Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012
Just some snapshots of a typical Thanksgiving in our household. Thanksgiving really epitomizes fall with trees clothed in the most vibrant shades and of course, most importantly, time shared with loved ones over food. I've really come to appreciate Thanksgiving as one of the rare times all five of our family members are seated at one dinner table for an extended period of time. All too often, individual schedules don't match up and one family member (usually my sister or me) can't make it home for various reasons. And even on the occasional visits to home, we are all so wrapped up in our own agendas that we barely make time to really spend time together with the family.

I've always appreciated the communal aspect of food. The warmth and openness of preparing food for loved ones is a past-time that really resonates with me with some of my fondest memories being time spent in the kitchen with my mother. I feel that it was a key time to bond with my siblings and mother, helping out with minimal and routine things such as peeling the onions or carrots, helping out with making pancakes on Saturday morning. That's probably where my love for food originates. Sure, I love the aesthetic qualities of food and the creativity that it engenders, but I doubt that I would have such a deep appreciation for food were it not linked to the many memories that come with food. Food would characterize seasons: watermelons and home-made donuts during lazy summer afternoons, roasting sweet-potatoes and baking cookies in the wintertime, picking apples in the fall and picking strawberries in the late spring. It really wasn't until college that I realize how much more care and effort my mother put in towards what we ate every day. Cooking new dishes every night for dinner and spending the extra time and effort to make food from scratch with us translated to some of my fondest memories being in the kitchen. I can only hope that I can one day share tirelessly share the warmth and love my mother expressed for our family through her food through my own cooking/ baking.
Unsurprisingly, that's probably why Thanksgiving ends up being one of my favorite holidays. Pushing thoughts of impending finals and projects for a day to spend time in the kitchen with my mother and siblings just like the grade-school days is so worth it.
Our Thanksgiving dinner has always featured the iconic turkey, something that is actually not as common as I thought in other Korean-American households. But our feast has evolved to add a Korean touch to the more traditional American Thanksgiving fare.
For one thing, our turkey stuffing is not the usual savory bread stuffing, but steamed rice with an assortment of mushrooms, walnuts, chestnuts, and celery with light salt and pepper seasoning. It works amazingly well. Just think of the rice replacing the bread of the bread stuffing and when infused with the juices from the turkey, you get some really aromatic and amazing stuff.

Sides vary from year to year, but green bean casserole (topped with crushed digest crackers, yum!) and yam has become annual favorites. You can see the creative touch added by my sister with the yams below. And we can't forget the spicy radishes or kimchi from a Korean table. Lately, we've taken a liking to making cranberry sauce from scratch. It is so much healthier than the store-bought kind and incredibly easy. Just buy a bag of cranberries and simmer in a large pot with the amount of sugar at your control for a good half-hour to an hour (longer the better :)), then sieve the cranberry skins out when you're done!

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