It’s over. Everyone has gone home. The house is quiet, again. The clean-up is complete. And the memories linger on…

It’s become tradition that we host Thanksgiving Dinner. A tradition we help foster by saying “We’ll do Thanksgiving next year” while everyone is still trying to digest dessert. As I said before, it’s my favorite holiday.

This year was even more special because Little Gram joined us (She will be 103 in 2 weeks and is still sharp as a tack!) as well as Debbie and Stephen, down from New York. And Joann and Walter, Pauline and Bob, Steve and Marie with Leah and Nick, Joanna and Tom with Gino and Elizabeth, Nonna, and Victor and me. 18 folks around the very crowded and overly-laden table. What fun!

We started with the appetizers… Little Gram’s Eggplant Appetizer, and her Arangini… and Fried Wontons stuffed with Gorgonzola, Ham, and Green Onions with a spicy peach dipping sauce, Linda’s Chicken Liver Pate with Cognac served with Pumpernickel toasts spread with Tarragon Butter, Bruschetta with Garlic and Eggplant , Bruschetta with Sweet Kalamata, Baked Brie with Raspberries and Apricots, 5 more cheeses with assorted crackers, 3 different olives, bracciola, roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, and Purple, Orange, and Green Cauliflower florettes with a cheese-style yogurt with sundried tomato dip. That was just the beginning!

A side note on Little Gram’s recipes. She’s 103. She critiqued them! She thought the Eggplant was great, but “In the summer you should add some fresh mint or basil on top. You can’t get good fresh herbs this time of year.” She also wanted to make sure we fried the eggplant every time we made it. “Some people bake it or even boil it, but if you want it to taste right, you have to fry it.”

And to Victor, she marveled at the Arangini. She said she had stopped making them years ago, because they always tasted a bit bland to her. Victor admitted he futzed with the recipe a bit, adding some Italian herbs and a few red pepper flakes. She loved them, and even asked if she could take one home with her! Did I mention she’s 103?!?

And then there was dinner. The requisite turkey, stuffed with a whole wheat, cranberry walnut stuffing. The main stuffing was Victor’s mom’s traditional chicken liver stuffing that Marie and Nonna brought. Marie also brought 2 types of sweet potatoes;  marshmallows on top of one, and the second a casserole with brown sugar and pecans. YUM! Three types of homemade cranberry sauce (Apple Cranberry, 4-Cranberry, and Cranberry, Blueberry, Gooseberry) and 1 can of jellied Ocean Spray in my Mom’s cut glass dish.

Homemade Pumpkin Rolls with Cranberry Butter, Green Beans with Lemon Balsamic vinegar, waffle-cut Tri-Colored Carrots with Honey and Dill… and Cranberry Stilton Salad with Pumpkin Dressing.  And a vat of Gravy. (I like LOTS of gravy!!)

Tom brought his Award-Winning Homemade Wines (along with a couple he said were just for cooking – his “just for cooking” wines are better than most you can buy at the State Store!) and there were Apple-Tini’s for the ladies…

The pot of Ultra Dark Sumatra coffee was perking away as we set up the table.  Leah wanted Victor to make the November Bon Appetit  Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Bourbon Sauce. It was great! Joann brought an apple pie, Debbie made a Chocolate Polenta Cake with Raspberry Cranberry Coulis AND Chocolate Chip Cookies. Nick made Pumpkin Pie, Leah made a Pecan Pie AND Ginger Snap Cookies. Joanna brought a huge Fruit Compote, and I made a Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap crust and a Pumpkin Creme Fraiche topping, and I brought up one of the Apricot Macadamia Nut Fruitcakes I make every year. It was gastronomic heaven on earth!

The turkey carcass is simmering away on the stove right now. Tomorrow we start decorating for Christmas and there will be Homemade Turkey Soup for dinner. Some of that vat of gravy will be going into it, as well as some of the other leftovers – just as my mother used to do. It’s slightly different every year, yet comfortably the same.

And so ends another great Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanks to everyone for being here, thanks for all the fantastic foods you brought, and see ya all again next year!

Tradition is good!