Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Relish Tray

I'm hosting my first ever Thanksgiving this year. I've got a 12.5 turkey in the fridge. Free range but not organic. I figured at least the turkey was mostly happy even if he ate a lot of junk food. Since free range organic was twice the price of just free range, it was the best I could do. But I feel good about the free range part. If you've ever been on a farm where you see free range chickens versus chickens in cages, the difference is shocking. Free range chickens are really quite attractive birds, have a lot of energy and are just a lot of fun to watch. Caged birds are not attractive or happy in any way. It makes sense. I wouldn't like a cage either. (Nor would I like to be eaten on Thanksgiving but that's a whole 'nother post).
Anyhow, for a great site about preparing for Thanksgiving, Cooks' Illustrated set up a site that is really helpful. It did create a dilemma for me: high roast vs. regular roast? I think for my first ever turkey, I'll stick with the tried and true and just do the traditional. Maybe next time.

I love the midwestern relish tray, typically a fancy dish piled with pickled vegetables, and rue the fact that it seems to fading into obscurity. One of my favorite Thanksgiving family traditions is the relish tray with cream cheese and olive stuffed celery. Who can live without this? Many moons ago when I lived in SoCal and was horribly homesick for Pittsburgh, I went to a homestyle restaurant in Southern California and when they brought out a relish tray, I almost cried with happiness. Funny how food is that powerful, you know?

My fabulous twist on the relish tray this year is using olives that have been stuffed with orange peel rather than the traditional pimiento stuffed olives. Ho ho! That would throw my family for a loop. Going all gourmet n'at.

But my non-midwestern friends up here in New England will probably just think the whole relish tray thing is weird. But only until I bring out the three layer jello salad. That will obliterate any further stuffed celery comments for a while. New Englanders just don't know how to appreciate jello. I myself have a special appreciation of Jello because it is not only my midwestern heritage, but I can claim the inventor as a relative! Yes, I know, not all of us can claim such distinction and I'm obviously not showing any modesty here.

Hope you all have a great holiday. We all have plenty to be thankful for.

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