Menu Plan

Our Thanksgiving Shabbos Tradition

We didn’t live near any relatives when I was growing up, and since my mother doesn’t particularly enjoy cooking (I think her motto is something like “cook to survive”), Thanksgiving wasn’t ever a big to-do for us.  However, when my family moved to St. Louis twelve years ago, we found ourselves close to family, and that family could COOK!  Boy, could they cook.  We started spending Thanksgiving together, and I enjoyed the food, the camaraderie with cousins I had never really known, and the overall atmosphere.  It was a new holiday experience.

Of course, once I started keeping kosher, I wasn’t able to partake of the yummy food anymore, and then I went and studied in Israel, and then I got married and moved away from family.  My husband didn’t exactly grow up with any Thanksgiving traditions (ah, cultural differences), and since I make the food quantity equivalent of Thanksgiving every week, I was okay with forgoing the tradition.

Until my parents came to visit us over Thanksgiving weekend three years ago, that is.

My parents are great, and they come visit as much as they are able to, which we love.  Oftentimes, this means they are sacrificing their holiday time to come be with us (I think the grandkids are really the main draw).  So, three years ago, they decided to come over their Thanksgiving vacation.

I realized that my parents, while they aren’t foodies by any stretch of the imagination, would still be missing out on the yumminess of all that good food.  I found out that my mom had been telling her co-workers that even though she wasn’t going to be having a Thanksgiving meal, the trip was well worth it (grandkids are yummier than turkey with stuffing, after all).  And I greatly appreciated their sacrifice, as well as the massive consideration they give to us whenever they come visit.  Our lifestyle is just a touch different than theirs, after all.

So, while I was not about to make Thanksgiving only to make Shabbos a day later (or to serve leftovers on Shabbos, which just doesn’t do it for me), I wanted to do something for my parents, to show our appreciation.  I decided to make a Thanksgiving-themed Shabbos.  We had done Chinese Shabbos, Mexican Shabbos, what have you, so why not a Thanksgiving Shabbos?

nothing to see here....

I pored over my November issues of Bon Appetit and put together a spectacular menu.  Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie – the works.  I was really excited about this.

My favorite part of this plan is that I didn’t tell my parents what I was planning.  Not until Thursday night, when I needed to start making the turkey (an 11-pound turkey is not something I could be discrete about).  My mom and I had a blast preparing the turkey together, as well as making the rest of the dishes.

It was a very memorable meal, and my parents were so grateful.  My mother was able to return to the office bragging about the fantastic Thanksgiving meal she enjoyed!

And so our tradition of Thanksgiving Shabbos began.  This year will be the third that my parents will be joining us, and while I no longer have the time or energy to make a super-gourmet meal (sorry, Bon Appetit), I still stick to the theme.  Also, my parents are both on diets, so I exercised a good amount of self-control and scaled back the amount of food.  Here is my menu for this year:

Friday night:

Pumpkin Challah (I have already tried this one, and it is super yummy!)

Green bean salad (with craisins, fried onions and creamy dressing, à la the casserole)

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes (from Kosher by Design Lightens Up)

Glazed Turkey Roast with Cranberry Chutney (also KBDLU)

Frozen Pumpkin Pie (again, KBDLU)

Shabbos day:

Everything I served Friday night minus the roast.  I’m skipping a cholent and making this:

Sweet Potato and Turkey Deli Roll (KBDLU)

~ ~ ~

I’m really looking forward to spending another Thanksgiving Shabbos with family, and happy to continue this new tradition for my kids.

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions? 

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22 thoughts on “Our Thanksgiving Shabbos Tradition

  1. No Thanksgiving in Israel, either, but I grew up (in Maryland) with some unusual Thanksgiving traditions. My family (all vegetarians) always had corn chowder, creamy cheese/potato bake, seven-layer dip and chips, and pumpkin chocolate chip “brownies”. I’m not sure about the reasons for all of this, just that it all evolved over the years..somehow!
    And by the way, you are really making me want Kosher By Design Lightens Up!

    1. Mmmm, that sounds yummy, too. I really, really like Kosher by Design Lightens Up. There are some seriously great recipes in there. And not all potchke-ish, either. I’ve found plenty of quick ones as well (which is key for me right now).

  2. I grew up with Thankgiving Shabbos meals as did many other cheder rebbes kids/ 1 of tens or the like that I knew. That’s because it was not hard to get a free kosher turkey from Shop Rite if you spent over who cares what amount. It also meant that we ate whatever was on sale which meant green beans, sweet potato and pumpkin that time of year. It only seemed natural to serve it for Shabbos.

    1. Shop Rite, rreally? That’s fantastic. My husband actually told me today that he might be able to get a free kosher turkey from his work, though he’s not sure if it’s too late. We’ll see. Maybe we’ll be having a whole turkey this year after all!

  3. That sweet potato and turkey deli roll sounds delicious! I like the idea of having a Thanksgiving do-over for Shabbat dinner. With a challah, and you’re all set! Speaking of that, I’ve been eating challah with pumpkin cream cheese this week. Oh my, so delicious!

    1. Pumpkin cream cheese? That sounds amazing! I’m really looking forward to making that deli roll. It has cranberry sauce in it, too! All rolled up in there. yum-my

  4. I grew up in New York but with very Eastern European parents so we never did do Thanksgiving dinners. And since moving to Israel, I’ve only done T-day twice, both times invited as a guest for Thanksgiving erev Shabbat dinner.

    If you look at it another way, even though the menu may be different, those of us that cook a full Friday night dinner serve a meal of Thanksgiving-like proportion every week!

    1. Did you like the food when you had it? It’s true that we make the equivalent of Thanksgiving every week (well, unless we’re invited out for the meals), which is exactly why I won’t make Thanksgiving on the day itself. I love cooking, but that’s just too much for me.

      1. While my mother wouldn’t make Thanksgiving dinner per se, she did make turkey with stuffing on occasion, and sweet potatoes here and there (especially on Rosh Hashana), so I have had T-day food, except for pumpkin pie.

        My father always used to say — we don’t need Thanksgiving, we have Pesach!

  5. I am not frum, so I do make all the traditional food. Today I’m making a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, and a chocolate pecan pie with a chocolate crust. Tomorrow I’ll make two kinds of stuffing, a traditional one with celery, onions and broth, and one with apples, walnuts, sausage and cheese. I’ll get my brussels sprouts ready for Thursday. When I make those, I carmelize them with bacon and onions. We’ll have green bean casserole and, something new this year, a corn souffle. I will brine my turkey tomorrow, for 24 hours, so it’s ready for Thursday. I think the only thing left to round out the menu is mashed potatoes, some rolls, and a nice bottle of wine.

    I hope you enjoy the time with your family, Rivki. So nice to have a tradition!

    1. How did I not respond to this comment, especially when there are so many absolutely delicious things to read about?! My mouth is watering over here! Enjoy the time with your family this year, Bridget!

  6. My grandfather escaped from Germany in 1938. When he was old enough, he chose Thanksgiving to make his seudas hoda’ah (literally – meal of thanksgiving). My grandmother would roast a 15-20 lb turkey (my father’s one of 8 children, there are 40 first cousins) and make “the works”, and most of my cousins would come in. It was the best. The food was great, but it was a time for our family to get together and celebrate being where we are today. My grandfather would give a little (serious) speech but for the most part there was so much laughter I remember my face hurting from smiling so much.

    And my mother’s parents always celebrated Thanksgiving Shabbos, as you do. So we’d go from one meal to the next. Not the most healthy weekend of the year, but it was so great to see my cousins from both sides.

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