The Queen of Thanksgiving

And now, for a short break in our regular PW programming, let me introduce you to the Queen of Thanksgiving.

Her name is Erica.

She is my blonderrific sister.

She lives in Kentucky, and we all drove down to see her new home with her new husband in a new town–new, new, new! Oh, and to be fed. We can’t be forgetting that part.

Her original plan was to keep things simple. “Dave,” she said to her army ranger husband, “I’m thinking of keeping things simple.” That plan didn’t last long, as Dave’s face (or so I am told) fell. You see, Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday.

I’ve heard rumors of all the delights his mother, Wendy, makes every year. As Erica rattled off the list of all the dishes Dave has fond memories of, I couldn’t even absorb all the information. All I remember is repeating “3 different Jello desserts? What? What?” over and over again. *cannot compute* Wow, Wendy. Wow.

So anyway, being a good wife, she decided to go with plan B, and they hereby designated Thanksgiving as a yearly feast in which they would Go All Out.

The End!

Isn’t that a beautiful story?

But wait, it’s just the beginning!

Let me introduce you to this fairy realm of happiness, song, and feasting.

First I have to say that Erica and Dave were the perfect hosts. They had been cooking non stop so that once we all arrived around 2am the night before Thanksgiving, we wouldn’t have to lift a finger. Erica even fed us potato soup and hot rolls in the middle of the night.

Instead of making a turkey, to our great excitement, Erica decided to make two chickens. Moist, flavorful, and delicious. As part of the new trend in eating ‘raw’ foods, she served them in their natural state, at room temperature:

Yost kiddink.

As the chickens got lovely and brown in the oven, and up to the FDA recommended temperature, we snacked on a veggie plate.

But with restraint! It would have been a tragedy to spoil any inch or ounce of our appetites.

This chicken was coated with apple butter before baking.

It produced the best chicken skin I’ve ever eaten–a charred, sweet flavor that is simply unmatched.

The second chicken was filled with onions and the like. Mmmm.

The leftover meat made some killer sandwiches the next day, with the help of some blue brie and Dave’s master sandwich skills.

There was plenty of time to snap some pictures of my adorably pregnant youngest sister and her man.

Thankfully she was totally open to having me touch her belly constantly.

I couldn’t keep my hands off my little nephew–especially when he had the hiccups.

Back in college, I used to be a bit of a rebel hippy, and decided I would never cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Instead, I would make a feast of Indian curries, or a vat of Pad Thai, or a smorgasbord of tapas. However, after eating the delights of Erica and Dave’s kitchen, I am a traditional Thanksgiving convert. I have been won over . . . to the dark side.

The side of slow-cooked ham.

The side of Jello desserts.

Roughly mashed sweet potatoes.

Traditional buttery mashed potatoes.

Cranberry toppings–there were three.

Homemade cranberry relish . . .

. . . homemade cranberry sauce. I think this had bourbon.

And for the glorious finale, the stuff from the can. Yum.

Sampling everything immediately was an absolute necessity.

It’s a sickness I have, OK?

There was an amazing creamy fruit salad–bananas, grapes, and yoghurt.

Even the dreaded green bean casserole, which I have always disliked until this year! She got me on every count, folks.

The moment we served our plates and sat down to eat was a moment of glory.

My plate looked like a party had crash-landed on it.

Young Teds had a Thanksgiving meal of his own. By himself, in the bathroom.

Poor, brain-damaged cat.

And then–oh, you thought this was over?–there were pies. Four of them.

With Pioneer Woman’s Maple Whiskey Cream Sauce, which Erica graciously made after a frantic call from me the day before. “Erica, so I totally saw this recipe on the P-Dub’s website this morning, and we totally have to include it in the Thanksgiving menu!” (by ‘we’ I actually meant ‘you’). So she got her butt to the store, bought some heavy whipping cream, and made all my holiday dreams come true.

I have demanded recipes for every single one of her dishes. So far I have only received one.

Eeeerrriccaaaa!!!!! Let’s hop to it!

Maybe if you chime in too, we can get her to deliver.

While we’re at it, she still owes me a skirt which she said she was going to make for my present last Christmas. Then she and Dave had to go fall in love, and my skirt was violently pushed aside.

Where’s my skirt, spankypants?

I’ve seriously never eaten a more delicious Thanksgiving meal. There wasn’t a single mediocre dish. Every single one demanded that I return to sample its delights over and over again during the next couple days.

She is Erica. And the Queen of Thanksgiving is her name.

However, I am the Queen of Nertz.

Have you played Nertz? It’s a fast and furious card game. I challenge anyone and everyone to play. I absolutely love it. I would say we played about 50 rounds over the course of a couple days. Maybe more. I lost track because I kept winning *evil cackle.*

(By the way, isn’t my sister Heidi’s haircut a-dorable?? Love the bangs.)

Poor Erica. She hates it when I win. But I can’t help it! I’m the older sister.

That’s just how it rolls.

And after some furious Nertz whipped up our hunger again, there was a perfect cheese plate. With smoked gouda.

Beer was provided.

The blue brie made me weep . . .

. . . almost.

But back to cookery–tomorrow I will be sharing the one Thanksgiving recipe I have managed to wrestle from Erica’s resistant little hands. Just a heads up–it’s a little complicated. You may only want to try it if you’re a Certified Master Chef. And since there are only 33 of them in the world, well, you may feel quite intimidated. There’s loads of technique. And an ingredient called . . . Jello. Thass right.

Now all you need is a team of able bodied and loving men to handle the clean up.

Check.

28 thoughts on “The Queen of Thanksgiving

  1. Wendy

    Just for the record — I do not normally make 3 kinds of jello for Thanksgiving… a lot of food ….. but there have always been a lot of hungry people!

    Reply
  2. Wendy

    PS – The photos almost made me cry….. thanks for sharing some of my favorite people in the world with us (that includes all 6, I mean 7, of you).

    Reply
  3. Vicki DeArmeyv

    Wow, Erica, you had alot to live up to and it looks like you are going to be a busy cook every Thanksgiving now. Congratulations on all the wonderful food you prepared in style and as always Jenna is Queen of the Blogs!! Heidi you look fantastic as a mother-to-be. It fits you well and I am sure you will be even more radiant when the little fella is in your loving arms. You gals are great!! Hubbies aren’t bad either ;).

    Reply
  4. Erica

    Ahhh, last night I just got rid of the last of the gravy. From the apple butter chicken. The gravy from the savory chicken was gone long ago. It was such a wonderful Thanksgiving. And it will always be The Feast That Put All Other Feasts to Shame at our house. So you should all come back. Like tomorrow. I’ll make more, so help me!!!

    Reply
    1. alongtheohio

      Erica! You look so happy in the photos :) Belated congrats on the husband-wedding-nephew coming (man, it has been a long time since college…haha). Your Thanksgiving looked amazing. Happy New Year to you!

      Reply
  5. itsahappyblog

    So, I realize we have yet to enjoy the Christmas feast MY amazing sister prepares – but I am already thinking of Easter. We will be in a new place by then and I want to have everyone over! Been planning the menu in my mind for a week.

    Looks like you had a wonderful time! I want to learn this game – we love new-to-us games!!

    Reply
  6. Veronica

    You have a gift with writing. Or maybe it’s the pictures. I think it’s both–you’re able to draw people in–complete strangers at some point–and make them interested in you and your life. You did it to me when I first read a poem you wrote to your pregnant sister! I loved reading about your Thanksgiving–and I loved all the food pics. Makes me sooo hungry b/c I’m a Thanksgiving traditionalist and it is my favorite meal. If I was on death row, that would be my requested last meal. Can’t wait to see some recipes, though I’m not too keen on anything with Jello in it. ewwww.

    Reply
  7. Amy @ Serve At Once

    Good gracious, Jenna–your family is ADORABLE. And I want to be as cute as your youngest sister when I have a bun in the oven. Geez!

    And your cat picture made me snort. Out loud. With water coming out of my nose.

    Is it weird that I like Thanksgiving so much that I almost entirely replicate my Thanksgiving meal for Christmas? Because…I do. ‘Cuz that’s that I roll.

    Reply
  8. Twinky

    We parental units were away north in Wausau, WI with extended family, including the amazing Big Jake and Mama Kitty (my parents), Jenna-Erica-Heidi’s grandparents who are mentioned in a number of other posts, and are featured in the Christmas card series of a week or two ago. It was fun to know the 3 young couples could have their own time together!!

    Reply

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