Hey everybody, welcome back to #DoubleFML and shout out to those of you reading this while standing in some long Black Friday line right now!
Since Black Friday has also expanded to Thursday, then Wednesday and now to the entire week, I hope that your tent outside of Target is comfy.
And shout out to those of you who are awkwardly scrolling through your phone at your significant other’s childhood home right now as well! If this is your first Thanksgiving together, don’t worry. If you don’t drink too much and just avoid hot button topics like politics, religion and possibly the NFL this season, you should be fine…maybe. Worse case, just shut up and eat, befriend the pets and try not to clog the toilet. Good luck!
Anyway, yes, NOW things are getting serious. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s Thanksgiving week already! Once Santa waves at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we officially hit full blown “jingle status”!
Many of these stores have been selling trees and ornaments since the summer but now it’s about to get real my friends.
Starbucks has even brought back the one coffee flavor that I actually enjoy already (the holiday chestnut praline blend). so, this year really has come full circle! Hmm, that reminds me, I’d better stock up before that flavor disappears again…
Obviously, we’ll save the year-end recap for December but wow, 2017 has really flown by!
As more people have become “woke” about the true plight and contributions of the indigenous people who inhabited this nation before it was “discovered,” it’s inspired Indigenous Peoples’ Day (celebrated on October 9th here in the states) to counterbalance the increasingly controversial celebration of Columbus Day.
The same could be said about the true origin story of Thanksgiving.
However, while the glossier elementary school text book version may be factually inaccurate, the modern concept of sharing a day with loved ones and being thankful for what you have is beautiful.
I used to love waking up early to watch the parade with my mom and serve as her official “taste-tester” as she prepped ingredients.
I also used to love watching the adorable “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” special, no matter how many times it aired on TV. Although, it’s always bothered me that they have Woodstock (a bird) eat turkey (another bird) at the end. I’m sure the cannibalism scene was unintentional, but I’ve always found that disturbing, even as a kid (yes, I’ve always been strange…)!
I also used to love dozing off during the football games with a stomach full of food…and then waking up to make another plate! Hey, “Treat Yo Self” right? #yolo
What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving memories? Comment below!
Speaking of plates, check out this meme that’s been going around Facebook lately:
I won’t lie, that plate is pretty awesome, but it also represents the state of our nation in 2017: compartmentalized, separated and divided.
As great as all of those ingredients are on their own, you may never understand how magical corn and mashed potatoes can be together if you never try it. That’s why fusion restaurants are so popular lately. Unfortunately, many people are more willing to mix their foods than they’re willing to mix with members of the same cultures many of those foods came from. That’s just a little… “food for thought.” (<- see what I did there?)
“Unfortunately, many people are more willing to mix their foods than they’re willing to mix with members of the same cultures many of those foods came from.” = Fat Darrell
Granted, this is coming from the guy best known for combining random ingredients onto a sandwich so what do I know? But I’ve always been the type to try new combinations. I was the type who would mix all of the fountain soda flavors together and make mutant cereal bowls with every available brand in the house!
Even my teenage nephew, DJ, dips everything in apple sauce, mac and cheese or sherbet (yeah, he’s a bit strange too – he’s definitely my nephew)! And while I’m not necessarily promoting that bizarre combination, I do recommend at least occasionally trying elements from more than one compartment at a time. You might be surprised how well they actually go together if you give them a chance. Whether it’s food or just life in general, take that for what it’s worth.
Ah yes, kumbaya indeed. Anyway, moving on…
So, a friend of mine will be hosting Thanksgiving at her home for the very first time this year. Since she’s originally from the UK and working with a limited budget, she reached out to ask what her streamlined menu should consist of. After rattling off a few suggestions, it got me thinking. What are the absolute “must haves” to make a Thanksgiving Day feast feel complete and how would I rank them in order of importance? Hmm…
With that said, here is my Power Ranking of the Sweet 16 Traditional Thanksgiving Menu Items!
If I missed any items or you disagree with my rankings, sound off in the comments below!
Before we get started, here are a few honorable mentions:
• Drinks – We’re focusing on the food here but obviously you need something to wash it down with or possibly an alcoholic beverage to help you tolerate your socially awkward cousin.
• Cookies, cake, cobbler, banana pudding and ice cream – Hey, I’ve never met a dessert that I didn’t like so the more the merrier. I wouldn’t say these will make or break your Thanksgiving festivities, but they’re always welcome.
• Rice (with or without beans) – Rice isn’t a Thanksgiving tradition in my family but it is in Puerto Rico and other areas so hey, I’m down. There are already so many heavy sides on this day though, so I’m keeping rice on the sideline for this list.
• Ham – My family doesn’t do this tradition either since it’s all about the turkey for us. I have no problem with it, but I’ll place it on the honorable mentions side since it’s not the main protein you’d think of on Thanksgiving. The day is literally nicknamed “Turkey Day”…
• Lasagna – While I’m always down for lasagna, see the rationale above for ham. It’s not the featured dish for most households…or at least not in mine.
• Deviled Eggs and other apps – Although these aren’t for everyone, I absolutely LOVE deviled eggs and selfishly ate at least half of them the last time I spent Thanksgiving at my brother’s house (sorry Bobbi!) so they almost made the list for that reason alone. I’m just going to lump apps into one category though and leave them here in the honorable mentions. Obviously, having cheese plates and things out for people to snack on while you complete the meal is helpful, but these items won’t make or break your event either.
Okay, now on to the list!
16. Traditional Salad – I’m not even sure how this one made the list either but a growing number of people have been serving salads with their Thanksgiving meals lately. Potato salad I totally co-sign but regular lettuce? C’mon man – really? This is where that divider plate would come in handy because only a sociopath would enjoy soggy lettuce. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy salads but on Thanksgiving? Nobody wants that. Worse case, lump it with the appetizers next to the veggie plate. In that capacity, I suppose it’s not a bad idea but definitely not as a featured dish.
15. Brussel Sprouts – Okay, this is more traditional but I don’t recommend serving it! Have you ever smelled Brussel sprouts? They smell like a gas station bathroom stall! Unless you have more than one guest bathroom and it’s far, far, far away from your kitchen, this is an absolutely terrible idea! The same could also be said for serving too many beans if you decide to go with the rice dish mentioned above…
14. Winter Squash – These aren’t for everyone, but now we’re getting into more traditional territory. If nothing else, they’ll provide color on the plate, but I personally could do without these…and so could you if you had to make a cut. These are non-essential in my opinion.
13. Potato Salad – This is perhaps more of a Thanksgiving tradition in black households as it’s consumed year-round and not just at barbeques. I love it but am placing it low on the list of priorities because Thanksgiving already features several other potato dishes making this one easier to cut. This would be much higher on the list of priorities for Christmas but here it’s not as important.
12. Green beans / green bean casserole – Green beans could arguably be ranked lower on their own, but after having green bean casserole at a Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law’s family out in Michigan, I still remember how awesome it was to this day! I could make a case for moving the casserole to a higher ranking, but it still wouldn’t crack the top 10. You might upset a few people by removing this from your menu, but overall, they’d still be fine with the rest.
11. Collard Greens – This one may be controversial. Those who love soul food, especially in The South, may be upset because the ranking is so low. Meanwhile, those who have never had these before would arguably say they’re non-essential. Out of a can, these wouldn’t even crack a top 100 list because canned collard greens are absolutely disgusting in my opinion. Fresh collards prepared the right way though are magical! With that said, they still wouldn’t be able to crack the top 10 because it wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without the rest of this list.
10. Sweet potatoes and candied yams – Bottoming out the top 10 is sweet potatoes. Again, many may disagree with this low ranking, but traditional mashed potatoes rule this day. Besides, if you want sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, having it in the form of a pie is much more fun! This is almost the same argument that I had for potato salad, traditional mashed runs the yard.
9. Dinner rolls, biscuits and corn bread – There’s sure to be more controversy here because you can have bread on any day. I get that but “breaking bread” is kind of what the day is about. Besides, corn bread is traditional and I run the risk of being disowned by my “bread addicted” father if it didn’t at least crack the top 10! Although loading up on too much bread will prevent you from being able to eat as much of the other fun items, this one is a necessity.
8. Corn – Served during the “first Thanksgiving” feast, this one is a must have. It may not be as flashy as some of the vegetables that failed to crack the top 10, but it’s essential.
7. Mac and cheese – This one is absolutely showing my biased perspective because mac and cheese is a must have in my family (you’re welcome DJ)! Again, this may be more of a tradition in Southern Black households but it’s not a party unless there’s at least one pan of mac and cheese on the menu. However, there’s more likely to be 2 pans because one of them has to be baked (if you don’t know what baked mac and cheese is, you’re definitely missing out!).
6. Cranberry sauce – I’m sure there will be plenty of disagreements over this list but coming in at number 6 is cranberry sauce. I love its tangy deliciousness but I know it’s not for everybody. Still, cranberry sauce not only is traditional fare, but it also ads a pop of color to an otherwise drab plate full of bland browns and oranges. It also serves as a key garnish on the endless turkey salad sandwiches you’ll be eating for the next several weeks!
5. Pie (various) – Apple, pecan, sweet potato – oh my! It’s hard to do Thanksgiving without breaking out at least one pie! And sure, earlier I said that bread was somewhat unnecessary because it took up room that other delicious food could fit into but hey, there’s always room for dessert!
4. Stuffing – Okay, now things are getting serious. You can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without stuffing. There’s not much else that needs to be said about this one. It’s a staple.
3. Mashed potatoes – This is a virtual tie with stuffing as far as traditions go. Mashed potatoes get the edge here though because they’re harder to get wrong. I’ve had some dry or disgusting stuffing before, but I’ve never had disgusting mashed potatoes. Sure, some were runny or tasted better than others, but a complete miss on mashed potatoes is rare. Besides, they’re awesome. I could make a case for either in this slot but mashed potatoes have a slight advantage in my world.
2. Turkey – Wait, what? How is turkey at number 2? Yes, it’s “Turkey Day” so turkey is the star as it should be. It’s the most traditional food there is on Thanksgiving and when prepared correctly, it easily outshines all of the aforementioned side dishes. It is Gladys Knight to the Pips. It’s Beyonce to Destiny’s Child. So how then is it number 2? Because…
1. Gravy – Yes, if we’re just ranking food, Turkey is at the top of the list but if we’re ranking all items on the table, gravy wins in my book. How so? Because, it glues everything else together. There’s a reason it’s at the center of that meme I shared earlier. From the turkey to the mashed potatoes to the stuffing to even the dinner rolls, gravy makes everything around it better. If the turkey is dry, gravy will cover for it and if the turkey is already good, gravy helps it hit the next level. Isn’t that what a true MVP does? So yes, gravy for the win!
Do you agree or disagree with my power rankings? Comment below!
Before we move on, to the left (to the left – Beyoncé), you’ll find a helpful list that I found online for anyone attempting to host their first Thanksgiving! It provides recommended prep times, etc.
Since it’s a pretty big infograph, we had to reduce the size here, but save it and you can view it easier. If you are hosting for your first time, let us know how it comes out!
And on the right, you’ll find a meme that I posted in our Facebook Group Phenomnomnomenal. A surprising amount of people responded saying that they’d scoop it off the floor and still serve it so if the mac and cheese at your friend’s house looks a bit disheveled and the floor has an orange stain on it when you walk in, that’s your warning…hmmm
Do you have a recipe you’d like to share? How about a restaurant or item that we should all check out? Tell us about it in the comments below!
As a fitness trainer, one of the main excuses I hear for weight gain around this time of year is that “Thanksgiving and the holidays got me off track.”
Here’s the thing though, Thanksgiving doesn’t just sneak up on you. It’s the third Thursday of November literally every year. Christmas is also always on December 25th so these dates aren’t a surprise. Since you know they’re coming, get more active during the days and ideally weeks (and months) leading up to these dates so they don’t derail you from your goals.
Also make sure to get back on the wagon once those days pass. If you look at the list above for example, most of the items I listed are lean proteins (turkey) and vegetables. Send the pie home with your guests and get your butt back in the gym the next day! The more you can focus now, the less you’ll have to lose for your New Year resolution so enjoy your sweet potato pie but then get back on the wagon!
Do you have a fitness question you’d like answered or an accomplishment you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Stanky Leg – GS Boyz (My brother used to always claim the turkey leg…actually, he still does!)
Mashed Potato Time – Dee Dee Sharp (my grandmother used to always do the mashed potato dance to make me laugh and was an amazing cook so this one is for her! RIP)
Eat it – Weird Al Yankovic (Yep, everything in sight…and yes, this is a parody of Beat It by Michael Jackson)
Beat it – Michael Jackson (might as well….besides, this applies to mashed potatoes)
Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight & The Pips
Cater 2 U – Destiny’s Child (Cater that mac and cheese B…and congrats on the twins)
Irreplaceable – Beyoncé (to the left, to the left…)
Do you have another song that fits today’s themes? How about a song that doesn’t fit the theme but is just so great we should check it out anyway? Tell us in the comments below!
As mentioned, my older brother would always torment me by skeeving me out before Thanksgiving dinner each year so he could claim the turkey leg (thanks Dwayne!).
He always knew that I hated seeing the live turkeys running across the TV and then seeing basically the same thing in cooked form on a tray in front of me.
Ironically, I still participated in pulling the wish bone with him which is equally barbaric now that I think about it!
I’m not a vegetarian but to this day, I still hate thinking of the actual animal that my meat comes from. That’s why I hate when restaurants use cute animals as their mascots.
Anyway, here’s another shout out to tormented younger brothers everywhere!
While we’re doing shout outs, I’d also like to once again thank our military troops for defending this great nation. As you all know, many of them will not be able to spend Thanksgiving with their families so please keep them in mind as you count your blessings this Thursday.
Many of you also have a shortened work week so that’s another thing to be thankful for. I know that many of you plan to boycott stores that stay open on Thanksgiving but bear in mind, many of those employees actually want to work to earn money for the holidays!
I know that when I worked retail and couldn’t make it home to see my family, I enjoyed earning time and a half to work instead. It’s all about perspective I suppose but I do hope that everyone has a great time this week!
I also hope that none of you get trampled at Walmart attempting to buy a discounted flat screen TV on black Friday! I haven’t shopped on black Friday in quite some time but I remember once doing a full sprint across Target to get a digital camera for my parents. I won the race thankfully but probably should have warmed up first since I almost pulled a hammy! Still, they usually only have one or two of the discounted items so I much prefer Cyber Monday online from the comfort of my own home instead.
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Okay folks, that’s a wrap for this week but please do enjoy your holiday and gobble til you wobble! Until next time my friends, may the fork be with you…
“How do you keep a turkey in suspense? I’ll tell you later…”
And now, I leave you with this twerking turkey…Enjoy.