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This is a repost about my very favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving. It’s the perfect holiday – it’s all about food. For me personally, the celebrations have changed over the years, but I’m always with people I care about. Whether that’s friends or family, it does not matter. I love my people. So much.

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Cooking. Relaxing. Friends and family. Great food. No pressure of gifts! 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, MD. It was so much 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 – this is Baltimore), 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. That was a Thanksgiving I will never forget!

While I do miss the old days of Thanksgiving for 30 or 40 guests, it’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 darn cool to get to be in charge of anything! I do the turkey, a few sides and sweet potato or pumpkin pie and mom brings most of the sides. Several years ago, we just roasted a turkey breast and a couple of legs…and that was great for the two of us. But the next year, I decided that I wanted lots of leftovers, and I ordered a whole local, organic bird from Andy at Andy’s Eggs & Poultry at the Waverly Market. That’s where I get my turkey every year now – you can a MILLION times taste the difference. And, I get a smidge bigger bird than I need, since Thanksgiving is the one time of the year when I actually love leftovers. Nothing like hanging out in your jammies the day after Thanksgiving enjoying a plate of leftovers for lunch. Heaven.

Last year, thanks to Tyler Florence, I decided to butterfly (or split or spatchcock) the bird. I happened to catch him on the Today Show and he showed how to easy it is to split it in two right down the back. This way, the turkey only takes an hour and a half or so 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…and cooked in much less time. I also put herbed butter up under the skin and it came out really nice and crispy. Last year, I brined the bird. That really did make it a whole lot juicier!

And check out the Thanksgiving sections on these sites for recipes, tips and more.

Food52
Epicurious
Bon Appetit
The Kitchn