One of my most memorable Thanksgivings as a child took the expected out of the holiday.
There was no turkey. No stuffing. No pumpkin pie. In other words, my mother turned the Thanksgiving meal into, well, something experimental.
It was just our family of four that year, and Mom announced a couple of days before the holiday that she wanted to do something really different.
She announced: "Why have turkey this year? Let's have a special dinner that's different. What do you think? Anyone have any ideas?"
Mom opened Pandora's Box.
After about a good hour of arguing over what was the perfect dinner, poor Mom threw up her hands in frustration.
She also made four different dinners Thanksgiving day.
Mom had ham, Dad had roast duck, my brother had spaghetti and meatballs, and I had a taco salad.
Guess which three other people got massive clean up duty that day?
While I certainly don't recommend the aforementioned Thanksgiving cooking strategy (trust me), it is okay to put a twist on your holiday meal. Why not?
There's lots of reasons to do it. Maybe you want to try something new and surprising. Perhaps you'd prefer to take advantage of some the of Pacific Northwest fresh fare this time of year. You may have guests with special dietary needs or just wish to strive for healthier, less caloric foods.
Whatever the reason, you have some great resources in cooking classes around here that will inspire you and get you thinking outside of the box.
And if that traditional turkey dinner is calling your name, that's great too. There's help for that as well.
Feeling hungry? I know I am. And since I can't reach through the computer screen with REAL food, at least we can feed you some information. Here we go:
Culinary Concepts (South Sound, various locations)
Why here: While this business is based in Gig Harbor, Culinary Concepts comes to YOU. Serving the South Sound, this mobile business comes to your home kitchen for cooking instruction. You can learn basic techniques, how to make quick and delicious meals, or look at putting a healthier spin on your meals. The best part? You can take a look at a menu of choices to get your instruction even more specific. Check out this class on comfort foods. Does this say Thanksgiving inspiration or what? Please see the link above for all of the important details.
The Savory and Sweet (Puyallup)
Why here: This terrific local catering company produces all kinds of yummy fare for its catering customers (check out the website to see all of the options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and special events). However, besides catering, they offer cooking classes. You can receive one and one instruction that can be crafted to meet your specific needs or there are group lessons for two to four participants. Wouldn't this be a great way to try out a new Thankgiving recipe? Ask questions or get more inspiration? Click on the link above for information on how to register for a class. Classes are held on site.
Primo Grill (Tacoma)
Why here: Chef Charlie McManus of the longtime Sixth Avenue restaurant staple, Primo Grill (Meditteranean cuisine with a Pacific Northwest twist), has been offering delectable, interesting and inspiring cooking classes for years. McManus is putting his spin on the holidays with two upcoming classes (see details below). Your class fee includes recipes and instruction, lunch with a glass of wine, and tax and gratuity. Classes are held at the restaurant. Please contact the restaurant to pre-purchase your class ticket. The link above will provide more information.
2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 5, The Cuisine of Southern France, $65
2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 19, A Northwest Holiday Feast, $65
Why here: Is your diet gluten free? Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Lactose intolerant? Looking to drop some calories? Then Marlene's has the cooking classes for you! You can learn how to make yummy tasting holiday treats minus the gluten and dairy. You can also learn to make seasonal favorites with fresh, natural, and organic ingredients. Note: I am going to note the classes offered locally, however, for those of you that don't mind driving a little further, Marlene's Federal Way location is also offering cooking classes tied to the Thanksgiving holiday. Please click on the link to see those specific offerings and other details on how you register. Pre-registration is required for any class and they are held on site.
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Nov. 8, Holiday Treats Minus the Gluten and Dairy, $10
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Nov. 15, Living Recipes for Seasonal Favorites, $15
Bon appetite, Patch readers!