add add, but I can only cook so much and we can only eat so much. SADLY.

  7. I love the food from Farmer Boy as well, but I never thought of recreating one of those deliciously described meals.

  8. It makes my heart happy to read your “someday” meals…so fun!

  9. “Farmer Boy” is one my all-time favorite books. And the food does NOT play around.

    I also loved “Best Friends for Frances” when I was little and still have my copy at home.

  10. There’s more than one kind of cranberry sauce from a can?

    I made pumpkin pie from a pumpkin last month and it was great. It has a different texture and lighter flavor than pumpkin from a can. I roasted enough pumpkin to freeze over half of it and am making more pie for Thanksgiving!

  11. OMG, the Frances menu is my favorite! That’s our favorite part of the book, and I remember as a little kid getting so excited about that list of food.

    And I gain weight every time I read Farmer Boy. Laura Ingalls Wilder scholars suggest that she wrote so much about food in the book to make up for her years of privation growing up. I love it.

  12. Okay, seriously, I must do this sometime.

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