YMCA Staff Thanksgiving Traditions

Liz K., Springs Family YMCA:

I am from the UK so about to celebrate my 6th Thanksgiving! My husband and I were assigned Thanksgiving as our Holiday to host in our family (which was funny considering I am British and this is a very American Holiday).

My tradition for this holiday is that I like to make some British foods to bring an element of food of the holidays from home. For my sides, I use the Jamie Oliver Roast Potato recipe which makes amazing roast potatoes each time! Another side I make is a large Yorkshire Pudding and I use my mom’s recipe. For my Appetizers, I order sausage meat from a British Butcher and make homemade Sausage rolls and I also make Cheese and Onion Pasties.

Each year I change my dessert options and I love trying new dessert recipes as we get closer to thanksgiving. This year I have been attempting to make Meringues after seeing them on Great British Bake Off. So far they are coming out great each time (only a couple of cracks)! I will use the Meringues to make “Eton Mess” for dessert which also includes whipped cream and berries.

While prepping the food in the morning, we LOVE to watch the Macy’s day parade (especially the Broadway part) and I am obsessed with the dog show!

Ishmael B., Association Office:

I start randomly making tamales for people.

Mary B., Association Office

My mom was one of 13 kids and so there are 48 of my generation. Being able to go over to my grandmother’s house to eat for holidays was problematic, so each family was “assigned” a holiday and ours was Thanksgiving! I loved Thanksgiving! The day before I would go over and help my Aunt Lou bake the pies and prepare “Tom Turkey.” My favorite memory was the one year I was in charge of the coconut custard pie and I forgot to add the egg when making the custard! There is a very famous picture of my Uncle Walter eating his pie with an egg in front of him! We always had good food, great company and a long walk for us kids after while the adults took their naps!

Kyle C., Association Office:

I moved out of Ohio right after college and it was never really practical to go back home for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas, so “Friendsgiving” quickly became an annual tradition that lasted all while I lived in Chicago and NYC. What I loved most about hosting all of my “orphaned” friends was encouraging everyone to bring/make whatever dishes made them happiest or were most comforting to them. There was a year when the menu included a traditional roasted turkey and mashed potatoes, alongside homemade sushi that we rolled ourselves and Indian-spiced cranberry sauce. Those Friendsgivings are some of my very favorite memories!

Kyle’s Favorite Food Tip:

Steep rosemary and garlic in the milk and/or cream that you plan on using for your mashed potatoes. You simmer cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary in the milk on low for 5-10 min, strain, and then mix in to your potatoes. Divine. (The original recipe for this inspiration: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/ultra-creamy-mashed-potatoes

Joe rolling sushi
Thanksgiving in Astoria

Jason and Daniela D., Springs Family YMCA:

I first joined the ETD (Early Turkey Day) festivities with my then boyfriend, now husband, Jason in 2009. ETD had become a tradition for he and a close group of college friends for the previous six years while they were students at the University of Texas. It was there they decided to do a Friendsgiving the weekend before they left for Thanksgiving break. From what I’ve been told, they gathered in a small college condo and did a simple potluck style meal.

After graduating, the tradition continued at various ranches and rental homes around central Texas. The group has increased by significant others, wives, kids, dogs etc. and the culinary skills also seem to get better and better each year. There is a standing poker game and casual campfire dinner on Friday night, followed by cooking, frying and smoking of variety of meats on Saturday with the main meal that evening. It is still done potluck style and people sign up to bring all types of dishes, sides and desserts. It’s become a blend of traditional Thanksgiving food and Texas BBQ. It’s rumored that this year, there will be a “brisket-off” between two of the avid BBQ chefs.

My favorite part of the whole event is the blessing that occurs before the main meal. The same friend provides it each year….someone who is beloved by everyone, so much that he even officiated another attending friend’s wedding! He takes a moment to give thanks for all those in attendance, to remember those who couldn’t make it and to ask for blessings for everyone and their families as they enter the holiday season.

It is a wonderful tradition that honors the importance of friends in life and I am honored to be celebrating with the group for this year’s 18th annual ETD weekend.

Sean D., Association Office:

Each year for the past decade or so, I’ve made this Cajun Seafood Eggplant casserole and it’s the highlight of our Thanksgiving feast.

It takes 3+ hours to make so I spend most of the Wednesday before in the kitchen working on it. But it’s well worth the effort. After it’s done, I always weigh it and post the photo on Facebook.

My kids and I also pick a special pie (or two) to make, along with the traditional ones, and we end up with a surplus of pie, which is not a bad thing to have.

casserole on a scale weighing over 10 lb
All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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