We asked some fellow employees here at our headquarters what that essential dish on their Thanksgiving table is. Along with their favorite dishes, they related some treasured, and in one case slightly traumatic (sorry to dredge that up, Nolan), memories of family gatherings and traditions.
“It’s just not Thanksgiving without the smell of mulling spices permeating the house. Every year my family puts a big Le Creuset pot of apple juice on the stove and fills it with mulling spices. As it simmers, the scent grows stronger and stronger until the whole house begins to smell like Thanksgiving. In the Pavlovian tradition, the scent alone gets my mouth watering in anticipation of dinner.”—Kyle Weber, Assistant Buyer, Tools
“White buttery rolls. When I was a kid at my grandmother’s house, for turkey day she always bought some sort of small, soft white rolls that we all loved. My cousins and I would have contests to see who could eat the most. Now my family’s must-have for Thanksgiving is homemade Parkerhouse rolls. We usually make a double batch just to be sure we have enough left over for turkey sandwiches the next day. That’s what I really look forward to the most—turkey sandwiches with cranberries, cream cheese and a bit of leftover stuffing. Heavenly!”—Beth Sullivan, Web Content Administrator
“It would not be Thanksgiving dinner without an appetizer of olives and pickles. Must have sweet and dill pickles. Must have green and black olives. Best part? Putting the black olives on my fingers and waggling them at my mom. She used to be horrified by this behavior (learned from my cousin at an early Thanksgiving), but now she just shakes her head, sighs and laughs.” —Jina Jansson, Operations Manager, Visual Merchandising
“It’s not Thanksgiving without ruined gravy. #nomomyoucantsaveitwithsoysauceandhorseradish. This year, I’m in charge.”— Nolan Adams, Merchandising Coordinator
“That special thing that I look forward to, actually seek out, is the relish tray. It’s the only appetizer-ish item that my mom will allow on Thanksgiving, and I carry that tradition forward. Always featured items are ordinary black olives, gherkins, pickled beets, and my recent discovery—spicy pickled carrots. These nibbles can either be homemade or store bought. Any other favorite pickles—green beans, asparagus, giardiniera, whatever is hiding in the back of the pantry, can most certainly be added. (Bonus—any leftovers from the relish tray can be turned into Bloody Mary garnishes the next day!)
“This dish—the relish tray—is something I like to bring to Thanksgivings on the road, because without it, it’s just Turkey Day.”—Joan Bartz, Executive Assistant, Retail
“It’s not Thanksgiving without cranberries! Nothing taste better then mixing cranberries with mashed potatoes.”—Melissa Gaeto, Buyer, Glassware, Barware, Furnishings
“In my family we love trying new recipes, but when it comes to Thanksgiving we stick to the family classics, which are always delicious since we come from a long line of foodies. Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving unless we have a classic roast turkey with gravy made from pan drippings. Our dressing contains wild rice, dried cranberry, mushrooms, celery, onion, apple and irresponsible amounts of butter. Sautéed green beans with lemon, butter and toasted almonds is also a standard. The one thing we never admit to eating, but absolutely must have on the Thanksgiving table, is our Great Grandma Mabel Olive Patrick Kreitz’s 24-hour salad. This sweet treat is a delectable combo of mini marshmallows, shredded coconut, canned pineapple, canned mandarin oranges and sour cream. It sounds atrocious, but I can assure you it is scrumptious!
“As much as we enjoy eating the meal, the most important aspect of our Thanksgiving gathering is the time we each share what we are most grateful for. I can’t wait to hear what my little rascal is grateful for this year. I suspect it will be either Batman or lions, but I know what he really means to say is ‘Mom.’ Happy Thanksgiving!—Diane Henley, Executive Assistant, Human Resources
“It’s not Thanksgiving without the crispy part of the stuffing. It’s the muffin tops of seasonal sides.”—Rebecca Pellman, Internal Communications Manager
“For me, Thanksgiving dinner is stuffing and then a bunch of other dishes that just crowd the table. When I was growing up, my tia made the most incredible, spicy stuffing filled with jalapeños and roasted corn and some kind of magic. Unfortunately, she’s no longer with us and her recipe was never passed on to anyone. I’ve tried to re-create it over the years; while I can make a tasty facsimile, something’s missing. Then a few years ago I met Mr. Natalie, and he celebrated his first Thanksgiving with my family. He wanted to impress everyone, so he offered to bring the stuffing. I tried to talk him out of it, because we are a family with very strong opinions about stuffing and I wanted everyone to like him, but he insisted. This new version—which is as much bacon and spicy Italian sausage as it is bread—is pretty damn incredible. It’s something we actually cook a few times a year now, and it makes the best breakfast hash you can imagine times three.”—Natalie Wright, Copywriter
“Whether you like it or not, it isn’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. Pumpkins were among the first foods enjoyed by early settlers, who filled the shells with spices, milk and honey and cooked them over hot ashes. When I was a kid, though, pumpkin pie was my least-favorite dessert. Smashed squash in a pie? Whose bad idea was that? At holiday gatherings, I would head straight for the apple pie, bypassing pumpkin along the way. Eventually I learned to appreciate the subtleties of this iconic American dessert. Finding the right balance of texture and flavor can be a challenge and it takes some practice to get it right. You can always try cooking it the way the settlers did: Pioneer Style Pumpkin Pie. ”—Ericka Berg, Web Content Editor
What are some of your essential Thanksgiving dishes and favorite (or even slightly traumatic) memories?