Turkey Leftovers and Memories

One of the great things about cooking a turkey is the leftovers.

I remember Thanksgivings past when when my mother and when my grandmother was living — we would spend hours in the kitchen peeling, chopping, stuffing, and doing all the dishes. This was either before the dishwasher or my family was not affluent enough to have a dishwasher.

But the smells and occasional tastes were worth sticking around for.

Sometimes my father got into the act. He was a decent cook when he was allowed in the kitchen. If he wanted a specific food and my mother felt it was too much work, she would say that he had to participate and he usually did.

For many years we had schliskas. I remember we had to boil huge pots of peeled potatoes, then they were mashed and mixed with flour and boiled yet again. Meanwhile the onion and celery was sizzling to caramelization. Then these boiled potato dumplings would find their way to the fry pan and in the end lots of bread crumbs were placed over everything and baked. To say it took six hours, was about right.

In later years my mother found a short cut by using frozen gnocchi and that tasted good but not like the real thing.

Food was always so important in our family. We didn’t have a lot of other frills and mostly had hand-me-down appliances and furniture from more flush relatives but if you judged us based on what was on the table — we appeared rich.

I remember turkey platters with stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes usually with apricots, two kinds of cranberry sauce, a plate of homemade pickles, schliskas, something green maybe green beans or peas, jello with fruit, and challah. And for dessert — since we were kosher and couldn’t mix meat and milk — we never had pumpkin pie. It was usually my grandmother’s apple pie or some kind of berry pie and bundt cake. During that time no one drank coffee at the end of the meal though sometimes hot tea.

Then the men would leave the table and go watch football games and eventually fall asleep and snore so loud that the house would vibrate. While the women cheerfully cleared off the table, put things back in the refrigerator, washed, washed, and towel dried the dishes.  Male cousins disappeared with their dads but us girls were relegated to the kitchen choreography.

By the time we were done and ready to rest, the men would wake up and want a snack. The women jumped up and out came bread, mustard, turkey slices, and cranberry sauce to be slathered on the bread and we would eat again.

So as you finish your Thanksgiving feasts, start thinking about turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, and turkey vegetable soup. My particular favorite turkey sandwich is served open face on rye bread, add a few slices of turkey, a smear of Dijon mustard, a thin slice of tomato, slice of Swiss cheese and put in toaster oven or under broiler.

With leftover mashed potatoes, consider making mashed potato pancakes and fry them up in a pan until crispy, serve with sour cream. Throw any leftover vegetables into the soup stock along with the turkey carcass.

If you get the wish bone, don’t forget to make a wish.

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