I remember very traditional Thanksgiving dinners growing up on Mill Street in Bristol Borough. Our immediate family, mother, father, four sisters and I were frequently joined by Nanny (mom’s mother) or Nanny’s sister Lucy. I think Uncle Albert (Dad’s brother) Aunt Carol, Skip and Paul came down from Flushing, NY. some years. They eventually arrived in an RV which would be parked in the lot along the river behind our apartment. Getting a tour was always a treat. Their visit would prompt visits from the families of Dad’s other brothers, Tom and Frank. Grandpop Profy would stop in and he may have eaten with us a few times, not always.
Mother with some help from my sisters prepared a turkey with bread stuffing, mashed and candied sweet potatoes, a vegetable like string beans, corn or peas, canned jellied cranberry sauce, maybe apple sauce, green salad, some bread or corn muffins, celery, olives, and probably pie for dessert. Red wine was pretty standard.
Entertainment for the day would have been a walk to visit the Mignoni family on Radcliffe Street (Mom’s sister). And we watched the Philadelphia and New York City Thanksgiving Day parades on TV. Father (and later me) wasn’t a big TV sports fan. But Uncle Albert might put on a football game. I recall one year he doned a helmet and ran around the house with a football. Several years we went to the annual Bristol- Morrisville High School football game. That may have been arranged by my future brother-in-law, Louis.
I think Diane and I cooked two Cornish hens on an indoor rotisserie in our Boston apartment our first Thanksgiving after getting married. For years afterwards Thanksgiving would be at Smith’s in Carmel, NY. Diane’s Aunt Louella and Uncle Mackie always came. Her Mom cooked a traditional turkey dinner. Turnips and parsnips, however, were new to me. As was mincemeat pie with hard sauce. Several years Mr. Smith took us to Black Pond to skeet shoot, another new experience. We had a white Lab, Luz who came with us. One year we were presumably hunting, deer, birds, but we didn’t shoot or even see anything to hunt but the woods walk was fun.
After Jenny was born and we bought our Yardley house, we either cooked at home or went to my parents or later my sister Cissi’s in Bristol. She and Louis frequently host large gatherings for family and friends. Since Jenny’s marriage and the arrival of two grand children we have usually hosted them at home. Since Jenny is a vegetarian for number of years our main course was salmon. But now we have seafood and turkey. Diane also likes her mother’s parsnips and turnips in addition to the traditional sides.
One year I bought a Bourbon Red heritage turkey from Griggstown Farm in NJ. I cooked it on the outside grill but unfortunately I didn’t let it on long enough. Starting carving and I realized it had to go back on the grill. This didn’t make for the best turkey. But I would like to try again.
Every other year Jenny goes to Rob’s family. We are always welcome back in Bristol. But two years ago we decided to try a restaurant dinner. Diane’s brother joined us at Hamilton’s Grill in Lambertville. It was a nice memorable experience.
This year we decided to eat out again . Our first choice, the Yardley Inn, was booked. At Hamilton’s Grill there was a 3 o’clock opening. Since Jim Hamilton recently died, there is a new owner chef. It’s Brian Held who owns Brian’s in Lambertville and Bistro Rouget in Stockton. We had a nice meal in Brian’s when it opened several years ago. Thanksgiving dinner is a price fixe. Strange but they didn’t published the menu but I expected it to be similar to previous years — traditional turkey, seafood or beef as a main course.
Thanksgiving 2018, yesterday, was cold. A high of 28 degrees. We took a short walk at the Thompson Neely house and then headed to Hamilton’s. Diane opted for a traditional turkey dinner. I had halibut and vegetables. Quite good. The apps were delicious — potatoes leek soup and large grilled shrimp. The flourless chocolate cake was, well I’m hoping to make it. We shared a bottle of white wine.
Home about 5 we built a fire and had a dark grappa nightcap from a Chestertown craft distillery. So much to be thankful.