When I moved to the US with my family at the ripe age of 12, we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. As a Russian Jew moving here from Germany, the idea of serving turkey and mashed potatoes for the holidays seemed outrageous to my mom. Russians don’t eat turkey—it’s known to be dry and tasteless. Serving a meal without a proper round of blini and caviar was also unacceptable, making the Thanksgiving meal unfit for my Russian Jewish household.
I enviously heard about the Thanksgiving feasts my American friends had, about the sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and the stuffing. Finally I decided to take matters into my own hands, and offer to cook the Thanksgiving meal myself. Brining a turkey can’t be that difficult, right?
With the help of my mom and grandma in the kitchen, we threw a Russian Jewish Thanksgiving feast my American friends would be envious of. Of course the meal had to start out with zakuski, Russian appetizers consisting of different kinds of salads, pickles, smoked fish and dips.
Moving on to the main event, my mom reluctantly let me cook the turkey—but had her say with the sides. Instead of mashed potatoes, we opt for potato latkes with a spiced cranberry sauce. Rather than serve green beans, my family loves to make lemon tahini roasted broccoli.
For dessert, we forego pumpkin pie for an old-fashioned apple cake. The recipe I’m planning on making this year comes from Cowbell Kitchen, a local pastry, soup and sandwich company where I work as a pastry assistant. At Cowbell, all the biscuits, jams, soups, pressed sandwiches and pastries are carefully crafted with love and sustainably grown and locally sourced ingredients. The apple cake comes courtesy of Cowbell’s ladyboss founder, Cheryl Strasser.