Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2009 at 4:22 pm , by

We’re just about ready for the big day here in New York. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone! We’ll catch up with you all on Monday.

Snoopy’s almost up and at ‘em

photo(4)Spiderman ready to make his Thanksgiving Day Parade debut


Making sure Sponge Bob’s knees are okay

photo(2)More manageable balloons to take home

Turkey Day: À la Alton Brown

November 25, 2009 at 8:52 am , by

brown_alton_1In honor of Alton Brown’s new book, “Good Eats: The Early Years,” and the 10th anniversary of his show, we asked Alton for ten tips and little-known facts about Thanksgiving. True to his form, his factoids range from practical and historic to quirky and downright weird.

1.) The first Thanksgiving was a three-day alfresco affair—late September, early October, 1621. Hardly any of the “traditional” foods appear at the first meal, however, Turkey, Goose, Swan, Venison, Lobster, Oysters, Cod, Bass, Eels, Pumpkin, Purslane, Gooseberries, and Chestnuts all make the menu.

2.) Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor with a magazine, started a Thanksgiving campaign in 1827 and it was result of her efforts that in 1863 Thanksgiving was observed as a day for national thanks giving and prayer.

3.) Turkey was the first meal eaten on the moon.

4.) 90% of American homes serve turkey at Thanksgiving. That’s about 675 million pounds.

5.) More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving.

6.) The largest turkey on record weighed 86 pounds and was raised in England.

7.) Give your frozen bird at least two days to thaw in the refrigerator and be sure its drippings are contained to avoid contamination of fresh food.

8.) On the big day designate zones for raw, cold, and cooked foods.

9.) Involve your kids –it’s the best way to keep your traditions alive and well. Little hands seem to have an easier time peeling than mine do anyway.

10.) Volunteer or Donate. As some 8 million Americans are without jobs this year, it’s especially important to share resources, be it time, money or canned goods.

Don’t Miss This Show on Thanksgiving Day

November 24, 2009 at 11:18 am , by


I have too many friends and loved ones who are fighting cancer. I’ll bet you know some, too. That stinks, and we’ve got to stop it. That’s why Ladies’ Home Journal got involved with Kaleidoscope, a “celebration of ice skating, song and survivorship” that airs on Thanksgiving Day.

Taped in Washington, D.C. on November 16, the show is a feel-good extravaganza. It features charming skating numbers by Olympic hopefuls as well as veterans such as cancer survivors Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton. Hamilton (above, far right, with the cast) is especially inspiring. Not only does he serve as a co-host of the show, but the 51-year-old also performs jumps and back flips on the ice that athletes half his age would find daunting.

OliviaBreast-cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John (left, with me and LHJ’s publisher, Julie Pinkwater) also sings and shares hosting duties (she looks fabulous!). And American Idol stars David Archuleta and Katharine McPhee belt out songs that will put you in the holiday mood. When you watch the show, check out McPhee’s fabulous new look with her platinum blond hair and metallic miniskirt. I met Archuleta briefly in the makeup room, and he was as adorable as you would imagine. What impressed me most, though, was that voice. When he sang a simple, elegant and powerful rendition of “Silent Night,” he made this cynical old journalist tear up a bit.Viktor Julie

So how was I lucky enough to get behind the scenes? Well, I’m in the show, too! Nope, I’m a crappy skater. But I get to deliver some “did you know?” cancer-prevention tips. Watch for me before the commercial breaks. I’m thrilled to play a small part in this tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who are diagnosed with cancer each year in this country. And, of course, to hobnob with Olympic heroes, like Hamill and Hamilton—and sexy and funny gold medalist Viktor Petrenko (right). Happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all!

Kaleidoscope is a show you don’t want to miss! Tune in on Thanksgiving Day at 4 p.m. Eastern Time (after football) on Fox.

Photos courtesy of Peter Staples.

Thanksgiving Wines

November 23, 2009 at 10:56 am , by


Do you know what wines you’re serving with the turkey and stuffing? Don’t stress about it! I was a wine writer earlier in my career, and one thing I learned is that when it comes to pairing wines with Thanksgiving dinner, almost anything goes. Many people offer a white and a red, but it really comes down to what you like. Luckily there are lots of good affordable options to choose from these days. We picked the wines pictured here (which are also featured on page 20 of the November issue of LHJ) for their clever names as well as their quality and price. So you can make a real statement with them as hostess gifts. Read more

Spirit of the Thanksgiving Feast

November 19, 2009 at 2:24 pm , by

Don’t you love Thanksgiving? I think it’s one of the few holidays that has remained relatively free of crass commercialization. It celebrates family, tradition, good food—and remembering to be grateful for all we have (plus a little football, of course).

golden turkeyThis has been a tough year for so many people. According to a survey by fundraising food cooperative Market Day, nearly half of the respondents said they’re concerned about the expense of preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year. About 60 percent said they’ll try to reduce costs by serving fewer dishes. But luckily, Thanksgiving was the original potluck, right? Everybody contributes. About 83 percent said they ask guests to bring a dish, according to the survey. It’s the perfect solution. So what are you bringing to the party?

Trudi Temple, the founder of Market Day, is an inspiration on this food-focused holiday.  Back in the mid ’70s in Illinois, she started buying fresh produce from the wholesale market in Chicago and offering it to friends and neighbors to support her missionary work. When her young daughter asked her to bake a cake for a school fundraiser, she brought fresh fruits and veggies instead, and it was (surprise!) a hit. Soon other schools were creating Produce Days to raise money, and Temple added meats and seafood to the mix. That’s how the Market Day concept came about. Now it’s a big fundraising organization that has raised $460 million so far for schools and organizations across the country. You can order all kinds of foods on the site yourself, and proceeds go directly to the schools and others in need. That’s a feast you can feel good about!

Behind the Scenes of The Food Network Challenge

November 12, 2009 at 3:29 pm , by


I was one of the lucky judges on this week’s Food Network Challenge: Thanksgiving Family Feast. Watch it this Sunday, November 15th at 8:00 PM ET/PT. Lucky I say because I LOVE Thanksgiving foods. But wow is it hard to pick a winner! It’s four families competing for $10,000 cooking their best Thanksgiving dinner.

Yes I was able to eat 4 different and tasty Thanksgiving dinners in one day, which may sound glamorous, but I’ll tell you…The pressure turns on when the lights go up on these challenge shows.

tara2There were heartfelt stories from each competing family and tense timing issues with turkeys and pies flying through the ovens. As a judge I was required to observe the all-day cooking as well as comment on camera throughout the day to keep viewers up to speed. The lights in my eyes and camera in my face were quite nerve-wracking! I’m pretty sure most of what I said was gibberish. But I guess that’s what post-editing is for, whew!

I was judging with two other chefs, and we had differing opinions on cooking style, ingredients and presentation. They were concerned with the fact that some of the contestants were using canned or frozen vegetables like corn or canned beans. GASP! I thought it was perfectly respectable since those foods taste just fine and all of us don’t have year-round access to restaurant-quality produce.

When it came to actually tasting the food though, we all agreed it was delicious.

Tune in and let me know what you thought, and what you plan to make for Thanksgiving dinner!