Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love time with my family, cooking, food and football (the Lions are predictably terrible this year, but the University of Michigan is having a pretty good season). I went back home to Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving a few weeks early. I’ve started celebrating Thanksgiving with my family early since moving to Boston because the Payne family are firm believers that holidays can be celebrated whenever and I hate being gouged by the airlines for holiday travel.
We always celebrate Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house. My grandma is an excellent cook who spent most of her life working in restaurants, catering and kitchen stores. I’ve always been her sous chef for our multi-day cooking extravaganza, but this year I got to take over the role of head chef as we begged her to put her feet up for once.
To help set the scene, my grandma lives in a small condo with a little kitchen that she somehow shoe horns in an entire Williams-Sonoma worth of cooking pots and pans and utensils and gadgets. While it didn’t matter to me when I was younger, one thing in particular that I love about cooking at my grandma’s house is its lack of gas appliances. She has an electric stove and an induction cooktop plate, which not only boils water and cooks vegetables in record time, but also doesn’t fill our cooking space with dangerous pollutants that come from combusting methane gas that is both bad for the environment and for our health.
Portable induction cooktops can be used on your countertop and plugged into a normal outlet. They can be used for any cooking job you do with a gas range — but it’s done without any noxious methane gas combusting in your kitchen. You can make homemade cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes or whatever else your favorite side dish might be. I love being able to breathe easy (literally and figuratively) knowing that I have reliable equipment to make my favorite dishes for my family while also protecting their health and the environment.
This wouldn’t be a holiday blog without the inclusion of some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. One of these can be made on any electric stovetop or induction plate and the other requires no cooking and can be made a couple days ahead of time (what’s not to love about that?).
Famous Payne Family Green Jello
My family is midwestern so we make this jello for every holiday. I promise it is better than it sounds on paper.
20 oz crushed pineapple (drained with juice reserved)
Large package (6 oz) of lime jello
2 ½ cups boiling water
8 oz cream cheese
Drain juice out of the pineapple and save for later in the recipe
Dissolve the jello in 2 ½ cups of boiling water and add in reserved pineapple juice
Cube your 8 oz of cream cheese and mix into the jello while it’s still warm (you can use a hand mixer, stand mixer, immersion blender, etc.) and mix until smooth and creamy
Pour jello mixture into a serving dish or jello mold
This part is very important! Begin letting the jello mixture set but watch it carefully. As it thickens, begin folding in the crushed pineapple to the jello mixture. If you add it too early, it will sink to the bottom which is not what we want
After the pineapple is fully mixed in, cover the jello and put it in the fridge until serving!
My dad is a strict cranberry-jelly-from-the-can person, but I find that completely gross so we serve this version every Thanksgiving as well.
12 oz cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 small jar (13 oz) bitter orange marmalade
1 inch knob of ginger, grated
Put 12 oz cranberries, ¾ cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan
Bring to a boil and stir until sugar has dissolved
Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until some of the berries have burst
Remove from heat and stir in bitter orange marmalade and grated ginger