We are just a few weeks out from one of the top holidays celebrated in the U.S. Thanksgiving is all about family get togethers, backyard football, fall colours, and of course, the usual array of turkey and trimmings piled high on the table. With the fantastic reopening of the skies to the U.S as of Monday 8 November, it provides a great excuse to partake in the festivities, this year happening on Thursday 25 November. Not sure on what to do, or what to try when there? Then look no further, as we have our suggestions for how to celebrate Thanksgiving the right way across our destinations.
Discover New England
Not sure of what to put on the table for Thanksgiving, or where to get what you want to have a traditional meal? Well, you will find everything you’ll need to create a wonderful Thanksgiving feast at the Stonewall Farm’s Annual Thanksgiving Farm Fare. This community farm in Keene provides farm-fresh products from over 30 vendors including organic meats, vegetables, organic breads, jams, jellies, coffee, cheeses, herbs, honey and so much more.
Feel the need to “earn” your indulgences on Thanksgiving? Then head to the 38th annual Portland Thanksgiving Day 4-Miler Race. The 2 loop 4-mile course winds through Portland’s historic Old Port and Downtown Districts, and is guaranteed to build up your appetite for the feast to come! Plus, all proceeds benefit several locally chose charities.
Cranberries are one of the few native fruits to America and particularly in Massachusetts, which is why the berry has become so synonymous with the state. The cranberry harvest season has become something of a rite of passage for Massachusetts residents with the iconic berry brilliantly and deliciously colouring the landscape of the Bay state. In late autumn in particular, harvest festivals, cranberry-studded recipes and bog tours truly take centre stage.
The sauce is quick and easy to make – and the perfect accompaniment to any roast dinner! Check out the recipe here!
Stuffing is an integral part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately, the folk in New England take such pride in these matters, that they actually have a stuffing named after them. This came after a 1996 poll where most replies originated from residents of New England, saying they cherished a simple bread stuffing, seasoned — not too highly — with herbs, innocent of garlic, and remarkably close to antique English recipes.
Their stuffing contains onion, celery, parsley, and chicken stock, to help add a subtle boost to the flavours on the table already. Sausage meat is optional and can be added as a meatier alternative! A recipe on classic New England stuffing can be found here.
Visit North Carolina
Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a homemade sweet potato casserole and nowhere makes them better than North Carolina – that’s why it is the state’s official vegetable! If you’ve enjoyed a silky sweet potato during the last 40 years or so, chances are good that it was grown in North Carolina, where roughly 60% of all sweet potatoes in the U.S. are produced.
Sweet potatoes have been popular in the American South since the 1700’s when slaves who worked in plantation fields and kitchens mistook them for the yams they knew in their original homelands. Since then, they have rightfully found themselves as a staple in the traditional American Thanksgiving feast in one form or another. In recent times, Americans have adopted the sweet potato casserole recipe and topped the dish with both marshmallows and toasted pecans.
If you’d like to find out more or want to cook along at home, check out the recipe here!
If baked sweet potato isn’t your thing, then why not consume them in a slightly more adult way? North Carolina’s Ham Farms makes Covington Vodka from locally grown Covington sweet potatoes.
Meanwhile, Oysters, a popular ingredient for dressing (or stuffing), are enjoying a resurgence on the coast with the newly developed N.C. Oyster Trail supporting production and distribution. Thanks to shellfish farms, these bivalve molluscs are available year-round — even in months without an “R.”
With all the food on display, Thanksgiving also calls for something to wash it all down. So why not a Tennessee Whiskey finisher? Most tables will have a jug of sweet tea for drinking, but in Tennessee, their tea can be a little different. Made with cola, triple sec, sweet and sour mix and the aforementioned whiskey, it’s a grown up take on a Southern staple. Learn how to create your own Tennessee Tea here.
Meanwhile, those in Tennessee are particularly passionate about their cornbread dressing. Its principal ingredients are home-made cornbread, with plenty of onion, celery, eggs, chicken broth, sage and thyme. A classic Tennessee cornbread dressing recipe can be found here.
Need a way to work off all the excesses of Thanksgiving Day? Well, Tennessee has 56 state parks that host Day After Thanksgiving Hikes to find space and give thanks. Work off the delicious food and take a signature guided hike or embark on a self-guided adventure.
If you want to celebrate Thanksgiving in a really traditional way, then head to a football game and enjoy the Thanksgiving take on tailgating. This year sees the New Orleans Saints host the Buffalo Bills at the Caesars Superdome. This is only the third time the New Orleans Saints have played on Thanksgiving, the last being 2019. The Saints won that game against the Atlanta Falcons, and in fact, are a perfect 3-0 on the fall holiday!
Meanwhile, we can’t talk about all the food without mentioning the main event: the turkey. Well, why not go one step further and enjoy a Louisiana family favourite – Turducken! It’s a dish consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, further stuffed into a deboned turkey. Outside of the United States, it is known as a three bird roast.
After the main course is finished, dazzle your guests with a rum-soaked pound cake (perhaps using Louisiana favorite Bayou Rum), a cream cheese and chocolate chip bread pudding or stick to the classics with a pecan pie.
The tasty Louisiana treats don’t have to end after the meal is over! Turn your leftover turkey bones into a stock that’s perfect for turkey gumbo that’ll keep you warm through to the new year.
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