Amy Langrehr lives in Hampden and is a home cook, food photographer and city chicken keeper who supports local farms and food producers. She writes charmcitycook and is a new contributor to the Baltimore Fishbowl. 

Cooking. Relaxing. Friends and family. Great food. I love Thanksgiving.

When I was a kid, my parents would host all of our aunts, uncles and cousins for Thanksgiving dinner at our house in Kingsville. It was so fun…laughing, catching up, hearing old stories from our parents, watching football and the best part…eating! We had a traditional meal of roast turkey and sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, sauerkraut (you have to have it, no questions), gravy, soft dinner rolls and butter. Old school. So many great memories. I loved every minute of it. 

Over the years we got together as a big family less often, cousins moved south, my brothers had their own families and in-laws, etc. So, during much of my adult life, I’ve celebrated the holiday with different groups of friends and family and it’s actually been lots of fun. Once I went to the home of a vegetarian friend and had tofurkey — not bad at all, but I kinda missed the real bird. One year, my friends and I made pizzas using ingredients from Baltimore’s amazing Italian grocery, Trinacria. Wow, that was a Thanksgiving I will never forget!

While I do miss the old daysit’s also fun to mix it up and also to start new traditions, too. The last few years, I’ve hosted my mom at my house in Hampden. As the youngest of six kids, it’s pretty neat to get to be in charge! I do the turkey, a few sides and a sweet potato or pumpkin pie and mom brings a few sides, too. Last year, we just roasted a turkey breast and a couple of legs…and that was great for the two of us. But this year, I want lots of leftovers, so I ordered a whole local, organic bird from Andy and Woolsey Farm at the Waverly Market. Thanksgiving is the one time of the year when I actually love leftovers. Nothing like hanging out in your jammies the day after Thanksgiving (you will never ever catch me shopping on Black Friday) enjoying a plate of leftovers for lunch. Heaven.

These days, thanks to Tyler Florence, I butterfly the turkey. I happened to catch him on the Today show last year and he showed how to easily split it in two right down the back. He said that this way, the turkey only takes an hour and a half to cook, stays very juicy and the skin is nice and crispy. I thought…I can do that (you need a good, solid sharp chef’s knife or kitchen shears.) and, I did it. It was delicious.

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