I used to have another life involving another husband, another set of in-laws who hosted Thanksgiving at their house, and no car. Eventually, we stopped showing up for Thanksgiving dinner.

Divorce is sad but my happy memory is of making my own meals based on whatever theme I felt like experimenting with. And I continued to do this with Christmases and New Years days with my now husband. We do spend Thanksgiving with his in-laws and we own a car and a truck.

I have often thought fondly of the themes and the dishes I’ve prepared for these occasions. There was an Italian themed dinner that included homemade egg pasta, which I do and it’s not hard, and a Reinforcement salad, a pickled vegetable salad with a religious story behind it. I remember reading Italian Christmas dinners are usually really late after mass. I prefer to eat early.


There was the seafood themed holiday where I got to cook a lobster tail. The lobster was attached. There were probably oysters for an appetizer. I make a pretty mean oyster stew too. But I add diced potatoes and carrots. Sue me.

Talk of the feast always comes back to your favorites though, doesn’t it? My turkey day favorites include turkey with the cornbread stuffing incorporating any combo of sausage, apples, or chestnuts. Nuts or mushrooms too. It all makes me happy. Mashed potatoes and home-made gravy most definitely. We used to enjoy a cranberry jello salad called Junk. This one is close but maybe needs a ground up orange. I prefer whole cranberry sauce (recipe right on the bag of cranberries), love creamed spinach, and for dessert? I’m a pecan pie girl all the way.

I used to make this Oyster casserole dish below. Stopped because it was so rich. But found the recipe and thought to share as it’s an East coast classic. Happy Full Belly Day people.

I pint of fresh oysters…1.5 cups of crushed Ritz crackers, tossed in 1/2 cup of melted butter (use 1/2 cup for each layer in the recipe)…reserve 4 TBS of oyster liquor and combined with 2 TBS cream and the dashes of nutmeg, and Tabasco. Put a thin layer of crumbs on the bottom of a buttered baking dish that is about 8 inches square. Put on 1/2 the oysters Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on 1/2 the liquor mixture. Repeat, and top with remaining crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.

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