And then, well, there's the food.
This year I cooked. Really cooked. With help. My daughter loves mashed potatoes and took charge of assembling an authentic version. No skim milk, I can't believe it's not butter facsimile. She got organic whole milk from Whole Foods, in glass bottles that have to go back to get a deposit refund. Claiming to be "from grass fed cows on family farms", and mixed with real butter, the mashed potatoes were a hit.
In Thanksgivings past, when I hosted dinner, I perfected the art (?) of the shortcut. Stove Top stuffing, boxed gravy, store bought pies, and the infamous green been casserole made with canned fried onions and cream of mushroom soup (light).
With real mashed potatoes, I vowed to be a bit more authentic this year.
Taking a literal page from the family cookbook (first edition), I made Aunt Edith's 'Zesty Corn Stuffing Balls". I actually chopped the celery myself. It was all worth it when my sister-in-law commented, "this stuffing tastes just like your mom's." It brought back another holiday memory at my other sister in law's house, when she made pasta with sauce. Upon tasting it, I said, "this sauce tastes just like my mom's".
"I watched her make it one day and just wrote down everything she did", she said. It was the real thing.
Aunt Edith is gone and so is my mom.
Here's the recipe.
"ZESTY CORN STUFFING BALLS
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 T butter or margarine
1 17-ounce canned cream style corn
1/2 cup water
1 t poultry seasoning
1/8 t pepper
1 8 oz. package (3 cups) herb-seasoned stuffing mix (I like the plain seasoned croutons)
3 eggs slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
In saucepan cook onion and celery in the 4 Tablespoons butter or margarine till tender but not brown. Add corn, water, poultry seasoning and pepper. Bring to a boil. Pour over stuffing mix; toss together lightly. Stir in eggs. Shape into seven or eight balls. Place in a 9x9x2 inch baking pan. Pour melted butter or margarine over. Refrigerate if desired. Bake in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes."
I confess to two shortcuts in this recipe -- the chopped onions came from Whole Foods and I skipped shaping the stuffing into balls, just pressing the mixture into a large baking dish.
It was good -- one serving of stuffing and the real mashed potatoes were quite enough.