This side dish wasn’t just a part of our Thanksgiving 2019 feast…it is a classic staple in our spread. Growing up, Thanksgiving was our family’s “apex holiday,” and my aunts, uncles, and cousins from my dad’s side would all descend upon our house for a glorious annual reunion. There are too many cherished memories of past Thanksgivings to share without writing a novel, but a few highlights were:
- My sister and I sitting in the bay window in the dining room watching for the headlights to show and for everyone to arrive…while “taste testing” all of the various types of cookies my mom was pulling out of the oven.
- Our annual Lions half-time backyard football game: The Turkey Bowl
- Super Mario Kart tournaments
- Our cat’s epic standoffs with my uncle and cousin (complete with cussing and broom handles)
- Mom’s Ultimate Charcuterie Boards
- Stuffed Animal Wars and Fort Making with our cousins
- Uncle Pete’s Supper Prayers
- The Kids’ Table Antics (way more fun than the Adults’ table)
Through it all, Thanksgiving is the holiday where I just plain, flat out miss Mom. She was in her element every year cooking an incredible meal. It’s only now that my wife, “ants,” sister, brother-in-law, and I team up to make this annual feast that I can fully appreciate how hard it is to do what she always made look so effortless. Anyway, I write all of this to express one regret and one joy with you.
The dish I am presenting below was a classic dish of Mom’s, and growing up, I never really liked it. She challenged me to try it each year in case something had changed, but each year, I had the same reaction. After she passed, my sister took up the task of making this dish. Every year since then, I’ve continued to try it, and now, I love it. My regret is that I wasn’t able to appreciate it when Mom was making it. I wish I could tell her now how much I love it…and how amazingly my sister continues the tradition (although I’m absolutely sure she knows and is incredibly proud).
That brings me to my joy, which is that every year when my sister puts this particular side dish on the table, I am overwhelmed with the vivid memories of Mom that instantly rush back to me, and it feels like she is right there at the table with us all enjoying the laughter and the unbreakable love of family.
Time: 35 Minutes
- Baby Carrots
- Place your baby carrots (or peeled and cut up big carrots) in a large pot.
- Working carefully (our family has a finger injury to its name due to a fight with a rutabaga), cut your rutabaga in half from top to bottom. Once both halves can lay flat, cut the top and bottom ends off, and cut each half in half again so that each rutabaga is cut into four wedges. Then, peel and cut into pieces roughly the size (a little bigger is okay) as your carrots, and add to the pot.
- Fill your pot with water, add some salt, and boil until all of the veggies are tender to the point of mashability.
- Drain the water, add some butter, add some milk, and mash!
- Plate, devour, and enjoy!