Food Snob Chronicles – Stuffing for thought: Thanksgiving uncensored

To love your food is to know your food. And I’ll bet there are a few things you didn’t know about the feast served in late-November each year.

Leave it to the politicians
President Franklin Roosevelt, between 1939-41, pushed Thanksgiving back a week to boost the economy. It turned into a quite a cluster-gobble, since several states decided to observe on the last Thursday in November; and Texas celebrated both weeks.

Congress ultimately stepped in to fix the whole ordeal and, after some debate, compromised on the fourth Thursday of November as the official Thanksgiving in the U.S. Unfortunately, the turkey featured on the official U.S. Thanksgiving website was bullied for being the face of such a hot topic.

It might flush out kidney stones but…
An 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice contains more sugar than your average (12-ounce) can of soda. Why? Because the fruit is so tart that juice companies have to water it down and add sugar. If you’re drinking it to go more easily, consider the encapsulated version instead. As for Thanksgiving dinner, you’re fine eating a helping or two of cranberry ‘sauce’— so long as you don’t let it touch your gravy!

Did you know? Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin dined on — you guessed it — turkey and the traditional trimmings as the first meal eaten on the moon by astronauts.

If it’s so good…
About 9 in 10 Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving is not the only turkey day in America. More than 20 million of the big birds are served for Christmas dinner. Still, turkey is not as popular as its cold-blooded counterpart. My proof — Ever hear of Kentucky Fried Turkey?

So, who invented the crust?
It’s fairly common knowledge that there was no pumpkin pie in the days of buckle boots and cheesy black shirts with white ruffs. But the pilgrims had their own version, according to numerous culinary historians. They added milk, honey, eggs and some spices to the cavity of a pumpkin and tossed it in the flames. Pumpkin custard was born, but so too was the idea of burning suspected witches at the stake.

Then what is November?
June is National Turkey Lovers’ Month. Seriously.

Stuffing for thought
While most people argue about calling it ‘stuffing’ or ‘dressing,’ I’m in deep thought about all of the other stuff that we ‘stuff’ for our pleasure. We stuff pasta, seafood, corn tortillas, pastries, pork chops, cabbage, bell peppers and Halloween candy bags. Can we get some love for the other stuff, people?

Did you know? You could be eating cranberries from the same vines that fed President Lincoln. Cranberry plants live quite some time. Some plants still produce fruit at 150-years-old.

Not even as ‘lucky’ as the male praying mantis
Is it better to have loved and lost? Don’t bother asking your average tom turkey, because he’s likely never experienced the hibbity-dibbity. Not even once. And it’s all because the hens’ breasts are too big.

Really, turkey celibacy is due to the human desire for white meat — the breast. Producers have bred and bred until they finally achieved turkey breasts so big that even Dolly Parton would blush. More importantly, it makes the whole natural reproduction process physically impossible.

So, how do we get baby turkeys? The stork brings them, of course!

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+. Want to see something or someone featured here? Drop me a line.


There’s a little restaurant on ‘lower’ Greenville Avenue in Dallas called The Grape. It’s been around since 1972, having hosted a number of celebrity employees, including Julian Schnabel (award-winning film director), Frank Bailey (brother of former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison) and noted restaurateur Alberto Lombardi. Texas Monthly magazine touts the The Grape hamburgers as being the best in Texas (that’s a big deal), but it’s the Cream of Mushroom Soup that makes this a legendary restaurant.

I still remember my first mushroom experience. My father was making a homemade pizza and I told him to leave the mushrooms off mine. He asked me why I didn’t like them and I responded in truth — I’d never tasted them. A few seconds later, my tastebuds were changed forever. Mushrooms are among the few ingredients that can make any dish better. I’ve had my fair share of mushroom soups and the version from The Grape tops them all.

Cream of Mushroom Soup — The Grape

MushroomCreamSoup

Cream of Mushroom Soup from The Grape restaurant. It’s the best. Ever.

2 ½ lbs – White mushrooms, washed and diced
1 – Medium white onion, chopped
2 – Garlic cloves, minced
1 – Bay leaf
1 – Fresh Thyme sprig
1/4 cup – Dry Sherry
1/2 lb – Unsalted butter
1 cup – All-Purpose flour
3 qts – Beef stock
2 cups – Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp – Ground Nutmeg

Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste.

In a heavy bottomed 6-8 qt stock or soup pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme, and cook until translucent.

Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until most of the water comes out of them. Add the sherry and reduce by half.

Add the flour and stir well to avoid lumps.

Slowly whisk in the stock and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir regularly to avoid scorching. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Finish by adding the heavy cream and nutmeg, and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the thyme and bay leaf, and puree the soup either in a blender, or with a hand-held blender.

Serves 5 with enough leftovers to freeze for another meal.

Comments

  1. Dare we coin the term: “He’s as old as a cranberry plant”?

    Interesting that people do turkey on both Thanksgiving and Christmas – since they are barely 1 month apart. I always serve ham on Christmas. Or roast beast ;)

  2. For a few years, I lived just down the street from the Grape. Walking distance. But for some reason we never ate there. We always said we were going to go on a Sunday to try their hamburger (used to only be served on Sunday, now available every day from what I hear). Guess I need to go there and try their hamburger and their mushroom soup. Until that happens, I suppose I will try yours instead.

    Why am I not surprised that Texas would take advantage and celebrate both? LOL.

  3. I can attest to the delicious Grape Mushroom Soup.I both ate there many times when I lived in Dallas, and was blessed this week to be a taster for Adam’s re-creation of the dish. Delish! Great job Adam!!

  4. YEA!!!! My mom made me a pot of homemade mushroom soup many years ago when I needed some food love during a particularly bad time in my life. It was amazing. I have been looking for a good recipe since the one and only try of my own was horrible. So I think this is the one I will give a try this weekend. I am in the last week of recovery from my second hip replacement, this will be a good time for some comfort. The kicker for me is the sherry. I have thought all along that it could be the missing component. I put it in my clam chowder, it takes it from ho-hum to outstanding.
    Still enjoying your blog posts and recipes. Glad I signed up.

  5. Picking just one day for Thanksgiving was probably the last thing that Congress fixed but can’t blame Texas for going for the two-fer.
    I’ve never tried making mushrooms soup but looks that that will be changing shortly (yes, I might have a working kitchen within a week or so!). Love mushrooms & I love trying some of the rare varieties that I find at Wegman’s every now & then although the price is out of sight. I remember going mushroom picking with my father and since I’m still alive & kicking, he knew which ones to pick & tried to teach me which to leave alone. I’m not that confident so I’ll just stick to the market for mine.
    Adam – hibbity-dibbity? Poor old Tom’s having to stare a world class breasts yet not being able to do anything about it.

    • Yes, Diane. ‘Getting their freak on’ just didn’t fit. ;-)
      I just happened to be over in your neck of the woods reading about your kitchen. Congrats on a job almost done. And, from what I see, it looks like it’s going to be very nice.

  6. This is awesome – enjoy!

  7. Reblogged this on The Vampire Diet and commented:
    This is awesome! From one of my fave food blogs :D

  8. Adam, this soups looks divine! I love homemade soups, so will definitely put this one on my bucket list.

  9. This post, my dear, shall become the TurkeyDay Trivia played w/my family…I’m studying b/c me thinks I’ll win!! Great post and lovin’ that mushroom soupeeee…burrrrrr, cold outside here in SC! xo

  10. Hibbity-dibbity? I love it, though I don’t think I’ll use that term when the day comes that I have to explain the birds and bees to Dudette. I LOVE a good mushroom soup and if you say this is the best, I’m all in. Pinning it.

    • Thank you, Christiane. If you look forward to that sort of thing, I’m hopeful that you get the opportunity to explain it to her before she learns it on the playground (where they don’t use ‘hibbity-dibbity’ either). ;-)

  11. I’ll leave the turkey, thanks, but I’ll take the mushroom soup, which is now joining the Try It Soon list. It sounds really, really good.

  12. Another reason why I get a local turkey for Thanksgiving. Can’t believe June and not November is National Turkey Month. Geez.

  13. Adam, you are a mine of totally useless information. The soup looks particularly useful though.

    • Since useless trivia is my charge here, I suppose I’ll take that as a compliment. I hope all is well on the Emerald Isle.

      • Thriving here Adam. The country exits the Bailout fund on December 15th. Property prices have bottomed. We have lived through 6 years of economic grief. Through maintaining a positive attitude, the Wife and I have enjoyed most of it. Reading your well curated trivia has added to the experience.
        Stay well,
        Conor

  14. Pretty insightful and hilarious article, thanks!

  15. They do things in a big way in Texas. ;)

  16. I love the Grape… my girls used to go there with their Dad on work trips (he was one of their wine distributors) and they’d take time out to sit down and have some of the mushroom soup. Thank you for this recipe, my youngest will want to try this for sure!

  17. Adam, I will never look at Thanksgiving quite the same again. What a great article. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, your recipe and a new vocabulary word: hibbity dibbity. My goal is to work that into a sentence within the next 24 hours. :)

  18. Now you have me wondering what Kentucky Fried Turkey would taste like, and whether it would come with cranberry..

  19. If you mix cranberries with oranges, you don’t need as much sugar. But I guess the pilgrims probably didn’t have oranges.

  20. I can’t wait to try this! And if I am ever in Dallas, I’ll try to stop by The Grape.

  21. I love all of these facts .. I’ll use your post to read and turn into some sort of little interesting game for the hubster and our 8 hour drive to Kansas. Now if you could just come up with about 200 more to fill more time. :) Great looking soup Adam.

  22. Maureen, Milwaukee says:

    This soup sounds great – so glad I finally happened to find your site via Tasteologie. Can you tell me how many lbs/oz of mushrooms to use? Sorry if I missed it if you had talked about that somewhere. Also, do you have a preference for type? Crimini, button…?

    Thanks!

    • adamjholland says:

      Hi, Maureen. If you are going to make this recipe as it’s listed, you’ll need 2.5 lbs of mushrooms. White button mushrooms are the way to go here. Glad you found me! Please tell 50 of your closest friends! :-)

      • Maureen, Milwaukee says:

        Thanks! I just looked at the recipe again and found the mushroom amount waaay up next to the pic’s left border – I had missed it. And thanks for the advice re: type of mushroom – hope to make this over Christmas to give us a turkey break.

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