If that sounds like I’m going to suggest we all get smashed on Thanksgiving, of course that’s not what I have in mind. I ran across a Web site last year that featured a Thanksgiving dinner planned around mostly canned foods. It sounded easy, yet worthy of the holiday, so I saved the recipes to share with you now. When I suggested the possibility of a “canned food holiday” with my brother, the near-gourmet cook, I wasn’t surprised when he grimaced.
Maybe I’ll just use part of their menu. Maybe you will, too. When we do, we’ll be letting ourselves in on what makes such good sense about canned foods. We’re generally made to believe that fresher is better, but, in my case “it ain’t necessarily so” when I let a bag of Swiss chard my husband brings home from the market wait four days in the fridge before I get to it. A newly opened can of spinach would be fresher and, being sealed, have less bacteria than my “fresh” chard.
According to the Canned Food Alliance [CFA] Web site, canners use top quality ingredients which are picked, prepared and canned within hours. Most canned fruits and vegetables contain no preservatives. They’re picked and packed at the peak of ripeness, cooked quickly at high temperatures and sterilized in steel cans to keep nutrients in and impurities out. Once the cans are sealed and heat processed, the food maintains its high eating quality for more than two years and is safe to eat as long as the container is not damaged in any way.
Almost all canned vegetables and fruits are fat-free. By keeping the cooking juices, canned foods lose remarkably little of their nutritional value (something I’ve been pre-conditioned to wonder about). The CFA states that canned foods retain their nutrients for up to two years because the cans are completely sealed and the foods inside are cooked and stored in a vacuum. Canned foods only need to be warmed through before serving because they have already been cooked in the can
Knowing you’re prepared for a last-minute meal can make your day a lot easier. Though the provident parade of jars that once lined my Grandma Chamberlain’s canning cupboard put my pantry shelves to shame, I try to keep my cupboards well stocked with canned goods from a store. If you’re interested in packing a pantry for some “wholesome cooking on the spot” visit mealtime.org. and click on Perfect Pantry Checklist.
While we’re opening our cans to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, let’s revive an old tradition and wear an apron as another way to commemorate the holiday. We’ll celebrate Tie One On Day with apron lover and founder of the event, EllynAnne Geisel on the eve of Thanksgiving. Geisel reveres “the humble apron and the spirit of women of earlier generations who donned this universal symbol of home, family and mothering as the uniform of their daily wardrobe and helped make America the great country it is today.”
Holidays are always a time to reminisce, which brings me back to my grandmother. Her apron for the day (or week, depending on how soiled it got) hung on a hook after she took it off each night, ready to cover her cotton housedress the next day – almost every day. An apron was, indeed, part of her daily wardrobe. (I regret to think how many articles of my clothing could have been saved for better days had I been wearing an apron the way Grandma did.)
For information on EllynAnne Geisel’s book about apron-making and lore, her traveling exhibit of vintage aprons, and her collection of handmade aprons available for sale, visit apronmemories.com. Says EllynAnne, “Aprons don’t hold us back, they take us back!”
Just so they cover our backs, or, I should say fronts, and save a few spills from our other clothes. Hooray for the apron and Tie One On!