Reader Recipes: 31 Dishes You Always Eat at Thanksgiving

Every family has their own special Thanksgiving dishes. For this week's Shooting Challenge, 31 of you shared your very personal culinary traditions. You shared a taste of your families...even though many of you have lost the people behind the memories.

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Winner: Cranberry Chiffon Pie

This is a traditional recipe from my wife's family, passed down in my mother-in-law's handwritten cookbook before she died. I wouldn't touch it the first year I saw it just because of the color, now I count the days until the cranberry harvest so I can have it. The cranberries need to be fresh for best results, so if you don't live in New England this won't be as good as it could be.

1 baked 9" pie crust
1 envelope Knox gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Vanilla extract to taste

Prepare and bake pie shell. Soften gelatin in water. Combine cranberries and gelatin. Bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Beat egg whites until stiff, add 1 cup sugar, lemon juice, salt and cranberry mix. Beat until mixture holds firm peaks, 6 to 8 minutes. Pile into pie shell, chill 4 to 5 hours, slice, add whipped cream.

Combine whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form. Beat a little longer for good measure.

Nikon D5000, Nikkor 35mm lens. 1/60, f/1.8, ISO 220. Raw conversion done in Photoshop Elements 9, and I ran some color correction/sharpening actions.
-Matt Owen

Illustration for article titled Reader Recipes: 31 Dishes You Always Eat at Thanksgiving

World Famous Rolls

After taking a number of shots of my grandma's world famous apple crisp, I decided that no matter the lighting or presentation, the food would look horrible. I switched my subject to my grandma's world famous rolls instead. These rolls are my favorite Thanksgiving food. Sadly, my family was unable to get the exact recipe from my grandma before her Alzheimer's had erased it from memory. Still, my cousin David tries every year to recreate the rolls. They are not the quite same but come in as a great runner up. Sunlight was pouring through my kitchen window and I wanted to try a shot not normally seen of food. I adjusted the aperture so I could black out the background and caught what I think looks like a sunrise over "roll"ing hills. This was a fun challenge. Canon EOS REBEL T1i, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, 1/125, f/13, 50mm, ISO 400
- Matthew Johnson

Illustration for article titled Reader Recipes: 31 Dishes You Always Eat at Thanksgiving

Spicy Fried Turkey

For the past 5 years our family has skipped the traditional oven-roasted turkey in favor of a spicy fried turkey. Every year its my mom's challenge to perfect the recipe, to make it more spicy and bring out the cajun flavor we've come to love. My father and brother are charged with the challenge of getting the bird in and out of the hot oil. And me, I take pictures waiting for that day when disaster strikes, the oil goes everywhere, and the house catches on fire. So far it hasn't happened, but plenty of memories have been made and delicious turkey eaten.



Spicy Cajun Turkey
Marinate Inject:
1 ½ cup melted margarine
¼ cup onion juice
¼ cup garlic juice
1.4 cup celery juice
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup tobasco
2 T. liquid smoke


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until heated through. Let cool. Rinse defrosted turkey (around 14 lbs) and pat dry. Inject marinate into turkey.

½ cup salt
1 T. cayenne pepper
1 T. fresh ground pepper

Rub seasoning all over the turkey. Wrap in plastic and marinate up to 24 hours. Fill the fryer with peanut oil and hea to 350-375 degrees. Carefully lower the turkey. Deep fry for 4 minutes per pound. Remove the turkey and place in a paper bag for 15 minutes.
- Allison Boos

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Chocolate Chip Pie

What do we do for Thanksgiving? Well there are these two pies that have been family tradition. One is a chocolate meringue pie. Unfortunately the recipe is lost to me as it was my Grandmother's and my Mother had the recipe and promised to give it to me if I lost 40 pounds 6 Thanksgivings ago. Unfortunately, my parents were lost that same day in a car wreck just a few miles from my house. I am still trying to recreate the recipe based on ones I have found on the net, but still have some work to do.


The other pie is a childhood favorite that also came from my Grandmother. Chocolate Chip Pie. It is one the kids would help with while Thanksgiving dinner was being made, to help keep them out of the way.

The recipe is simple. One graham cracker crust, vanilla pudding, and chocolate chips. Mix the vanilla pudding. If using cooked pudding, allow it to cool before mixing in the chocolate chips. If using instant pudding, mix in the choclolate chips once the pudding thickens. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and stick in the fridge to thicken. Serve will cool whip or whipped cream. Canon EOS REBEL T2i, 1/20, f/8.0 ISO 1600
-John Hays

Illustration for article titled Reader Recipes: 31 Dishes You Always Eat at Thanksgiving


Krustenbraten is the epitome of pork goodness. The crackling skin utterly destroys turkey and would even tempt Muslims to reverse the ban on pork. My wife is from Germany, but is of Turkish decent so it actually has converted one Muslim to the darkside of the pork. We decided not to do a turkey because we are such a small family and the turkey goes to waste usually every year due to it being to large and rather bland in flavor. We did the Krustenbraten for Christmas and it just destroyed any memory of meat that I had tasted before so it has now become the all-star for our family during the holidays.


1 pork shoulder with rind
roasted veal bones
500 ml chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ tsp caster sugar
¼ l malt / dark beer
1-2 carrots
¼ celery
3-4 shallots
4-6 potatoes
1 slice of ginger (0.3 - 0.5 cm)
3 garlic cloves, with shell
½ - 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, whole
2 bay leaves
1 sprig marjoram

Back in Bleck chopped bones and spread in the oven at 200 ° C in 30 min until golden brown all around. Remove from oven and allow to drain. Chicken broth in saucepan, put in pork shoulder with rind side down, add bones and at 140 ° C for 1 hour in the oven. Remove the meat and the rind at a distance of 1 cm carve crosswise. Powdered sugar in large saucepan over medium heat, caramelize. Add the tomato puree, fry briefly and deglaze with beer and simmer and boil down a little liqueur-like. Now give meat with rind on top of it. Broth and bone it. Celery, carrots and shallots coarsely cut, or cut into sticks, do so. And it turned potatoes in the oven at 150 - 160 ° C for 30 min to cook. Then, ginger, cumin, bay leaves, marjoram and garlic cloves to branch and cook another 60 minutes in the oven. Bone to pick out, cut meat into slices. Season sauce with salt.
-Tim Taylor

Illustration for article titled Reader Recipes: 31 Dishes You Always Eat at Thanksgiving


This is picture of our traditional filipino lumpia dish. The picture was taken on the lighting only by the fluorescent house lights. The picture was taken with a Canon 60D.


Lumpia is a dish that was usually served at our family gatherings and usually always reserved for special occasions due to the long prep time. Basically, you just need:

Egg roll wraps
garlic(if desired)
ground pork
cooking oil

Basically you just combine the carrots, onion, garlic, pork, and whichever other ingredients you desire in a large bowl. The difficulty comes in the wrapping of the lumpia. One must take a little of the pork mixtures and spread a line of it onto the wrapper. Then wrap the filling similiar to a burrito but tighter and smaller. The tighter the wrap is all the better.


Then heat up the oil. Wait until is reaches about 400 degrees then deep fry the lumpia's you have just wrapped until they are golden brown all over. Let them cool and they are good to go!
-Alden Bruce

Illustration for article titled Reader Recipes: 31 Dishes You Always Eat at Thanksgiving

Turkish Delight

Not exactly a traditional recipe but it WILL be a new tradition to include as part of Thanksgiving Dessert from now on as it is small, sweet and satisfying. This is the first time I tried making it but have always loved it growing up and whilst living in Malta.


I took the photo holding the bowl of Turkish Delight against the sun which gave it the look of glowing embers. It tastes as delicious as it is beautiful.

Turkish Delight
Lakumja or Rahat Lokum
• 4 cups granulated sugar
• 4.5 cups water, divided use
• 2 tsp lemon juice
• 1.25 cups cornstarch
• 1 tsp cream of tartar
• 1.5 tbsp rosewater
• 2-3 drops red food coloring
• 1 cup powdered sugar


1. Prepare a 9x9 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside for now.
2. Place the sugar, lemon juice, and 1.5 cups of the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, and bring the mixture to a boil. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, and insert a candy thermometer.
3. Allow the sugar mixture to continue boiling, without stirring, until it reaches 240 degrees on the candy thermometer.
4. When the sugar syrup is around 225 degrees, begin to get the rest of the candy ingredients prepared. Place the remaining 3 cups of water in another, slightly larger, saucepan. Add the cornstarch and cream of tartar and whisk until the starch dissolves and there are no lumps. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring or whisking constantly. The mixture will become thick and pasty.
5. Once the sugar syrup is at 240 degrees, remove it from the heat. Slowly, carefully, pour it into the cornstarch mixture, whisking until it is fully incorporated.
6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking it every 8-10 minutes, for about an hour, until the candy has turned a light golden-yellow color and is very thick and gluey.
7. After an hour, remove from the heat and stir in the food coloring and the rosewater. Pour the candy into the prepared pan and allow it to set, uncovered, overnight.
8. The next day, remove the candy from the pan using the foil as handles. Dust your work station with the powdered sugar, and flip the candy onto the powdered sugar. Remove the foil from the back and dust the top with the sugar. Use an oiled chef's knife to cut the Turkish Delight into small squares. Dust each side of the square with powdered sugar to prevent stickiness.
9. Turkish Delight is best soon after it is made. It doesn't keep very well, but if you want to try keeping it, store it in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers, and dust the sides with powdered sugar again before serving.
-Georgina Lawrence

Illustration for article titled Reader Recipes: 31 Dishes You Always Eat at Thanksgiving

Steaming Glory

This shot was inspired by more personal details, rather than an elaborate recipe or anything like that. To any normal person, this might just look like a boiling pot of sliced potatoes, but to me, there's so much more. My grandpa passed away when I was about 10 years old, 7 years ago, and he always used to let me help with the slicing and peeling of all the fruits and vegetables. I never really helped prepare any part of the thanksgiving meal after that, but this year, I just so happened to be in the kitchen when my step-mom wanted help cutting and boiling the potatoes. As I was slicing them, all I could think about was how maybe he was watching over me as I almost 'graduated' from his "cooking classes". As I was plopping the potatoes into the boiling water, it reminded me about the fact that when I was younger he wouldn't let me do this, because he didn't want the boiling water to splash onto me. So when I put the potatoes in the steaming pot, I just felt a strong sense of accomplishment, and that inspired the deep meaning behind this shot. Thank you for reading this! Camera: Samsung NX 100, 30 mm Samsung Pancake Lens, ISO: 800, F2.5
- Ryan Woodman

Illustration for article titled Reader Recipes: 31 Dishes You Always Eat at Thanksgiving

Big Butts

Every Thanksgiving, my mother would make the most delicious rolls. She would take two frozen Rhodes rolls and put them in one cupcake container. She always called them butts because when they rose and were baked they looked like... well... butts. Every time she takes them out of the oven she sings, "I got big butts and I cannot lie..." It became a Thanksgiving tradition, that my wife then adapted as well—though, without the singing part. This shot was taken with my Nikon D3100, Nikkor 18-55mm AF-S DX VR Zoom lens.
-Bryan Lanning


I hope everyone took the time to not just look at the photos, but to read the stories behind them. So many of us have lost the recipes that grandma used to make. This week's Shooting Challenge wasn't about what you could do with a camera, technically, but what you could do with a camera to document something that we might otherwise lose with our loved ones. Thanks so much to everyone for sharing with such earnestness.

Full gallery below, wallpapers on flickr.

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a site that lets you donate $1-$10 to a new nonprofit every day.




I quit being very traditional on Thanksgiving some time ago. I usually end up having to work on Thanksgiving (can't complain too much, as its at 2.5 times base pay), so I do a get together the Saturday after.

I invite a bunch of people. Since I figure they all had turkey on Thursday, I avoid Turkey. This year was orange maple glazed ham. Last year was oxtails and apricot pork loin, the year before pernile and roasted chicken. Side dishes? Pumpkin Corn pudding, blue corn muffins, coconut rice. Yum.