Despite the unfortunate cultural overtones, Thanksgiving remains one of my favorite holidays. This is probably because it does not require any non-grocery shopping, a holiday for which one is not expected to bring or receive gifts, nor to dress in costumes, but only to enjoy preparing, serving and eating delicious food. Sharing favorite recipes and memories helps me feel a spirit of kinship with everyone at the table; young and old, progressive and conservative, old friends and new additions.
Cheesy potato casserole is a classic of the genre, designed to be assembled quickly and satisfy a crowd. The only fresh ingredients are dairy-based and no potato peeling or slicing is required due to the secret ingredient: frozen country-style hash browns. I picked up the recipe at my cousin’s wedding back home. Family members chipped in together to provide the reception buffet dinner. My mother made a huge roast beef, the groom’s father made chicken salad croissant sandwiches, and my aunt made tray after tray of this sour cream dream. There are many variations of the basic Cheesy Potatoes recipe. I made mine vegetarian with cream of mushroom soup and mixed Emmentaler cheese in with the cheddar. Of course, these tweaks likely mean it’s less authentically midwestern, but then so am I.
Every school child should know that the Pilgrims did not live on packaged carbohydrates and dairy fats alone. This bountiful continent they invaded also provided a wealth of delicious, even nutritious vegetables, some of them not known as maize. I’ve been eating a lot of autumn curries lately at Thai restaurants and enjoying the silken sweetness of squash. I added acorn squash to Caramelized Butternut Squash and was pleased with how scrumptious it tasted and how pretty it looked in the serving bowl. Thank you to the recipe reviews for reminding me to wear gloves when preparing the raw squash. I can be such a delicate flower sometimes.