Katy, Nina, and our Staff Share Thanksgiving Stories
I love Thanksgiving; no presents, tons of food, family, friends, and abundant helpings of joy! For my family, it’s the time to gather—people coming from the East Coast, West Coast, and places in between!
And it’s a time to do what we do best: COOK, EAT, and PLAY! Yes, we’re a family of cooks and chefs with a bunch of fun, somewhat nutty traditions that have endured over many years.
When it comes to cooking, we stick to the classics, embellished with deliciousness by our resident chefs, Nina and her husband Zach. How lucky we are to have two talented chefs in the family!
I’m the stuffing person, and I also love making Roasted Acorn Squash with pomegranate and chestnuts. I included the recipe below (if you try it, send me a message!). Nina makes the perfect turkey. Her secret in her own words: “I break it down, roasting the turkey crown whole, and then braise the legs separately.”
My family’s absolutely-must-do tradition is playing the irreverent Dictionary Game after eating way too much pie! Here’s how to play:
- One person (the leader) picks a word from the dictionary that no one is familiar with. (There are a lot of weird words out there!)
- The leader writes the real definition on a piece of paper and everyone else writes their own fake definition (out of control creativity!) and passes it to the leader.
- ALL the definitions are read out loud which results in the party getting just the right amount of silly and wild.
So that’s our way of celebrating. Here’s how some of our amazing staff do it:
Title: Front End Supervisor
Quote: “My dad is Lebanese, and has a tradition of bringing garlic-stuffed artichokes dipped in melted butter. I just love spending time laughing and joking with him while we make food together, and graze on it in the process!”
Title: Director of Purchasing
Quote: “T-day was always about tradition more than even the food. One of those traditions was to ask me if I wanted the piece of the turkey with the ‘handle on it’ because that was how I requested my turkey leg when I was 3 or 4 years old! My favorite part of the meal was, and still is, a massive slice (or two) of Pumpkin Pie—though it hasn’t been homemade since I first had HL’s.”
Title: Café Chef
Quote: “Sometimes, depending on the turnout, I’ll make stuffed quail rather than a turkey! That way, everyone gets their own bird, filled with a cornbread cranberry stuffing and sometimes glazed with a Marsala sauce.”
Title: Junior Sous Chef
Quote: “I’m so thankful I live close to my grandmother, and get to celebrate with her, so she’s not alone. Her Parker house rolls are so good: they’re buttery, light, and delicious. They get fought over by the family!”
BACK TO KATY:
Thanksgiving is about gratitude. I am so very grateful for our staff of dedicated, talented, fun people who work so beautifully as a team, making every day at HL wonderful!
I’m also grateful for you, our guests. Thank you for sharing parts of your Thanksgiving with us for almost 40 years.
Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with the best food and the best company!
ROASTED ACORN SQUASH WITH POMEGRANATE AND CHESTNUTS
- 1 large acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 5 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons melted
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup whole roasted peeled chestnuts
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Set the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, cut sides up, and brush with 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle sugar in the cavities and season with salt and pepper. Turn the squash over on the baking sheet and roast until tender and browned at the edges. (about 45 minutes)
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet. Add chestnuts and thyme sprigs, cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until chestnuts are lightly browned and glazed with the butter, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard thyme.
- Cut each squash half into 4 wedges and arrange on a large platter. Sprinkle with glazed chestnuts and pomegranate. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and serve.