As critical as I am of many things that go on in, and at the hands of, our country, I’m not ashamed to say that I am so grateful to be an American. I’m excited to be hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever, and looking for some ways to make our celebration meaningful and innovative. I’m obliged, for the purposes of shalom bayit to keep the menu fairly traditional, and discovering that an awful lot of Thanksgiving sides are milchig. Oh well, no green bean casserole for my husband this year. As for the celebration itself, I found a nice list of ideas at Freedom’s Feast, which also offers a few choices for a Thanksgiving “ceremonies.” Seders, really, but without the Hebrew. Ima on the Bima has her own versions of a Thanksgiving seder here. With Hebrew, of course.
If you plan on singing God Bless America, try to do a better job than this.

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Frume Sarah

posted November 25, 2009 at 1:18 am

Yeah, that milchig thing can be tricky. We go to my husband’s sister’s in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving. For Shalom Bayit, I take the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. They aren’t Jewish and I know that they would be mortified if they knew that they were serving things that violate our approach to kashrut. We remind the kids that to embarrass them would be a much great aveirah than unknowingly/unwittingly mixing milk and meat.

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posted November 25, 2009 at 6:22 am

We usually go to my husband’s family, who also isn’t Jewish, but since we don’t eat meat out, we haven’t had to deal with the milchig issue – all we eat is sides! (However, I’m sure there are dishes with chicken stock that we also inadvertently eat.)

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Lee Hendler

posted November 25, 2009 at 2:31 pm

So delighted to see your suggestion to check out Freedom’s Feast. It takes concepts from Seder (why not learn from the longest running home based history teaching tool we know of?) but we hope users will cut and paste for their own needs. Idea is tell our own American story and America’s story as we gather to give thanks. What a great time to show our kids what we love and hope they will love too. We have ceremonies and activities for other major American holidays too. Have a meaningful and fun Thanksgiving everyone!

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posted November 25, 2009 at 11:35 pm

i never worry about that milchig thing cuz i just don’t eat the turkey and they make all the sides vegetarian for me (like no turkey juices basting the stuffing, etc.) and my kids don’t eat turkey either!
i know that’s not the best solution but it works for me. helps that our thanksgiving dinner is just for our family anyway.
thanks for the link:-) i like that freedom’s feast website, their pieces are gorgeous.

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Rose Landowne

posted November 26, 2009 at 3:55 am

If you’re cooking, there’s always soy milk to take the place of the real thing!
Happy Thanksgiving!

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posted November 30, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Ah, the green bean casserole. There’s actually a good meat-version that you can make that’s better than everything out of the can:
1 pound criminis, stems removed, broken (not chopped) into pieces
olive oil, margarine, and/or a little shmaltz – you can use turkey fat if you’ve already made your turkey stock for gravy
2 cloves garlic minced/squished through a garlic press
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons flour
splash of madeira or other sweet wine like sherry
3/4 of a cup chicken stock
1/4 cup of soy milk or rice milk
1 pound fresh green beans, ends snipped, chopped into 2-3″ pieces
In a large frying pan, sautee the mushrooms on medium-high heat in the fat (whichever you prefer), for about 6 minutes, stirring every couple minutes. Add the garlic, and stir for another minute or so, making sure it doesn’t burn.
Add the flour, and more fat if needed, until the mushrooms are coated with it and the flour is cooked a little (you’re basically making a roux). Toss in the sherry to deglaze, then the milk substitute and stock. Cook it for a little while on medium, maybe 5-10 minutes? You want it to thicken and get yummy. Season with salt and pepper and take it off the heat.
Cook the green beans in LOTS of salted water for about 3 minutes, til they’re bright green, then shock them in ice water and drain. Mix the green beans and the sauce together in a casserole dish, and top with some bread crumbs and dots of margarine. You can chill it at this point. You’ll want to bring it back to room temp before cooking.
When you’re almost ready to eat (after turkey’s out of the oven and resting), throw this in the oven at 400 or 425 for about 20 minutes.
If you want to be really decadent, you can also add some fried onions to the top – YUMM! But make sure to add them after baking, or they’ll get burned.

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posted December 6, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I used this recipe for the challah, with half whole wheat flour.
My mother shaped them. She basically made one long snake for each challah and tied it in knots.

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