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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Thanksgiving stuff and stuffing


Above / Often spotted around town and in local forest preserves, the wild turkey is one of the most popular game birds among backyard bird watchers. (PN 2005 File Photo by Jo)

‘Tis the season when PN’s inbox begins receiving prompts on how to “talk turkey,” suggesting ways to survive the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. And we begin to count our blessings for decades of wonderful wit and wisdom enjoyed at faithful Mitchell family reunions.

For 80 years, the Paul Mitchell family (My mother’s large family) celebrated Thanksgiving dinner together. Beginning in the 1940s in the dining room of their farmhouse in Battle Ground, Indiana, then moving from one campground to another to accommodate spouses as well as grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, all descendants of Gertrude and Paul seemed to cherish family reunions at least twice a year. Due to family commitments on all sides, the extended Mitchell clan will not all be together for Thanksgiving 2023 at Ross Camp Lodge near Purdue. Unlike the last 30-plus years at Ross Camp, we/they’ll be counting their blessings and savoring memories someplace else.

For 80 years, the Paul Mitchell family (My mother’s family) celebrated Thanksgiving Dinner together. See the cousins sitting at the kids’ table? I’m the young one with my hands on my plate. (Mitchell Family File Photo)

Nonetheless, here we go again, mindful to note light-hearted turkey references and looking forward to America’s holiday that welcomes everyone to observe it.

Cheers to turkey talk with all the trimmings that just might inspire a little table talk.

Positively Naperville’s 2023 Thanksgiving Guide

National Bird: Bald Eagle vs. Turkey

How Thanksgiving Came to Be 

Craneberry Origin

Sausage Stuffing with Mozzarella

Mesón Sabika Thanksgiving

Turkey Trot Cheers at Quigley’s Irish Pub

Thanksgiving Dinner via Dine Naperville

Turkey Day Grins and Groans

Naturalist, ornithologist and painter John James Audubon (1785-1851) depicting a wild American turkey.
Wikimedia Commons Photo

According to legend and lore, Ben Franklin favored the turkey as the national bird compared to the bald eagle, preferred by Thomas Jefferson. In 1794, Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter, Sally, that said, “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character […] in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America.”

Furthermore, myth has it that the “Tom Turkey” was given its name by Franklin. When the turkey lost the national ranking to the bald eagle by one vote, Franklin nicknamed the male turkey after Thomas Jefferson—or so the story goes.

Many families are grateful the traditional Thanksgiving turkey is the biggest food item purchased all year. Few meals are more memorable than the Thanksgiving feast, so for the sake of abundance always plan on one pound of raw turkey for each guest. Roast it just right to have plenty of turkey for dinner; plus, plenty of leftovers.

Also be mindful that most roasting pans and conventional ovens cannot handle more than a 30-pound turkey.

If the only prayer you said in your whole life were “thank you,” that would be enough. —Meister Eckhart, German Philosopher (1260-1328)

Refresher Notes / How Thanksgiving came to be

Thanksgiving is a feast of a tradition that dates back to 1621 after Pilgrims had landed here, seeking freedom to worship as they pleased. Time was devoted by early colonists to count their blessings in Plymouth, sharing a day of giving thanks with the Wampanoag Indians, grateful for the harvest and the preceding year.

Stories suggest the celebratory meal that began in New England before the American Revolution was quickly followed throughout the nation after independence in 1776.

When George Washington was president, he proclaimed America’s first national Thanksgiving, though many questioned his Constitutional authority to enact it.

From ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ to Thanksgiving blessings

Then there was Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who also was a 19th-century magazine editor who campaigned to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. After engaging readers in her editorials and a voluminous letter-writing initiative to public officials in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was inspired and he called upon every American, North and South, to celebrate Thanksgiving “with one heart and one voice.” 

Soon after in 1863, President Lincoln made it an official holiday with a proclamation by putting the special occasion on the calendar the last Thursday of November. Thanksgiving was commemorated on the last Thursday until President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday in 1939, eager to stimulate retail sales, as the story goes. When that commercial idea was met with intense criticism, the fourth Thursday in November was selected in 1942 and Thanksgiving has been on the fourth Thursday ever since.

For 2023, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Nov. 23, the second earliest “fourth Thursday” it can be. Next year Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 28, 2024, the latest date it can be.

The craneberry origin

Wikimedia Commons Photo

Cranberries, jellied or whole berried sauces, are synonymous with Thanksgiving turkey.

Their tart juice is a great cocktail mixer. Cranberry macaroons are delicious. And when heated with sugar, America’s original superfruit (due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content) makes great jam.

Settlers to Massachusetts learned of cranberries from Wampanoag people who taught them their practical uses. Not only are they good to eat, but the Wampanoag and other tribes used them for medicinal purposes and to dye clothes.

The Pilgrims named them craneberries because their small pink spring flowers resembled the top feathers on a crane. It evolved into cranberry, as written in the American language today.

Cranberries don’t grow in water, but in bogs on vines, which are often flooded to float for harvesting. They like cooler temperate weather and are cultivated in northerly climates including Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin.

Sausage Stuffing with Mozzarella (Family Favorite)

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb. pork sage sausage (Jimmy Dean works!) or fresh Italian sausage
  • 2 T butter
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh thyme, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 lb. stale Italian bread, cut into 1” pieces (Have been known to use 1lb. bag of Pepperidge Farm Stuffing)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz. mozzarella, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 9” x 13” oven safe baking dish with parchment paper.

In a large sauté pan warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking up the large pieces, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove sausage and place in a large bowl.

In the same pan melt butter over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, and large pinch of salt and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove vegetable mixture and place in bowl with the sausage.

In a small bowl, whisk to combine the chicken stock, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and eggs. Pour mixture over bread, vegetable and sausage mixture. Mix well. Fold in the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Place stuffing mixture in the prepared baking dish and drizzle with remaining cream. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the bread is golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve stuffing warm, alongside turkey. Or prepare sometime as a main course all by itself. Serve with green salad and vegetables.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings.

Mesón Sabika serves Thanksgiving dinners to-go

Historic Mesón Sabika (PN File Photo)

A time to be thankful…

In appreciation of all individuals with special needs of any type, Mesón Sabika again will provide more than 4,000 pre-ordered complimentary to-go turkey dinners with all the trimmings.

Throughout the year, the generous folks at Mesón Sabika host benefits, business meetings and other special events that make a difference in this active community.

For more information, visit www.mesonsabika.com.

Enjoy a post Turkey Trot pint at Quigley’s

Hot off a weekend of celebrating its first 25 years, Quigley’s Irish Pub in downtown Naperville, 43 E. Jefferson, will be open for beverages only from 8-11AM Thanksgiving (morning only) so patrons can cheer for participants in the Noon Lions Club annual Turkey Trot 5K.

For last-minute availability to run in The Noon Lions Club Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, click here where they promote “Run fast, eat later, no penalty.”

This sign marks a spot along Plainfield-Naperville Road that thousands of Turkey Trotters will pass as they run or walk on Thanksgiving Day. (PN Photo)

Thanksgiving dinner served at Naperville restaurants…

If you don’t feel like cooking this Thanksgiving Day, discover traditional turkey dinners served around town in Naperville, Illinois. Be prepared to reserve early. Reservation deadlines are quickly approaching.

Downtown Naperville

  • Davanti Enoteca: 47 E. Chicago Ave., (630) 328-0280. Reservations 11:30AM-9PM, Catering to go for Thanksgiving Dinner, order by 12PM on Nov. 20 for pick up on Thanksgiving Day. Catering Menu
  • La Sorella di Francesca: 18 W. Jefferson Ave., (630) 961-2706. Reservations 11:30AM-9PM, Catering to go for Thanksgiving Dinner, order by 12PM on Nov. 20 for pick up on Thanksgiving Day. Catering Menu
  • Ramsay’s Kitchen: 39 W. Jefferson Ave., (331) 244-2550. Reservations 11AM-8PM Prixe Fixe Menu
  • Rosebud: 22 E. Chicago Ave., (630) 548-9800. Reservations 1PM-7PM. Also offering Thanksgiving Take Home Dinner Packages.
  • Sullivan’s Steakhouse: 244 S. Main St., (630) 305-0230. Reservations 11AM-8PM. Sullivan’s is also offering 3-course Thanksgiving meals to be picked up on Nov. 22 or Nov. 23.
  • Vasili’s Mediterranean: 135 Water St., (630) 328-0431. Reservations 12PM-8PM, Catering to go for Thanksgiving Dinner, order by 12PM on Nov. 20 for pick up on Thanksgiving Day. Catering Menu

CityGate Centre

CityGate Grille: 2020 Calamos Court / CityGate Grille will be offering a buffet feast from Noon-6PM on Thurs., Nov. 23. A traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings will be available OR the dinner can be carry out. The dinner is $69 for adults and $25 for children 6 to 12,  plus tax and gratuity. Reserve at CityGate Grille at (630) 718-1010.

For additional Thanksgiving Day dine-out possibilities, check out “Holiday Specials” at www.dinenaperville.com.

You ain’t seen stuffin’ yet! Be grateful for grins and groans on Turkey Day!

If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for?  Their age.

When does Christmas come before Thanksgiving? In the dictionary.

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?  The outside.

What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?  Plymouth Rock.

Neighbors rock on Whispering Hills for the many ways they decorate their yard for different holidays, including Thanksgiving. (PN File Photo)

Why was the turkey asked to leave the church sanctuary?  Because of his FOWL language.

The recent landscaping just west of Moser Tower provides a new way to view the structure that holds 72 carillon bells, known as one of the largest musical instruments in the world since 2000. Can you hear it? (PN Photo Nov. 16, 2023)

Can a turkey jump higher than the Moser Tower?  Yes. The Moser Tower can’t jump.

Why are pilgrims pants always falling down? Their belts are on their hats.

Old joke… Just before Thanksgiving, a pet parrot known to use foul words was admonished by his owner. In fact, she got so annoyed that she stuffed the parrot into the freezer.

A few minutes later, after calming down, she let the parrot out of the freezer.

And the parrot politely asked, “May I ask what the turkey did?”

Finally… Find many things to do this week while prepping for Thanksgiving… And perhaps things not to do… 

“LIFE” magazine image courtesy Bryan Ogg.

Note: The lighthearted image is the actual cover of a 1904 LIFE magazine. Faintly visible in the upper righthand corner by LIFE is the Nichols Library stamp. Local historian Bryan Ogg has bound copies from 1901, 1904 and 1907 that were discarded from the library collection years ago. Such treasures!

Happy Thanksgiving with blessings of good will and peace! Celebrate safely!

—Stephanie Penick and all of us at Positively Naperville

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.