The Thanks is in the Giving

By BOB ZIMORINO

Friends and Readers,

I am going to take a break from the story I have been telling about the evolution of food in my lifetime for a holiday special.

There isn’t anyone in America that can say the holiday season just sort of snuck up on them. Every year the commercial bludgeoning begins a little earlier. Subtlety is nonexistent in the retailer’s quest for their fair share of the financial pie. Displays are set up, ads are written, staff is hired and the action heats up.  Along comes Thanksgiving, the proverbial calm before the storm followed by Black Friday the official start to the season.

Wait! Did I just blow past Thanksgiving? I really like Thanksgiving. Is it about family? Is it about friends? Or is it about the food? How about all of the above? Whether you are actually with your family or separated for any reason it is a time to give thanks to those who have enriched your lives by their very presence in them.

It is a great time to think about all of the sacrifices those that came before us made.  It is a great time to look into the faces of the future and see the promise in each of their eyes. It is a great time to renew friendships, share a laugh or a story, break some bread, have some coffee and remind each other how important the relationship between you is.

Over the last few years we have seen so many lives disrupted by financial chaos and war. We have seen families torn apart unable to recover from the stresses related to these disruptions. I have always heard and believe that it is better to give than receive. If you are in any way able to perform an act of kindness for someone as part of your giving thanks, please take the time to do so. It would be a great addition to your holiday traditions.

On to the food. Several years ago I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner that consisted of turkey as dry as a leather shoe, Stovetop stuffing, runny canned gravy and instant mashed potatoes. I swore from that day forward that I would cook on Thanksgiving without a complaint if I never have to eat like that again. I have cooked every year since, and yes, without complaint.

Unlike this photo, Bob recommends removing the stuffing as soon as you take the turkey from the oven and doing the carving in the kitchen, not at thetable.

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I have become a traditionalist. I did my experimentation in the seventies and eighties (yes, we are talking food here). It was always with the stuffing. I had this idea that I was going to create the ultimate stuffing. Over the years I tried a number of fruits including: apples, lemons and raisins. There were a variety of nuts like cashews, roasted chestnuts, walnuts and almonds. I even did a Juicy Juice stuffing one year.

Here’s the thing. They were all delicious but they weren’t as good as the traditional bread stuffing that Mama Z taught me as a kid. A sage based seasoning mix that includes thyme, powdered rosemary, savory, and marjoram (think a lighter and sweeter version of oregano), as well as salt and pepper is the perfect compliment to poultry.

I can’t give you specific measurements because the amount of stuffing that I make is directly proportional to the size of the turkey.

Here are the ingredients that I use:

Dried bread or stuffing mix. Not Stovetop but the bags of mixed dried bread pieces. The grocery store bakery variety usually uses different types of wheat breads. I don’t recommend sourdough. They also usually include a seasoning packet which you can forego if you choose to make your own (I do).

Vegetables: Onions, celery and garlic

Turkey stock

Eggs

Saute your veggies and let them cool. Mix the bread with the eggs, turkey stock and cooled veggies. How much turkey stock? Enough to moisten the bread well but not to the point that it becomes gummy so add a little at a time until you reach a texture that is works for you. I make enough for the cavity of the turkey and a side pan or two because turkey leftovers require some stuffing.

When your turkey is done cooking and removed from the oven, remove the stuffing from the cavity immediately. While on television shows the turkey is presented on a platter ready to carve, do your guests a favor and carve it in the kitchen. It is often times not a pretty site and can be messy. That being the case, split the turkey at the time you remove the stuffing. The temperature inside the cavity can produce dangerous bacteria as it cools. By splitting it and removing the stuffing you eliminate that danger.

Add the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries, green bean casserole, all of the other sides that are a part of your family traditions, pies and some fresh whipped cream and you have a Thanksgiving feast.

I have one more thing to be thankful for this year. That is you, the folks that read my blogs and comment back to me. Over 600 of you so far and growing.

In closing, before the madness that we now call the “Holiday Season” arrives on Black Friday, and before you find yourself getting punched out at Toys R Us over this year’s hot toy by some lunatic wanting to make sure their child is appropriately spoiled at Christmas, take a break this Thursday and enjoy your family, your friends and a great meal.

Back to Bob’s  “Taste it” Blob homepage.

****************

Bio:  Bob Zimorino is a full-time real estate agent with Lambros/ERA Real Estate, a retired Certified Executive Chef, a Musician with the popular local band Hellgate Rodeo, a dad, and a grandpa. He shares the experiences from his life that helped shape his careers and hobbies. What better place to start his weekly “Taste It” blog than his take on the evolution of food in hislifetime?