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A Zester Daily Thanksgiving: 2014 Favorites, Part 2

Zester Daily 2014 Thanksgiving Favorites. Credit: Karen Chaderjian

Zester Daily 2014 Thanksgiving Favorites. Credit: Karen Chaderjian

At this time of year,  holiday recipes pile up almost as quickly as calories.  For some cooks, not having recipes chosen at this point might be a problem. For others, it just adds fuel to the imagination for those who work better on deadline.

From table decorations to leftovers, Thanksgiving tips go well beyond the turkey and stuffing. The right cocktail can get things going just perfectly, and the right leftovers can make the holiday sweet for days afterward.

Here is a sampling of more Zester Daily Thanksgiving stories to get you through the last days marching toward the holiday. The notes are directly from the contributors. Click on the links for each story.

Getting ready

Ethically Raised Heirloom Turkeys for Thanksgiving by Wendy Petty: On a long trip across America’s heartland, I spotted a pair of button eyes peering out at me from a passing semi truck full of livestock. The pig that I had locked eyes with was probably being taken to slaughter.

Game Plan for a Perfect Last-Minute Thanksgiving by Louisa Kasdon: Hello, my name is Louisa, and I am a procrastinator. Especially about big, fancy things like making a Thanksgiving feast for 20 of my nearest and dearest.

Farm-to-Table Centerpieces For Eco-Chic Entertaining by Adair Seldon: If you ask me, perfection is overrated. I give it an 8.2. You can obsess and compulse until you’re just the right shade of blue in the face, but to create an artful eyeful that requires little primping, preening or pruning? That’s a 10.

Something to sip

Transform Your Holiday Cocktails With Shochu by Hiroko Shimbo: This year, you can transform your ordinary Thanksgiving dinner into an extraordinary one — not with food, but with drink.

Sherry, a Holiday Sipper Worth Talking About by Ruth Tobias: For the past couple of years now, sherry has begun making a slow but steady comeback among wine drinkers in the know — as well as it should.

The main event

Make Thanksgiving a Melting Pot of Food Cultures by Ramin Ganeshram: For me, growing up as the first-generation child of Trinidadian and Iranian immigrants, Thanksgiving was a chance to be “truly American.” But it was also a battle between me and parents, whom I wanted to serve only “white people’s food.” 

De-Stress Thanksgiving by Simplifying Side Dishes by Rinku Bhattacharya: It has taken me some analysis of classic side dishes — especially the vegetarian ones — to realize why we tend to get so overwhelmed by Thanksgiving meal planning. We have overcomplicated our vegetable dishes.

A Family Firmly Rooted in Thanksgiving by Carole Murko: Heritage has many meanings, from cultural and ancestral connection, to traditional breeds of animals raised for food in the past. Carole Soule is that rare individual whose life intersects both.

10 Ways to Bring Parsnips to the Table by Christine B. Rudalevige: Parsnips used to get a lot more love in the United States. When this pale taproot — native to Eurasia — made its way to the New World in the early 1600s, the inherently sweet but peppery parsnip was a commonplace carbohydrate.

6 Healthy Ways Cranberries Bite Back by Harriet Sugar Miller: As y0u’re simmering your cranberries with sweetness this holiday season, you can thank Mother Nature for their astringent qualities. 

Savory Ginger Pumpkin Mash, a Bit of Pilgrim Pride by Clifford A. Wright: There are basically three approaches to devising a Thanksgiving menu. In the first, the foods are typical of New England where the first thanksgiving was celebrated some 250 years before it became a national holiday with a capital “T” in the mid-19th century.

The finale

Skip the Pie: Go for Turkish Pumpkin Dessert by R. Eckhardt and D. Hagerman: Pumpkins are a fixture at autumn farmers markets in Turkey, where they grow so large that they’re often cut with saws and sold in halves or by the slice.

Puritan Fantasy: Crazy Good Apple Pumpkin Pie by Michael Krondl: Was there pumpkin pie at that first legendary Thanksgiving? My bet is there was.

The aftermath

9 Fresh Ideas for Memorable Thanksgiving Leftovers by Brooke Jackson: It’s the morning after Thanksgiving. Bleary-eyed you stumble to the refrigerator to get some milk for your first cup of coffee. You open the fridge door and there is a monster inside …

Leftover Turkey Tacos Are A Reason To Give Thanks by Nancy Zaslavsky: What’s all the fuss over turkey sandwiches on squishy white bread? Been there, done that. This year, go a different route and try the big day’s leftovers on wonderfully warm, healthful corn tortillas.

Main photo: Zester Daily  2014 Thanksgiving favorites include stories on farm-to-table centerpieces, crazy-good apple pumpkin pie and heirloom turkeys. Composite image: Karen Chaderjian

Zester Daily contributor Jane Burns has worked as a reporter and editor for the Des Moines Register, Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Wisconsin State Journal. She lives outside Madison, Wisconsin, a vibrant community that includes a deep-rooted local foods movement and a creatively evolving artisanal cheese and dairy market.