In years past, Thanksgiving dinner had to meet two benchmarks: it had to be delicious, and it had to be sufficiently Thanskgiving-y. If you served traditional foods and they weren’t entirely awful, you were doing okay.
But now, depending on your audience, your Thanksgiving may be expected to meet the following criteria:
- raw vegan
- “intermittently vegan”
- lacto-ovo vegetarian
- gluten free
- gluten intolerant
- Pinterest- worthy
- nut free
- tree-nut free
- peanut free
- low carb
- low fat
- things a caveman would eat
- under 20 Weight Watchers points
- ready after the parade
- ready before the game
Good luck and godspeed! Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is a game with no winner. Things are tougher than they used to be. Honestly, they’re tougher than they have to be. Once upon a time, you could make an entire Thanksgiving dinner out of Jello molds. And friends? YOU STILL CAN.
I’m of Irish descent. I like to believe that somewhere out there in the universe, my ancestors know that I have access to so many potatoes – so many damn potatoes – that I can mutilate them into the shape of a giant, awful donut and the texture of Gak if I so please. Now, the potatoes are going to have to be a potato salad instead of a traditional mash, but I think you could also add plain gelatin to your mashed potatoes and set it into the mold.
This really captures the essence of stuffing but without the bread and without having been inside a bird’s tushie. You have your carrots, your celery, your little bits of meat… basically everything but your will to live and your breakfast. Because if you’re eating this, you’ve probably lost both.
Do you serve can-shaped cranberry sauce? Then you have been letting Big Cran dictate the shape of your cranberry sauce-loaf for far too long. It CAN be shaped like a jello mold and I’d argue that it SHOULD be, too.
The thing about squash is that if served it in its skin and cut lengthwise, it already is compactly and neatly shaped and suitable for consumption by the toothless. That is exactly the kind of thinking that killed the jello mold. You can eat your squash as a jiggly square and you should never let anybody tell you differently.
For a gentler turkey-carving experience, replace the revving of an electric carving knife with the gloppy, sloshing thhhwaaaack of a slotted spoon moving through Jello.
For many palates, Brussels sprouts are a veggie that needs a little gussying up. What could be more gussied than letting your sprouts go for a dip in a egg noodle and cheese sauce swimmin’ hole?
Usually green beans enter the Thanksgiving table not because anyone loves them, but because at some point you look at all of the beige-y brown stuff you’re ingesting and realize that you should probably add something green. Voila – this ring of algae-looking green bean crud! If you’re a green bean casserole traditionalist (the recipe from the Campbell’s soup can), you can still top this with a drizzle of cream of mushroom soup and a sprinkling of freeze-dried onions (aka “astronaut onions”).
If you can shape your turkey like a dessert you can 100% also shape your dessert like a turkey – through the magic of jello molds!
Want some coffee with your pie? Sure, we can do that.
Go ahead, spike it.