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Thanksgiving dinner: What is your LEAST favorite menu item that you can't get rid of?

There are so many Thanksgiving dishes that are obligatory to include on many family dinner tables. What T-day dishes do you wish would disappear forever from your family feast?

We don't live near any extended family, so we only eat what we like on Thanksgiving or at any other gathering. But, some of the things I've had at other's people houses on Thanksgiving are a mystery to me. Guess my list would include:

Sweet potatoes with marshmallows. I love sweet potatoes, baked and served with a bit of butter. Why marshmallows?

Really boring or poorly cooked green beans.

Horrid store-bought pumpkin pie. Homemade is so much better, and not difficult to prepare. My husband always brings home grocery store-bought pumpkin pies at this time of year. In fact, we have one in the trash right now. He said it was not edible, so I just took his word on it and didn't even try a bite.

What is on your list of bad Thanksgiving fare?

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  1. Luppy & nearly cold mashed potatoes..timing is so critical w/these.
    Imitation cider...why bother when the REAL stuff is so easy to find
    Imitation eggnog...make your own and experience heaven!

    Now if I could only get my inlaws to read CH!

    2 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      My family cooks and whips the potatoes the day before and refrigerates them in our removable slow cooker crock. Then around 1 or 2 we put them in the slow cooker on medium for 4 hours and they are nummy and toasty warm for supper!

      1. re: Bryn

        Bryn, now if my mil could only accept a few holiday suggestions.... :)

    2. The domesticated, chemical cocktail, agri-business, Butterball style turkey. A tasteless carcinogenic homogeniac mess. The poultry equivalent of the MacIntosh apple. Give me wild (or free range) or give me lobster!

      2 Replies
        1. re: Passadumkeg

          Amen! We've got a Narragansett hen coming our way this year, and FINALLY, I'm looking forward to turkey again.

          It's just too depressing, eating something that can't even manage to procreate on its own.

        2. Green bean casserole with Cream of Muchroom soup and those fried "onion" things on top. Should be renamed gray bean casserole, blech.

          Ditto on the fake apple cider and the grocery store frisbee pies. There's a reason they're 3.99, people!!!

          37 Replies
          1. re: yamalam

            Good heavens, I'm with you on that gray bean casserole! We had a potluck at work last week and there were a couple of them there(one with potatoes in it) . Ack! I wanted to wish it away!!!

            1. re: Luvfriedokra


              Under the "could be a new way to love green beans" category, I read this recipe just this morning. Yum inspired.

              1. re: Luvfriedokra

                I had a guest who brought the green bean casserole but made it with canned brown mushroom gravy instead - it was vile, and I'm not a picky eater

                1. re: jacquelyncoffey

                  Actually, my wife (the real cook in our family) does one. I am not really into green beans, in general, but have no aversion to them either - except that they usually clash with most wines, but they are not alone in that aspect. I do not know her recipe, but it does involve mushrooms and then a "canned" topping, those French-fried onions. At most sittings, I find myself reaching for two helpings of her dish, even if I have to hold my wines for other courses. Wish that I had the details, but for a non-fan, to begin with, I find hers to be head-n-shoulders above all others, that I have tasted.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    I have made it using all "from-scratch" items except for the onions, and it was delicious. I don't like the "original" recipe that uses all canned ingredients, and it was especially nasty when brown gravy was substituted for the cream of mushroom soup. If your wife makes something other than the original recipe, I'd love to see, because the dish can be really good if you make it right.

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Green beans clash with wine? I've never thought of them as clashing with wine ... sauteed with plenty of butter, I think they go nicely with Côtes du Rhone, Beaujolais ... I might have to pay more attention, though, it could just be that I'm used to it.

                      1. re: tmso

                        The problem is an organic acid cynarin, that, at best, confuses the tastes of wines. Whether it becomes a "clash," is totally up to your palate.


                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                        SO just told me that it is a "well known fact", that artichokes clash with wines.
                        Little did I know... Is this similar to the "acid" in green beans?

                        1. re: Scargod

                          For me, the only thing that really clashes with wine, is telephone poles.

                          1. re: Scargod

                            One of my favorite meals is an artichoke (done in the MW as I learned from you all) and a glass of red.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                              Especially predicated on my recent pairing of a PG with artichoke, may I ask you, "which reds?"



                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                I'll forward this to Sam; we exchange h-mails..:)

                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Bill, our dear friend Sam passed away over 18 months ago, so i'm afraid you won't be getting an answer on that one.

                              2. re: Scargod

                                I am not an organic chemist, but if memory serves, it is about the same acid, or similar. Maybe one, more knowledgeable in chemical matters, can weigh in here.

                                Similar exists with asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.

                                Now, and this goes for both clashes and affinities, the interactions, or their perceptions, will depend on the palate of the taster.


                                BTW - I recently had a Pinot Grigio (not my favorite varietal in many iterations), that went well with artichoke! I was not expecting that, and it was a good surprise.

                            2. re: jacquelyncoffey

                              It always look like vomit to me. Sorry for the graphic....oops this was in response to the green bean casseroles. I can't get my post to go into the right spot.
                              Sorry, Sam. I love love artichokes and wine...just not green bean casserole!

                          2. re: yamalam

                            If you've been reading the thread about the prepared food prices at Neiman Marcus, you should go on-line and check them out. They have a bloody green bean casserole! Here, see for yourselves!
                            That's $70.00 for the green beans, $15.50 for delivery and processing, plus state tax where applicable, and where I live, it's applicable! That's a tad under $93.00, or (it says it serves 12) $7.73 a portion! Under duress, I might pay that much to have it hauled away, but never to put it on the table!

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Interestingly, a lot of the items in the Neiman Marcus catalog actually come with the baking dish or tart pan with which they are displayed. That being said, $7.73 per person for a green bean casserole is highway robbery!

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                $70 bucks! Whoa, that is un-friggin'-believable!

                                In addition to all the expected answers to this question (canned cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, etc), I would like to include tomato aspic and mashed rutabagas. Why my family included these two dishes to our holiday spread I'll never know. Ugh.

                                1. re: lynnlato

                                  Geez, how can anyone hate mashed rutabagas/turnips? Mashed with a little butter and brown sugar, they are the perfect way to convey gravy from plate to mouth. Plus, nutritionally speaking, they are way better for you than mashed potatoes - more fibre, less sodium, way higher vitamin content, etc. I'd rather have these than lumpy, cold mashed potatoes any day, and especially on Thanksgiving.

                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                    I second the turnips. My parents make them every year, and without fail, it's the one leftover dish that ends up molding in the fridge. I'll admit that aside from my mom making them, I've never eaten them elsewhere, but she's a great cook, so I'm inclined to think that it's more the turnips than her method of preparation that's turning me off. I've always thought there were just kind of dry.

                                    1. re: Al_Pal

                                      Now, I like variations on turnip greens, but have, so far, not warmed to the roots.

                                      Still, though we in the Deep South are known for turnip greens, I do not associate either part of the plant with Thanksgiving meals - maybe just a familial thing?


                                  2. re: Caroline1

                                    Prepared green bean casserole by mail, good grief that's strange & amazing.
                                    I have no idea how the mil prepares her mashed potatoes (we're not permitted in the kitchen during holidays) but it's some "secret recipe" known only to her....and for my money...it's going to stay a secret. Really poor; always cold.
                                    The older I get the less I enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving. My wife & kids are having a Tex Mex Thanksgiving menu...but we do make the rounds with family and there is just no getting away from my mil's ode to Turkey Day.

                                    Holiday best to all at CH!

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Your wife and kids are having a Tex Mex T-D menu? What are you having?

                                      1. re: c oliver


                                        c oliver, We're following the "feast" from this article. We've tested several of the recipes already. Minus the turkey (since we make the rounds w/family).

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          HillJ, thanks for posting this link. I'm actually doing the turkey from Zarela's Veracruz cookbook and was thinking that some of the traditional sides my family usually has wouldn't be the best match with a turkey rubbed with chile paste. Some of the recipes on the Food & Wine link you posted seem to be a much better fit.

                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                      The tamales are tempting. Six dozen/six pounds. Less than a buck apiece. They look small...
                                      You have to order by the 22nd! I could just go to Texas for Thanksgiving ($350-400).

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        There's a high risk you'd get much better tamales by flying to Texas!

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          I was actually talking about tamales with someone the other day, and I would LOVE to know where I can get some good tamales or exactly what it is that would make them good. I'm actually from Texas originally, so you wouldn't expect finding good tamales to be a real problem, but I've never had any that weren't dry and bland. Which is a total shame because I've heard that when they're good, they're AMAZING. So after 25 years of life, I'm sadly still searching for a good tamale. Or perhaps just a good recipe.

                                          1. re: Al_Pal


                                            Where are you searching (geographically) now?

                                            I've had many great iterations, and from many Hispanic areas, but then have lived in some areas, where they were fairly common.

                                            Biggest revelation, for me, was when I lived in New Orleans. We were blessed with a family restaurant, Chapanlandia, which had maybe a dozen different tamales on their menu. Though the family was from Guatemala (Land of the Chapan), they had wonderful handmade tamales from Cuba, Mexico (three distinctly different variations, from different areas), Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rico, the Domican Republic and a few other countries. Each was wonderful, and each was different.

                                            In Arizona, while we have a wealth of Sonoran Mexican tamales, I miss all of the variations.


                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                        OMG, I just fell out of my chair laughing at Caroline1's post! Seriously, $93 for one of those godforsaken conglomerations of green bean glop? I would definitely pay that much to never again experience a family member or friend bringing one to the Thanksgiving meal - but paying $93 for something that you can pay about $5 to make yourself, that takes no time to make, and will probably taste just as awful????

                                      3. re: yamalam

                                        One year my aunt told me to bring a vegetable dish, and silly me, I did something interesting with zucchini. I thought I'd never hear the end of it. That's when I discovered that the vile green bean stuff was some kind of tradition and that vegetable was code language for green bean casserole. Yuck. When did that happen? I know that the holiday is more about eating a lot than eating anything interesting, but that stuff is truly gross.

                                        1. re: Judith

                                          I totally beg to differ! My family always has the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, but we make a POINT of trying a new dish every year...possibly because my mother rarely cooks anymore now that her three birds are out of the nest, so this is a good chance for her to try something she's been wanting to since she has to cook anyway. And some of the experimental dishes were so good that they've become Thanksgiving staples.

                                        2. re: yamalam

                                          My mom and both grandmothers favored frenched green beans lightly boiled and that is what I like. So the first time I tried that green bean casserole at my Aunt Rita's it was so hard to swallow even one bite. I hid the rest under a half-eaten slice of ham. My theory on why they exist is that it is so very hard to keep green beans hot for long. I make Thanksgiving dinner every year and the hardest thing is making sure that the green beans are piping hot yet not over-cooked when they come to the table. They still get cold really fast but that is what the hot mashed potatoes with really hot gravy are for, putting on your fork along with the rapidly chilling green beans. Another thing I have figured out over the years is to be sure to make more green beans than you think you will need. Big bowls of them retain heat and nuke nicely the next day for the hot sandwich platters.

                                          1. re: yamalam

                                            LOL @ "grocery store frisbee pies"~~~in defense of the Entenmann's (not sure of sp.) chain of baked goods~~~their pumpkin "frisbee pie"(LOL again) isn't really that bad, if you can't make your own.
                                            ~now Mrs. Smith's, I wonder how she got Mr. Smith to marry her, must not have been for her pumpkin pie.
                                            Usually in my own personal experience, most supermarkets had a fairly decent "frisbee pie" as far as pumpkin...but be afraid, very afraid, of what they try to pass off as sweet potato pie, has an odd aftertaste, and is just odd, period.

                                            1. re: yamalam

                                              they have a ton of ads for this and it makes me nauseous just looking at the ads, let
                                              alone seeing it on someobody's table. It is the height of laziness in my opinion.

                                              1. re: DustyOR

                                                I concur. Honestly, making a pumpkin pie has to be one of the simplest things on earth, and I find it so tragic when someone can't or won't put even that minimal amount of effort into making their own on a holiday that's ABOUT good, home-made food.

                                              2. re: yamalam

                                                I am one who normally hates casserole type things made with cream soups, but this is one I can't seem to shake. I love it. I know it's garbage, but I can't stop eating it.

                                              3. The cran-from-a-can that makes that "sploip" noise as it exits its metal tomb.

                                                15 Replies
                                                1. re: beth1

                                                  If yo'u're talking about the kind of cranberries that come out of the can with the imprint of the lids of the can and needs to be sliced, I'm right there with you. Kids seem to like it, though.

                                                  1. re: chicgail

                                                    I've never been a fan of cranberry sauce (and my mom always makes it fresh - NEVER from the can), but from doing Thanksgivings with friends over the years, I've noticed that it's really only the people who grew up eating canned cranberry sauce who actually like it. One of my friends loves vienna sausages, and I think it's sort of the same thing - you'll enjoy it if you were raised with it, but it's probably not something you'll like if you try it for the first time when you're older.

                                                    1. re: Al_Pal

                                                      This is probably true. A good friend who we have somehow got roped into spending every Thanksgiving with makes a from-scratch cranberry sauce every year - and I DESPISE it. It's why I don't want to spend Thanksgiving with her...because I'm a secret canned cranberry lover.

                                                      I love the sploink noise! It was always my job to slice it as a kid, and now, I can't stand any sauce that's got chunks. Which is funny because I think canned cranberry is the only canned item I eat all year, and definitely the only thing that tastes of cranberry. Thanksgiving just isn't the same without those perfectly even slices!

                                                      1. re: thursday

                                                        I am a member of the "secret canned cranberry" society as well. ;)

                                                        1. re: mcel215

                                                          I love canned cranberry. And it is cranberry and little else. And the sound at birth is, "SSCCCHHHGGLLLOOOOOOOPPPPP"!!

                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            Okay, now it's a toss-up between you and Beth1 for the best onomatopoeia-ish description of canned cranberry glop. I love your onomatopoeia word, but "as it exits its metal tomb" is just such a wonderful phrase....

                                                            1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                              I think Sam's sound is from a "metal womb" not "tomb."

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                True, but as I'm not a fan of canned cranberry glop, I prefer beth1's description of the metal tomb. To me, that stuff seems as though it's very much a dead, not a live or fresh product! So her description seems more apt, in my opinion. :-)

                                                                1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                  Tammy and the Spoolettes just sang this about me!!!

                                                                  He like iceburg lettuce
                                                                  He like toast and Spam
                                                                  He like can cranberry
                                                                  Oooh, oooh what a lovin' man

                                                                  He eat Jello an' marshmello
                                                                  Co't 45 an' gas station co'ndog
                                                                  Like my mama chitlin' an' pea
                                                                  Ooh wah ooo he our lovin' man

                                                                  [Copyright, Captain Pissgums & the Gay Cowboys Music]

                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                    Next song is ladies' choice. Wanna dance?

                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        Wow, Sam. Just...wow. :-O

                                                                        Classic. :-)

                                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                  That's why I make red chile "gravy", to give the meal some flavor. I like any kind of cranberry sauce, we eat it all year long w/ venison.
                                                                  The Pilgrims had no taste buds.

                                                        2. re: beth1

                                                          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, that might be the best description of that godawful canned pseudo-cran crap I've ever heard, Beth1!!!! Cranberries deserve a far better fate; they are so yummy, tart, crunchy, and cool!

                                                          1. re: beth1

                                                            In childhood and adulthood, we always had whole cranberry sauce (sometimes canned, sometimes fresh) and the cran-from the can jellied stuff at either end of the Thanksgiving Table. Everybody got what they wanted.

                                                          2. If I had my druthers, I would cut out the mashed potatoes. They've never done anything special for me, and the sweet potatoes and dressing are so much better.

                                                            Oh, and my Dad's new 'ladyfriend' likes to bring along an oyster casserole (fresh oysters, cream, butter, and, crushed Ritz crackers - all mushed together and baked into oblivion) that is a crime against shellfish. Why did so many have to die for something so nasty?

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: Cachetes

                                                              Fat free stuffing; fat free mashed potatoes. Yuck!!

                                                              1. re: Cachetes

                                                                Now, I love my mashed potatoes, but we usually do either garlic, or horseradish mashed, with a wonderful, mainly au jus gravy.

                                                                I have yet to be served "rubber" mashed, but I'd wager that many families get their mashed potatoes from a box - bad move... really bad move.


                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                  I also feel it's not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. But I like good mashed potatoes and would even prefer instant "mashed" potatoes to those that are whipped with an electric mixer until they turn into one large mass of potato gluten! Those things are nasty! My daughter makes them that way. She knows better. I even gave her my potato ricer, but her husband likes potato glue! <sigh> I don't go there for Thanksgiving any more. Besides, two years in a row her mother-in-law destroyed my sweet potato souffle. First by dumping marshmallows on it and turning it all to ash. Yes! Bona fide incinerated black flaky ash! In a souffle dish! The next year I thought I'd be proactive and just bake it there. She kept opening the oven and it never got baked. But now I live 600 miles away. What's funnier than life? You've got to keep your sense of humor. '-)

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    I'm with you on having mashed with some extra texture, though I'll take the whipped version, over anything from a box, just so long as they are not "liquid." I hate that.

                                                                    At our age, we have far fewer "family" Thanksgivings, and now spend more time with friends. Fortunately, many are great cooks, and a few even chefs, so it's less a problem now, than in years past. Things might swing back to family, if my oldest nephew, a chef in RI gets his act together, but until then...


                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      haha, that's what we called it as kids, 'glue potato'. It was our favourite request for when we were feeling sick. normally served with cheese grated on top. Clearly it rubbed off on relatives - when my 17 yr-old cousin got sick, my aunt called my mum, anxiously asking for her recipe for 'glue potatoes - she says it's the only thing she'll eat!"

                                                                    1. re: Cachetes

                                                                      That "casserole" is in fact scalloped oysters, a fine old New England dish (though properly made with buttered soda-cracker crumbs, not Ritz!) that I've adored since I was knee-high to a turkey. Crime against shellfish? Fie! It is an apotheosis.

                                                                      That said, if you throw it together with cheap, tough industrial-grade oysters and don't mind your fluids-to-solids ratio, it can be merely OK rather than transcendental. If I can't get worthy oysters, I'll default to oyster stuffing, since the seasoning covers many sins...

                                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                                        I agree, done well its a delight. I make it (or some version of it) fairly often.

                                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                                          Your reply makes a lot of sense -now that I think of it, she comes from an old New England family, and a lot of her cooking reflect that (it's a mystery to me in all of my second-generation Italian-ness). Now that I've lately moved to Boston, I should seek out some recipes for traditional New England fare and give them a try. Any suggestions?

                                                                          As for my Dad's ladyfriend, she's always welcome. But her version of scalloped oysters is far from the near-divinity of which you speak, so I'll still skip it this year!

                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                            I also love scalloped oysters, but not the canned and baked-to-oblivion variety! It's a Thanksgiving staple.

                                                                          2. re: Cachetes

                                                                            IMHO, if you HAVE to do mashed potatoes on thanksgiving, make 'em with cooked turnip (especially the big rutabagas) mixed in, gives them a whole new taste dimension, especially if who ever made the turkey makes a good gravy too. I never did understand why people would do "that" to oysters, that nasty baked concoction. Oysters aren't meant to be eaten any other way other than off the half-shell or deep-fried and appreciated!!!
                                                                            (will say a prayer for you on thanksgiving re: that nasty casserole, or that dad's new "ladyfriend" makes something different this year)

                                                                            1. re: LadyOnO2

                                                                              my mom (from philly) called the oyster and cracker thing scaopped oysters,also...

                                                                            2. re: Cachetes

                                                                              Mashed potatoes can go one of two ways: freaking incredible or absolute garbage. I grew up eating my grandfather's recipe which also includes onion, a couple different kinds of cheeses, some milk, and some seasonings you'd never expect. I mash them (no electric mixer) so they don't have such a uniform texture. And they're amazing. Truly incredible. We make TONS of extra potatoes just so we'll have leftovers, and my sisters and I still can never get our fill of them.

                                                                              On the other hand, when we don't celebrate a holiday at my parents' house and end up having to go over to another family member's house, the potatoes are typically horriffic - bland and overly buttery to make up for the fact that they came out of a box. Which is why my parents always petition to have Thanksgiving at their place.

                                                                            3. I am not a fan of turkey, so I'd skip that in favor of a better roast chicken or something else. I also don't like a lot of my SO's family's traditional fare, especially a dip made from imitation crab and bottled cocktail sauce and velveeta covered mushy broccoli and cauliflower. Ech. I'm with you on the sweet potatoes - I like them roasted with a little butter and served skins-on. YUM.

                                                                              1. For me, it's the dressing. In all of my years of celebrating Thanksgiving with dining, I have only experience maybe one stuffing recipe, that was worth going back to. These have been across the board in style, type and preperation. I usually accept some, taste it, and then push it around my plate. I'd guess that there are some good recipes out there, but even top chefs' versions have left me wondering, "what's the deal with this?"

                                                                                Even the sweet potatoes with the tiny mashmallows (and I normally HATE marshmallows of any size), do not turn me off. Now, I do go for the toastier marshmallows, and like the potatoes when there are fewer of these, but still, I can do it and often enjoy it. Since my wife was Miss Sweet Potato back in 19XX, I guess that I get some pretty spectacular versions. Sill, fewer and toastier marshmallows suit me better.


                                                                                PS Happy Thanksgiving to whomever!

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  Wow...and I thought that I was the only one who had an aversion to stuffing!! I have loathed the stuff (pun intended) since I can remember.

                                                                                  Every year someone convinces me to try their stuffing - since every single person has his or her "special and amazing" stuffing recipe which everyone always just loves. And every year I don't like it, and every year no one can get over the fact that I dislike it.

                                                                                  I will continue to try it, because I am always ready and willing to try all foods...but I am in the Bill Hunt team where I end up pushing it around my plate.

                                                                                  Happy Turkey Day CH'ers!!

                                                                                  1. re: cocktailqueen77

                                                                                    I have to admit that just after I posted initially, my loving wife came in with some stuffing from Fresh & Easy, the newish Tesco (UK) stores popping up around the US. I dutifully took a tiny bit. A few bites, and it was gone. I went back for another small serving. My wife asked, "you? Going back for more stuffing?" I tried to deconstruct it in my mind. I'm guessing that it was done with a garlic bread crumb base, and had a nice, rich beef gravy in/on it. I was thinking of my replies, as I did eat this second, albeit small, helping. It wasn't the greatest dish that I've had, by a long shot, but WAS the best stuffing that I can ever recall.

                                                                                    I guess that for every dish, there are possibly variations that will satisfy even the most ardent detractor. Still, this is a major anomaly for me. Considering the offerings that I have had from wonderful cooks and even great chefs, I was blown away that a mini-grocery for prepared foods, like Fresh & Easy could have such a tasty dish. Live, taste and learn.

                                                                                    Sorry to have to report that I have gone over to the "dark side." [Grin]

                                                                                    I guess that it had to happen sometime, but I resent that it came, just after I posted - bah, humbug!


                                                                                2. Turkey.

                                                                                  Seriously, what's the point? The dark meat is ok, but the white meat is tasteless. Turkey is really there just to make gravy.

                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                    Oh, I agree. Although turkey sandwiches the day after aren't bad.

                                                                                    Ideally, I'd love a big plate of stuffing (cooked inside the bird, please) with gravy and a tiny taste of turkey, a dollop of mashed potatoes, and spoonful of homemade cranberry sauce on the side. But I'd horrify my family if I ate that. My dad always makes a big green salad. Sigh. I eat salad 364 days a year. I don't want it on Thanksgiving.

                                                                                    1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                      Another vote for turkey. When I do duck, prime rib or the like, someone always complains that there's no turkey... Once I did turkey with oyster dressing and that was generally snubbed in favor of the typical, Southern style cornbread dressing.
                                                                                      I don't do little marshmallows in sweet potatoes or canned cranberry sauce.

                                                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                                                        Add me to the list of Turkey white meat avoiders at least on the day itself. My favorite is a cold turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwich the next day or a hot turkey open faced sandwich with the leftover potatoes and vegetables hash browned. Much better than Thanksgiving dinner itself.

                                                                                        1. re: riknpat

                                                                                          I view the turkey as merely a flavoring device for gravy and stuffing. I like the turkey diced in a mix of leftover stuffing, cranberry relish, but eaten on T-day it is pretty tasteless.

                                                                                          I would suggest that those who doesn't like green bean casserole to try the Cooks Illustrated version w/o the canned soup binder.

                                                                                          1. re: riknpat

                                                                                            I'm also a member of the dark meat lovers' fan club. Even moist white turkey meat just doesn't have the delicious flavor of a thigh or drumstick. Thankfully, most of my family members feel differently, so my sister and I basically get to split the dark meat leftovers each year. There's nothing better than dark turkey meat with lettuce, some onion, and a good coarse-grain mustard on toasted whole grain bread. Walking out of the kitchen at 1AM on Thanksgiving night with that sandwich in one hand and a bowl of my mother's "green junk" in the other is my favorite food moment of the whole holiday.

                                                                                            1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                                              Sounds fantastic, but I have to ask what the "green junk" is??? We have a required dish that my mother makes called "green stuff."

                                                                                              1. re: almccasland

                                                                                                A bizarre personal favorite of mine, made from pistachio pudding, a little (real) whipped cream, diced pineapple, mandarin orange segments, and chopped walnuts. I know it sounds odd, but it is SO good! I beg my mom to make it every Thanksgiving and I carry off the leftovers each time. Pair it up with that dark turkey meat sandwich when no one else is awake, and all is right with the world!

                                                                                                1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                                                  My Mom insisted on making this green stuff last thanksgiving with lime jello, coleslaw cabbage, and miracle whip. She was the only one who touched it.

                                                                                                  1. re: Bryn

                                                                                                    Wow. No offense, but that sounds godawful. Out of curiosity, why did she make it?

                                                                                                    1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                                                      Sentimentalism? I don't know she does like it. She's an amazing cook other than that jello ring.

                                                                                                  2. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                                                    My MIL makes this same "green stuff", and everyone in the family loves it. She doesn't put mandarin oranges in it though, but I'm going to recommend that to her - sounds good. As good of a cook as she is most of the time, I think her early senilty kicks in sometimes, because every now and then it's like "what was she thinking?!" Like the time she decide to take the leftover salted pistachios out of the nut dish and dump them in the "green stuff". It made the entire thing taste salty - and gross.

                                                                                                    1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                                                      My family has green stuff but it is made with lime jello, cottage cheese, pecans, crushed pineapple, and mandrain orange segments. Weird but delicous!

                                                                                            2. re: lulubelle

                                                                                              And this is why I'm having roast with red wine and whatever else I feel like putting in there :D No dressing or stuffing, I'm making corn pudding.

                                                                                            3. I have to say I am not a fan of any of traditional Thanksgiving fare. Luckily my immediately family is equally enthusiastic so if we do Thanksgiving ourselves we will just go out or have something we all like. Of course, if I go over to other places, then I have to deal with the gross traditional stuff.

                                                                                              1. It's no longer an issue, but Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's house always included a bowl of tiny white onions in cream sauce. As far as I can remember, back into the 50's, not a soul ever touched them and they went down the disposal as the table was being cleared. Through the 60s, 70s, 80s - creamed onions made an appearance every November. Everything else she made was happily devoured - especially the chestnut stuffing - but nobody EVER ate those onions. I asked my mother why she kept making them when nobody liked them and she just shrugged, "Tradition."

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Deenso

                                                                                                  I ADORE creamed onions, but my mom stopped making them because only my father and i ate them. She put really sharp cheddar on top of them and they were so so good! Maybe I'll make them again this year.

                                                                                                  1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                    At my house it was always peas and pearl onions in a white sauce. I still make it. I think it was probably a cream of something soup or just straight cream in the dish when I was a kid. Now I make it with a bechamel and some herbs and I season it well and I really like the whole thing. When I was young, it was just something else I had to pass along in order to get to the gravy which is what I was really after.

                                                                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                      my mom made the creamed onions also; i was responsible for standing at the stove constantly stirring the white sauce until the right consistency; i've probably posted this somwhere else before but she would also sometimes serve the steamed peas, and carrots (from frozen? pearl onions over a steamed cauliflower head covered with bechamel; pretty presentation and a nice way to get a bunch of veggies onto the table w/o resortting to green bean cassarole!

                                                                                                    2. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                      Mom always made them for Dad, every year for Thanksgiving, and I remember how happy they were when I decided I liked 'em too. Never had them with sharp cheddar, but wow does that sound good, must try...

                                                                                                    3. re: Deenso

                                                                                                      YES! I don't think my mom has made them lately because I think she and my grandmother are literally the only two who will touch them, but those onions used to sit next to the leftover turnips and rot right alongside them in the fridge.

                                                                                                    4. Rolls. They are never eaten as long as dressing is available. And agree the only purpose of the turkey is for gravy.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                        Guys, I think most of us are saying the same thing here. Traditional Thanksgiving feast or not, please if you're hosting a spread, TAKE THE TIME AND ENERGY TO DO IT RIGHT!!! Buy good ingredients and prepare them well. If it's too much time, effort, and money, or you're cooking for too many people, then turn it into a potluck. Coordinate with everyone and see what they can bring. Don't have the time to fix a dish? Bring wine, money, ice, anything. Or bring yourself, if you will pitch in and help. Those that don't participate but show up to eat, don't invite them back next year. You can also just go out or bring in a prepared spread from a good restaurant.

                                                                                                        Something else: Don't invite everybody if you can't get along with everybody. Thanksgiving should be a fun festival of celebration. Don't make the day miserable by insisting that "everyone must be included." It should be enjoyable for all. If someone comes ready to pick a fight, don't invite them back. They will only bring it down for everyone.

                                                                                                        1. re: Thefoodczar

                                                                                                          Nice points czar! John and his dad are begging his mom to have the thing catered this year. She goes into a cooking tizzy for days and gets really stressed, thus stressing everyone else out around her. They keep telling her it's just not worth it. Last year she made a tiny bowl of mashed potatoes for like seven people and they were all fighting over it. John officially hates thanksgiving now.

                                                                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                            Thanks, givemecarbs. Why get stressed out? Go ahead and have it catered. That way you can focus on fun, wine, football, and family. Have a blast!!

                                                                                                        2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                          Rolls? Really? At nearly every Thanksgiving I've been to, it seems like the rolls always run out. Even with dressing.

                                                                                                          I like just about any traditional Tgiving fare as long as it's done well. I am lucky, though, in that when my mother plans a Thanksgiving dinner, she spends weeks considering flavor profiles, etc. My in-laws, however, come from the school of boil-the-vegetables-until-they-are-limp-and-flavorless.

                                                                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                            At my house every one has one or a half of one. There are always tonnes left over. But if they aren't there there is an uprising.

                                                                                                          2. I guess I'm lucky enough to not having anything that I actively dislike. It's all very good -- I just wish I could try some new recipes once in a while. There are so many dishes that we just have to have that, aside from a dessert or two (and even that's hard to change), everything is the same year after year.

                                                                                                            1. skip the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. None of that fruit cocktail/marshmallow salad stuff either

                                                                                                              No margarine or oleo

                                                                                                              No fake sour cream (DSis used to use IMO all the time, uggghhhhhhhh)

                                                                                                              No Cool Whip

                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                That's one of the things I like about hosting Thanksgiving -- being able to control those factors! :-D Somehow we've never had sweet potatoes on the holiday, I guess b/c there's always tons of mashed potatoes and pureed butternut squash and other things. Hmm ..

                                                                                                                1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                  Fake sour cream? I've never even heard of such a thing! It sounds pretty horrific though.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                      There's this fat-free sour cream (I never got that concept of "fat-free cream" anything) product that gets sold. If you look at the ingredients, its all chemicals. yuck.

                                                                                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                        Aha. I've seen some of those....actually many of those. There are times when its been difficult to find sour cream that didn't have a list of ingredients. I stick with Daisy.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                          Yes, too many of our local grocers, in an apparent attempt to make us dine in a more "healthy" fashion, now carry, "genuine, imitation sour-cream like product." I worry, when I see the Exon-Mobile logo on the tin. Heck, even the bottled waters have a big label, "0g trans-fat."

                                                                                                                          Of course, you have to remember that my family is from Mississippi, so the big dish for Thanksgiving is deep-fried lard... at least it's not "genuine, artificial lard-like product."


                                                                                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                    Skip using canned sweet potatoes too. It takes no effort to bake them yourself. I love a good mashed sweet potato with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and a baked streusel topping with pecans.

                                                                                                                  2. We go to my parent's home for Thanksgiving, and my inlaws the following Sunday. Both serve the traditional feast. At my parents home, everything is homemade and delicious---except for the rolls. My mother insists on purchasing and baking those grocery store brown and serve rolls. I have no idea why--they never get eaten. Who wants to waste calories on something like that?

                                                                                                                    The dinner at the inlaws is another matter. They mean well, but really cannot cook. I think the top two unappetizing items are their mashed potatoes--potatoes cooked in water and then mashed with that same water. That's it. No seasoning of any kind, not even salt. The other would be their pearl onions--again, boiled in water, and served, undrained, in that same unseasoned water. Oh, and their turkey is always a Butterball (shudder). But, the company is good, so that's a positive.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: liamsaunt

                                                                                                                      I think your mother-in-law needs the pearl onion recipe from either ccbweb or lulubelle, and maybe offer to bring the mashed potatoes?

                                                                                                                      1. re: liamsaunt

                                                                                                                        I hear you on the dual Thanksgivings. One year I had two dinners scheduled in one day and thank god. The first one I went to was at my grandfather's and his lady friend was certainly no good cook. The turkey was stone cold, for whatever reason. And my mom and aunt found cockroaches in the cupboard where she stored the plates. I nibbled some turkey to be polite and escaped to go to my dad's as soon as possible! Good mashed potatoes, moist turkey, and fabulous gravy, among other things, and it was all hot! It was heaven.

                                                                                                                        1. re: liamsaunt

                                                                                                                          I loathe pearl onions. My mother always makes them plain old boiled. She at least drains them and adds butter, but I am not a huge onion fan. Also, I used to always have to help peel them when I was younger, and that was a bitch.

                                                                                                                        2. I can't stand pumpkin pie-even homemade. I've tried substituting pumpkin cheesecake & a pumpkin roll, but my folks expect pie.

                                                                                                                          I could do without the turkey as well (except for the gravy,) and eat extra sausage stuffing instead!

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: turqmut

                                                                                                                            Have you tried sweet potato pie? Looks a lot like pumpkin, tastes good, and is actually healthier. Don't tell them, and see if they can spot the difference!

                                                                                                                            1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                              Why is sweet potato pie healthier than pumpkin? Idon't want either one; just wondering.

                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                  Higher in protein, Vitamin A, beta-carotene, fibre, and Vitamin C. I'm not saying pumpkins are bad; they're actually like most other squash, which is fairly good for you. But sweet potatoes are really good for you:


                                                                                                                                  Most recipes call for so much added sugar that it dwarfs what appears naturally in either pumpkin or sweet potatoes.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                                    If I recall my gastronomic chemistry, the skin of both the sweet-potato and white (Irish, etc.) also contain a great deal of iron in a form that the human body can easily metabolize. Now, if I could only get my wife to eat the skins!


                                                                                                                                    PS I do love pumpkins also

                                                                                                                              1. re: turqmut

                                                                                                                                I think you and I are related. No pumpkin anything for me, I don't like turkey, and I absolutely adore my mother's sausage stuffing recipe with gravy.

                                                                                                                              2. Ex-mother in-law's oyster stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, store bought stale rolls, and cranberry sauce from a can. I am thankful that I never have to eat her Thanksgiving food again....I hug my mom extra hard on Thanksgiving due to her wonderful Thanksgiving dinner!!!

                                                                                                                                1. Another vote for green bean casserole. In addition, overcooked broccolli always seems to make its way to the table on Thanksgiving. Limp. Watery, olive green brocolli. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                  1. Myself, I always cook from scratch. But when i was married, my ex-MIL cooked the turkey to death (it was lying in the pan, all splayed out), she used bisto for the gravy, and made stove-top stuffing. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. She never had to do Tgiving again! (Hmmm, maybe that was her master plan...bwahahahaha!

                                                                                                                                    1. Sadly, grandma Melba's peach jello recipe (with bananas!) has passed with her.

                                                                                                                                      PS - the family does genuinely mourn her chocolate pie.

                                                                                                                                      1. Cranberries for me...(except that my rejection of them has become a family joke).

                                                                                                                                        Every year as a child my grandmother would tell me that "They are different this year!" and for the first 18 years of my life I kept trying them...and each year I would wince. When I hit my mid-thirties I started to try to cook with them for others and they love what I do to them...but I still hate them.

                                                                                                                                        Hatity Hate Hate!

                                                                                                                                        1. I really dislike cranberries, all i taste is tart, and I am not overly fond of pumpkin.

                                                                                                                                          I really don't mind them being on the menu, but with all the food available, why do people seem so intent on getting you to like the one or two things you really don't want to eat?

                                                                                                                                          1. Well I guess I will have to complain about myself here. He he! From my mother's side of the family is mashed rutabagas. I boil up a big rutabaga and mash it up with plenty of butter and then add an equal amount of freshly mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes make the rutabaga taste smooth and creamy. To me the rutabagas are the perfect counterpoint to the turkey, filling, gravy and regular (from scratch) mashed potatoes and I serve them every thanksgiving. A few people at my table also like them but some of my guests avoid them like the plague. If those guests read chowhound they would surely post that they would like the mashed rutabagas to go bye bye!

                                                                                                                                            1. I like canned cranberry sauce - there, I said it. I don't like home-made - something about the texture is SO disturbing. I like the noise it makes coming out of the can, I like to see the little can ridges in it and I like it on a turkey sandwich with curry mayo the next day....I feel like I've just come clean in an AA meeting...and, marshmallows belong nowhere but on a stick over a campfire

                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: lindsley

                                                                                                                                                I'm with you on the cranberry sauce; I've had good and bad homemade, and the canned stuff is no different from buying grape jelly in a jar. I don't think most hounds make their grape jelly from scratch, although I'm sure I'll be flamed by those who do!

                                                                                                                                                As for marshmallows - don't know where you're from, but up here in the Great White North, marshmallows in the hot chocolate are a nice treat after a day of sledding/skating/skiing.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                                                  Oh, KevinB, you're right - I stand corrected - I got so sidetracked by the horror of marshmallows in sweet potatoes, that I forgot hot chocolate (I grew up in Wisc) and s'mores (I was a camp counselor)...thanks for reminding me.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                                                    They also belong in a rice krispies square! :-D

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: lindsley

                                                                                                                                                    I've never understood why marshmallows have to go anywhere near sweet potatoes. I only like marshmallows when they've been set on fire and charred on the outside but are still gooey on the inside....and in Lucky Charms. But why ruin an awesome sweet potato dish with something as vile as marshmallows?

                                                                                                                                                  3. Being from a no shoes in the house, rice eating tradtion that included a full, all homemade Thanksgiving (with the exception of both fresh and canned cranberry sauce), I / we could easily do without anything potato. We never had green bean casserole, but that would be on the list if we had ever had it.

                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                      Aw come on, anglo Americans revel in their starch-fest with stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and cornbread. Why not potatoes *and* rice? I always thought that my family had them beat by copying the traditional spread and adding risotto to the mix; not sure who saw that and thought "this meal could use rice" but it works.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tmso

                                                                                                                                                        Well, our Thanksgivings always seemed to have turkey, gravy, stuffing, rice, homemade and canned cranberry sauce, a ham, sweet potatoes, Swedish meatballs, crudites, green salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, chicken teriyaki, musubi, inarizushi, makizushi, Japanese style spinach, asparagus, pork char shu, pumpkin pie, apple-cranberry pie, chiffon cake, devil's food cake, a german torte, and cream puffs. No one ever screamed out in anguish, "Arrghhh, we're out of potatoes!".

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                          Wow, that's really something for everyone! Is this usually a big group?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                            It used to be when I was growing up in California. About 30 -35 people, all passionate about food.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Pumpkin pie! don't care if its from a bakery or a French chef made it, I cant't stand the taste of pumpkin anything!

                                                                                                                                                      Brussels sprouts! Yuck, perhpas I was subjected to over-boiled ones with rock hard crumbs on top, but the smell of these make me want to retch!

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                                                                                        You've never had Brussels sprouts gratin. OMG. You might not like it, but it is the definitive dish that will get someone to like BS if their is hope of them liking them at all.

                                                                                                                                                      2. My brother-in-law's mother's tzimmes. I have no idea what went into Penny's Tzimmes, but there wasn't a single person in the family who would eat it, not even her own son. After many years, someone finally "forgot" to put it on the table and that became a new family tradition. It got even worse when my mother-in-law married a man with diabetes. Then we also got a big bowl of sugar-free tzimmes. Even worse, if that's possible. No one wanted to hurt her feelings but no one could choke that stuff down.

                                                                                                                                                        I never got gravy until recently. After all, who really wants lumpy, sludgy brown goop that tastes like salty mucilage? Then the Spouse decided to do it properly with homemade stock, sherry, mushrooms, and lots of other real goodies. It takes quite a bit of time but he enjoys it and it's a revelation. The stuff actually tastes really good. But not that many people are willing to go to the effort, understandably.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                                                          Does he have a recipe for the gravy or does he just wing it? It sounds good.

                                                                                                                                                        2. In years I am making thanksgiving dinner, I enjoy all of it. But this year I am doing it with friends, one of whom insists on making his mother's vile congealed salad of lime jello, cabbage and mayo! When I go to my family's dinners in Alabama, they overcook a frozen turkey and serve gloppy casseroles of canned veggies and canned soups, but at least there are plenty of good local vegetalbles, delicious cornbread dressing and deserts.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Funny how everyone's traditions at the holidays can be so different! In my mind, there are no green veggies at Thanksgiving - all yellow and orange. Turnip, butternut squash, boiled onions....
                                                                                                                                                            Unfortunately, I am the only one who likes turnip, so I don't often have it, thus at T-giving it's a must.
                                                                                                                                                            And I love the canned, jellied cranberry sauce!

                                                                                                                                                            I am not a sweet potato girl, and anything with marshmallows in it is just wrong!

                                                                                                                                                            1. Gravy. Turkey gravy. Turkey hash. In any combination this is a heartburn recipe.

                                                                                                                                                              Favorite food is a cornbread or corn based breading with oysters - not too finely diced, please. Cornbread with lots of cracked pepper or jalapeno is also a pretty good complement to the more bland traditions. I'll agree with several people on sweet potatoes - keep the marshmallows in the tent.

                                                                                                                                                              The green bean with mushroom soup onion topped debris field is better suited for church summer picnics 'cause I won't be there.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chibob

                                                                                                                                                                My mil made cheddar cheese onions that my sil's husband and I fought over big time. Unfortunately nobody learned how to make it before she died, not even her daughter. Too bad! I still miss them 18 years later. I used to hate turkey growing up. My mother didn't like it, wouldn't spend $ on a good one, and then threw it in the oven to dry over high heat without basting. You could gag on it, it was so dry. Too bad, because her stuffing and gravy were superb.

                                                                                                                                                                The first time I had TG at my mil's, I was astounded. She actuallly cared for the bird properly while it was in the oven. I never knew turkey tasted like anything other than cardboard!

                                                                                                                                                                Thank goodness neither parent never--ever--made that vile marshmallow/sweet potato thing. Dessert as a side dish veg is not appealing. But yay for jellied canned cranberry sauce! Comfort food, especially when it "accidentally" gets some stuffing and gravy spilled on it on your plate.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Oyster Dressing. It's a must do at my family TG, but I can't stand the stuff. I like my oysters roasted on the grill, please, with plenty of horseradishy cocktail sauce. I like fresh cranberry sauce for the dinner, but I like the canned stuff sliced thinly on my turkey sandwich the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SweetPhyl

                                                                                                                                                                  I’d gladly eat anyone’s oyster stuffing – its got to be tastier than the boring outside-the-bird stuff I’ve been served over the years. I prefer mine cooked INSIDE the bird, and always have. I used to tell my younger siblings that it was actually food the turkey had already eaten before we cooked it. They were grossed out, ergo, more for me!

                                                                                                                                                                  And isnt it interesting that the green bean casserole (GBC) is so universally loathed, yet perpetually served? My mom did not make this (it had either not been “invented” yet or she was not aware of it waaaay back in the 60s) Since I hate green beans I’ve never touched this noxious stuff but I did make it once (upon request from a glad-to-be-gone boyfriend) and sent the leftovers home with the requestor.

                                                                                                                                                                  I also confess to actually liking that cranberry “jelly” but again, it’s a childhood thing. These days I actually prepare my own cran sauce, with orange zest, fresh ginger and cherry brandy. Its divine and goes great with leftover turkey.

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanksgiving for me as a kid was always about the preparation – days ahead mom and I baked the pies (made our own crusts and fillings) and polished the silver. We brought out the best china and glassware, and ironed and folded the napkins. There was even a dress code – NO jeans, no T-shirts and even dad and grandpa wore ties. Yeah, it’s a lot of work. But you only do it once a year! These days I spend my T-day as an overnight guest in someone else’s house, where our hostess has made abundantly clear that she does NOT want my help or suggestions. You should have seen the looks I got the first year I was there when I suggested perhaps a little garlic or horseradish in those pre-cooked and reheated mashed potatoes. Two years ago, craving something – ANYTHING -- healthy, I asked about a green salad, offering to make the fresh vinaigrette myself – I was told that there wasn’t room on the 25 foot long fold out table (rented for the occasion). Shall I whip some cream for your (Publix pumpkin) pie? No no … Reddi Whip is fine and “the kids prefer it” (I doubt seriously her grandchildren have even tasted real whipped cream). One year a regular guest was doing the Atkins diet, and brought all her own “low carb food”. If only she could have kept her mouth full, we would not have had to hear about how many carbs were in what WE were having. OK ok … I surrender. The trip itself allows Mr. Cheflambo to visit with his favorite cousin and his only brother, so I just show up, eat up, and shut up. The other 364 days a year I can eat what I like.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I'm done with the nasty Green Bean Casserole. I tried to make it with all fresh ingredients, made my own cream of mushroom soup, etc- no one touched it because my frizzled onions were not from the can I guess. Other than that- everything I'm making is loved by all and I'm so excited to host my friends and family this year.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Green bean casserole! Like my husband says, if people like it so much, why don't they make it year-round?! It's not like it's a challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lisafaz

                                                                                                                                                                      The cafeteria at my college served this at least twice a month at Sunday dinner. I can't stand it, but one of my good friends had to have at least two servings, so I was always enlisted to get her an extra helping.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I don't want "giblet" gravy. I want gravy that would pass through a tea strainer. I don't want gravy to be a Heimlich episode. Take those livers, hearts, gizzards, and unclassified neck parts and feed them to the cat. They don't belong in gravy.

                                                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                        Veggo, that's downright uncivilized of you. Damn good over a peppery, sage cornbread stuffing! I assume you have teeth?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                                          no giblet or "parts" in the gravy and NO cornbread in the stuffing

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                                                                            Totally agree on cornbread stuffing, but I do like giblet gravy. I chop mine very fine and it really adds more flavor than texture.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                                                                              Not only no giblets in the gravy (and certainly no hard-boiled eggs), but no flour or corn starch to thicken it up. Just reduce it until it tastes great, skim off the fat and serve it.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                                              Veg's MUCH younger than you and I but I'm with him on the gravy. And my mother used to also put chopped boiled egg in it :(

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                Boiled eggs in gravy sounds just nasty!

                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm with Veggo. I don't even like gravy thickened with flour. I prefer the natural juice from the turkey, combined with a broth made from the giblets, onion & carrot and the whole thing reduced to a rich, almost wine-like savory liquid. If you want to eat those giblets after the broth is made that's fine. The dog likes them, too.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                I sooo agree. My mom makes a vile giblets gravy that is yellow-greenish with floating chunks of nasty bits. She thought it was superior to brown gravy and that we should think ourselves lucky children whose mother bothered to make homemade gravy instead of canned gravy. I would have dearly loved canned gravy instead. It turned me off gravy and sauces for years and years. We have Thanksgiving at my sisters and my mom still insists on making her giblet gravy, but now we have brown gravy on the table for the less fortunate.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. I'm doing Thanksgiving for 14 this year. All authentic, all made from scratch. My mom has a tradition that she makes one new dish or dessert every year. It may replace last year's new one that wasn't a hit, or one of the traditional items is eliminated. I'm not a big pumpkin pie fan, so it wasn't a hard decision for me two years ago to substitute a new recipe for Pear-Cranberry Streusel Pie. It was rummy, and I'm going to make it again this year. I'm going to pass on the green bean casserole this year, because I have several new side dish recipes to choose from that I think everyone will enjoy more than "gray bean casserole." I'm with those who would eliminate the turkey, but it just wouldn't be the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. 126 replies so far, as I write this and nobody has mentioned Mama Stamberg's Thanksgiving Relish? Susan Stamberg has been one of my favorite National Public Radio journalists over the years. NPR started a tradition many years ago, where Susan Stamberg gave the recipe for her mother-in-law's relish. We finally tried it, and for my tastebuds it was a horse radish disaster. Once was enough. But I will enjoy hearing how NPR creatively works the recipe in to "All Things Considered" again this year. That much of the Mama Stamberg tradition is as far as I'll go.

                                                                                                                                                                                  In our house, we always had sweet & sour red cabbage, (or Rod Kaal or some such in German/Norwegian). I love the stuff and insist its on the table, but nobody fights me for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  We all love the traditional "Libby's" pumpkin pie recipe. Generally feel let down when one of the relatives says they'll bring the pumpkin pie and they bring some avante garde pumpkin pie recipe thing they found in the latest food magazine. Keep the pumpkin pie simple, and pass around the whipped cream and/or ice cream (perfect topping).

                                                                                                                                                                                  Come on, guys. The green bean casserole may be over-done, but I kind of like it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Florida Hound

                                                                                                                                                                                    You're welcome to any green bean casserole that shows up at my Thanksgiving dinner! Bleah! I'd be happy to pay any shipping costs.... :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                    And as an aside...my father made a turkey roll the first year after he and my mother divorced. As if that holiday season wasn't already bad enough! I still get shivers thinking about all that greasy compressed meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yep. Me too. I don't like turkey. It tastes rotten (literally) to me. None of my family likes it either so we always have country ham. When my brother got married my sister in law demanded that we have turkey. We explained that we don't have it because we don't like it and won't eat it but suggested that we could make a turkey breast for her since she liked it. She declined that offer and said we had to have a whole turkey because it was traditional. So she made a whole turkey and we had to keep moving the dinner back because the dang bird took forever to cook. She also demanded that we have stuffing that was stuffed into the bird while it cooks. Now, we are a cornbread dressing family. So that year we had country ham and turkey (with stuffing) and everyone felt obligated to eat some of the turkey. I didn't try the stuffing because I was scared of it (she took it out of the turkey before the turkey was done and put it in a serving dish). We had a lot of turkey left over and she wouldn't take any of it home with her. So my Dad and I split the leftovers (we are not ones just to throw out food) and I managed to pile enough stuff on sandwiches to hide the turkey while I worked my way through the leftovers. She still brings a turkey for Thanksgiving dinners but she makes a turkey breast and no one but her eats it. She's never tried our country ham.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Boudleaux

                                                                                                                                                                                        Unless it is a wild bird, both corporate turkey and chicken are both flavorless but at the same time, tastes off to me. I'm having a Pen State Chinese/Korean student of mine from years ago up to Maine for Thanksgiving. Scallop cerviche and boiled lobsters give thanks for me. Funny that when I'm in the states what a fowl mood I get.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't like turkey either. Three of the big TG offenders ( gb casserole, canned jellied CB sauce, and candied yams with marshmallows) are things that I kind of feel don't count for this list, since we never ate them growing up. I mean, I do hate them , but they're not a part of my family's TG tradition. Turkey, though - it's not that I hate it, exactly, and I do prefer the dark meat to the white - it's just that it doesn't jazz me at all and it seems a pity that a turkey has to die for me to not even enjoy eating it. I always do duck for TG if my guests will stand for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                            I have never tried duck (due to lack of opportunity, not outright refusal!), but I've heard it's rather greasy. What is it really like? I might get to host Thanksgiving next year, so I'm mulling possible changes....

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                                                                                                                                              Duck is great. It need not be greasy at all - all depends on how you fix it. Great flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                                                                                                                                                If you decide to do the duck (and don't wait a year if you are interested), do a five hour duck. Five hours at a low temp, all the fat is rendered leaving a crisp skin and juicy meat. It's not even hard, just long. Once an hour you take it out of the oven, prick the skin and turn it over. Google 5 hour duck and you will find the recipe. But yes, three to a bird, at most.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been thinking about doing away with the turkey this year, feeling much the way you do, and replacing it with ham. Actually I think we'll have both turkey and ham this year, so no one feels slighted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rat, get lots of duck, one duck serves 3, at best.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Stove Top Stuffing! My SO loves that stuff and I can barely stand to smell it. I prefer homemade dressing made with leftover cornbread and biscuits.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alliedawn_98

                                                                                                                                                                                              Allie, check your state's divorce laws. I understand that in several progressive food states that Stove Top Stuffing is clearly stated as grounds for divorce as a form of incompatibility.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                My mom's fruit salad. For as far back as I can remember, my mom has made fruit salad-just basic fruit mixed with cool whip. Every year, it goes uneaten-even by her. We keep asking why she continues to make it, she just says it's tradition. One year I think she skipped it and we all wondererd where it was, of course we teased her and now it's a running joke every year. "So Mom, are you going to make your famous fruit salad that nobody eats? "Of course, it's tradition" she replies"
                                                                                                                                                                                                I could live without pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole, they're both just too sweet for me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                My MIL made green bean casserole one year. It was the first and last time I ever ate it. Blech-I can't believe there are people out there who actually like it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                I prefer turkey the next day in a sandwich, but could eat stuffing, gravy, and canned cranberry sauce all day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hahah! We're not married so no divorce laws needed. He has lots of other good qualities so I'll keep him around for now. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I just make my own dressing and he has his Stove Top and all are happy. At least his is quick and simple so I only have to spend a lot of time on mine!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't care for the green bean casserole but got around making that one by coming up with a simple vegetable casserole that we all like. I don't mind the cream soups. I just don't like the texture and flavors of the green bean casserole.....maybe because I don't like canned green beans?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alliedawn_98

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's not that bad if you make it with frozen french cut green beans. But I stopped making it lately anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Boiled peas. With everything else to choose from I don't know why my mom insists on always having boiled peas at the table. No one wants them, at most they take a grudging teaspoonful.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Um...the turkey. It's always dry and flavorless when my MIL makes it so I prefer eating the side dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Fucking PRETZEL SALAD. Ok, before you judge, my mother is a wonderful person, but not a very wonderful cook. This is her uhh...signature dessert and everyone in my (weird) family seems to adore it. It's basically crushed pretzels suspended in red jello and topped with whipped cream. Just looking at it makes me testy and it will never go away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't mind green bean casserole, but I tried to do something different a few years ago and it was so well-received that I bring my parsnip and asparagus casserole to every holiday dinner instead. Super simple, too - layer thinly sliced parsnips (I quickly saute first to decrease baking time), caramelized onions, and asparagus (cut into about 2" pieces) in a 9" square baking dish. Add a bit of salt and fresh rosemary to top each layer. Pour over a bit of heavy cream and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. I adapted this from a recipe that called for potatoes instead of the parsnips, so that's an option, too.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodpoisoned

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think of most tgiving food as an excuse to bring back the 1950s way of eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodpoisoned

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pretzel salad??? is that for real? Who could have thought up such a vile mixture?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. A few years ago I visited an elderly friend in her penthouse in Baltimore. Canned peas, Stove-top stuffing, instant potatoes, I will never forget. But, she is not capable of serving TGiving in any form any more. So, even though I was horrified at the time, I'm not any more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I used to say cranberry sauce was something I could do without, and then I made some whole-berry sauce for a Thanksgiving potluck at work, and my eyes were opened.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't care for stuffing/dressing, although if it's reasonably dry, and baked separate from the turkey, I can put down a forkful or two of it to be sociable. And I've grown up enough in my tastes that I can eat sweet potatoes (whipped, preferably with the candied pecans on top).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        But my dear dear Mother continues to make this large bowl of cranberry relish with cranberries, apples and orange peel that no one except her eats. I try to eat it every year, and end up pushing it around on my plate - the peel's just too bitter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: podunkboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                          If the peel's bitter, she's probably not trimming enough of the pith. Why don't you give her a hand this year, trim it closely, and see if that helps?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. My new othwerwise lovely and wonderful SIL's family will only eat the dry packaged turkey gravy made up with water. The horror. The Thanksgiving I went to at her house right after their marriage, it was shocking. I mean...gravy, it's the cornerstone of Thanksgiving. It's the raison d'etre for the dang bird!!! and they insisted that it come out of packages! To be put on the dressing that was made from homemade cornbread!!! Why bother with good dressing if you kill it with crappy gravy. I made gravy. I don't care how rude it was and I acknowledge, it was rude. But, dang people, some folks need to be saved from themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: aggiecat

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The first Thanksgiving my husband and I were dating and he pulled two jars of gravy from the cupboard. I gave him the "WTF?" look and proceeded to make gravy. I think that may be one reason he married me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Janet, that's too funny! Same thing with me and my DH of 35 years... I took over gravy at his house when we were dating. His mom didn't do canned, but she also didn't (still doesn't) know how to make gravy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: aggiecat

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Several years ago I had just removed the turkey from the roasting pan to set it on a cutting board when my husband decided to "help" by pouring liquid soap into the roasting pan. I turned around and saw the suds and let out an involuntary scream. Dinner was pretty much ruined without homemade gravy, but he's an otherwise decent fellow so I kept him around anyhow. Though now he knows to stay out of the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bitchincook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh dear. I just yelped out loud myself on reading this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                (My husband just stands in the kitchen doorway when he needs to chat. Might be because I gesture with knife in hand.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. well honestly, the green bean casserole and canned smooth cranberry jelly. I'll always make other sides to compensate, but it never fails someone wants those those two things. I make my own conserve from fresh cranberries. I've tried to make fresh green beans and invariably a non close or non family member with balk and whisper if that's the green beans. So I make those to suit others, and I still make my own cranberry conserve, but I'll also have the canned version on the table. I look at this way, more for me. It doesn't matter, I like to make people happy. I think it's tough to eat holiday dinners at other people's homes. I don't care to, I like my own food so I usually offer to cook. Last year, I got comments about my sweet potatoes not having marshmallows, so I made them different for Christmas. I found a pretty good recipe and though I thought I'd hate them, they were actually pretty good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Without a doubt, sweet potatoes, in absolutely any form.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I never liked them, but when I was about six, it got much, much worse. My father chose them one night to make a righteous "You WILL eat what your mother puts on the table!!" stand. I got the last word by barfing them in the kitchen sink. I haven't been able to get near them since.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Ham! It's always there, and even more so at X-mas. No matter how it's cooked, it's still HAM. The mere thought of having to confront ham tommorrow is ruining my day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My mother hosts the meal and insists on opening a can of sauerkraut and warming it up as is. No one ever eats it but her. Ugh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Cold. Everything is always cold. Why is it always cold?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I wish I could stop at only one!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A: my family makes a really vile casserole of pineapple, crackers butter and chesse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        B: I did thanksgiving a couple of years with friends, one of whom INSISTED on making his mother's "special" congealed salad of saucerkaraut, lime jello and mayonaise. And yes it IS as bad as it sounds and he would put in on your plate!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        C: This year I was with family, and leaving again in deep south. I thought i was making an organic turkey, brined and herb buttered on roasted vegetables. My brother and his wife insisted on two nasty grocery store birds--one " Cajun" and the other "smoked" with chemicals. I did no meat this year.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: thevirginian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Haha! I make a pineapple casserole from a DAR cookbook that is the HIT of the Thanksgiving table. I am always asked to bring it. A little bit goes a long way -- because it's very rich. Just a small spoonful is enough for me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Your version of the turkey sounds divine. We usually get a fresh organic bird from an Amish market. We don't brine it - but we put herbs and butter under the skin. This year we soaked a cheesecloth in butter and broth and placed that over the bird as it roasted -- kept it moist and allowed it to brown. It was yummy and the skin was still crispy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Divalicias

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Taking a cue from pumpkins and Christmas fruitcakes, I wish there were a competition in which you could hurl green bean casseroles from catapults.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Divalicias

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am certain a good pineappple casserole is possible, but not my sister's version. If you try brining once you will be won over I can assure you. By the way, I used to live in Maryland and always got great turkeys at the Amish market in Annapolis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. The turkey - I love the skin but too often it is dry and extremely boring. At least brine it or slip some herb butter under the skin and cook it to temperature. Turkey has never been in my top proteins, anyway. We usually have duck or lamb instead when it is at our house.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was entertained to overhear a woman describe the main dishes that would be served at her daughter's house for Thanksgiving. For eight people (incl. 2 young children), there were two turkeys, a leg of lamb, a ham, and 10 lbs of lasagna. Covering all bases, I suppose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, the leftovers ARE the best part!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Lasagna is pretty common in Italian communities. My least favorite family tradition is rutabaga. When I am cooking, a substitute parsnips and hope no one notices. I have liked turkey a whole lot better since I started splurging on organic, free-range birds. I hate sweet potatoe pie, but love pumpkin pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. That giblet gravy with eggs and cream of chicken soup. Ugh. I have started insisting on making gravy myself. I make it from scratch. I use the fat drippings for the roux and use the giblets for the stock. I also include wine, onions, garlic, and other seasonings--like herbes de provence or something fresh, depending on what I am in the mood to do and what else is being served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Sweet potato/marshmallow thing...nasty! Also I have one family member that allways bring boxed mac and cheese to our holiday dinners. Gross! Doesn't take that much longer to make real mac and cheese.