Surprise Thanksgiving Dinner

My mom has a very good friend(her BFF since they were little girls)who lived in NY for 30 years and is now back in Brazil.Obviously we don't celebrate Thanksgiving here,and besides from turkey,cranberries,punpkin pie and yams,we don't know much about it...but we were thinking about throwing her a surprise Thanksgiving dinner and if anyone could talk us thru the rituals and traditional plates,that would be great!Oh!And another little thing:When is it?(I'm not joking!)



mensaque October 9, 2011
Thank you all so much for all the suggestions,tips and recipes,and thanks especially for giving me an inside perspective from the holiday at your homes.That was sweet!I'll let you know how it goes...and I'm sure it will be fun!
luvcookbooks October 8, 2011
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday meal, although most Thanksgivings are spent at my sister in law's. Besides the food, the cardinal rule is spending time with family and friends.
I don't really like turkey much, but at Thanksgiving it seems like a plus to me and a tradition. Last Thanksgiving I made an East West Thanksgiving. I roasted Turkey parts with a stuffing under the skin made with fresh and dried mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions. Sticky rice stuffing baked in another dish (dressing, really).
Since there are vegetarians in the family, the vegetarian "roast" last year was a creamy butternut squash lasagna.
A big green salad is better than more heavy dishes as far as I am concerned. Watercress salad with fennel is one option. Another is romaine lettuce with sliced oranges, dried cranberries plumped in orange juice and walnuts.
Fruity dessert (pie) and rolls are good but I ask someone else to bring them or buy them so I don't run out of steam.
Please post your menu when you settle on it, I'm interested in knowing the Brazilian take on Thanksgiving.
skittle October 8, 2011
As far as tradition....people eat copious amounts and then pass out in front of the football game. That's pretty much a "must". What a great idea!
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 8, 2011
I'm from NY and my family's "tradional" Thanksgiving is always a hot mess of carbs, sweets, and glutton - no refinement at all, lol. Green Bean casserole is old school that can be refined and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. I like creamed spinach with crispy onions. Don't forget to make tons of gravy to drown all the goodness : ) Also, some fun stuffing, maybe with sausage and pecans. Have fun!
boulangere October 7, 2011
And honestly, you can use any kind of fowl: turkey, duck, goose
boulangere October 7, 2011
Our family's dinner includes many of the above, but also a green vegetable (usually French-style sautéed green beans) and a lovely tossed salad, both as a relief from the serious starches, strong proteins, and creamy fats in the desserts. What a wonderful idea you've had!
SKK October 7, 2011
What a great idea and how thoughtful you all are. Love Syronai and Embee's comments. Here is a link that shows complete menus from different parts of the US that may give you ideas

Just to add the the mix, Canada celebrates its Thanksgiving the second Monday of October, so their Thanksgiving is Monday, October 10 this year.
beyondcelery October 7, 2011
What a fun idea! This year, Thanksgiving is on Nov 24. It's always the fourth Thursday of November. (Who knows why.) I think many families now make up their own traditions around meals (mine certainly always has), but the core dishes to serve are:
- turkey, roasted in the oven and stuffed with a cornbread-based stuffing
- gravy
- some sort of yam or sweet potato dish
- cranberry sauce
- mashed (regular) potatoes
- bread rolls (my mom always put dill in hers)
- pumpkin pie or apple pie for dessert

Some people will say that green bean casserole is an absolute must, but my family never liked it and we all avoided it like the plague. I don't know how easy it'll be to find cranberry sauce in Brazil. If you can find fresh or frozen cranberries, it's worth it to make yourself. Here's my recipe:

Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Makes enough for 5 8oz. jars
1 cup apple juice
¼ - ½ cup Grand Marnier
2 ½ cups brown sugar
4 quarter-sized coins of fresh ginger, skinned and finely chopped
½ teas orange zest
5 cups fresh cranberries*
¼ teas allspice
1/8 teas nutmeg
¾ teas vanilla
½ tbls cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbls water

Combine apple juice, Grand Marnier, brown sugar, ginger, and orange zest in a large pot (heavy-bottom works best). Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add cranberries to boiling syrup, stirring well, and bring mixture back to a rolling boil on medium-high heat.

Cook until the berries are nearly all burst, about 10-15 minutes. Stir constantly for the first 4-5 minutes, then stir frequently. Crush some of the berries against the side of the pot with the back of your spoon if you would like a smoother sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and add spices, vanilla, and cornstarch water. Simmer, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes, or until sauce has thickened slightly. Taste for sweetness and add sugar if necessary, keeping in mind that sauce will sweeten slightly as it cools. Be sure to cook sauce until all extra sugar is melted and incorporated, or your sauce will turn grainy. Serve hot or cold, depending on preference. This sauce cans well, with a processing time of about 10 minutes.

Note: Orange juice can be substituted for some of the apple juice, if you would like a stronger orange flavor. Orange juice can also be substituted for the Grand Marnier, though the sauce won’t taste quite as rich.

*1 cup fresh cranberries yields 8oz. cooked sauce with this recipe
Embee October 7, 2011
Thanksgiving is the 4th Thursday in November, so it varies - the date this year is the 24th. Our family thanksgiving consists of turkey (sometimes roasted, sometimes smoked), bread stuffing (or dressing, depending on where you're from) mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, several vegetable side dishes which vary from year to year (I'm a fan of corn souffle). Pumpkin pie is a must, but we also sometimes have apple pie. There's always cranberries.

As to rituals, in the US there is almost always a football game that must be planned around. In our family we start with appetizers throughout the football game, then a sit down dinner. We start our dinner with a toast and anyone who wants to says what they are thankful for. Then we dig in!
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