By Ryan Hodgson, Staff Writer.
For many of us, the holidays are a time to get together with family. It also gives us an opportunity to gorge ourselves on a bounty of food. According to The Washington Examiner, a total of 8.1 billion calories are consumed by Americans every year, and 45 million turkeys are purchased. Of course turkeys are a staple of Thanksgiving, as are mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. However there are those who prefer a more unorthodox approach to Thanksgiving dinners.
Sheila Russell, 53, checks that box. Some meals she has had on Thanksgiving include sushi rolls, mussels, Thanksgiving ramen, and the growing in popularity turducken, which is a deboned turkey, stuffed into a deboned duck, stuffed into a deboned turkey. A lot of her ideas come from the internet, including the website Cooking for Keeps.
“As I was growing up, every year for Thanksgiving we had the same old meal that everyone else
has every year,” said Russell. “As I got older and had children of my own, I wanted them to experience a different side of Thanksgiving food.”
The turducken itself serves as a masterclass of nesting doll meals, but the history of the stuffed meals go deeper. From MentalFloss, stuffed foods like this date back as early as the 18th century, with what is known as the Yorkshire Christmas Pie. By comparison, this makes the turducken look less impressive, as it requires the stuffing of a “pigeon, partridge, fowl, goose, and finally turkey all into one another.” The creation of the turducken is credited to Chef Paul Prudhomme, who claims to have invented the dish at a Wyoming lodge in the 1970s. Here’s a short video a short video on the preparation of a turducken
While not a practicing vegetarian, a few years ago Russell decided to have a Tofurkey dinner for Thanksgiving. A Tofurkey is a turkey substitute, made of tofu and usually served in the form of a loaf or a casserole.
“We had the tofurkey a while back, and I have to say I don’t think any of us really liked it,” said Russell. “But you have to understand that we want our kids to have these unique experiences. Their health is very important to us. If that means we have to eat a tofurkey than so be it!”
Not every meal is underwhelming though, as Russell shared a recipe from one of her favorite meals, a Thanksgiving All In One Cake. This crazy dish serves as entire Thanksgiving meal baked into a cake. That includes turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and more all topped with a mashed potato icing. It is a daunting recipe, and takes over two hours to prepare, so anyone who is up to the challenge can find and follow the instructions here.
On the other hand, Don Rader, 70, still enjoys the traditional Thanksgiving meals of his youth, citing the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach.
“I think Thanksgiving and Christmas haves a psychological effect on me. Every year when I see the classics laid out on the table, it transports me back to a different time,” said Rader.
Every year, Rader prepares and brings his special potato salad, which includes the addition of marshmallows. Here are the ingredients:
1 small sweet potato
1 medium apple, cubed
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons of raisins
2 tablespoons of miniature marshmallows
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Rader says that once all of these are assembled, boil the sweet potato until it is tender, and then peel it. Once it is peeled, combine it with the apple, celery, walnuts, raisins, and marshmallows. In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, and lemon juice, and then pour it into the first bowl. When done, cover and refrigerate it. It can be served on lettuce leafs if wanted.
“It was actually my father’s recipe,” said Rader. “He kind of made it by accident, then perfected it. It wasn’t intended for holiday eating, but I like to make it every year as a way to remember him, and it usually goes over pretty well.”
Since we get Thanksgiving once a year, we also get an opportunity to break from the norm and take a chance on some riskier dishes. The marshmallow potato salad, while not crazy, may not be a staple in many homes; and while foods like a tofurkey and especially the layered thanksgiving cake seem odd to say the least, they obviously work for some.