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How creative for Thanksgiving?

Do you have family or friends or other guests who really enjoy it when you have new and creative Thanksgiving recipes on the table, or do they "insist" on the same traditional menu from year to year?
Can that recipe you saw in the magazine, so exotic and trendy, be a total flop with the company simply because it is exotic and trendy?
Any whiner stories that have started with the complaint, "...But we always have_______?"

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  1. We solved that problem by ADDING the new items and making less of the old. So, scale back the turkey from 22 lbs to 16, make 5 lbs of mashed potatoes instead of 10, etc. Everyone who is not adventuresome still can have enough of the traditional and others can try your new efforts. If the new items are a hit, eventaully they will be the mainstays of your holdiday traditional meal.

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    1. We occasionally have people who whine because they get a traditional Thanksgiving meal rather than Malaysian peekie toe crabs stuffed with free range sea urchin foam crested with an organic starfruit aoli.

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        1. Our family tradition is to have no tradition :) I make different versions of traditional foods....then several "off the rails" dishes and a ton of apps. We also have guests with changing dietary issues, this year we will be feeding some low carbers, one low calorie, a few vegetarians and one gluten free. The planning takes time, but I make it so everyone has a healthy variety of choices. Luckily, everyone drinks wine :)

          1. my family loves it when I get creative the rest of the year, but Thanksgiving is sacred. The biggest change in recent years has been dropping the cranberry congealed salad my grandmother used to make -- nobody else liked it, so when she passed away, we stopped making it.

            1. We make the basics basic and then add goodies over time.

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              1. re: JudiAU

                We try to update the menu each year but gramma loves these frozen sweet potato patties. We have made in roads on the green beans, replacing GB casserole with fresh beans tossed in olive oil, garlic, Romano, and a little crumbled French bread...baby steps. I'd love to try a mixture of roasted sweet potatoes and other roasted root vegetables. Maybe this year I can slip some chestnuts into the dressing. Who could object to that?

              2. As a vegetarian, I obviously don't cook or eat turkey. So we go for fall themed foods, and include versions of many of the traditional dishes like dressing and gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes , etc. For the "centerpiece" dish, I've made this:

                I served this to my ILs, and they were very pleased even though they are both meat-eaters (at least, they were kind enough to act pleased, but I think it was genuine). I don't relate to needing the exact same thing every year, but I do appreciate the nostalgia associated with some of the common elements.

                1. Some classics some not so classic. But always good. (My family was a military family so we are use to change.)

                  1. I standardized the Thanksgiving menu almost 20 years ago. I got so tired of rethinking the menu every year, and I just didn't have time to search out and decide to try different recipes. But I didn't do this holiday for a long time until just recently, and not with family. When I cooked the dinner for a family going through crisis a couple of years ago, I remember how badly they wanted "their" recipes, even though I was cooking. We incorporated both what I usually cook, and what they wanted. For some reason, we humans often want a certain amount of routine. For us now, we have no routine for Thanksgiving, and I miss it, even though I used to work like a dog doing it.

                    1. The whiners and their stories of ?.
                      my sister,sister in law and I were so tired of them about twenty years ago we sent out a "food,holiday sides letter" with a return stamped envelope.We listed a dozen of the ubiquitous,notorious sides,column one,would you pay $6.00 to $8.00 for this in a restaurant A La Carte?column two,and for column three,if you checked yes to column two,do you agree to take 100% of whats left home with you AND EAT IT?PS'd with a gentle reminder,all really do have a vote but not a dictate on tradition.
                      Oh did the waffle and whine come out of some,solution,vote.It's not a dictatorship YET.The 1950's icky sweet sweet potato,GONE,replaced with oven hash of sweet potato and onion.All of the icky sweet soupy or gelatinous cranberry things,replaced with thick cranberry,dried cranberry,ginger and orange "chutney".Pecan pie goes home with the four that want it.After a holiday meal it's just too much.One bird,two drumsticks and poetic volumes heard about that's the best,my favorite etc.20 people and 1entire plus a 1/2 left for the soup pot.We cut them off and roast along side the bird for soup.
                      We have scalded down some regulars to add new regulars or simply changed them enough to see them eaten.

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                      1. re: lcool

                        I like this idea - would you pay $8 for it, and will you take the leftovers home? That's a fantastic test!

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          Circa 1989 or 90,it worked and has stood the test of time.

                      2. Since I am the only one volunteered to cook, they don't get a choice. I pick a theme or cuisine and run with it. I've done cajun/creole, asian, all local seafood, traditional, tapas, dim sum, and appetizers. Last year I introduced them to pork belly, and not a scrap left. This year I am thinking Thai, Jamaican, or cornish game hens with picatta sauce. I don't do dessert. Never any complaints.

                        1. If the guest list includes family regulars, unless each and every guest is in favor of "creativity" for TG, do not creatively subtract, only creatively add. Period.

                          TG is a holiday weighted with deep liminal food associations (such that it's not the quality of the madeleines as the quality of the Proustian memory thereby inspired), and any cook who spits into that wind gets what's coming, as it were.

                          1. When my family was the little nuclear core of Mom, Dad and me, we were adventurous. The only constant was mom's French Canadian stuffing (with pork and sausage and onions oh my!), but we'd have chicken, or roast pork, or pheasant (if my uncle had gone hunting) and various sides. My present family, my inlaws, are very, very traditional....mashed potatoes, canned green beans, rolls, turkey, apple pie, cranberry sauce. Period. I mean it. I respect it--it's how their mom and dad did it, and they love the tradition so much they're loathe to change.

                            1. My family loves the traditions of Thanksgiving. I serve the same food(s) and set the table the same every year...complete with my adult childrens' decorations they made 30 years ago....including the placecards.
                              Traditions and memories....it's what makes this holiday special.