Old Fashioned Holiday Dinners
By Barbara Mattos
I don’t remember having turkey for Thanksgiving when I was young, probably because we didn’t raise turkeys on our little acreage in Idaho. My parents were very frugal, and we ate what we raised.
As I have written before, my mother was quite family oriented. Two of her younger siblings and their families exchanged holiday and Sunday dinners for years. If we had Thanksgiving dinner at our house, it was usually an old rooster boiled with homemade noodles. We would have mashed potatoes, yams with marshmallow, and a Waldorf salad. For dessert, we’d have homemade mincemeat and pumpkin pies.
In my home, we had turkey most years with dressing, mashed potatoes, yam with brown sugar and marshmallows, and a green salad. No one liked mincemeat but me, so we had pumpkin or pecan pies. My husband, Tony, was not especially fond of turkey, except the dressing, which — with a very thin layer of turkey and lots of dressing — made good sandwiches. He said the best part of the turkey was the soup. I didn’t know anything about turkey soup until Tony said that was the very last of the leftovers.
One year we bought a goose. We were at the bar, and I was asking how to cook the goose. Someone said “You start with a cup of shortening.” Everyone laughed, but I didn’t ask why. I finally asked our friendly butcher how to cook a goose, and he told me about how fat a goose was. We liked the goose, but found they are not easy to find on holidays and are more expensive than turkey.
Now my daughter Natalie has the holiday dinners and they are traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, yams – half plain and half candied – a vegetable (usually asparagus), and of course pies, rarely homemade. But the hors d’oeveres are a special thing by themselves: varieties of cheese, fancy meats, green vegetables and dips, cookies, and fancy candies.
A few years ago Natalie’s in-laws suggested we all go out to dinner on holidays. She was so shocked: “It is not traditional and there will be no leftovers!”