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Sharing the Thanksgiving Apron

Posted by on November 15, 2012

Susie Breaux McSheaweeAdventure welcomes guest blogger Susie Breaux McShea.

I am grateful for the years that we host Thanksgiving Dinner at our home. Devoting the better part of a day (or two) to preparing one fabulous meal is a luxury I rarely have and truly enjoy. It’s also a great opportunity to get kids involved in cooking and invested in family tradition.

As kids get older, they may be ready to move beyond stirring the gravy or helping roll out pie dough. A few years ago, I suggested my son help me make homemade cranberry sauce, one of his favorite Thanksgiving foods. He loved watching the fresh cranberries pop as they reached just the right temperature. The cooking process takes about 15 minutes, so it’s a project he can see through from start to finish.

Cranberry sauce is now “his dish.” Christmas dinner? “I’ll make the cranberry sauce,” he volunteers, even if we will be traveling out of state for the holiday. Last year, he decided he needed to go a step further and create his own signature sauce. And so we began the quest for the perfect chocolate cranberry sauce. Chocolate chips melt nicely at first but then the sauce had an odd consistency after cooling. (And even he had to admit it was too sweet). Cocoa powder, combined with the already generous amount of sugar in the recipe, was a good alternative. But, he has yet to find the perfect combination. For this year, our 12 year-old chef has some new ideas to explore, like a layer of chocolate on top of the cranberry sauce. (When I suggest a chocolate ganache, I get the rolled eyes response. This is HIS recipe, after all.)

Last year, the traditional cranberry sauce was a much bigger hit than the experimental chocolate version, but he is undeterred. By Thanksgiving, he will have invented a new and improved chocolate cranberry sauce, with the classic version standing by for the less adventurous diners.

Most importantly, my son has secured his role in the traditional Thanksgiving Feast, and he could not be happier. For that, I am most grateful.

What traditions have your kids developed over the years?  Please share your tips about how children can take on meaningful roles in your Thanksgiving celebrations that your family will look forward to year after year.

Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce

Makes 2 ¼ cups

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12 oz. fresh whole cranberries

In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add cranberries and return to boiling. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a serving dish and cool completely before serving. May be refrigerated after cooling.

Variations: For fun, you may want to try substituting orange juice for half of the water, adding walnuts, or, yes, even stirring in cocoa powder!

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